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Author Topic: Limitations of comics  (Read 2335 times)

kev67

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Limitations of comics
« on: 13 September, 2020, 12:34:00 AM »
Alright, how many deep comics/graphical novels are there?

2000AD's current series The Out is a brave attempt. Obviously there have been psychologically deep comic strips like The Watchmen and Persopolis. Actually, I don't know about Persopolis, because I have not read it. To be honest, I don't think comics are up there with novels and plays, maybe not even up there with films. Why is that? Can't the speech bubbles contain enough words? Maybe it's because the artists have to paint dramatic pictures, and cannot paint lots of frames of people sitting around talking.

Funt Solo

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Re: Limitations of comics
« Reply #1 on: 13 September, 2020, 12:48:53 AM »
I'd be inclined to disagree with a suggestion that word quantity was a measure of depth (but then I'm not really sure what's meant by depth in this context).

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Colin YNWA

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Re: Limitations of comics
« Reply #2 on: 13 September, 2020, 07:05:06 AM »
Yeah one art form isn't really boundaried. Even if there wasn't yet a deep comic out there, and as Funt Solo says what exactly is meant by deep? It would simply be the fact that the comic that was 'deep' hadn't been made yet.

Can Art (as in Turner Prize Art) have no depth just as it often has no words. Are plays and cinema less 'deep' than a prose novel as they have less words. No.

So there are definately no boundaries defined by the medium / art form itself.

Go to any large branch of Waterstone and just look at the diversity of comics they have on the shelves and Watchmen and Persepolis don't even touch the edges of potential and realisation of the form.

Tjm86

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Re: Limitations of comics
« Reply #3 on: 13 September, 2020, 07:32:16 AM »
Hmmm.  How are we defining 'deep'?  A fair question.  Thought provoking?  Emotionally challenging?  Disturbing?  ....

Other art forms have achieved it possibly by accident rather than design, I would argue.  Artists create and hope, surely.  They can never be sure of how their creation will be received.

Possibly part of the issue with comics is that the emphasis, aim and audience can make producing 'deep' comics a challenge?  There is also the issue of how the material affects the reader.

"Maus" might be considered deep by some due to the subject matter it handles.  Superhero comics on the other hand might be considered anything but, as simple escapism.

Yet for all its controversy at times, Transmetropolitan says a lot about modern society even today.  I can think of one issue that deals with the issue of child sexual exploitation in an incredibly powerful way. Similarly, for all its shallowness, New Mutants managed an issue exploring bias, exclusion and bullying that might not appeal to adult readers but resonated strongly with younger readers.

Personally I would argue that the limitations in comics are the same as in any field.  It is what the artist can get away with.  Mills has highlighted some of the issues around editorial control.  We've seen how corporate concerns down through the years has provided challenges for writers and artists in terms of output.  Much of this was down to attitudes toward the intended audience.

Now of course we have a different argument evolving: how to attract a new, younger audience to a product that has appealed so much to a different generation.  We've seen that in the difficulties some of us have had with the Regened progs.  If nothing else it foregrounds the challenges of meeting the tastes of different audiences as well as producing a commercially viable product.  Something tells me that depth is a happy byproduct in all of this.

MumboJimbo

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Re: Limitations of comics
« Reply #4 on: 13 September, 2020, 07:43:10 AM »
I’m not widely read enough of comics outside of 2000 AD to give a cogent answer, but as far as the prog goes, I think the stories told are often hamstrung a little bit by the idea of “compressed storytelling” where we’re often herded from one action event to the next with an eventual ending that is unsatisfyingly abrupt. I think it was a good rule of thumb in the 80s, but I think the modern audience wants more. It’s often in the gaps between the action peaks where you can have some character interaction and so forth where the characters can become three dimensional and we can get to understand their motivations etc. These parts don’t have to be particularly long, and a good writer can impart a lot with some well chosen scenarios in this regard. Take for example the earlier seasons of Game of Thrones. There were some great scenes there like between Robert and Cercei that told us a lot about their awful marriage in surprisingly short scenes. There’s no reason why comics can’t do the same, but often we're railroaded through a series of action sequences on the back of some semi-explained McGuffin breadcrumb trail with little time for character development.

