Thursday, June 01, 2006

Writing and Comics

I've always thought comics were one of the most interesting mediums and learning to read off of them has predisposed me to the form as far as creating goes. Now as much as I would be forever happy with my life if I was a talented artist and could spend my time drawing comics for sustanace, this is, alas, not the case. Luckily I'm at least a decent writer and so I find myself composing all sorts of comic book stories in my head. I've written without a comic book format of course, countless essays, character backgrounds and a few short stories - but the medium I keep wishing to work with is comic books - the place where you have art AND story working together to acomplish something more by combining means of expression.

A few years ago I worked with a friend of mine to try and create a comic book - my comic book - Legacy. Unfortunately my friend wasn't quite as passionate about the project as I was and we never went anywhere with actually bringing the story to the public. I still have all the work I've done on the story as well as a lot of the character art so that one day I can find an artist who shares my love for comics and wants to bring Legacy to the public.

Recently I re-read my initial work on the book. Usually when I go back to something after a few years I tear it apart and rework it from the bottom up. I've always been a fairly harsh critic of my own work and as such can find a lot I want to improve on in my older work. Not so with Legacy though. I was suprised how much I really put into just the first issue. I was even more suprised with the fact that I may actually have the potential to become a good writer and not just a decent one.

I think the comics medium is my strongest because I have such vivid mental imagery when I write. While I am fairly good with description it translates better (to me anyway) with art alongside of it.

I'm not writng this to make any specific point - this was mostly to get a lot of my thoughts on "paper". But what I would like to know, is what do you think makes a good story? This doesn't have to refer to comic books, but any medium for story telling. Also, what creative medium do you prefer for telling stories (both from a creator and recipient perspective)?


Anonymous Jeff said...

Comic books are one of the few truly American art forms. And yes, they are ART, just as valid a means of expression as poems, novels, plays, paintings or music. I always prayed that they would get wider respect from the adult audience and thought it was a shame that they had been deemed merely kid's stuff by most adults. What's the expression? Be careful what you wish for?? As to what makes a good story, hit me with imagination Baby and I'm all yours. That's the problem with the entertainment industry as a whole these days, no imagination. We get sequel after sequel and remake after remake with nary an original spark in the mix. Comics these days move at a glacial pace. Go back in time, redo an old story but instead of telling it in one issue, drag it out to six. Comics used to be the place you could read stories you couldn't find anywhere else. No limits and boundless imagination. You had cities in bottles, men who could hurl planets, magic rings and lassos that could force you to tell the truth. Fun, magic and a sense of wonder. Wilfull suspension of disbelief. A lot of that has been taken out of comics these days as they try and drag the heroes into the real world, our world. Who wants to read about that? Comics are supposed to be escapism, not revenge fantasy in the grungy modern world. I've also always liked stories about the villains. Heroes tend to be more boring. I do always enjoy a story however where the protagonist has to overcome great odds or actually loses the fight. Forever engrained in my brain, at least til Alzheimer's takes it from me, is the image of Spidey laying beaten, unconscious on a snowy rooftop after the Vulture layed him out. And how about when Bruce became addicted to Venom and had to lock himself in the Batcave to detox. Mess with the hero's mind a bit. Hit 'em in his/her emotional core. Always thought that the Hatter and Scarecrow were interesting as they were the ones gassing old Batsy and forcing him to face his inner demons.
Off to read Legacy. Thanks for the read!!

Friday, June 02, 2006  
Anonymous Jim said...

I think a good story is one that graps me from the beginning and doesn't let me go until the end. It also needs strong character development. I cna usually tell when a character has no back story and they are being made up on the fly and it feels false. Prose, comics, movies or TV are all great forms for story telling.

Friday, June 02, 2006  
Blogger Brainiac6 said...

Yeah I remember when people thought comics weren't a valid art form - when it was "kids stuff". Heck that was when I was a kid - I hated it. In school we had D.E.A.R. time every day in home room and it was supposed to be a time to encourage kids to read. I had gotten a bunch of my friends into manga (Ranma 1/2 I believe) and so we were all passing the books around between us. My teacher, Mrs. Williams asked me about the book and I showed it to her. She didn't mind me reading comics in school but she said that technically there was a school rule about it - you couldn't read comics for D.E.A.R time. Well that pissed me off. She helped me fight the rule though. She had my Dad come in and give a talk on comic books and he donated a bunch of books to our class. I wrote a petition and had tons of people sign it to get the rule changed. In the end the rule was changed, and it was pretty cool to feel as if I had won a battle for the heroes who won so many battles for me. But now comics are considered a valid art form - and as a result have been taken out of the classrooms once again. It's pretty sad all in all. You're right Jeff, be careful what you wish for indeed. At least Bone is being published by scholastic now. Maybe books like that will put some comics at least back in the schools.

Friday, June 02, 2006  
Anonymous Jeff said...

You know what else I like about some stories? When they actually crack a joke or two. This is news from the Philly Con running this weekend. It really angers me that Didio feels this way:

Asked by a female fan why there aren’t more light-hearted titles in the DCU such as Impulse or Young Justice, in a broad reply, Didio said that they’ve found that people respond better to angst, noting that Kyle Baker’s Plastic Man was a title that was light hearted, and pointed to often when DC was asked why it didn’t publish light hearted books, and in the end, no one bought it. Didio later added that he doesn’t want to sacrifice characters for a joke, and prefers it when humor comes from within a character, rather than applied on them from outside. He also named Blue Beetle as one of DC’s current books with a lighter tone.

Friday, June 02, 2006  

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