Ongoing series... fated to be bad?

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Ongoing series... fated to be bad?

Post by Winged Outlaw » Tue Aug 03, 2004 4:44 pm

There was this interesting discussion on another Comix related forum visited by many Fans. In any case, the question has been posed. Are ongoing titles doomed to failure from a creativity standpoint?

I've found myself on both sides of the fence on this issue throughout the years. Right before I started reading comics again, I was under the assumption that this was, by necessity, a truism. By the time you get to around issue 500 or so, a comic book's quality diminishes as stories are recycled, and people buy the books out of habit rather than excitement.

Then, as I began reading again, ongoing title work by writers such as Grant Morrison, Joe Casey, Ed Brubaker, and even some of the later stuff put out by Claremont (note that all these names I'm dropping are soley my own opinion, whether or not you agree), got me excited about comics again, as they were producing things that we'd really seen before and injecting new life into these series. Hell, Grant Morrison made me actually enjoy reading JLA. Considering my rather intense hatred for all things DC, that was quite the feat.

But in the past year or so, my excitement has dwindled. Really innovative books like Wildcats 3.0 are getting cancelled, whilst longtime books like X-Men are going back to a state VERY similar to the dreaded 90's, on PURPOSE. I mean, lets take a look at Astonishing X-Men. It is, in fact, very well written, and the art is wonderful. However, how many times has the concept of a mutant "cure" come up before? How many times have Scott and Wolverine fought over Jean? How many times has Beast in particular expressed a sensitivity about his mutation? How many times has some crazy inter-dimensional warrior come around looking for the X-Men's heads? Yes, it is well-written, but I see very little real creativity, just new spins on old ideas (which sadly, is my greatest complaint about Grant Morrison's New X-Men run as well).

And it is for this reason that I've dropped all the X-Books, and probably wont come back except to sample what Milligan does on X-Men (adjectiveless). Its not because any (well, most) of them are particularly bad, its just because I'm bored. I feel like I could get the same enjoyment for cheaper by going back and picking up some old X-Men TPBs. Or, more likely, looking outside the X-Realm altogether. This is the first time in my life where my most enjoyable comic book reads come not only from outside X-Men, but outside of Marvel altogether.

This turned into an anti-X-Men rant, which wasn't my initial intention. One thing I wanted to do as well was make a suggestion as to what I'd prefer to see over one long, ongoing X-Men title. Instead, I'd like a collection of self-contained mini-series, starring various X-Men. The big problem with ongoings is that they can never truly come to a real conclusion. After all, the story is never-ending. One reason why manga seems to be so much more popular in America now than our own comics is that most (if not all) mangas are finite stories, ones that have satisfying beginnings, middles, climaxes, and endings. The overall writing quality increases as a result, and far mor meaningful as a story. There's no such thing as a filler story, no actions by the characters that can be completely forgotten about (usually).

Best of all, it would be a great way to maintain continuity (with short descriptors on the opening pages as to pertinent recent events) without it being such a huge stumbling block to new readers.

Crap, lunch is almost over so I'll end here. Any thoughts?

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Ongoing series... fated to be bad?

Post by Northstars Love » Tue Aug 03, 2004 6:09 pm

Well, it does seem anytime there is a X solo series started it ends soon after. Except for Wolverine because of his strong popularity. I'm hoping Nightcrawler remains strong. I love Darick's art so I won't have a problem there.

Recycled stories? Yes. I agree. They get tired. One reason why I'm such a fan of the older X books rather than the newer books. I summon those books up all the time and newer readers just don't know what I'm talking about or just don't feel that there is need to read the old issues. That's fine. I don't have a problem with that. But I do see some writers re-hashing the old stuff. :/ Perhaps the new ideas are running out? Or because those ideas worked well in the past they will work well now? Maybe for those readers that are not familiar with the old books but for us oldies, like myself, I see it as repetitive.


How many times has Phoenix come back? I love the character but enough already. The first time meant something. People were upset that Jean was dead and showed their condolences by sending the Marvel offices flowers. Then we come to find out it wasn't her 7-8 years later but the Phoenix Force copying her, which was fine. It made a great story. But now when I see Jean/Phoenix and she dies, I think "eh...she'll be back" and that is something I never thought of 25 years ago. I miss that. I want to be kept guessing and not come to the conclusion that this story has been done and I know the ending already before it had been officially published and released.

