Off My Mind: Should Real Locations Be Used In Comics?

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Posted by G-Man (39569 posts) - - Show Bio
 Soldier Field was destroyed but I recently drove by and it was still there.
Often locations in comic books aren't real. We have places like Gotham City, Metropolis and countries like Latveria. It's cool when real locations are used but what happens when there's destruction in the comics? I know that the stories in comics are just stories but when a major location is changed, it feels like it further separates fiction from reality. 
In Siege #1, we saw Soldier Field in Chicago, IL get destroyed. When I drove by the stadium last April during c2e2, it looked fine. The people of Stamford, CT might think it's cool that their city is in the comics but the fact that Nitro destroyed the city may not make residents comfortable.  
When Gotham City had an earthquake during No Man's Land, it seemed a little far fetched but it was okay since Gotham is just a comic book city. When an earthquake caused part of San Diego to sink and become Sub Diego, again, it's safe to say that didn't occur in real life. Does it make a difference if a real life location is altered in a comic book? 
 == TEASER == 
 Sub Diego? Now you can swim to Comic-Con.
Perhaps I'm being overly critical? I'm not saying I have a problem separating fact from fiction. I just think if you have a major change in the comics it makes it a little strange in real life? Am I the only one that feels this way?  
Coast City was destroyed and rebuilt in the Green Lantern comics. If that would've happened to a real life city, I think it would've felt off. Star City also recently went through some changes. I think if they tried putting a giant star-shaped set of woods in New York City, the comic stories wouldn't be the same.  
Maybe I'm just putting too much thought into this. I'm not expecting to run into any X-Men in San Francisco on my way to work but if there's destruction to the Golden Gate Bridge in the comics, it just further sets the comic apart from reality. The question is, do you want to see your hometown in comic books? Does it matter to you if its depiction doesn't match up to reality?
#1 Edited by ComicMan24 (147494 posts) - - Show Bio

It doesn't matter that much to me. But then again, if my hometown was destroyed in comics, I guess I would feel a bit awkward. I contradict myself, I know.

#2 Posted by blaakmawf (187 posts) - - Show Bio

I got a kick out of when Nightwing moved to NYC.

#3 Posted by Sednahq (42 posts) - - Show Bio

I think it has an positive effect on the readers if they see known locations. It helps to connect to real life. Besides that the reader can fully comprehend the mass of destruction on a building from the reality.

#4 Edited by howlettgrowl (792 posts) - - Show Bio

i hate the fact that they used Soldier Field as a way to invade Asgard. F@ck you Norman Osbourne!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#5 Posted by Decept-O (7760 posts) - - Show Bio

For some odd reason the whole sinking of San Diego thus becoming Sub Diego irked me slightly.  Maybe it's because I have a brother who lives near the area!  I don't know, although I totally understand what you are saying, G-Man.  I think this is an interesting little topic, one I didn't think anyone else really ruminated about at all. 
That's it, though, comics are fictional, so it really doesn't matter too terribly much at the end of the story.  Locations, like historical figures, Government figures and entities, all are relatively much public domain and free to use, so why not take advantage of it?   
Although Gotham City, Metropolis, Coast City, Fawcett City, and Keystone City are all cool names!!
#6 Posted by KRYPTON (2421 posts) - - Show Bio

It might, but what I think your asking in this "off my mind" is that, "What happened if a city was destroyed in comics, and then in real life?" People act crazy, they try to imitate things, I'm trying not to act all doom and gloom.

#7 Posted by JonathanMoore (3 posts) - - Show Bio

It would be kind of crazy to see your hometown in a Comic, I'm game.

#8 Posted by Edamame (29730 posts) - - Show Bio

Sub Diego. LOL.
Probably more expensive than San Diego.

#9 Posted by grufaine (112 posts) - - Show Bio

The way I think of it, it's an alternate universe from this one, so it's no biggy. =]  
I'm right by Milwaukee myself, all we got is Great Lakes Avengers. x) I think if something I live near got destroyed in the comics, it would just make the moment itself a little sadder, since it has more of a personal connection. Beyond that, I don't think it would really bother me. 

