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Bradley
02-04-2009, 06:26 PM
Today's (2/4/09) column was absolutely fantastic, and spoke to an issue that has frustrated me for quite some time-- the assumption on the part of some readers that their failure to "get it" means that the author has somehow failed to do his or her job.

It's interesting to think about this issue in terms of comics, though. I'm not sure comics shouldn't be mere entertainment, mindless reading; certainly, as Tim points out, "comics were regarded as the medium of children or simpletons for decades," and sometimes with good reason. So, I think, there might be an argument to be made that comic books can be the literary equivalent of Rock of Love (a show that, I think, can still be appreciated for what it says about some aspects of our culture-- if you're drunk).

But the fact that you can make the argument that some comics should remain, well, simple doesn't mean that you can make the argument that all comics should be simple. Just as Rock of Love can exist in the same medium as The Wire, so too can Underworld Unleashed exist in the same medium as Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron.

So maybe it's best to say that comics shouldn't only be escapist entertainment? That there's room for both the easily-understood and digested and the more complex, but that the criticism that "it was too confusing" usually isn't a valid criticism?

Anyway. Like I said, fantastic column. In an odd coincidence, my wife just finished reading Speak, Memory a couple nights ago, and we've been talking about Nabokov for the past two days. If you haven't read it, it's pretty much the most challenging, most beautiful, and most... best (damn it!) memoir ever written, if you ask me. I wonder how many of Nabokov's ideas about fiction are also applicable to memoir and other forms of creative nonfiction...

TF_loki
02-05-2009, 02:23 PM
I think Tim had a point, certainly, that reader's should do some work. And as he pointed out kids just accept the reality as presented and that's not a bad attitude to have (especially with big 2 stuff). If you're going to play in continuity heavy waters, though I think you should be extra careful that the right things are spelt out the way it plays in your head.

Bradley
02-05-2009, 03:00 PM
If you're going to play in continuity heavy waters, though I think you should be extra careful that the right things are spelt out the way it plays in your head.

I'm not sure I agree, but I'm saying this as someone who hasn't yet read the last two issues of Final Crisis, which is the book that's getting the "it was too confusing" criticism most frequently lately, it seems to me.

The reason I don't read many comics anymore is that I think way too much is spelled out for the reader. Even the so-called "mature readers" books frequently hit us over the head with their metaphors, symbols, and significance. I'd prefer to do the interpretive work myself.

But should superhero comic books be complex, given their history as all-ages entertainment? Tough to say. On the one hand, I would like for my five-year-old godson to be able to appreciate Batman and the Fantastic Four the way I did when I was a kid, and a narrative that demands a lot from him might prevent that (although, perhaps I'm underestimating the kid's sophistication, or ability to enjoy the image of Batman busting out of his own grave even while I'm struck by the themes of madness and memory that run throughout the book?). At the same time, though, if comics are going to focus on more adult ideas and issues (sexual violence, torture, morally ambiguous heroes), then perhaps they should take a more sophisticated approach. It seems senseless to me to create a book like Identity Crisis, where the material isn't suitable for kids but the book is written so that it's easily understood by a child.

Paul McEnery
02-05-2009, 07:08 PM
"We're tired of being thought of as juvenile nerds. Comics aren't just for kids any more!"
Fair enough. Here's a comic for people with an adult reading age.
"We didn't mean that! We meant boobies!"
:evilsmile:

FunkyGreenJerusalem
02-11-2009, 06:28 PM
"We're tired of being thought of as juvenile nerds. Comics aren't just for kids any more!"
Fair enough. Here's a comic for people with an adult reading age.
"We didn't mean that! We meant boobies!"
:evilsmile:

Yeah that's all well and good, but you've got to understand that you're expecting the audience whose caught up in Teen Titans or thinks Captain Marvel getting gritty is a good thing, and suddenly they've got to bring it to the table.
I mean, I know you and Tim love that Final Crisis leads to Mister Miracle, which came out first, but Mister Miracle came out when a lot of readers were spending all their money on Infinite Crisis.
It's a bit like House fans suddenly having to watch an episode of The Wire to see what's going on, only that House isn't acting like House anymore, he's acting like a character from The Wire, and under a bunch of different storytelling rules.
Just saying, I can see why a lot of the people who feel betrayed and that the writer didn't do his job are coming from - and in a sense, I think Morrison failed as well.
Not at doing his job of telling a good story, but in the sense that he wasn't writing for an audience that was being told that they had to buy this book.

But what do I know? I'm finding his Batman run, in the trades, to be a little duller than it should be, so I'm failing both the 'he's a god' and the 'he's a shit' crowds.

Ps. Tim and Paul, what the heck is going on in Mystery Play.
I've tried several times, but I'm certainly not getting everything from that motherfucker.
And any time I bring it up, no one ever responds.

FunkyGreenJerusalem
02-15-2009, 10:07 PM
It's official then... Mystery Play makes no sense!

Morrison is a hack!

TimothyCallahan
02-17-2009, 09:19 AM
I'll reread Mystery Play one of these days and explain it. I don't remember what's supposed to be confusing about it.

FunkyGreenJerusalem
02-17-2009, 04:50 PM
I'll reread Mystery Play one of these days and explain it. I don't remember what's supposed to be confusing about it.

Well, if it's not confusing, then it's very poorly constructed.
A bunch of references tied together in a plot the author isn't interested in, that isn't terribly exciting, all ending in a christ analogy.

Of course it's not that bad, but it really feels like something is missing from it.
Namely, a scene leading into the allegorical ending - it sort of just happens.

The art is very lovely though.

Bradley
02-17-2009, 05:11 PM
I don't remember The Mystery Play well enough to mount any sort of defense for it. I remember liking it well enough, but also regarding it as one of Morrison's lesser efforts-- like Kid Eternity or Sebastian O.

Could be that I need to re-read all three of those, that my memory's not to be trusted. But there's so much Morrison stuff that I actually remember liking that I'll probably re-read first.

FunkyGreenJerusalem
02-17-2009, 05:44 PM
I don't remember The Mystery Play well enough to mount any sort of defense for it. I remember liking it well enough, but also regarding it as one of Morrison's lesser efforts-- like Kid Eternity or Sebastian O.

Could be that I need to re-read all three of those, that my memory's not to be trusted. But there's so much Morrison stuff that I actually remember liking that I'll probably re-read first.

Kid Eternity and Sebastian O may be lesser thematically, but they are fun little adventures in their own right.
Heck, Sebastian O may be one of my faves of his.

I think Mystery Play was lacking in any hook that these two had.
And it's really the only one of his books where I've been totally baffled as to what he was trying to say.
(and I'm only so annoyed by it, because any time I ask anyone online, no one ever replies. For a while I figured I'd actually crossed into a different reality when I brought it, and came back to this one where not only did he not write it, people were even incapable of hearing mention of it).