I'm not ranting either. I read all the X-books despite some of the rehashing. I don't mind the call backs as long it isn't used to drive the story.

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Ongoing series... fated to be bad?

Post by Bamf Bunny » Tue Aug 03, 2004 6:38 pm

Originally posted by **Northstars Love**
But now when I see Jean/Phoenix and she dies, I think "eh...she'll be back" and that is something I never thought of 25 years ago.
Isn't coming back from the dead what phoenixes do, by definition?

Long-running series do tend to end up cannibalizing themselves. Lazy writers figure that what worked once will work again, or do what are essentially cover versions of old stories.

The basic setup of the X-men is "mutants choose to heroically defend a world that hates them". There's a certain amount of angst built in even if the comic was otherwise nothing but a chronicle of their merry adventures. More practically, fans want consistency in their characters; they may be willing to watch their favorites change over time, but they generally want some sort of consistent core characterization.

Neither of those things has to be deadly to a series. The Carl Barks Donald Duck stories were written over a period of three decades. Disney's control over their characters was even tighter than Marvel's over the X-Men, and Barks was doing work for hire ... but they're amazing stories, witty, original, well-plotted, and beautifully drawn. Barks wrote - I think - only one sequel to a previous story; there's a bit of continuity between them if you're looking for it, but in general each stands on its own. It turned out that there are a lot of stories that can be written about a greedy uncle, his irascible nephew, and his good-natured nephews.

The X-Men could perfectly well do something similar. There are some givens for any book - some established characters, some mutant angst, some playing around with parallels to established minority groups - and if you don't like those, you're better off with some other title. But it doesn't mean that we have to see the 100th version of Days Of Future Past, or bring back Count Nefaria.

And you'll probably keep seeing the mutant cure as long as people who are different keep getting asked "So if there was a magic pill that would cure deafness/sexual orientation/whatever, would you take it?" Plus, as Paul O'Brian pointed out, Whedon isn't handling the idea the same way past writers have. Like the saying goes, "It's not what the story's about, it's how it's about it."
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Ongoing series... fated to be bad?

Post by Northstars Love » Tue Aug 03, 2004 7:13 pm

Originally posted by Bamf Bunny
Originally posted by **Northstars Love**
But now when I see Jean/Phoenix and she dies, I think "eh...she'll be back" and that is something I never thought of 25 years ago.
Isn't coming back from the dead what phoenixes do, by definition?
:LOL You know Bunny I knew you were going to answer this thread and say that. Perhaps I'm psychic myself. :smirk

But I'm very aware what the phoenixes do. I'm just saying it makes me feel like, "uh...done already." Lets move on to something else.

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Ongoing series... fated to be bad?

Post by Bamf Bunny » Tue Aug 03, 2004 7:45 pm

Originally posted by **Northstars Love**
Perhaps I'm psychic myself. :smirk
I think you mean ...

"Bunny's thoughts ... so awful! Would I like him better if I didn't know these quips he's thinking of making? Or ... could it be ... do I project myself subconsciously onto him, making him say things I don't want to say myself? Oh God, curse these psychic powers! Angst angst angst angst angst!"
Paulus aber sprach: Ich wünschte vor Gott, es fehle nun an viel oder an wenig, daß nicht allein du, sondern alle, die mich heute hören, solche würden, wie ich bin, ausgenommen diese Bande.

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Ongoing series... fated to be bad?

Post by Winged Outlaw » Tue Aug 03, 2004 7:48 pm

I’ll gladly concede that a rehashed story can still be entertaining so long as its written well, but what I’m wondering is whether or not there’s a limit to that. I believe that there is, and that within the past year, I reached it. I’m tired of reading the X-Men to see how they’ll redo the Phoenix Saga or the Mutant Massacre or the Cure or whatever. Its not something that gets on my nerves when it happens in TV mostly because I don’t have to pay for those stories (well not directly, in any case). In my opinion, if you want me to continually pay money for something, then you should be able to come up with something unique to make it worth my while. Otherwise, why not just go back and read the back-issues? With the amount of talent that X-Men has seen over the years, chances are that the same story has been done before, and better.

