Beauology 101: Sharing The Joy Of Comic Books

Your Host, Beau Smith Telling Wynonna Earp About Comics And Pop Culture.

Your Host, Beau Smith Telling Wynonna Earp About Comics And Pop Culture.


by Beau Smith

The other night I re-watched the Marvel movie, THE AVENGERS. It was on TV as I was flipping through the channels, so I decided to let it roll. I first saw it as it should be shown, downtown, on the big screen, in a movie theatre. I enjoyed it a lot. It was a modern day version of how I saw The Avengers when I was a kid, during the Stan Lee-Jack Kirby-Don Heck years of the 1960s.

Watching it at home, with the answers to the film already laid out for me, I could take the time to think a little more about what I was seeing and hearing.

The Avengers- The Way We Were.

The Avengers- The Way We Were.


I was able to detach my sentiment and the vision that was so engrained in my mind as a kid. For Baby Boomers like me, that’s a hard thing to do with comic books and with pop culture. In the ‘60s I didn’t have a mountain of comic books to choose from every month. I didn’t have a sourced point where I could just walk in and buy the following issue. I didn’t have 200 TV channels, the internet, a cell phone, a tablet, or even a mall to distract me, or engage my spare time. I had a few comic books to read and re-read for at least 30 days until the next issue could be sought out, and trust me, with 1960s distribution, it was a true hunt.

The Avengers-The Way We Became.

The Avengers-The Way We Became.


At one point in my life as a comic book reader/collector, I would have been pretty upset at the changes and liberties that the Hollywood studios took to make this film. I’m talking about nitpicking to the point where the costume color was different or the hair style. As reader/collectors, we were like that. I still see and read where folks are upset about that kinda stuff from time to time. I don’t agree now, but I do understand.

I have reached a place where I am very happy just to see the characters I grew up with on a HUGE screen doing things, saying things, that are even close to what I grew up reading. For the most part, I am thankful and appreciative of it. It wasn’t that long ago when any sort of superhero TV show of movie was just flat out awful because of technology or the fact that the studios just didn’t take the time to understand what the characters and the true drama within the comic books was all about.

 The Avengers-The Way We Are.


The Avengers-The Way We Are.


With The Avengers film, or I could also easily add Iron Man or Captain America, I was given something I knew with changes, but changes I could not only live with, but found really added to what had come before in the printed pages. Prime example, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, even The Hulk, all had a humanistic sense of humor, something that was even missing in the comics for so many decades. Some of the comic book writers from the ‘60s and ‘70s used to say in interviews that within 18-20 pages, there wasn’t really any time to develop or dedicate humor to the characters or the situations. As a writer, I can tell you, that’s a load of donkey dump. There’s always time for a sense of humor, for characterization, for human emotions other than sadness and anger. I don’t mean slapstick humor. I’m talking about everyday humor that we all encounter or release every day of our lives.

This film had that. I truly feel the sense of humor was what truly attracted all those non comic book readers to the film and made it a monster hit. They understood that, they were attracted to that and, most of all, they related to it. As comic book readers, we grew up wanting fantastic characters that could do fantastic things. We got that in spades, but what we yearned for, even if we didn’t know it at the time, was humor and emotion. Let’s face it, Marvel Comics in the ‘60s were soap operas . If you would’ve taken away the super powers and the costumes, you would’ve had the soap operas that my mom and millions of other women watched every day. Marvel Comics got young boys to read soap operas and romance stories. Back then that would’ve been seen as “girly” to the world we were living in then. It was the culture, it was the time. Little boys didn’t buy Wonder Woman comic books, those were for girls, or so we were told.

The Way She Was. Wonder Woman.

The Way She Was. Wonder Woman.


That’s all changed.

At times, I don’t think Stan Lee and the other creators of 1960s Marvel Comics get enough credit for changing the way people read stories of superheroes.

Even as a kid and a teenager, I knew that Marvel Comics were offering me something more than DC Comics were at the time. In films, I believe that is true today. On Television they run neck and neck, but in films, right now DC has a little catching up to do. I’m sure it’ll happen.

While watching The Avengers, I was quite happy and interested with the new slants I was given. I was also thankful for the tributes and Easter Eggs given to what had come before in the comic books that I had read as a kid, to the characters and stories that the creators of the comic books had given birth to. It was all there, and more. I’m quite happy with it.

The Way He Should Be-Spider-Man

The Way He Should Be-Spider-Man


With the last Captain America movie I was thrilled to see that Spider-Man is coming back and with the right attitude that made him such a relatable hit with me back in the ‘60s; the sense of humor.

There’s so much to enjoy out there for Baby Boomer comic book readers/collectors/fans. It’s great now because we have other, younger generations to share this pleasure with. That’s the thing about comic books that has always made it a community; the sharing. We really have that now and it spreads over ages, genders and so much more.

That’s a good thing.

Here’s to more really good things!

Beau Smith

The Flying Fist Ranch

www.flyingfistranch.com

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  1. Peter Lefevre Says:

    So true Beau! I finally saw Civil War recently and it reminded me of when I was young and all your friend would gather to play “Super Heroes” My 7 year old self was cheering! Good to see others are happy too!