Superheroes: Hollywood’s Rewriting of History

June 13, 2012

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(WBEZ/Jerry Schulman)
Tim Seeley, creator of the comic Hack/Slash

You couldn't adapt William Shakespeare's Hamlet, change the Ghost of his father to an active zombie and have Hamlet go on a rampage, saving Ophelia and living happily in the end and still call it Hamlet, could you?  How about an adaptation of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman that has Willy Loman "rediscover himself" and go into business selling Amway and still call it Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman?

Hollywood's approach to the specific mythologies of Superman, Batman, Spiderman and the X-Men is to rapidly adapt and change many of the basic building blocks of these characters and yet still present them as the genuine article.  Did the Joker kill Bruce Wayne's parents or was it a mugger?  Can Superman really fly so fast as to turn back time?  Did Spiderman have web-goo come out of his wrists or did he use chemistry to create his webbing?  At what point do these changes require a new character name rather than a direct attribution to the work of the original authors?
 
On June 1, host Dan Weissmann joined four prominent Chicago-based comic book illustrators and writers to explore the use of comic books celebrating costumed crime fighters as adaptive literature for other visual media (such as film, television, and theater), as well as the future of comic book art in new media. 
 
On stage:
 
Tim Seeley - Creator of Hack/Slash, Artist of GI Joe, Generation Hope & too many others to list. Click here for more about Tim's work...
 
Mike Norton - Creator of Battlepug, Artist of Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Atom & lots of other stuff. Click here for more about Mike's work...
 
Jenny Frison - Cover artist for Hack/Slash, Angel & others. Click here for more about Jenny's work...
 
Sal Abbinanti - Creator of self published comics Atomika, and runs Alex Ross's alexrossart.com. Click here for more about Sal's work...
 
This event took place as part of the WBEZ Off-Air Event Series which aims to extend your listening experience to nights on the town – come see what you’ve been hearing and celebrate Chicago! Each month promises to be different and something not to miss—with discounted tickets for WBEZ members.