What REALLY gets on my nerves is that when somebody actually does try to experiment within these books (at least after Claremont’s first run was over), fans tend to always react with negativity. Morrison, Casey, and yes, to a point even Austen got some really unfair criticism for doing little else than trying to do something new with these characters and with this concept. Marvel has even responded by forcibly reverting the line back to the status quo, re-introducing the costumes, dumbing down the stories and themes for a younger audience, and over-inflating the X-Line once again.

Ironically, the reason X-Men grew to such heights of greatness was not because it conformed to some kind of status quo, but because it had no status quo. It was always changing, always reinventing itself, and never, EVER conforming itself to what a superhero “should be”. This is why I found Astonishing X-Men #1 to be such a slap in the face to the X-Men franchise… the X-Men are not there to simply try and emulate the Avengers or the Fantastic Four.

And thus… the X-Men are currently dead to me, as are most of the ongoings I used to read. I’m more interested in books like Sleeper, which is using an innovative approach of presenting itself in seasons separated by a number of months rather than producing each issue right on top of each other. Sometimes an added wait is beneficial to the final result, as it builds anticipation to a fever pitch.

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Ongoing series... fated to be bad?

Post by Crawler » Tue Aug 03, 2004 10:27 pm

Originally posted by Winged Outlaw
...how many times has the concept of a mutant "cure" come up before?
I don't remember it coming up before, can you refresh my memory, please?
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Post by Bamf Bunny » Tue Aug 03, 2004 11:12 pm

Originally posted by Winged Outlaw
I’ll gladly concede that a rehashed story can still be entertaining so long as its written well
I haven't seen anyone arguing for "rehashed" stories. Did you mean to post this to some other thread?
Originally posted by Crawler
I don't remember [the muntant cure plot device] coming up before
This was a running plot line in the mid-300s in Uncanny - Rogue wanted the Agee Institute to remove her power so she could live a normal life. I think the cartoon got an episode or two out of it. There's also the High Evolutionary arc where he wiped everyone's powers.

I liked what Paul O'Brian said in his Astonishing review so much I'll just quote it:
Generally the approach in these stories is that an individual character discovers the possibility of getting rid of their unwanted powers. Then they get to face a dilemma about whether to do so, with vague mutterings about being true to yourself. (There's also a second version of the plot - evil villain discovers way of removing mutant powers, heroes discuss whether that would be so bad, heroes discover cure has genocidal side-effect, heroes defeat villain. See the High Evolutionary for details. But Whedon is working with version 1 of the story.)
The X-factor cure plot device isn't of itself new, but the story that Whedon's telling it is new, at least within the X-Books. What does it mean to say "mutants are okay" when thousands of mutants are demanding to be like everyone else? Does Hank have some duty to the mutant community to bear his burden instead of setting a bad example?
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Post by Crawler » Tue Aug 03, 2004 11:27 pm

But there wasn't ever a cure before, right? Rogue just WANTED one, right?

And the High Evolutionary didn't give ANYONE a choice. He just removed everyone's powers.
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Post by Northstars Love » Wed Aug 04, 2004 7:40 am

Originally posted by Bamf Bunny
Originally posted by **Northstars Love**
Perhaps I'm psychic myself. :smirk
I think you mean ...

"Bunny's thoughts ... so awful! Would I like him better if I didn't know these quips he's thinking of making? Or ... could it be ... do I project myself subconsciously onto him, making him say things I don't want to say myself? Oh God, curse these psychic powers! Angst angst angst angst angst!"

You know I love you Bunny! :puppy (<---the smilie problem continues. sorry, :offtopic: LOL!

But like I said just had the feeling you know. :P

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Ongoing series... fated to be bad?

Post by Sorte Springer » Wed Aug 04, 2004 8:44 am

Originallity is not the trademark of super hero comics, or the epic fantsatic literature as such. Themes and achetypes are usually recyled over and over again. Writers borrow from and copy eachother all ther time. Example: In Spiderman 2, a lovely superhero movie that I really enjoyed, Harry Osborne has been made into a more or les carbon copy of the yong Lex Luther from the Smallville T.V. series (O.K. more angsty and incompetent tha LL but the similarity is obvious), however that dosen´t make the movie bad in my opinion. It is a genre piece, you are supposed to know to some extend what you get when you buy tickets to the movie. The X-men comics repeat themes and achetypes as well, they borrow from orther comics and works of fantastic literature, and are being borrowed from. Just look at George Lucas´immortal "Return of the Jedi" from 1983, and Chris Claremonts X-men tale "I Magneto" from 1981. Compare"It is to late for me, my son" and " It is to late for me to change, Ororo."
Some call it unoriginality, I call it intertexualltity.
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Post by Winged Outlaw » Wed Aug 04, 2004 3:10 pm

