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Doctor Who versus Comics

This is a post prompted by two events of yesterday.

Event one: One of my eBay RPG purchases arrived - a copy of the old Games Workshop superhero RPG 'Golden Heroes'.
Event two: I watched an episode of the American geek sitcom 'The Big Bang Theory'.

What occurred to me was this:

In the minds of mainstream USA, geeks / nerds read superhero comics.

In the minds of mainstream UK, geeks / nerds watch Doctor Who.

Of course nowadays, every other mainstream Hollywood blockbuster is a superhero franchise and even trendy literati watch Doctor Who, and there are certainly British comics fans and American Doctor Who fans. But that doesn't change my original premise, which is that while America has superheroes, we have Doctor Who.

Personally, I think we got the better part of the deal. I've never been able to take superheroes seriously. The only time in my life when I was really into superheroes was when I was a Batman fan when I was five. And that was the animated series and the kitsch "Zap! Pow!" Adam West series. Friends and I used to play Golden Heroes at school for a time (we played a lot of different RPGs then). But we could never play it straight - all our superheroes were silly ones, and we all had goofy catchphrases. Don't get me wrong - it was a lot of fun, but I don't think I could ever play in or run a serious superhero game.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
ladyofastolat
May. 12th, 2011 09:48 pm (UTC)
I was (re)watching a Big Bang Theory episode earlier this evening, and musing (slightly anxiously) that I couldn't think of anyone else on TV at the moment that I identified with more than (some of the more sane of) these chaps. However, I have never seen anything interesting in superhero comics/movies/TV series... but have also never historically been a fan of Doctor Who. (I never watched it when young, and have watched it in the last few years merely to keep up with the things my Friendslist are watching, rather than out of any real obsession.)

BTW, when I go into pre-schools, the 3 and 4 year olds (who are often dressed as Spiderman, and less often as Superman or Batman, and who are usually obsessed with Ben 10) tell me that they're in to superheroes. A few years ago, all the 7 to 9 year olds said that Doctor Who was the coolest EVER, but he's past his peak now. But I've never heard any child superhero love in anyone older than 6.
clarienne
May. 13th, 2011 08:51 am (UTC)
I never 'got' superheroes myself until I was married to Chris, and ended up watching quite a few superhero movies. Then at some point, it just clicked. It's meant to be a bit preposterous, and be full of stuff that will make six year old boys go 'cool'. Then there's almost always really good dark characterisation underneath. I think a proper supers game have to have that serious underbelly, and the sillier the badassery of the heroes, the more angst they need to have.
elmo_iscariot
May. 17th, 2011 02:49 pm (UTC)
Personally, I think we got the better part of the deal. I've never been able to take superheroes seriously.

I know it can be a dicey matter, outsiders commenting unfavorably on cultural icons. So let's just try to have an abstract agreement that when the field of discussion is superheroes and Doctor Who, it's possible neither is exactly a model of seriousness. ;)

I like the Doctor, but haven't been fond of the new series since Christopher Eccleston dropped out. It's a tiny minority opinion, but as far as I'm concerned, David Tennant really dropped the ball (or, more likely, his directors did).

As for superhero comics, IMO the successful ones are either about archetypal myth-figures like Superman, or are really more about the secret identity than about the hero himself. It isn't Spider-Man, people really care about; it's Peter Parker. I don't give a damn about Iron Man, but love Tony Stark.

The premise is absurd and the setting cheesy, but it clicks because there's a compelling character-based story being told and a meaningful value system and view of the world being articulated within the bizarre medium. Just like in Doctor Who. ;)
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