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Webswingin’



I like this little piece by Gardner Linn (no permalink?), which argues that films can do superhero action better than comics, but cannot match the latter medium’s capacity to convey the ironized melodrama which is at the core of (for instance) Spider-Man’s appeal. Can you imagine a film version of the Gwen Stacy Clone Saga? It would be almost impossible to do properly. (That said, I’d love to give that screenplay a whirl!)



Dave Fiore vs. Ninth Art–The Rapprochement? (with the notable exception of Antony Johnston, who prefers to remain aloof!
Johnston: “Did you just call me a loof, you rude little fucker?”)



You’ve all seen Jim Henley’s piece on Englehart and suicide bombing, right? If not, get over there–it’s interesting!


Speaking of Englehart–I really want to discuss his work on West Coast Avengers soon, particularly #17-24, which the author himself has described as “the most complex time travel story ever done”! Not only do I agree with this humble assessment–I also think it’s a very fine example of “historiographically aware” superhero writing.


Oh yes–and check out this Forager piece on “the intentional fallacy fallacy”, in which JW claims that critics like yours truly, who tend to write the author out of the picture when dealing with a text, have ulterior motives for doing so. No question about it–he’s right!


Spider-Man 2 tonight!



Good Afternoon Friends!
Dave

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6 comments

  1. I like this little piece by Gardner Linn (no permalink?), which argues that films can do superhero action better than comics, but cannot match the latter medium’s capacity to convey the ironized melodrama which is at the core of (for instance) Spider-Man’s appeal. Can you imagine a film version of the Gwen Stacy Clone Saga? It would be almost impossible to do properly. (That said, I’d love to give that screenplay a whirl!)”

    Hmm. I think he makes a major and somewhat obvious mistake in his argument when he says

    “But movies can’t beat comics when it comes to the equally important realm of soap opera. Movies don’t have time for ongoing subplots that last for years, nor room for emotional journeys that have more than three checkpoints.”

    Just because -most- movies are limited with regard to this doesn’t mean they all are, or will be. Put another way: how much dialogue can you realistically put in a comic book? Now compare that to the amount of dialogue you can realistically put in a movie. Add to the movie’s dialogue the complex messages transmitted by the actors’ expressions and body language.

    The basic mistake here, I think, is assuming that genre conventions are medium limitations. Most films won’t maintain a high pitch of emotional drama over the course of two hours twenty three minutes. And most comics won’t, either, whether over twenty two pages or twenty two issues.

    “Cannot match” comics’ capacity? “Have not,” maybe. “Cannot?” No.

  2. I see what you’re saying Jess–still, I think there is a difference between the two media in terms of their respective ability to convey a sense of the passage of time. Superheroes may not age, but they sure do accumulate experiences… No storyteller(s) outside of the serialized comic book format has ever had the luxury to draw out something like the Peter/MJ courtship, for instance, for 22 years of existential/reader-time (first meeting in 1966, first kiss in 1975, a rejected proposal in 1978, then 5 years of total separation, and another 4 leading up to a second proposal!)

    I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow, when I write about the new film!

    Dave

  3. It’s true that the serial format does potentially allow creators to write much longer stories and convey the passage of time in a way that other formats do not. One good example of this–well, not “good” in terms of artistic quality, for it was pretty wretched (aside from Walt Simonson’s first <>Thor<> art), but “good” in terms of my childhood memories–was the “Quest for Odin” arc from <>Thor<>‘s mid-200s. Without checking, it went on for about 45 issues. (Short version: Odin disappears. Thor goes looking for him and eventually finds him in a galaxy far, far away. A bunch of aliens attached a magical spigot to Odin and were draining the Odin Force from him). To my very young eyes, this was tantalizing and agonizing–every month, that much closer but still not getting there.

    *However*, the nature of the comics industry is such that very few writers and artists have the luxury of drawing out storylines beyond 12 issues. Comics -can- convey the passage of time, structurally, in a way that other media can’t. But market forces generally don’t allow them to.

    jess

  4. I think what Dave is saying is that the nature of comics allows many different writters to contribute to a single narative, creating something unique.

    You seem to be saying that single writters are not given the luxury of completing long plots, which sort of misses the point.

    What is a major roadblock to Dave’s argument is the ‘retcon’; where writters will delete whole passages of pre-existing narative to better create a condition for their own stories to exist in. Or they may just hold a grudge.

    How does this situation, where one run of a writter can be undone by the works of another, creating a situation that builds itself up to works of the ‘genius’ of Gruenwald and Morrison?

    Look no further than the state of mainstream X-Men post Morrison to see that something special rarely gets created naturaly.

    Isaac

  5. “I think what Dave is saying is that the nature of comics allows many different writters to contribute to a single narative, creating something unique.”

    “You seem to be saying that single writters are not given the luxury of completing long plots, which sort of misses the point.”

    Ah, okay, I see what you mean. But I tend to think that multi-author storylines, in any media, are inferior to single-author storylines, and so don’t consider them as worth consideration. But, yes, the serial format does allow for that sort of many-cooks-creating-semi-spoiled-broth storyline.

  6. Is a movie really a “single-author” storyline? I look at screenplays as sort of like musical scores, or more appropriately, like a theatre text. Sometimes the director (or conductor) can make it more his/her story than the screenwriter’s or composer’s.

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