So let me try to understand this correctly. You are arguing that superhero titles must by their very nature recycle and retell their old stories because it’s ingrained in the genre itself? I’m sorry but I’m going to have to disagree with you there. There have been many books released in the past few years dealing with superheroes in new ways. Wildcats 3.0 and Sleeper immediately come to mind. And I refuse to believe that the X-Men or the JLA can’t/shouldn’t be innovative as well, though I do believe that the current format of single issues under a common ongoing name restricts the ability to change greatly.

Instead, I think the idea of releasing larger collected volumes of stories rather than single issue books would be beneficial in any number of ways. First, as there would be more time to work on the story, it will almost certainly improve in quality. Also, as I said before, there would be no filler arcs, and it would be much more likely that the same artist and writer would be able to complete the entire story without interruption. Think about what we get now. We pay for 12-18 issues per year, only a certain percentage of which can really be considered “must haves”. And even if we are lucky enough to get some good issues, most are parts of a larger whole which may read better when its all put together, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the individual issues suffer as a result of never feeling whole on their own. Also bad is the fact that by having these single issues, all of which must end on some kind of exciting, or at least dramatic note, the whole still feels disjointed, as attempts to make individual issues more desirable to read have trouble meshing together from front to back. It’s a double-edged sword. Single issues don’t read as well when part of an arc, but a trade paperback suffers as each issue tries to be individually worth buying.

Imagine instead of this mess that the industry (albeit over a certain amount of time) begins to produce these larger volumes, spaced over the course of a few months. Instead of 18 issues of questionable quality, we get 4-6 complete, unified stories. Instead of occasionally having to crawl through “Dracos” or “Murder at the Mansions”, we get our answers in one book, without destroying any of the suspense. Instead of having to fill every freaking moment of these superheroes’ lives with something dramatic for the sake of being entertaining (at the cost of being quite ridiculous, if you think about it), we see the episodes of these characters’ lives at a more even pace, as it would stand to reason that every now and then, nothing interesting happens, and we don’t have to force some kind of conflict out of it for the sake of filling an issue.

I’m not talking about X-Men exclusively, I’m talking about all the major ongoings of American comics. Its certainly worked for manga. Hell, manga is prospering in this country in a way American comics haven’t seen since the early 90’s. And for an industry that has grown so weak and small, I think we can all agree that SOMETHING needs to happen. Only a very small group of people still buy comics, both for reasons of social stigma along with the fact that comic book stores have become harder and harder to find. If comics want to survive (and prosper) as a legitimate form of literature, then its high time it started presenting itself as such.

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Post by Winged Outlaw » Wed Aug 04, 2004 4:52 pm

Originally posted by Bamf Bunny
Originally posted by Winged Outlaw
So let me try to understand this correctly. You are arguing that superhero titles must by their very nature recycle and retell their old stories because it’s ingrained in the genre itself?
Who's the "you" you're addressing? Outlaw, you regularly make these long posts where you seem to be arguing with some specific position, but if you don't quote the person you're responding to it's not clear what point you're trying to make.

I was addressing the post directly above mine.
If comics want to survive (and prosper) as a legitimate form of literature, then its high time it started presenting itself as such.
If you want comics that are aspiring to be "a legitimate form of literature", then may I suggest that you walk away from the Marvel flagship titles and pick up Love and Rockets.
Oh I already know that current Marvel isn't going to give you anything close to a form of literature that people will actually respect as such. I'm just saying that just because they're not there now, doesn't mean that it can't happen. If Manga can gain mainstream appeal, then so can comics.

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Ongoing series... fated to be bad?

Post by Singe » Thu Aug 05, 2004 1:52 am

Goodness, you're just the bright ray of optimistic sunshine, aren't you?

They're comic books. Lighten the hell up. Quit taking things so seriously.
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Post by scheherazade » Thu Aug 05, 2004 3:31 am

There's a really famous quote, which I cannot remember for the life of me (i'll look it up and get back to you) that says that, when it all is boiled down to it's essence, there are only a few stories in existance, and everything else is just offshoots of that. That's probably not really true, but the idea behind it is. If you distill a story to it's basics, you can find hundreds of stories like it... but can you say that there's no difference between Othello and Romeo and Juliet because they both come down to "Star-crossed lovers die tragically"? (Yes, I'm still stuck on Shakespeare from when we were talking about She Lies With Angels. but I like Shakespeare!)