#10 Posted by cold_fuzion (186 posts) - - Show Bio

The only real issue with it is, say with San Deigo being sunk, what if some significant RL event happens in San Deigo that actually affects the world (a stretch I know, but stick with me here). As far as it being weird for me to see my hometown blasted or something, I doubt I'd care.

#11 Posted by welshguy (201 posts) - - Show Bio

Seeing as how its pretty doubtful Pontypool (the original Welsh one)  will be levelled by some sort of nefarious super-powered villain in a comic book I can honestly say it doesn't bother me. As grufaine pointed out, its an alternate reality. Personally, I like the blending of the fictional and the non-fictional

#12 Posted by JDChurch (3 posts) - - Show Bio

Yeah, Siege was a real problem for be because I grew up really close to Broxton, OK and they kept showing all these images of the downtown and the city...which don't exist...not even close.  Broxton is literally one building.  There is nothing there. 

#13 Posted by sparty-dbq (918 posts) - - Show Bio

I actually PREFER the use of real locations, but I certainly see your point.  I mean, if the real New York City were anything like the one in the Marvel U, it'd be a bigger war zone than Basra.  It'd probably still be rebuilding from the events of Planet X.
#14 Posted by timrothsays (714 posts) - - Show Bio

if you "not feel comfortable" that your hometown was destroyed during 24 f!@#ing drawn-'n-inked-paper-pages story  you have some serious mental disorders

#15 Posted by AxlReznor (38 posts) - - Show Bio

Using real life locations in comics is no different to using them in movies. There's a fair amount of destruction in those, too... remember Independence Day? 
As much as I love Gotham, I really hate the idea that the city isn't a real place. Have no idea why, but it's always bothered me.
#16 Posted by IrishX (2827 posts) - - Show Bio

Yes.... Absolutely. Just one more reason I prefer Marvel.

#17 Posted by Chris207 (251 posts) - - Show Bio

Yes. Ditto what IrishX said...

#18 Posted by RedRobin92 (254 posts) - - Show Bio

Being that I used to live in CT and knew stamford as an actual location, I found it's use interesting and was able to connect with the story on another level. When a place like Gotham or Metropolis is torn asunder it seems like no big deal because it is always happening there, but when an actual location is blown apart and people are hurt, then you can understand the gravity of the situation more. 

#19 Posted by Sobe Cin (602 posts) - - Show Bio

Personally its awesome having comics take place in the real, it gives the reader a connection a to it. (Same as it does for the movies). I've ready Thunderbolts since issue #1 and was thrilled when it was set in Colorado, and with Hawkeye leading the team it made him one of my favorite comic book characters of all time.  
I loved it, because it gave me the sensation that I could imagine a version of myself in the comic book. Now on the flip side when Osborne gained control of the T-bolts it kind of creeped me out because the guys an insane nutbag and to have the likes of Venom and Bullseye just wandering around Denver was a little surreal.  
Also having the first arc of New Mutants set in Westcliff, Colorado was awesome even thought it featured Leagion, the insane offspring of Professor X.
#20 Posted by scorpius72 (74 posts) - - Show Bio

why not? how many times has New York been destroyed by aliens,flood,earthquake,gorillas, plague,dinosaurs, zombies and ghosts in movies. about 5 times a year.

its kind of cool to say 'what if?" 

basing the fiction is a real city has always worked for Marvel in establishing their characters as more Human and relateable. Spiderman wouldnt be the same if he didnt live in Forest Hills (my old neighborhood) and swinging thru Manhattan. Its worked so well DC has  started using real locales to familiarize themselves to the readers.

Besides who hasnt been from a certain city that appeared in the comics and think 'oh cool'.  

#21 Posted by Weapon ONE (29 posts) - - Show Bio
@scorpius72 said:

why not? how many times has New York been destroyed by aliens,flood,earthquake,gorillas, plague,dinosaurs, zombies and ghosts in movies. about 5 times a year.

its kind of cool to say 'what if?" 

basing the fiction is a real city has always worked for Marvel in establishing their characters as more Human and relateable. Spiderman wouldnt be the same if he didnt live in Forest Hills (my old neighborhood) and swinging thru Manhattan. Its worked so well DC has  started using real locales to familiarize themselves to the readers.