I think why Dabnett is so popular round these parts, is he gets that. And I have to say, sadly, the current Dredd story, End of Days is kind of what I’m railing against here, but having said that I’ve enjoyed aspects of it. But, at the time of writing I haven’t read the last episode, and I know there’s no way to tie it all up in even a vaguely remotely satisfying way in 5 or 6 pages. Which is silly considering it’s 12 parts long or whatever - why not give a little more space to the conclusion?

broodblik

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Re: Limitations of comics
« Reply #5 on: 13 September, 2020, 07:55:06 AM »
It is almost in the eye of the beholder. The current series “The Out” we can deem as “deeper” story or rather a more emotional toned story.  I will even add “Brink” to the fray where the main protagonist has grown as the story has unfolded. Halo Jones was in a similar vein. Even in the Dredd world we had deeper or emotionally driven storylines, “America” comes to mind. The movie media gives us a much easier way of transferring emotions in comics it is mostly in what mood you read it. Thus, the main problem with comics versus movies/tv shows.
When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.

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Greg M.

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Re: Limitations of comics
« Reply #6 on: 13 September, 2020, 10:03:42 AM »
I think the stories told are often hamstrung a little bit by the idea of “compressed storytelling” where we’re often herded from one action event to the next with an eventual ending that is unsatisfyingly abrupt. I think it was a good rule of thumb in the 80s, but I think the modern audience wants more.

My view is the exact opposite - I think some modern 2000AD stories are too decompressed, and I want them to have more exciting incidents, be more episodic and move quicker.

Quote

I think why Dabnett is so popular round these parts, is he gets that.

I think you're right - he caters for the 'box set' audience, which I assume comprises a substantial proportion of the readership. He's good at what he does, but much of it does little for me.

Quote
And I have to say, sadly, the current Dredd story, End of Days is kind of what I’m railing against here, but having said that I’ve enjoyed aspects of it.

There's plenty wrong with End of Days but I am not convinced that more of it would be the solution.

broodblik

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Re: Limitations of comics
« Reply #7 on: 13 September, 2020, 10:24:33 AM »
I think the stories told are often hamstrung a little bit by the idea of “compressed storytelling” where we’re often herded from one action event to the next with an eventual ending that is unsatisfyingly abrupt. I think it was a good rule of thumb in the 80s, but I think the modern audience wants more.

My view is the exact opposite - I think some modern 2000AD stories are too decompressed, and I want them to have more exciting incidents, be more episodic and move quicker.

Yes, i agree that the modern AD stories are less compress. In the older days most of the time each epsiode was written as a "self-contained" story.  We started with a recap letter box and the episode either ended with a conclusion or a cliff-hanger.


Greg what is a 'box set' audience ? I presume it is story told as a series rather that an episodic manner.
When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.

Old age is the Lord’s way of telling us to step aside for something new. Death’s in case we didn’t take the hint.

Greg M.

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Re: Limitations of comics
« Reply #8 on: 13 September, 2020, 10:33:49 AM »
Greg what is a 'box set' audience ? I presume it is story told as a series rather that an episodic manner.
I'm not a fan of a lot of modern TV drama - I find it too decompressed, and I feel that a limited number of ideas are dragged out over an excessive number of episodes. But I'm in the minority there - a lot of people love this approach, and they love it in comics too. Brink would be the best example - for me, it's mind-numbingly dull; for most of the forum it's spectacularly gripping.

broodblik

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Re: Limitations of comics
« Reply #9 on: 13 September, 2020, 10:55:38 AM »
So you prefer it when we have shorter stories and stories that runs at a higher pace?  With the weekly format it can feel that stories takes a longer time to resolve.  This approach definitely works great for collections.
« Last Edit: 13 September, 2020, 10:58:49 AM by broodblik »
When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.