To make another example: In second grade I got a book of Greek Myths, and I've been obsessive over them ever since. With the sheer number of myths and classics (like Illiad, the Odyssey and such) I've got floating around in my head, I've often noticed and commented on how almost every story, novel, or movie can be related to one of these myths.

My point is, pretty much everything there is to write about has already been written about. If writers didn't reuse ideas, we wouldn't have any more novels or movies or comic books. This is especially true of individual Genres, because they're constrained by the requirements of the specific genre. There's only so many stories to be told with a pack of cowboys wrangling their herd across the desert, but, if you read Einstein Intersection by Samuel R. Delany, there's a whole new way of looking at it, from the addition of the Science fiction-ish background (also a lot of Greek Mythological references in there, which made me realy happy)

In the superhero Genre, it is required that there be stories about people with super powers or at least people who risk their lives to help others (or, like Batman, just have really cool toys) Then, when you are writing in an established continuity, like that of the X-men, you have many more constraints: the "protecting a world that fears and hates them" the established characters, their own moral code... (as opposed to a more "edgy" superhero story, like The Authority, who kill their bad guys... a lot... and mostly mercilessly)

So, as it takes me forever to finish this post, my real point is that although there is a lot of repetitiveness in superhero comics, there's a lot of repetitiveness in everything, because that is the nature of storytelling.

Can we tell Scheherazade is an English major?

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Post by Sorte Springer » Thu Aug 05, 2004 6:53 am

Scheherazade, this is exactly what I mean, you just said it better :)
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Post by Bamf Bunny » Thu Aug 05, 2004 1:10 pm

Originally posted by scheherazade
[...] if you read Einstein Intersection by Samuel R. Delany [...]
Since we're mentioning Delany, I get to throw in his book Shorter Views: Queer Thoughts & the Politics of the Paraliterary. Delany's views on genre are complex and hard to boil down to a few sentences, but he discusses at length the way that fiction - especially science fiction, which he writes - deliberately satisfies and frustrates reader expectations.

Personally I'd argue that mainstream superhero comics often end up spending too much time satisfying one set of expectations ("fight scenes! angst! tits!") and not others ("memorable themes! plausible character arcs! suspense!").
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Post by bluefooted » Thu Aug 05, 2004 3:58 pm

Personally I'd argue that mainstream superhero comics often end up spending too much time satisfying one set of expectations ("fight scenes! angst! tits!") and not others ("memorable themes! plausible character arcs! suspense!").
And this is why we love you so much, Bunny! You're a champion for higher standards :D

I think the comic book genre (and this has probably already been said) is one that actually benefits from the 'rehashing of themes and stories'. I'd say the familiar themes and even the fact that storylines are often repeated - although the effect of telling the same story can be really distintinctive depending on slight tweakage - actually enhances the genre because it creates a kind of collective expectation on the part of the audience. Sort of in the same way that the horror movie genre benefits from the audience's expectation of certain rules being followed.

On a related note - check out the book 'Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender and the Modern Horror Film' It's a really great (and fun) read and the points that the author makes can easily be applied to the comic genre, as well.

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Post by Winged Outlaw » Thu Aug 05, 2004 4:42 pm

Originally posted by Singe
Goodness, you're just the bright ray of optimistic sunshine, aren't you?

They're comic books. Lighten the hell up. Quit taking things so seriously.
Hell yeah I'm optimistic. I think that its more than possible for ongoing titles to have original and engaging stories again. I refuse to believe that "God Loves, Man Kills" was a fluke or something.

I honestly don't understand the hostility this thread is inspiring towards me. I'm only trying to suggest an alternate form of presenting ongoing comic series, one that could lead to better stories, happier fans, and more money for the companies that create these books. I also never said that it was wrong to like ongoing series... just that I don't believe it will last and needs to be updated in order to maintain any sort of mainstream appeal.

And yeah... I understand that there will always be repetitiveness in the world of fiction... I'm just irritated when many superhero books start repeating their OWN stories. In cases like that, there really is no reason to buy the new issue, just reread the old stuff. If a series is ongoing, it should at least be able to produce story archetypes that haven't already been done before (and likely better) in the same book.