Besides who hasnt been from a certain city that appeared in the comics and think 'oh cool'.  

Well said sir
#22 Posted by Caligula (12661 posts) - - Show Bio

yes i love it when they are. I hated siege, but thought it was awesome that it took place in Oklahoma

#23 Posted by Lvenger (23943 posts) - - Show Bio

It's nice to see references to the real world in comics. That's why Grounded is a brilliant storyline because Superman is going to real places albeit with some geographical mistakes

#24 Posted by ShirEPanjshir (605 posts) - - Show Bio

I'd love to see my home town or the city I usually live in during the school year to be in a comic. Though it 'll never happen since Belgium isn't interesting. But I don't think it'd bother me.

#25 Posted by N7_Normandy (2504 posts) - - Show Bio

eh, a home town is just a place.  I could care less about it

#26 Posted by SupremoMaximo (223 posts) - - Show Bio
@scorpius72: Exactly... 
I'm going to New York in two weeks and I want to take the Comic Book Location Tour... 
#27 Posted by Krakoa (815 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't have a problem with it. I think it gets tricky, however, when certain places or landmarks are destroyed in real life, and then have to be explained in comics.

#28 Posted by AxlReznor (38 posts) - - Show Bio
That's not tricky, really. As long as you have balls, you can just tackle the subject head-on like in the 9/11 issue of Spider-Man.
#29 Posted by Dracade102 (8452 posts) - - Show Bio
@timrothsays said:
"if you "not feel comfortable" that your hometown was destroyed during 24 f!@#ing drawn-'n-inked-paper-pages story  you have some serious mental disorders "

But Brainiac is Holding my Hometown hostage in his Ship!!! =( ...And I Still live their!!!
#30 Posted by Asymmetrical (23748 posts) - - Show Bio

If everything about your universe is basically fictional but the name of the city, then there's no point. 
But in something like Unknown Soldier (<--------READ IT!) where Joshua Dysart puts tons of research into making the location as real as the actual one with a storyline that could be perfectly plausible in that area yet the protagonist is still somewhat fantastical. Now that is a comic where having a real location really adds to the story and I can appreciate it. 
But if you're reading a story that takes place in New York City where every other hero is also based but never ancountered it seems like a cop out (unless of course you go the Fabls route and establish a city within the city or the DMZ route and have a "post-apocalyptic" NYC). I mean Gotham City has so much detail and history to it but its not real, that seems like a sign of achievement to me.

#31 Posted by Ry Fryy (375 posts) - - Show Bio

Being a Vikings fan, I enjoyed watching Soldier Field go BOOM.  :)

#32 Posted by Omega Ray Jay (8343 posts) - - Show Bio

Has never really bothered me if a city is fictional or not, i must admit however when you are in a location from an event in a comic book you do secretly geek out to yourself, well i do anyway :P

#33 Posted by goldenkey (3033 posts) - - Show Bio
@Krakoa: What's tricky about it, and what needs to be explained?  It's fake.  It's a comic book so who cares?  It's not like people really fly or anything.  I just passed Soldier Field the other day so I guess Norman Osborn didn't have it blown up after all.  Fiction is Fiction.  Use real places to make it personal.  Doctor Doom doesn't exist, Soldier Field never got blown up, and Martin Sheen was never the president.
#34 Posted by Krakoa (815 posts) - - Show Bio
@goldenkey: I'm talking about real destruction in the real world outside of comics being addressed in comics. For example, when Marvel tried to tackle the issue of 9/11 in Spider-man it didn't work out too well.
#35 Posted by BringBackPowerPack (69 posts) - - Show Bio

Considering I like my movies and TV shows set in real locations, why wouldn't I like my comics to be the same?  If the X-Men have to deal with the government, would you want the government officials to be in some fictional town or in Washington, D.C.?

