Soundtrack: The Fastbacks — …And His Orchestra
“Singles” Looking For Love
It would seem that the current debate over the continued viability of monthly, pamphlet-style “singles” began with Franklin Harris’s article here. Since then, a lot of the people in the comics blogging neighborhood (stalwarts such as Dirk Deppey, Laura Gjovaag, Johnny Bacardi, Sean Collins, John Jakala, Ron Phillips, and Kevin Melrose, among others) have contributed their thoughts on this matter. Now, just speaking for myself, I will say that I have no particular preference as to the rigidity of my comic books, but this discussion also touches on the “issue” of monthly publication and “seriality” versus narrative integrity and a new-critical-type standard of structural coherence in art (for this, check out Rick Geerling and the prolific Mr. Collins)–and I do care about that!
Actually, I said most of what I wanted to say in a reply-comment to Rick’s Nov 19th “rant”, but I think it’s important enough to repeat here: serially published super-hero comic books (those which feature letters pages as integral parts of the text, anyway), beginning with Marvel in the early 60’s, offered a wonderful paradox to the world: synchronic, interactive narrative! (TV shows are serially aired, but they don’t integrate viewer commentary into the shows–unless you want to accept joke segments like Letterman’s “Viewer Mail”–and even soap operas are forced to move forward, given the tendency of human actors to age visibly over time). I would submit that the very things that intelligent fans seem to deplore these days (characters that don’t change, zero opportunity for “closure”, endless permutations that grow out of minute variations in the approach to a very limited number of existential situations, etc.–the super-hero comic, in its’ “open-ended”, monthly form is a bonanza for structuralist analysis!!) are the things that make this genre unique and fascinating. Think about it–what do you hate about the adaptations of Chandler’s books to film? Those final clinches, right? The damned closure! Who ever said it was more “artful” to have an ending to your story? There is no such thing as closure in life–with the possible exception of death, and who knows about that, right?–that kind of thing is always a subjective imposition upon experience, so why on earth should it be necessary in art? I would say that the temptation to offer the last word on anything is the single greatest obstacle between a creator and greatness…
I’m not saying that self-contained “sequential art” is devoid of interest, but I am saying that the “traditional” model for the presentation of these narratives is actually far more compelling (formally!) than the types of works that mature fans seem to be clamoring for. My message to the proponents of the monthly, “single” super-hero format? Do not equivocate, and do not apologize! Most of all–do not defend your opinion based on “sentimental attachment” (or, you know, go on doing so, by all means, but understand that you’re just asking to be patronized by the Dirk Deppey school!)By the same token, I say, if we must have rigidity, then bring it on!!! (sounds like the viagra e-mails I get by the gross every day…)
Good night friends