Cronin Theory of Comics – Nostalgia/Importance Quotient
Here’s a simple enough equation I have come up with. The greater the importance of the scene in the comic book, the greater damage it does to the story for the scene to be steeped in nostalgia. Nostalgia is not a bad thing, per se. Little geeky touches in a comic that only longterm fans will appreciate is fine by me. Alan Moore’s work is filled with stuff like that. When a book like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has enough little nods to give Jess Nevins something to do, you know that there is a lot of nostalgia involved. However, the big difference there is that the nostalgia did not affect any IMPORTANT parts of the story.
Compare that with this week’s Astonishing X-Men.
The cliffhanger of the comic book and the most dramatic moment of the comic?
That, of course, is an homage to the end of Uncanny X-Men #132…
THAT, I believe, is not a good ratio.
When nostalgia begins to affect important moments in your story? That’s not good. It’s not some insanely awful thing or anything like that, but it doesn’t make for good comic book writing either.
Reader markus had an excellent point where he noted that I left out a step, and didn’t specify WHY it is bad. Luckily, he also supplied exactly the type of reason I was thinking of
On that latter matter I’d suggest it’s because it’s pastiche, i.e. a copy reference that often (but not always) forgets to provide a deeper meaning of its own. Instead, it often relies on the cited/referenced earlier work to provide meaning or impact. It’s a bit like saying “that was great!” instead of “this is great!”; “comics used to be good” instead of “comics are good”.
That’s exactly what I’m thinking of, with the “pastiche” point being the most important part, in that pastiches are examples of openly imitating the works of earlier creators, with the intent of commenting on the past work. This is openly imitating the works of earlier creators….period. You’re not CREATING anything here. You’re just saying, “Hey, remember that cool scene? Here it is again.” That’s not good writing. It is not clever or original to just repeat a famous scene.
Can anyone think of some examples of some comics that gave too much importance to nostalgic scenes?