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I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

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achilles
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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby achilles » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:36 am

Cat-Scratch wrote:

To borrow Mr. Samuel Jackson to translate - "Pacing motherfuckers! Do you know it?!!" :lol:


:lol:
Achilles is the kind of evil that hollows out a volcano for a lair, and sends killer robots after his enemies.---Lord Simian

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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby SuperginraiX » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:07 pm

achilles wrote:Speaking of decompressed comics, that's something that has gotten to me too, big time. It has its place as a technique, but creators tend to abuse it to pad their stories beyond all belief.

The classic and worst example I can think of was that Johns JSA arc, Thy Kingdom Come, also known as "The walking tour of places none of the readers care about, with side excursions into an insane Earth 2 that never appears again, and to a crazed and inexplicably powerful Magog, or is it Gog, who wanders around killing people for no apparent reason". That shit was LONG...way too long.

However, I find the indies full of stuff that absolutely isn't padded. A great recent, (this week), example is Dynamite's The Shadow Annual, which tells the story of the death of Bugsy Seigel, and how that happened, (hint---The Shadow knows), while weaving it into The Shadow's backstory, all while giving a complete story that sheds light on the character of The Shadow in just the one issue.

Not that everything has to be done in one, but arcs shouldn't be longer than absolutely necessary to tell the story. Which they are very frequently, at DC at least, (though I also point the finger at Valiant's Harbinger Wars, another wretched example of the crossover run amok).

This is why I'm loving Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye. There are a lot of two parters in the first three volumes. One three parter. A couple one and dones. It's pretty dense. Hell, you can go back and catch details going on in the BACKGROUNDS of panels that will grow to be part of the main story.

I could use more comics of that quality.
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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby Chessack » Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:00 pm

achilles wrote:Speaking of decompressed comics, that's something that has gotten to me too, big time.


Help me out here. What is meant by "decompressed" comics? That stories that used to be told in one issue are now dragged out to 7?

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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby Arion » Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:51 pm

Chessack wrote:
Help me out here. What is meant by "decompressed" comics? That stories that used to be told in one issue are now dragged out to 7?


6 actually. Everyone is obsessed with 6-issue arcs. Of course, it makes it easier for DC or Marvel to pack it all up in a nice HC or tpb immediately afterwards.

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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby Chessack » Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:49 pm

OK but decompression is not just about the # of parts to the story, correct? At least based on the word, it sounds like the idea being conferred is that this all could have been told in 1-2 issues but is being dragged out just for the sake of dragging it out.

With which I would absolutely agree... but I hadn't heard it referenced like that before.

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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby Herald » Fri Sep 20, 2013 7:01 pm

Chessack wrote:OK but decompression is not just about the # of parts to the story, correct? At least based on the word, it sounds like the idea being conferred is that this all could have been told in 1-2 issues but is being dragged out just for the sake of dragging it out.


Correct. A story in any medium (TV, novels, movies) can be decompressed. In comics, it usually takes the form of the already-mentioned 6-part story that could have been told in 1 or 2.

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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby Chessack » Fri Sep 20, 2013 7:18 pm

OK, thanks for the clarification.

I've already noticed this though hadn't had a name for it. I've been reading Silver Age stuff (original X-men) and some 80s stuff (Daring New Adventures of Supergirl, Simonson Thor) and by comparison, it really feels like nothing happens in most issues of a modern comic.

I had also noticed how many more words there were in the old school comics (X-men #1 has upwards of 4,000 words - yes I counted - whereas Supergirl #1 from New 52 has barely 600). Some of this is because styles have changed over the years. But I'd bet at least some of it is because they have to put in less verbiage to draw it out longer.

When I first got back into reading comics late last year, and I stopped by the comic shop for the first time since 1999, I told the guy at the shop how long it had been. He said a lot had changed, but probably the biggest was that most comics are "written for the trades" now. That story arcs are now almost always 5-7 issues long, averaging 6, so that 6 months after the arc is over they can be collected into stand-alone(ish) trades. And he said this had its pros and its cons. One pro is that you can easily catch up via trades. And most arcs are stand-alone enough that you can follow them individually. But the con, he said, was that almost all storylines are built with the "trade length" in mind, whether the actual story calls for it or not.