#36 Posted by dondasch (930 posts) - - Show Bio

@G-Man  I'll use this as my illustrative piece.  Remember during Blackest Night Wonder Woman when Black Lantern Maxwell Lord had started leaving a literal trail of bodies, like breadcrumbs around and near monuments in Washington D.C. ?  When I read that, I was just that more involved in the storyline so, having said that, I am not bothered at all by real life locations being used, be it a large city or where I live.  It adds an interesting facet to the story if done well.

#37 Posted by timrothsays (714 posts) - - Show Bio
@Dracade102: boohoo
#38 Edited by excalibur5150 (132 posts) - - Show Bio

I personally don't see what's the big deal.  If you see a comic, buy a comic, read a comic with a flashy super-hero on the front cover, does anyone really think to themselves, unless you're under the age of 12 years old, I wonder if this guy with that cool ring or with claws coming out his fists really exsists?  I hope not! 
I read comics for escape and I can only speak for myself but if my favorite heroes who run faster than the speed of light or wears a bulky suit of armor are fictional, then what's the big deal if their city is fictional?   
I always thought that the whole point of Gotham City is that it was a character all unto itself and the whole point of presenting Gotham City was because  DC wanted to show that this place is so vile, there is no city on Earth that is as seedy and evil.  Recently I think DC has done a great job by giving their fictional cities character, like Metropolis, Central/Keystone City, Coast City and Star City and applaud them.  Marvel does very well with fictional locales too with Latveria, Wakanda, Madripoor, Genosha and Providence.  
Is it more creative on a creator's part to think up a whole NEW city with new places and people?  Is it less creative or an easy way out to go with a real city?  Is it sadder for a creator because he doesn't want to take the time to research a real locale so he goes with a fake one?  I still don't see a big deal with it all, forgive me.
#39 Posted by leokearon (1950 posts) - - Show Bio

I like the fact comics use real locations, at least comic writers no more about Ireland then some TV shows
#40 Edited by ArtisticNeedham (2525 posts) - - Show Bio

When I was making my own comic I used a real location because of the Marvel reasons,
I knew the location, I could use photo reference and make it feel real,
and I wanted the readers to look through the comic and see real locations and say "Hey, I recognize that building."  When they walk by places in my comic in real life I wanted them to be excited, thats where this stuff happened in this comic by ArtisticNeedham.
Just like Marvel did, fans were excited that Peter Parker lived in a real neighborhood that they could visit.  That Dr. Strange's apartment had a real address.  They even had "Marvel's Guide to New York" on the travel channel where they pointed out all the real locations of places like the Daily Bugle, the Bridge Gwen was killed on, the apartment of Dr. Strange, and the barbershop of Nick Fury.  Joe Quesada talked about wanting to go visit Peter Parker's house.  Its fun to think you could take a bus and visit the Marvel sites, and that's what I wanted for my comic. 
It even works when a TV show, like the Laguna MTV show used Laguna as their backdrop.  I only watched for a second but they were eating at a Pizza place i went to several times with friends during our lunchbreak.  Its fun to see places you know in comics or TV shows or other stories.
The down side,
Is that you can't really get super creative and make stuff up then.  You can't create unrealistic or elaborate settings, not really.  In Starman James Robinson and Tony Harris made up Opal City and were able to just get really creative with their architecture.  While drawing a comic its fun to just run off with the creativity of the settings, but if the city is real in the real world like San Fransisco or New York, you can't really just make it up.  Say you are drawing a scene and you wanted a habor type setting, if the city the comic is based in doesn't have one of those then you can't add it in.  But if your city is made up you can add in as many elements as you want.
In JLA v. the Avengers one character commented that Avenger's Earth compared to the JLA's Earth was smaller with less cities and smaller cities.  Because in the JLA world the artists and writers didn't have to stick with the real world and could expand the cities of DCU but Marvel had to stick with the real world.
So, from a creative standpoint its a little more fun to make up a city.
From a fan reading it standpoint I think Marvel did it to ground their characters more, DC made up cities for their characters and (at the time, but not anymore) their characters were more shallow and unreal (the heroes were heroes and their villains were evil) so maybe that was part of Marvel grounding their comics, using real settings to help their characters seem more real.  So not only were Marvel characters real in that they had realistic problems and motivations but they lived in the real world too.
Just a thought.  I don't know.

