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Comic Theory Archives | Page 2 of 2 | Comics Should Be Good @ CBR

My revelation regarding Secret Invasion

Yes, I had a revelation. I was like John of Patmos, munching on hallucinogenic mushrooms and seeing cities floating in the clouds, or Saul of Tarsus, hearing voices in a cloud asking why I’m persecuting him, or Sir Isaac Newton, just desiring to take a nap under a tree and getting bonked on the head for my troubles. Yes, ’twas a mighty revelation! I am not here to bash the latest epic, because I haven’t read it. But I am here to give voice to my reasons for not reading it. Continue Reading »

Omar Karindu on Bendis’ Daredevil – Some Introductory Remarks

Here is Omar – BC.

As threatened, I’m writing up some thoughts on the Bendis/Maleev run of Daredevil, a run which is an important one for a number of reasons. Continue Reading »

Me vs. the Spider-Marriage

Ohhhh Boy. These here are some dangerous waters to be splashing around in.

I understand that some of you really, REALLY like Mary Jane Watson and Peter “Spider-man” Parker being married.

It’s sweet.

The circumstances in comics that immediately led up to the marriage might have been a tad contrived, but the marriage itself totally makes sense in terms of overall character progression and Peter/Mary Jane’s shared history.

It gives Spidey an emotional anchor.

The every-nerd gets girl premise is even kind of validating for many of you.

And, OK, me too.

But…. Continue Reading »

Compressed storytelling versus decompressed storytelling: pros and cons

Greg Burgas wrote this piece over two years ago. However, these last couple of days, the topic has come up in a few different places online, and when three separate places all link to Greg’s two year old piece, I think it’s a sign that perhaps this piece is worth sharing with you folks. Enjoy! – BC

So the big thing in comics these days is the struggle between what is now known as “decompressed” storytelling and its opposite, which never had a name but is now called “compressed” storytelling. The reason compressed storytelling never had a name was because everyone knew it as “comics” storytelling – it was the standard, and nothing really deviated all that much from it. Of course, I’m not the greatest comic book historian, so if you can show me a romance comic book from the 1950s that exhibits decompressed storytelling, you’re a better person than I am (and you need to move out of your parents’ basement).

However, in the past decade or so, decompressed storytelling has come into vogue. What’s the freakin’ difference, you might ask. Well, compressed storytelling takes as its central point the idea that a story needs to be told in 22 pages – the length of your average comic book. That is why it’s compressed, don’t you know. With the advent of longer books, more “literary” aspirations on the part of writers (who read too much Proust in college), and, especially, the arrival of the trade paperback format in earnest, decompressed writing has come into its own. Writers like Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, and J. Michael Straczynski said: “We don’t need to tell a story in 22 pages. That is an artificial construct.” So they (and many others, but this ain’t a list) began to write stuff that didn’t necessarily fit into 22 pages, or even 44. They began to write stuff that got resolved in 6 issues … or 8 … or 12. One of the reasons they could do this was the collecting craze that hit comics. Back in the day, comics were almost instantly disposable. You simply didn’t save them, which is why Action Comics #1 is worth so much. Now, we have acres and acres of long boxes in our garages or bookshelves and bookshelves devoted to trades, so we can remember what happened six months before when a conversation in a book started and is just now wrapping up. It’s all good!

To any comic book reader, this is old news. What I want to look at today is the differences between these two styles of storytelling. I ranted a few weeks back about things not happening in all of my purchases, and it pissed me off. But today, I want to show you why these things piss me off explicitly, and show you why this idea of “decompressed” storytelling as gone too far, even for the masters of the genre. Continue Reading »

Dazzler: Ahead of its time?

I just finished reading all 42 issues of the late, lamented Dazzler series from 1981-1986, and although there is quite a bit that isn’t good about the series, I wonder if it’s one of those titles that was too far ahead of its time to succeed.  Allow me to explain under the fold! Continue Reading »

Omar Karindu on “Hitler vs. Comic-Book Hitler; or, Why Super-Heroes Shouldn’t Fight Al Quaeda”

Our pal Omar wrote this up at the Comics Should Be Good forum here, but I thought it was notable enough for it to appear here, too! Nice work, Omar!

Every so often, someone will ask, “Where is today’s version of a comic in which Superman or Captain America deck Bin Laden?” They point, with nostalgic pride, at the cover to Captain America Comics #1, or to Siegel and Shuster’s oft-reprinted Superman strip from a 1940 issue of Life Magazine featuring the capture and Hague-style trial of then-allies Hitler and Stalin. (As an aside, the crime for which they’re punished is “modern history’s greatest crime — making war on unarmed nations!” The news of Nazi and Stalinist genocide hadn’t made it big yet, apparently.)

I’m here to argue that we oughtn’t bother with such bizarre posturing by proxy. I’m here to argue for the long-overdue death of nostalgia for the WWII propaganda comic. Continue Reading »

I Really DID Like Most of Gruenwald’s Cap

That’s why I feel a little bit sketchy linking you to this post by a fellow named Professor Fury, but really, it’s not like it is mean or anything, and it’s a well-written examination of the end of Gruenwald’s Captain America run, and I think it is worth reading, even if it, at times, is less than complimentary to Gruenwald’s writing.

If anyone has written a good piece on how much they LIKED Gruenwald’s Captain America, send it my way! Equal time, and all that!

Should a Twist in a Comic Necessarily Be Surprising?

Awhile back, I mentioned my theory regarding what I felt was comic writers going out of their way to make sure they were surprising their readers, and the result ended up being detrimental to the story.

“Don’t compete with your readers to see if you can surprise them,” was my main point, as doing so almost always leads to crazy ideas done simply because “no one would ever guess I would do THAT!”

Okay, that being said, I also mentioned that it was silly to build a story around a twist that was too obvious. I still agree with that, but what if a twist was just PART of a story? At what point does the obviousness of a twist become detrimental to the story itself? SHOULD a twist being obvious count against the story? Continue Reading »

Was it WiR?

Now that I have my definition for Women in Refrigerators, I think it would be interesting to look back at the last year or so (Infinite Crisis #1 on) of bad stuff that has happened to female characters in comics (okay, basically just superhero comics), and see if I think it falls into the category of “Women in Refrigerators.” Spoilers follow! Otherwise…

Enjoy! Continue Reading »

The failure of Gødland, the death of the postmodern superhero, and why Grant Morrison is partly to blame

Now, you just know with a title like that, this is going to be one of those long, pretentious posts where I rant about various things in comics using only a small sample size and coming to generalized conclusions based on that small sample size!  Those are always fun, aren’t they? Continue Reading »

Paradigm shifts in comics; or why Superman isn’t the Great American Superhero anymore!

Hey, you know those posts where I talk out of my ass and everyone berates me because I don’t have insider knowledge about, say, Marvel’s romance comics of the 1950s?  Those are fun, aren’t they?  Well, it’s time for another one!  Sharpen your knives, ladies and gentlemen – sharpen them well! Continue Reading »

The Hidden Language of 52

The miniseries 52: more than it appears. Oh yes. Yes indeed.

Among the godfathers of the project is Grant Morrison. Morrison, a man who loves to tie his works into larger ideas, such as the tarot card links to the Arkham Asylum graphic novel, or the Kabbalah/Mystic Spiral parallels in his Seven Soldiers of Victory maxiseries (a theory forwarded here).

Do you think that in the giant miniseries 52 he would simply abandon such methods?

Of course not. Continue Reading »


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