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Post by Bamf Bunny » Thu Aug 05, 2004 4:46 pm

Originally posted by bluefooted
[Repetition] actually enhances the genre because it creates a kind of collective expectation on the part of the audience.
It enriches the text for experienced audiences, but sometimes at a cost of making it less accessible for new audiences.

I think written SF has something of this dilemma. On the one hand, most of the best later works build on what's come before. Asimov's formulation of the laws of robotics pretty much put an end to rampaging robot stories (until computers became more common, and people thought about the difficulty of reducing such abstract ideals to a string of ones and zeroes ...) If you look through the writers' guidelines for the major SF magazines, you'll see lists of overused plots and plot devices. It's not that good stories can't be made from them; it's more that the readers - and the editors - have seen them so many times that they'd be overfamiliar in a genre that's meant to be challenging.

On the other - I remember reading all the SF I could find at the library as a kid in the seventies, while puzzling over a lot of it. There's such an assumption that you already know what "FTL" means, or that you'll understand why some apparently obvious plot development can be dismissed with a cryptic reference to some other story.

Some of the same elements and plots are perfectly acceptable in SF films and television, where they'll seem fresh to many viewers, who won't be saying "But Niven proved that unlimited teleportation to an unprepared endpoint will lead to a collapse of society ..."
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Ongoing series... fated to be bad?

Post by Crawler » Fri Aug 06, 2004 2:36 am

Well, this is definitely a difficult subject, and I do think it warrants some attention.

Granted, some people take the hobby too seriously. They're easy to pick out. But to say they're "just comic books" and imply that they totally devoid of any merit is doing comics and comic fans a disservice.

Is X-Men ever going to be recognized as a keystone of literature? No.

Does that mean it's worthless and we shouldn't care how bad it gets? Also no.

Comics are entertainment, so yeah, they're to be taken with a grain of salt. Taking them too seriously will lead to endless frustration.

If you're meticulously agonizing over every little continuity error or taking your favorite character's changing personally, then you need to step back a little. It's fiction, after all. If you just stop reading, it's not going to hurt you.

But comics are fun. They're interesting. We like them. We're allowed to want them to be better.

You have to find a happy medium to make the comics the most enjoyable.

I personally really like to go through my comics and take the storytelling apart. I like trying to figure out why some things work and others don't. Usually I can figure it out.

Sometimes I will get a comic that I know I hate, simply to figure out WHY I hate it. But that's to figure out what makes it tick or keeps it from ticking right. It's not because I want to go off on how so-and-so sucks or to prove that comics are somehow devoid of validity as an art form. Sometimes I even lightly rewrite it in a way that would be more pleasing to my personal tastes.

Which brings me to my next point: Comics are supposed to be meant for the broadest audience possible. if you don't like it, then there are other out there that you will...and if the comic keeps going, it simply because other people, who have different tastes than yours, like it.

Why take the existence of a particular book that you dislike personally? It's not hurting you.

And why buy a book you hate if you are just going to be mad about it? Just don't buy it. It wont hurt you.

Why attack someone for liking or creating a book that you don't like? Them liking it doesn't hurt you.

I do understand critiques and debate, though. I understand why people would want to do that...it's fun. It's engaging. It's educational sometimes. But only thoughtful critiques get thoughtful rebuttals. "It sucks and you suck!" doesn't get anything of the sort.



Wow. Kinda a big tangent there. Bascially the points are these:

Comics are not the end-all, be-all, but if they weren't important to you, you wouldn't be here, right?

And if you don't like something that you can't change, why stress yourself out about it?


And yes, I realize that this was not the intent of the thread to begin with, but it has become what the thread is about. As for the original idea...nothing is predestined to fail (because of its format). And who's to say what's failure and what's not?
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Ongoing series... fated to be bad?

Post by The Drastic Spastic » Fri Aug 06, 2004 3:01 am

Some things are so destined to fail. Ongoing series' in general aren't one of them. Just because there's no planned ending doesn't guarantee each story will be crap.

I think what I'm trying to say is that I don't blame crappy stories on the format. Even if, say, X-Men switched to trades every couple months, you'd still have the same problem with finding talented people to write stories to fill it. Most creative types aren't interested in limits, and most of the limits that are currently placed on the series would still exist.
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