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Should old comics be remade with new creators?

We’re used to literary characters being re-imagined in different ways, and in stage plays being re-adapted to make them fresh for a new audience. However, for comics most books remain the same in publication as they day they were first released. And in this modern age of digital art and production old comics look very primitive in comparison.

So should we re-release old books with brand new art and maybe a slight updating of the scripts. I’m not talking about simply touching up stuff or fixing some colors, I’m talking about working with the same script from scratch with a new creative team and letting them tell the same story in a different manner.

Say for example Days of Future Past. A classic Marvel perennial book, one enjoyed form generation to generation. However it feels it’s age. The art is simplistic compared to books today. The script is laden with text boxes and the dialogue isn’t the sharpest. It’s a great idea, an inspiring book, but would it benefit from a refresh?

Simply put, should old books be redone with new creators, or are they sacrosanct?

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I’ve had that thought and I would definitely be interested, but I can see how quickly it would become just a crass cash grab. I’m all for updating coloring, though.

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I really wanted them to redo the Chuck Beckum pages in Miracleman and get Alan Davis to do it, which is slightly off the main point but an example of improving an old product.

I don’t think I’d be that enthusiastic personally to read Days of Future Past by Jason Aaron and Sara Pichelli, even though I am a massive fan of both. I’d rather read a new story. However I could see it’s effectiveness in the bookstore market - to present those stories in a more sophisticated fashion.

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One of the simple things they could do to update older comics would be to edit the ridiculous proliferation of exclamation points. In! Every! Sentence! It makes them hard to read in a different era.

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YES!
LET ME AT THEM!

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Yes. For example, take the Avengers, update the plots, scripts, and art, and call it, I don’t know, “Ultimates” or something. In the right hands it could be brilliant.

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Looks like Matt would just add even more exclamation marks!!!

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Didn’t they do that with The Clone Saga and releasing a new version as a miniseries?
Also, you can say that X-Men: Grand Design is another take along the same lines.

I think it’s a fine idea in a…coalescing sense.

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If someone wants to do it, why not? The aging fanboys would have aneurysms but so what? Now whether it sells is another matter.

I thought I about it and I really don’t care. I wouldn’t buy it though I may flip through it on the stands to see what the fuss is about. But I am not the target audience. If a young person buys it, enjoys it and wants to read more comics, that would be a win for the industry.

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its called “dramatic effect”, Gar…you wouldn’t understand

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I think it gets done to some extent. The Ultimate Universe and thing like Supreme Power did some of that, for example, and I think plenty of creators come in and use those old stories as heavy inspiration. They don’t do straight remakes, but it’s clear they probably wanted to do their version of a classic story they loved.

It’s something I could see working. But definitely one of those things that could easily crash and burn too.

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Probably more recently have been the ‘First Class’ series of OGNs that retold older stories.

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It’s already been done in various ways over the years, the question is always just how close you stay to the original.

There has been stuff like Ultimate Spider-Man where just the basic outline of the story is used and brand new art and scripts are produced. Or there has been stuff that sticks closer, like that recent Batman anniversary story where new Bryan Hitch art was melded with the original script for Detective Comics #27 (I think there was also a version of that where Meltzer updated the script somewhat), or the Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee update of the Batman origin two-pager.

I tend to think there’s not much point in sticking too close to the original, though, unless it’s for nostalgia reasons. If you’re updating a story then usually an overhaul of the script is just as important as bringing in fresh modern-looking new art.

(It’s easy to think that refreshing the art is more important than refreshing the script when it comes to updating stories, but you can see from some of the mash-ups of old scripts with new art that writing techniques can age just as badly as artistic ones.)

I think there will always be an appetite to see certain old stories continuously retold for modern audiences - not just in comics but also other fields too. Just think of how many takes on Shakespeare or Dickens or Sherlock Holmes you’ve enjoyed over the years.

Some reworkings stick closer than others, but there are certain stories that work so well that they bear multiple re-interpretations and new takes, and to an extent the interest becomes more in seeing how the creators interpret the story than in the story itself. Like the fuss every time a hot director or young actor tackles Hamlet for the first time.

