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f13.net  |  f13.net General Forums  |  General Discussion  |  Comics  |  Topic: Useless comics news, discussions, and recommendations 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
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Author Topic: Useless comics news, discussions, and recommendations  (Read 75522 times)
Khaldun
Terracotta Army
Posts: 10242


Reply #490 on: July 07, 2019, 09:20:19 AM

They are really very parallel cases: same strengths, same weaknesses.

On one hand, there's no more powerful an incentive to turning in tomorrow/buying the next issue than seeing what happens next to characters you're invested in.

If those characters change in ways that aren't based in narrative, that breaks that incentive. Meaning, it's ok for the good wife to slowly give in to temptation and sleep with the handsome doctor she works with in the hospital; it's ok for Spider-Man to get married or Aquaman to lose a hand. But if a new writer comes on and says, "Eh, forget that this older woman on the show for three decades has three children and once had amnesia, I've decided that she's actually a man in disguise and is a secret agent and is also a brilliant physicist, because I'm taking the suburban setting of the show away and moving the characters into a high-powered university lab doing experiments for the government", that breaks everything even if the ideas wouldn't be terrible for another show (or even as a slow-developing shift in narrative emphasis). Same for comic books: "Hey, let's have the heroes fight a civil war, and let's make Mr. Fantastic sociopathic to the point of being evil and have him make an extradimensional gulag to stick superheroes in and let's have Tony Stark make a cloned Thor who will kill enemies and let's have the good guys be completely ok with using serial killers as allies" etc. where that just comes from nowhere is really jarring; even more when every two trade paperbacks or so, the fundamental basis of the storytelling and the characters are changed.

But soaps do run into the problem that the characters have such long narrative arcs that sooner or later everything that CAN happen to them DOES happen to them--they've all had amnesia, they've all died and come back, they've all had evil twins, they've all committed adultery, they've all become good guys, they've all committed crimes, etc. Because you have to keep the story moving. The same thing for comic books--if you overdo continuity, all the characters become ridiculously overstuffed with backstory (while remaining eternally about the same age). One of the many soft reboots of Batman a while back laid this out pretty clearly--there was no imaginable way for Batman at the eternal age of 33 or so to have mentored Dick Grayson from boyhood to young adulthood, mentored Jason Todd from boyhood to death to resurrection to young adulthood, mentored Tim Drake from about 12 to about 17, and had a relationship for about 3 years with his son Damian (even given that Damian was aged in a tank by his mother). And yet there they all were standing alongside him in order, each one with a backstory supposedly intact.

So you either need something that cleans out some of the backstory--maybe it's just quietly forgetting most of it while taking the most interesting and consequential stuff forward--or something more formal. I think the really radical move would be to allow fundamentals to change. The MCU seems on the verge of this--they seem to have decided not to take the "recast and keep it in the eternal present" route, but instead the "move on and evolve route". I could imagine that if they're still making movies in 10 years, Morgan Stark will become Iron Man 3.0, etc.  The comics could finally follow suit--stop telling stories of possible futures and alternate realities and actually let the characters age and change and die. Or the MCU could slowly lose commercial power, the whole thing wind down for a while, and then they recast and go back to the beginning, a la Spider-Man. I dunno. But definitely infinite serial storytelling doesn't work after a certain point.
Velorath
Contributor
Posts: 8171


Reply #491 on: July 07, 2019, 01:20:56 PM

On one hand, there's no more powerful an incentive to turning in tomorrow/buying the next issue than seeing what happens next to characters you're invested in.

But it works the other way also, where there's a powerful incentive to not want to get into something in the middle of a storyline. For TV shows, especially back when a lot of the long-running soaps started, that was a more common thing to do because you didn't have the means to go back to the beginning of any given show and you were at the mercy of what was being broadcast at the time. That changed with the ability to record shows, and then with streaming.

