Monday, February 20, 2012

A Quick Comics Thought

I've got a longer comics-related post coming later today, but, to whet your appetite, here's a short one:

DC's "Before Watchmen" project proves what a lot of us have been saying for years: the Big Two don't understand what a "story" is.

Sure, they understand "characters," and they definitely get "universe." "Synergy" is clearly in their wheelhouse, along with "brand extension" and "exploitation." But, even after eighty years, they still don't realize what a story is, and they probably never will.

(Here's a hint: a story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Sometimes even in that order!)

The number of actual stories published by the Big Two has never been large -- and most of those were creator-owned and/or -controlled projects, like Watchmen or Ronin, to begin with -- and it may even be shrinking now, as they mine things that previously stood as stories to turn them into more "universes" with "synergy."

And, as long as the general comics audience prefers characters to story, this will never change. The fan reaction to "Before Watchmen" shows that preference is still solidly in place, so I don't have much hope. We're living in a box created by the taste preferences of four generations of eight-year-olds, and the Wednesday Crowd that the last generation solidified into. Luckily, the "comics industry" is not the whole world of comics -- and, despite what it thinks, it's an ever-shrinking and less relevant piece of that world.

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