Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mashups a Lot Like Super Hero Team-Ups

I've been finding a bunch of good mashups lately. For example:

The same dynamics that appeal to me about mashups have appealed to me before, in the realm of comics. Back in the day, Marvel and DC each had two monthly series that featured team-up stories:

You'd end up with a well-established, popular character drawing in readers to stories that featured them interacting with other characters with whom they might not ordinarily come into contact. So, Superman goes back in time to meet WWII's Sgt. Rock, Batman goes forward in time to meet Kamandi, Spiderman teams up with Man-Thing (or the cast of Saturday Night Live -- not making that up!), or The Thing and the super-strong charcters from a bunch of other Marvel titles are kidnapped by an alien that wants them to have a boxing match with the space boxing champion. Some of them were a stretch, but lots were real cool stories. And after a while, part of the fun was to see how they would get Batman/Superman/Spider-Man/The Thing in the same narrative as the more obscure character. So, someone reading one of these titles due to their familiarity with the top-tier star would have the lesser known or outside-the-standard-continuity character marketed to them as well.

Same thing kind of goes for mashups. Everybody knows about Journey*, but not everybody knows about Afrika Bambaataa. Everybody knows about Iron Maiden* but not everybody knows about pop-dance music from India. I like it when people take two or more divergent things, put them together, and make something new and more than the sum of the parts. I always have and always will.

*"Everybody" reflects cultural biases stemming from teenage years spent in the 1980s Michigan suburbia.

Now there was a fun experiment in the 1990s that might seem more mashupish than the comics mentioned above, and in some ways it was and some ways it wasn't. Amalgam Comics was a joint venture that featured characters derived from the mythologies of both DC and Marvel. But instead of looking for two dissimilar characters, these looked for the most similar characters from the two universes as possible... Namor, the Sub-Mariner + Aquaman = Aqua Mariner; Dr. Strange + Dr. Fate = Dr. Strangefate; Superman + Captain America = Super Soldier; etc. In the examples below (Green Lantern + Iron Man; Batman + Wolverine) you can see that the ideas are clever and entertaining, and in the series you can find overlaps of ideas and images that might or might not have ever occurred to you. And I like it when the reader or listener is rewarded for having already become familiar with a wide scope of content, and thus is able to recognize some of the more obscure source material (this goes for Star Wars, Tarantino, etc. as well) without a road map neccessarily being laid out in plain view. But to analogize with music mashups, it would be like creating mashups of Rush + Triumph or Journey + Foreigner.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have some of those and I reread them sometimes. Good stuff!

8:34 PM  

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