Old age is the Lord’s way of telling us to step aside for something new. Death’s in case we didn’t take the hint.

Greg M.

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Re: Limitations of comics
« Reply #10 on: 13 September, 2020, 11:15:38 AM »
I don't mind the length of stories - I just like each episode to have something exciting going on. Someone ought to get punched / get stabbed / get shot / get chased / get eaten / fall down a hole / experience a dramatic revelation most weeks. I think Gordon Rennie generally does this sort of thing quite well, but I'm not always invested in his characters (Aguila, Diaboliks - well-structured stories with plenty of incident, but the leads don't grab me.)

IndigoPrime

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Re: Limitations of comics
« Reply #11 on: 13 September, 2020, 11:39:27 AM »
Now of course we have a different argument evolving: how to attract a new, younger audience to a product that has appealed so much to a different generation.
In theory, that’s simple: make parents aware of comics, and make publications available, appropriate and affordable. The problem is things fall down on the lat off those things. A Beano was 8p in 1985. Pure inflation alone would suggest a price point around 25p today. But circulations have tumbled and production values have increased. A single issue now costs £2.75 (or £1.50 on subscription), putting it out of reach of many families.

Even so, as someone who lives in a middle class town, it’s interesting that those who can afford comics are largely oblivious to their existence. We’ve been lending out mini-IP’s Phoenix books and Beano annuals to her friends, who are often not keen on reading. Without exception so far, the kids have been devouring those publications. But the language of comics seems to be something that’s fading away, and probably the sheer amount of plastic shit puts parents off. The Beano, of course, does probably two covermounts per year; The Phoenix does none. But the former gets lost on the newsstands and the latter is barely stocked.

Beyond that, there’s the issue of “where next”? Once kids want to take the next step, where do they go? Marvel reprints would be one obvious source, but Panini’s reprint line is in trouble. 2000 AD feels a bit too targeted at older readers and can be intimidating to newcomers.

broodblik

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Re: Limitations of comics
« Reply #12 on: 13 September, 2020, 11:55:51 AM »
How to get children to read is the problem. In today's world we have  a lot more "entertainment", so reading is seen as an effort and not a reward. Why would children read if they can watch a show ?
When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.

Old age is the Lord’s way of telling us to step aside for something new. Death’s in case we didn’t take the hint.

IndigoPrime

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Re: Limitations of comics
« Reply #13 on: 13 September, 2020, 12:13:53 PM »
I can only go by our experience, but our kid tends to do things that will give them time with parents. It’s really that simple here. Now, we are privileged in having that time and having those resources, but we are far from alone. Mini-IP has grown up surrounded by books. I’ve got her interested in comics, by giving them to her, and by giving her a Beano annual at about the age of four. Many of her friends didn’t have that foundation, and struggle with reading—but when they have a Beano or Phoenix in their mitts suddenly click with that form. One parent said it was instant—like magic.

The key takeaway for me is that at a young age, kids being surrounded by technology doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in reading or music or drawing or sports.

Tjm86

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Re: Limitations of comics
« Reply #14 on: 13 September, 2020, 12:25:05 PM »

In theory, that’s simple: make parents aware of comics, and make publications available, appropriate and affordable. The problem is things fall down on the lat off those things. A Beano was 8p in 1985. Pure inflation alone would suggest a price point around 25p today. But circulations have tumbled and production values have increased. A single issue now costs £2.75 (or £1.50 on subscription), putting it out of reach of many families.

A couple of years ago I did a comparative analysis of the price of the Tooth compared to the cover price at the time adjusted for inflation.  There are online tools that allow this to be done.  It worked out that between prog 1 and 2017, the adjusted price increased from 50p to roughly £2.50.

As you say, changes in production values have made a difference but the current weekly price of nearly £5 is a significant stumbling block.  TBH this is part of the reason why I finally gave up on American comics.  Between the glut of titles and the increasing frequency it was getting out of hand.  Especially with the pound tanking as a currency compared to the dollar.