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Cronin Theory of Comics – Good Characters Should Be Written in Comics

Really, it sounds like a no brainer, doesn’t it?

When one wants to make good comics, one should use good characters.

So if a good character is available, a writer should use it.

However, it appears as though there are those who feel that there is a better idea out there…

To quote Judd Winick, from a nice interview by Hilary Goldstein at IGN, We all threw around names of characters who would be the one to carry the story, knowing it’s going to end with their demise. That’s important that there’s someone who discovers everything and dies for it. And in the very short list we kept coming back to Blue Beetle. And everyone in the room said, “I could do a great Blue Beetle series.” And that’s why he has to go, because he’s actually the one who means something. And now he’s gone and eleven years from now someone will bring him back and we’ll be angry men about that. It’s generational. See that?

I could do a great Blue Beetle series….and that’s why he has to go.

The two statements, they really should be mutually exclusive.

In addition, I do not know if Winick is intentionally ignoring history when he makes his “And now he’s gone and eleven years from now someone will bring him back and we’ll be angry men about that. It’s generational.” point.

For Jim Starlin did not kill off Captain Marvel (the example Winick cites in his interview as an inspiration for their handling of Blue Beetle) because he thought there was a lot of great Captain Marvel stories to write in the future.

Jason Todd was not put in a position to be killed off because Starlin had lots of ideas for Jason Todd stories.

It was exactly the opposite.

If you think you can write a good series featuring a character, that is always better than killing off said character.

Always.

Good comics come from writing good characters well.

Holographic foil covered 100th issue anniversary comics are not worth the discarding of them.

Death scenes added to make a story seem more “historic” are not worth the discarding of them.

Launchs of company-wide crossovers are not worth the discarding of them.

And what is so particularly amusing about this instance is that, even if a reader were to disagree over whether a particular character is “good,” here we see that the writers themselves thought that the character was “good,” and that gave them more reason to kill off the character.

Pretty damn silly.

3 Comments

I don’t think it’s silly at all. You’re focusing on the wrong part of the story. You’re focusing on the “we’ll bring him back later” part, which is only half-serious anyway. What Winick was saying there is, “We’re not just gonna kill some random suit and cape that no one even remembers. We’re not just gonna kill Ace the Bat-Hound, or Acrata, and pretend like anyone cared. We’re gonna kill a guy who isn’t over the hill. We’re gonna kill a guy who wasn’t some one-trick pony we didn’t need anymore. We’re gonna kill a guy who didn’t have a good reason to be dying right now, because this death is kind of supposed to be tragic.” I mean, after all, isn’t one of the things you say at an untimely funeral, “We’ll never know the things he might have done.” That implies that there are, in fact, things that he might have done.

I could do a great Blue Beetle series….and that’s why he has to go.

I just think that was something said after the fact to placate Blue Beetle fans, much like how after Countdown came out, so many issues of different books were now dedicated to talking about how awesome Ted Kord was, even though Countdown was dedicated to pointing out how much he sucked. I think the rationale was more like “He’s important to matter, but sucky enough to get away with killing.”

I dunno. If I had a dollar for every guy I talked to in an Artist’s Alley with a rejected Blue Beetle or Blue Beetle and Booster Gold pitch, complete with sample pages, I’d buy a lot more comics. I think creators liked him and editorial just didn’t, so he ended up as one of the handful of significant characters editorial would permit in an extensive death-oriented storyline that the creators actually wanted to write about.

Remember that Dan Didio showed those Countdown pages to Kevin Maguire (so the legend goes), thinking that he’d be somehow flattered or entertained by… just seeing his characters in something, I guess?

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