Thursday, January 19, 2006

The joy of violent movement. 

1) Matt throws in his two cents about comics evangelism, and what titles work for him... and why the particular titles that do work would work. To wit:

Another observation. They're all self-contained stories. Granted, some of them are still ongoing affairs, but we can assume that there are endings for books like 100 Bullets, Fables and Y. These things have (or will have) a beginning, a middle (or a lot of it) and an end. It won't be an interminable soap opera of indeterminate length or just a string of standalone stories that are linked only by common characters, not pointing to a greater whole.

This is important, doncha think?

Indeed I do, and I think others have caught on to this fact. Even TV, the notoriously backwards popular medium, seems to be getting the idea that maybe folks aren't as stupid as all that, and a weekly half-hour Fight to Maintain Status Quo isn't what we all really crave. All hail the invincible sitcom, but you don't see a lot of them at the Golden Globes, do you?

The TV shows mentioned there -- Lost, 24, The Wire, The Sopranos -- regularly wrack up awards monopolies, gushing critical praise, and overwhelming public success. With the exception of the third part of that trifecta, that could very well be a description of any top-tier Vertigo or (perhaps) Wildstorm title on the market. I don't know, it seems like TV's catching on to the idea of MONEY AND PRESTIGE GOLDMINES, and you wonder what it'll take for comics publishers to make the same moves to reap the vast rewards.

(I know: The money isn't there, it's all in superhero comics that have no fucking ending ever. That's true -- so long as you continue to court the same fucking market.)

Seriously, I'm in the Warren Ellis school of thought on the topic: just because you've been publishing something for thirty years doesn't mean you need to keep publishing it. Characters going on way past their sell-by date is a hallmark of bad writing: the characters have taken control and the writer is just along for the ride. In good fiction, the author (that is to say, the fictional world's God) is still firmly in control. In that way, real change can occur inside the bounds of the story and risk exists. Contrast that to the shadow play bullshit like Infinite Crisis, where nothing but corporate's list of "disposable characters" calls any shots.

It's sloppy fiction. All signs point to large audiences wanting something a little more sophisticated. Complex, long-form fiction with discernible arcs; comics publishers seem to forget that an "arc" features actual endings. The "six issues per arc in an ongoing title" trend is nothing more than an elaborate form of the sitcom. Let's just hope this is a current method to wean people from interminable titles to something a little more mature, but one wonders...

2) This reminds me of that "I know a Canadian" cliché -- you say you're from Canada, and someone asks you if you know their Canadian friend "Bob," on the naive belief that everyone in Canada must know each other because it's some other place that lacks the complexity of the homeland.

So... Storm and Black Panther are both black, straight, and from Africa, and so therefore must have been in love at one point. Nevermind that Africa is fucking enormous and filled with a jigsaw of countries that routinely change names and sizes. No, really: it's fucking big.

3) I'm tapped. Talk to you later.

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