Friday, February 06, 2009

This Meets That, and Another Thing: Anticipating Johnny Monster #1

Browsing through Image Comics' upcoming releases, I read this description of Johnny Monster #1:

Johnny Monster is the world's foremost super-star monster hunter, but what the world doesn't know is that he was raised by the same monsters he's "hunting"! Now, in order to save his adoptive family... he must fight them! From the acclaimed writer of DEAR DRACULA and Necessary Evil, Johnny Monster mixes Tom Strong with Godzilla movies by way of Tarzan and the Phantom to create a compelling and different monster mash!

I'd read some press about this series before and was reminded of my excitement for it, until that critical last line soured my impression by representing everything I hate about today's conceptual summary driven society. Consider: Johnny Monster is described as a "compelling" and "different" series through comparison with four other well known stories! Honestly, the plot's description had me at "he was raised by the same monsters he's 'hunting,'" and the illusions of both Tarzan and Godzilla were evoked naturally (especially via the cover image), so I didn't need the help. I know I'm a more intuitive reader than some, but now it's to my detriment, because I'm afraid the book's uniqueness actually ends there.

Johnny Monster and the folks at Image that wrote this description aren't too blame; this "X meets Y to make Z" way of describing art has become a culture-wide phenomenon, from describing the TV show Fringe as The X-Files meets CSI to the music of Nickelback as Creed meets Three Doors Down. (Which is an ironic comparison in itself, because Creed is really just Pearl Jam meets a bullet in my friggin' head, but I digress.) The implication is potentially twofold: either contemporary originality is only the combination of ideas that have preceded us, or modern audiences aren't smart enough to understand something new without some comparison to the past. I shudder to think which is true, or, worse, that this phenomenon is one meeting the other. Tell me that didn't blow your mind.

I sympathize with Johnny Monster, and, beat all, I'm buying that first issue. We're being raised by the monsters we've created, and I don't know how we can kill them in good conscience.

Johnny Monster #1 is coming out February 18, 2009 from Image Comics, is written by Joshua Williamson, and is illustrated J.C. Grande.

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