This rather puts me in mind of the novelist who sits down with the plan to "write a trilogy" before he's even got in mind a single character or plot idea.

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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby The Shadow » Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:16 pm

achilles wrote:Speaking of decompressed comics, that's something that has gotten to me too, big time. It has its place as a technique, but creators tend to abuse it to pad their stories beyond all belief.

I dunno... when I read Silver Age stories, and even stories into the early 2000's, I think they would benefit from expanding the stories and adding more information and depth to the situations, stories and characters.

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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby SuperginraiX » Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:29 pm

The Shadow wrote:I dunno... when I read Silver Age stories, and even stories into the early 2000's, I think they would benefit from expanding the stories and adding more information and depth to the situations, stories and characters.

I think, like most things, that decompression itself isn't the problem. There are decompressed stories that are masterfully written, where scenes are allowed to breath and the whole experience makes for a great read.

The problem is, when decompression itself is the mandate (and it DOES seem like it is), then you're going to get a LOT of bad decompressed stories. Because there are a LOT of writers that are very bad at writing decompressed stories. There are also a lot of writers that are bad at writing dense stories.

I usually notice bad decompression in event books. Stuff like Fear Itself and AvX just dragged on and on when they had no good reason for lasting eight to twelve issues except to pad things out. I also remember a nine part Iron Man story that could have been three. Maybe four. There's just a lot of wasted panels that do nothing to drive the story or build the characters in the book. Sometimes, it just feels like a lot of boring stuff happening.

The flipside is that when a writer is writing a dense comic, they really need to sell you on the heart of their idea and characters otherwise it'll just feel like a rushed comic that lacks any emotional connection.

So there are a lot of ways to write a bad comic.
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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby Chessack » Sat Sep 21, 2013 7:34 am

SuperginraiX wrote:I think, like most things, that decompression itself isn't the problem. There are decompressed stories that are masterfully written, where scenes are allowed to breath and the whole experience makes for a great read.

The problem is, when decompression itself is the mandate (and it DOES seem like it is), then you're going to get a LOT of bad decompressed stories. Because there are a LOT of writers that are very bad at writing decompressed stories. There are also a lot of writers that are bad at writing dense stories.

I usually notice bad decompression in event books. Stuff like Fear Itself and AvX just dragged on and on when they had no good reason for lasting eight to twelve issues except to pad things out. I also remember a nine part Iron Man story that could have been three. Maybe four. There's just a lot of wasted panels that do nothing to drive the story or build the characters in the book. Sometimes, it just feels like a lot of boring stuff happening.


This is the essential problem with what we're calling "decompression." If there is a mandate (and according to the guy in my comic shop, there actually is one at DC where writers are ordered to 'write for the trade'), then tons of stories that really only ought to take a few issues to tell, end up being dragged out for, as you say, no reason. H'el on Earth is another example of a story that dragged on forever -- 13 issues across 3 series and literally nothing happened. H'el showed up, took over the Fortress of Solitude, and tried to use the sun's energy to go back in time and stop Krypton from being destroyed. That story could have been told in just the Superboy annual, but instead dragged through not only that, but 12 more comics. In issue after issue it was, "Heroes show up, H'el and Supergirl fight them, heroes are beaten back." Each subsequent issue it was just "lather, rinse, repeat."

Often in modern story arcs I have the feeling, "When is this thing going to END already??" Years ago, that happened too, but not as much. I remember being bummed when the Great Darkness Saga ended because I wanted more. But Levitz and Giffen, back then, were savvy enough to realize when a story was finished, and they went out on a high note. Which is why that arc remains one of my all-time favorites. I can't think of many arcs that compare favorably to it today.

There are exceptions. Busiek is doing great work on Astro City. His stories so far have been either 1- or 2-issuers, and each issue feels like it contains way more story content than most New 52 material.