I agree about the destruction stuff too, its fun up to this point and then things seem a little off somehow.  unless maybe that is touched on in the story.  Especially when a place is destroyed completely.  If somethings is damaged a little, later on people can look and think that's the building Thor crashed through.  The downside of this that I can see would be, like with the Sub Diego thing, its not that you expect it to be like that in the real world.  Its that they took a real location that you can visit or maybe even some readers live in and destroyed it or changed it so much that it makes it so different.  Maybe its that the reader can no longer visit it or imagine they live there in the comics because it has been taken out of the comics and changed into something that doesn't exist.  Again, i don't know.  I am just thinking up things as I write.
This was a fun topic.

#41 Posted by Icon (2234 posts) - - Show Bio

Like others have said, if we can mess up real places in the movies then why not comics too? I get a kick out of it when a place I'm familiar with with is depicted in fiction. In the end, whether or not a real place or a made up one is best for a story depends on the story.

#42 Posted by longas91 (69 posts) - - Show Bio

wow. haha i never new about Sub Diego! haha I LIVE UNDER THE SEA!   ^__________^   lol

#43 Posted by War Killer (20935 posts) - - Show Bio

Never really bothered me, the thing that bothers me is when they destroy something and then never mention the subject again, Marvel's good at when they destroy something they normally have the heroes helping with the clean up and possibly rebuild after the story, giving you the allusion that they rebuild or are in the process of rebuilding.

#44 Posted by dr.x (954 posts) - - Show Bio

My Toughts on real location vs. Non-real location . 
Real location : A real location  make the hero or bad guy feel some what real to you the reader were you can conect with them , but when it come to an epic battle with major damagelin  a place like oh say New York ,which seems to have more major wars going there then anywhere else then the writter has figure out how the city got fix so fast and ready  for the next big battle. 
Non-real location : as for place like  Gotham or Opal City ect ..true the hero or bad guy  is not beleavible , but  when it comes an epic war taking place like in Buldhaven then it's easier in fact you can almost nuke one of these non-real cities of the face of the earth and would not matter . 
So in closing  they both have there pro and cons it's just where you want it to be .
#45 Posted by Hadez (172 posts) - - Show Bio

I love the fact that use real places in comics. I think they should use more real locals more then fake ones. I like that they use fake nation because if it wasn't for them I wouldn't want to travel the world but come on the fact that marvel uses real neighborhoods is awesome it gives neighborhood pride to those in it when young knowing that you live in the same place where Peter Parker met MJ or that the GLI is afew towns down the way from where I live. That's fricken sweet to know.

#46 Posted by Dek7264 (60 posts) - - Show Bio

I was vacationing in San Francisco when the events of Second Coming were just starting up. I would have had no idea what the BART was if I hadn't just ridden it, so I found it pretty cool when it was referenced in the books. I'm all for using real places, but I don't mind when they use fictional places either.
#47 Posted by CellphoneGirl (19002 posts) - - Show Bio

I would love to see comics use Chicago more ;]

#48 Posted by Namor1987 (2096 posts) - - Show Bio

My thoughts are its ok as long as they don't use place where tragedies or terrorist attacks & natural disasters like don't disrespect those residents in a rude & taste light by saying "oh Doomsday went on a rampage & tore down the World Trade Center" or "Sinestro went crazy & demolished the Statue of Liberty" that's kinda of f***ed up IMO. I think it's ok to have heroes protect real places & locations but let them stick to their fantasy locations like Utopia or Metropolis plus comics are fictitious & should be contained in their respective universes 

#49 Posted by Mediant (366 posts) - - Show Bio

You're just over thinking it, Tony. I wouldn't mind if my hometown was used, even if it was blown up.

#50 Posted by Meteorite (3479 posts) - - Show Bio

Since I barely know American geography, it really doesn't affect me.

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