Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jimmy Olsen

I didn't get much of a chance to write about the supporting cast of characters in my book manuscript, so I figure this is the place to do it. First up, Superman's pal.

I like monsters.
I don't have much to say about the history, development, or portrayals of Jimmy. Or James. Or Jim. I do, however, like the bowties. But I only think they work in the comics. Sometimes things that work in drawings seem strange when worn by people on screen.
Jack Larson as Jimmy from the Adventures of Superman television show.

I do love the old Jimmy Olsen comics. That guy was insane. One time, he found an ancient bottle of soda pop, drank it--to prove it wasn't magical like everyone said--and turned into a werewolf. 

A stylish werewolf.
This is what I enjoy most about old comics. There's this sense that absolutely anything could happen. To me, the Jimmy Olsen character and stories of yore demonstrate this moreso than any other I can think of. He could become anything. He could get out of any situation. And he was pals with Superman. These elements haven't been utilized in years, most likely because of the dual pressures of continuity and for everything that happens to be THE MOST IMPORTANT STORY EVER TOLD IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE. The endless possibilities have vanished in a haze of retconning origins, universe-spanning events, and an obsession with the number 52.

Can somebody explain that one to me? Why is it 52? Is it just that there are that many weeks in a year?

Frank Quitely, you never let me down.
Anyway, I'm no expert on Jimmy Olsen. He has demonstrated a distinct lack of presence in the Superman comics for the last few years. And I have desire to address the fiasco that was Jimmy on the show Smallville. So my experience with the character has been limited to a few collections of old stuff I've read, which have been great. The problem is, it seems like the Jimmy Olsen of the many transformations is gone forever; killed in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Jimmy Olsen is a victim of the serious-ization of comics. There's probably a better way to phrase that.

So, maybe this isn't the most satisfying examination of Superman's supporting characters, but then again, Jimmy Olsen isn't the best of them anymore. I'll have more to say about the various L.L. of Superman's life, in the coming weeks.

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