In a recent (and excellent, if unsurprising) Rolling Stone article (which you can read the first little bit of here), comic writer/demigod Grant Morrison inadvertently addressed the frequent over-analysis of minor details in comics. When not confusing Brian Hiatt,
Professor X Morrison said:
“Kids understand that real crabs don’t sing like the ones in The Little Mermaid. But you give an adult fiction, and the adult starts asking really fucking dumb questions like ‘How does Superman fly? How do those eyebeams work? Who pumps the Batmobile’s tires?’ It’s a fucking made-up story, you idiot! Nobody pumps the tires!”
Now, when most people read this, they probably felt a little foolish. After all, it is one of the greatest and craziest comic writers in recent history making a statement, so it might as well be considered law to some folks. Others probably got mad and flamed the shit out of him on message boards and to their friends who nodded and slowly moved a Popular Science over their copy of The Filth.
The problem with the statement isn’t that Morrison comes across as someone making fun of his core fan base. The problem is that Morrison is kind of misinterpreting why comic nerds tend to over-analyze fiction.
We don’t do it because we demand answers for the smallest things (well, most of us don’t anyway). We don’t do it to show off our (sometimes admittedly encyclopedic) knowledge of all things comics. We do it for the same reason we are reading the fiction – the same reason kids are watching The Little Mermaid.
We do it because it is fun.
You could spout of some pseudo-psychoanalytic bullshit about how, as adults, our imagination is severely stunted by every passing year, unlike children, whose imagination knows absolutely no limits.
You could also claim that, as science advances, we need to know the explanation behind everything because we know there is one, there must be one, and we can’t just accept that some things just are, even in our funny books.
Sitting around the poker table and questioning how every crook in Gotham manages to be an absolutely awful shot (and carefully avoiding the Frank Miller Dark Knight Returns explanation) is a good time. Swapping theories about what we are sure of and what we are not is as old as time itself – look at Romans v. Christians, Far-right conservatives v. Logical non-jerks – there’s no end to debates any time soon.
Want proof? Check it:
You laughed, right? Of course. But it also made you kind of wonder, and it’s that “what if?” that tickles your mind and gets the hamster wheel spinning again.
It can also be inspirational. Some excellent works have come to be by a committee of drunk nerds – look at the Constitution of the United States of America.
The point is, anything that makes people think a little differently, question what they know or just laugh is a damn good thing. It is not something to be ridiculed; rather, it should be celebrated.
Oh, and just for the record, Superman flies by thinking really hard and looking straight, the eyebeams work much in the same way everyone else’s eyebeams do and Alfred pumps the Batmobile’s tires.