Today The Incredible Hulk opens in theaters, and in just two short weeks the next of this summer’s many based-on-a-comic-book movies will see release: Wanted, Night Watch director Timur Bekmambetov’s adaptation of Mark Millar and J.G. Jones’ 2003 Top Cow miniseries of the same name.
That’s a pass for a preview screening of the film. In most media markets of a certain side, they do preview screenings of movies, to ensure reviews and coverage the weekend of release, as well as word-of-mouth. For studio movies, this usually entails an evening screening in a big theater house, with critics mixed in with a large crowd.
The studios hire local or regional advertising and/or PR firms to organize these, and they in turn usually partner with a local media institution like (newspaper, radio station, TV station) to distribute these passes. Sometimes those media will then partner with a local business to help them distribute passes. For example, when I worked for a local altweekly, our advertising people would get a stack of passes that they would give to a business to give away, usually trying to find a business whose clientele would be likely to appreciate the film (For example, if the movie were based on a video game, they might approach a video game store; for one based on a comic book, they might approach a comic book store, and so on).
The passes usually look like the one in the picture there. On one side, is a version of the movie poster, and on the reverses is all of the pertinent info about the screening—when and where it is, how many it’s good for, some fine print regarding not recording it on your cell phone camera and posting it on the Internet, et cetera.
Sometimes, they contain a little bit of info about the film. That’s the case with Wanted.
(Above: This is what the pass looks like in Looking Glass Land).
There’s a little paragraph about the movie, and I found the phrasing of this paragraph about Wanted to be kind of interesting, from an inside-comics-fandom-looking-out perspective, anyway.
It’s just two sentences long:
Based upon Mark Millar’s explosive graphic novel series and helmed by stunning visualist director Timur Bekmambetov—creator of the most successful Russian film franchise in history—Wanted tells the tale of one apathetic nobody’s transformation as he is introduced to a new life and new powers that he never knew existed. In 2008, the world will be introduced to a hero for a new generation: Wesley Gibson.
We’ve all noticed the increasing mainstream acceptance of comics and comics culture over the last decade or so, something that seemed so gradual for so long, and suddenly, BOOM! the rest of the world suddenly started caring about this art form we’re all so passionate about.
Now terminology has always been a problem in discussing comics/comix/graphic novels/sequential art, and we seem to have settled on “graphic novel” through usage, but it’s kinda problematic, particularly if one cares to sit down and start to draw lines separating around what a graphic novel is and what it isn’t. (Is Neil Gaiman’s Sandman a graphic novel, or a series of graphic novels, or a comic book series? Technically, it’s a comic book series, right? But when the comics are collected into a trade, then it becomes a graphic novel and, hell, collect the graphic novels into a giant omnibus, and suddenly it’s only two graphic novels).
Anyway, Wanted is referred to as a “graphic novel series,” which it isn’t. It’s a comic book series. It was published in six single floppy, stapled, spine-less issues. You could call it a graphic novel, if “comic book” or “comic book series” bears negative connotations—I’m fascinated at the acceptance comics have when referred to as “graphic novels” as opposed to “comic books”—since it has since been collected into a trade paperback format, with a spine and binding and a single cover and all. But to call it a series of graphic novels, you’d have to argue that each and every single issue of it was a graphic novel, and I don’t think one can argue that.
The other thing I found interesting, the thing that actually made me thin there was a post in this at all, was that it mentioned writer Mark Millar, but not artist J.G. Jones.
Now, the credits for the film—the one’s that appear on the poster, anyway—says “Based on the series of comic books by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones,” but Jones’ name isn’t on the paragraph on the other side of the pass above.
That indicates that whoever composed that paragraph thought Millar’s name was more important than Jones’. This surprised me, because I was under the impression that neither of the creators were names that anyone outside of comics would have ever even heard of, let alone be a selling point. Millar might be one of the biggest—and best selling, I’m sure he’d eagerly point out—names in the North American comics industry, but if you don’t read comics (or read about them) would you have ever even heard of him?
I’m not singling Millar out; Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns and Brian Michael Bendis are among the best-selling and most popular writers alongside Millar, but does anyone who’s never seen the inside of a comic book shop know who the hell they are? Hell, even Neil Gaiman’s mainstream name recognition is at this point far stronger for his non-comics work than his comics work; folks who don’t read comics still know the fantasy author who wrote Coraline and Stardust.
Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Stan Lee, maybe Will Eisner, probably Jack Kirby and Harvey Pekar and now Marjane Satrapi, those are names folks outside comics would easily recognize as comics creators. But Millar? This is the first movie based on his work. He hasn’t written for other media the way, say, Neil Gaiman has. I know some of Millar’s work has gotten mainstream media attention—particularly Civil War—but it’s always been in the context of look what Marvel’s doing with their Marvel heroes, not look what This One Writer is doing.
Were those sorts of articles enough to jack his Q-rating up high enough that name-checking him in a one-paragraph description of Wanted makes a lot of sense?
If so, though, I find it pretty surprising.