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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby achilles » Sat Sep 21, 2013 8:32 am

Chessack wrote:
This is the essential problem with what we're calling "decompression." If there is a mandate (and according to the guy in my comic shop, there actually is one at DC where writers are ordered to 'write for the trade'), then tons of stories that really only ought to take a few issues to tell, end up being dragged out for, as you say, no reason. H'el on Earth is another example of a story that dragged on forever -- 13 issues across 3 series and literally nothing happened. H'el showed up, took over the Fortress of Solitude, and tried to use the sun's energy to go back in time and stop Krypton from being destroyed. That story could have been told in just the Superboy annual, but instead dragged through not only that, but 12 more comics. In issue after issue it was, "Heroes show up, H'el and Supergirl fight them, heroes are beaten back." Each subsequent issue it was just "lather, rinse, repeat."

Often in modern story arcs I have the feeling, "When is this thing going to END already??" Years ago, that happened too, but not as much. I remember being bummed when the Great Darkness Saga ended because I wanted more. But Levitz and Giffen, back then, were savvy enough to realize when a story was finished, and they went out on a high note. Which is why that arc remains one of my all-time favorites. I can't think of many arcs that compare favorably to it today.

There are exceptions. Busiek is doing great work on Astro City. His stories so far have been either 1- or 2-issuers, and each issue feels like it contains way more story content than most New 52 material.


True, Astro City is one of the great bright spots in comics today, and probably the best thing put out by DC. It is essentially as great as it was back in the day. But then Busiek never lost it.

Decompression is just a technique. It can be used well, or misused. The problem is that with the "writing for the trade" epidemic going on these days at the big two, it tends to be misused by their writers.

It should always be a writer's goal to write just enough to tell their story, and no more. And publishers should support them in that, rather than encourage the opposite.
Achilles is the kind of evil that hollows out a volcano for a lair, and sends killer robots after his enemies.---Lord Simian

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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby chap22 » Sat Sep 21, 2013 8:39 am

One key distinction should probably be made:

There is a difference in decompression, and "padding". Decompression by itself is fine. Padding, which you guys are really describing now, is an abomination against mankind.

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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby Lord Ice » Sat Sep 21, 2013 9:13 am

I keep seeing Age of Ultron in the corner trying to hide its face. :lol:
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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby SuperginraiX » Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:11 am

Lord Ice wrote:I keep seeing Age of Ultron in the corner trying to hide its face. :lol:

I wanted to mention that one but I had only bought the first issue and didn't think it was fair of me to complain about stuff I hadn't read.

But now I remember I bought the first TWO issues. They were just exactly the same. :lol:
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Re: I'm Getting Pissed Off Again With Comics

Postby Chessack » Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:51 am

chap22 wrote:One key distinction should probably be made:

There is a difference in decompression, and "padding". Decompression by itself is fine. Padding, which you guys are really describing now, is an abomination against mankind.


Well, I guess what we are talking about is decompression being done for the sake of padding, rather than because the story calls for it, or could be improved by it.

One of the things that really strikes me about most New 52 comics is that here we are, depending on the title, 18, 24 issues into these series, and in many cases I have no real feel for the characters. WW is well characterized in her own series (though it seems to be almost like an Elseworlds since she is completely different when written by every other writer). So I have a good sense of her character. But for many of the other series stars, the writers do so little to reveal character that I have no good sense of who they are, as people. New 52 Supergirl is a great example again... 24 issues in, and all I know about her is that she's an angry teen who loses her temper a lot. There's been no exploration of the deeper parts of her personality, and her reaction to losing her whole world and family and all that has been just surface-based. One or two panels of quiet reflection in 24 issues are not sufficient to reveal character.

So many DC characters are just cardboard cut-outs now, that it's hard to decide if I like them or not. All they really seem to do is fight other characters, often for little or no good reason, because DC seems to think that all we readers want is double-page action shots (I'm looking right at you, Justice League 23). Action may be fun but it hardly ever reveals character. And it's really the personalities of these characters that make them who they are, and make us want to cheer for them (and buy their books).

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