Monday, 10 September 2012

Poul Anderson On Comics

Poul Anderson wrote many works of fiction in prose but not in the visual media of cinema or comic books. I have found three references to comics in his novels.

(i) In There Will Be Time, time traveller Jack Havig comments that, despite Superman's telephone kiosk, the most convenient place in a modern city for a time traveller to disappear is a public toilet cubicle.

Greek dramatists sometimes commented on and corrected errors or implausibilities in the works of their predecessors. In this vein, in the first Superman film, Clark Kent, responding to an emergency, approaches a public telephone that is not even enclosed in a kiosk, realises that it would afford him no privacy for a costume change and instead uses a revolving door at super speed.

Thus, the film, like Anderson, comments on a familiar scene from earlier Superman comics.

(ii) In Operation Luna (New York, 2000), Steve Matuchek remarks:

"It's only comic-book heroes and their ilk who bounce directly from one brush with death to the next, wisecracking along the way. Real humans react to such things." (pp. 158-159)

Yes, real humans in real life and in realistically written novels or comics. There is nothing in the latter medium that obliges that it be written unrealistically.

(iii) Matuchek also speaks against vigilantism even if conducted in "...comic book costumes" (p. 140). Right. Again, comics comment on earlier comics. Frank Miller's Batman is a vigilante wanted for assault, breaking and entering, child endangerment and, when the Joker's dead body has been found, murder. In Alan Moore's Watchmen, the public demonstrates and the police strike ("Badges, not Masks") until anonymous vigilantism is banned. In Garth Ennis' The Boys, superheroes are untrained and get a lot of people killed on 9/11. So the critique of comic book implausibilities is conducted in comics.

I would like to see high quality film and graphic adaptations of Anderson's works.

Later: For a fourth reference to comics, see here.


  1. Hi, Paul!

    I too have sometimes thought it would be very good if someone experimented with turning one of Poul Anderson's stories into a film. The example I've thought of being "The Game of Glory." Because I think filming this story would need mimimal special effects, aside of course, depicting a being as large as A'u!

    A film version of "The Glame of Glory" could be easily done mostly in a tropical part of Earth, altho the very beginning is set on a wintry world. It would be interesting to see how Flandry's bleak pessimism about the Empire is shown even as he goes doggedly about thwarting as many as the designs of Merseia and her agents as he could.


  2. Coincidentally, I have imagined just the first part of "The Game of Glory" before then on the planet Brae filmed with a narrator's voice reading much of the text, then Flandry's voice reflecting on what he is doing there.

    1. Hi, Paul!

      That might work if the "Brae" preface is not overdone. Reading aloud the entire section, howver, seems inartistic.


  3. Yes. Not the entire section. But I think that a lot of it would go well as narration.