Comics were similar in that if you were getting into something you'd pick up the issue that happened to be on sale at the time and maybe if there were some back issues available that looked interesting or were mentioned in a footnote of another comic you had maybe you'd pick some of those up also. There was no internet to order issues off of, no subscription service offering an archive of digital issues, and it wasn't really advertised when a new creative team was jumping on.

Now with stuff like Marvel Unlimited, someone could potentially jump on to Spider-man from around the beginning and probably get a lot of ASM and maybe some of the other books, but there aren't a lot of people that are going to want to read through 57 years and counting of Spider-man stories. Even I don't want to do that. When I'm poking around on Unlimited I'm looking at particular runs or storylines.

They couldn't keep writing comics the way they always have, where every issue might be somebody's first and there's no clear transition from one creative team to the next, with everything just being part of an ongoing story. People consume media differently now and to ignore that and try to carry on business the way it's always been is a great way to become completely irrelevant. It's why a lot of soap operas that ran for decades have been canceled in the last ten or so years, and the ones that are left (in the U.S. anyway) have tiny amounts of viewers. Even wrestling's ratings have generally been in steady decline. This style of storytelling is catering to the people who are already invested in it, and each time one of those people moves on or dies they aren't being replaced.

Mind you I don't think they way they're currently doing things is bringing on boatloads of new readers, but I do think trying to change the model a bit is better than just hoping people randomly feel like jumping into reading Iron Man with issue #726 which continues on from the previous 725 issues and will just continue going and going.
HaemishM
Staff Emeritus
Posts: 40211

Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you and other troops you control.


WWW
Reply #492 on: July 07, 2019, 03:01:00 PM

It's a delicate balancing act, and honestly, I think the biggest problem with the way they are doing it now revolves around the necessity to make everything a 6-issue trade paperback. Storytelling becomes so stretched that if you look back over say, Brian Azzarello's Wonder Woman run (just finished reading this), what you have in essence is one long story told in about 4 mini-story parts. Reading comics in the '80's, a 12-issue run would literally have 8-12 complete stories. The narratives were denser and while I'm certainly not saying we have to go back to 1-2 issue stories with 30 panels a page, all stuffed with thought balloons and narrator boxes.

I think I'd really rather Marvel and DC just say that they are doing 5-year mega meta arcs, and then reboot the entire universe all over again, every character, every book.

Velorath
Contributor
Posts: 8171


Reply #493 on: July 07, 2019, 03:47:20 PM

Well even writing for the trade is becoming outdated these days because thatís a business model based around the idea of people buying physical books. Iím sure thatís actually still a big chunk of the market right now but over time Iím sure the trend is going to be away from that.

Digital still isnít quite there though especially since Marvel Unlimitedís layout is still a mess. Want to read any story that crosses over into other books and chronological order? Hope you have a reading list from some other site handy. Going through all the buildup for War of The Realms, they donít do a good job of suggesting a starting point and them compiling a reading order for you and taking you from book to book. They have a section for crossovers but itís pretty inadequate. They could also do a much better job of suggesting complementary reading material. Marvel hasnít fully embraced digital, and donít seem to be in a rush adding any sort of QoL features to the site.
HaemishM
Staff Emeritus
Posts: 40211

Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you and other troops you control.


WWW
Reply #494 on: July 07, 2019, 07:08:20 PM

DC has the same problem with crossover material, and finding the right order to read things. Their marketing departments are amazingly bad at doing the simple things.

Velorath
Contributor
Posts: 8171


Reply #495 on: July 10, 2019, 10:06:11 AM

Read through all the issues of Immortal Hulk that are on Unlimited, and yeah this is amazing stuff. Joe Bennett's artwork is a great fit for the material, and the body horror stuff in particular is something I'm not used to seeing in comics in general let alone a Marvel "superhero" book. This is probably the best anybody has done of getting back to the original concept of the Hulk not being evil or a killer (mostly), but being fucking terrifying regardless and not just because he causes a lot of property damage. If you guys haven't checked it out already, you should.
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