Comics is still a relatively young medium, but. I wouldn’t be surprised to see classic comics stories continuously retold for decades or maybe even centuries to come: like the origins of Spider-Man, Batman and Superman; how Captain America reacts to the modern world; or that one where Thanos flies around in a helicopter with his name on the side.

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That Hitch update is a perfect example. I’m not really thinking of stuff like Ultimates or Supreme Power, which is a brand new take that has no real resemblance to the original beyond the character names and loose designs.

As another example, consider Sandman (or most of the 90’s Vertigo stuff). At the time alot of that artwork was pretty basic, compared to what we got in Sandman Overture. Should a book like Sandman be republished with new creators sticking mostly to the original scripts? Would that give it a new lease of life?

Should Watchmen be remade with new art? Or Dark Knight Returns? To help make them accessible to new audiences.

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It’s difficult, because to me the art in comics is such an integral part of telling the story, just as much as the script, that you’re changing a book substantially by changing the art. Especially if a book has been specifically written to play to the strengths of a certain artist, like Watchmen or the various arcs of Sandman.

It’s an interesting exercise but I think if you’re changing the art then why not feel free to change the script as necessary too.

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In that case, I’d only agree with art that was…below par. Or if the new art was somehow way more amazing or true to tone.

This actually happened with Dav Pilkey’s children’s novel series “Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot” where Dav’s original art - which is good and simple - was redone and released with new more “epic” art. And I bring up this as an example because Dav’s novels are pretty much just comics - especially with the Flip-O-Rama working on the movement between panel’s logic.

I think the end result was weaker in that instance because it didn’t work with Flip-O-Rama, but otherwise it was a cool move.

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I’d argue that most art before the digital age is now below par. A bit like old TV shows have budgets and effects that are below par compared to today.

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I don’t know if I’d agree with that. Which is why I used the qualifier “true to tone” as well.

Sure, something like Alex Raymond is clearly not a modern art style. But that doesn’t mean that Alex Raymond didn’t kick ass on Flash Gordon.

Still the head honcho of the art on that franchise.

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Which happens sometimes. Stuff gets redrawn for collections, like Infinite Crisis or that issue of Invisibles (to pick two examples off the top of my head).

I think we all have examples of comics we’d love to see ‘fixed’ (Maleev redrawing the issues of Bendis’ Daredevil he didn’t do, or Quitely doing all of New X-Men). But that’s a different goal to the idea of actively changing art to freshen up an old story for a new audience.

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This is why the subject isn’t quite so clear cut. Some might say it’s kick ass, but it’s also of it’s day. And it might not appeal to modern sensibilities. Could the artwork be a barrier to sales? Would new artwork be a jumpstart to new sales? Are there a whole host of books that aren’t quite perennials because of art or story? Could you update Mutant Massacre, or the 80’s Spidey stuff? Or Morrison’s Animal Man?

When things get rebooted today the creatives just take the original idea and everything else is different. We have that with Ultimates and Supreme Power (and every other Hollywood movie), and I believe we should have that for a whole host of properties that just aren’t working these days (Spawn, Youngblood, Sandman, Books of Magic and so on should all be revamped for a new generation). However it requires the old property to be dead, otherwise you risk creating a competitor that messes up your brand (which Ultimates did). So you can’t really do that with classic stories, but maybe you should. Here’s the list of the top 10 Marvel stories of all time suggested by Newsarama:

  • Days of Future Past
  • Annihilation
  • Coming of Galactus
  • Born Again
  • Secret Wars
  • Age of Apocalypse
  • Civil War
  • Death of Gwen Stacy
  • Dark Phoenix Saga
  • Infinity Gauntlet

So take Infinity Gauntlet for example. Did Marvel miss a trick by not having a new take on the story, same script essentially but new digital art told in a more modern tone and pace? Couldn’t that book have sold half a million units given the success of the movie (and fans only have a 25 year old comic to reference).

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