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View Full Version : Prose Vs. Comics, Featuring Wonder Woman



Gail Simone
09-15-2009, 04:33 PM
I thought this article was extremely interesting. This is by Wonder fan and popular horror novelist Meljean Brook, regarding the difference in what prose can do vs. comics. It is extremely astute and reminded me of the power of comics and a great artist.

http://meljeanbrook.com/blog/archives/2416

4PointOh
09-15-2009, 05:18 PM
This is the kind of discussion I could just eat up!

Meljean
09-15-2009, 06:49 PM
Woo! Thanks for the link!

I might actually end up doing a whole series of these, because illuminating the differences between prose and a medium that has the advantage of the visual elements (but, unlike a movie, is still read) can be really helpful to writers. Plus, comics just can't be topped when trying to illustrate the importance of using dialogue that really matters and the pacing of a scene.

Whatever the differences, the core elements of story are the same in both. It's easier to show how those differences work if I give them a page to look at.

And it just makes my blog look so pretty when I open it up and see stars.

Genki
09-15-2009, 07:30 PM
Thank you for pointing out this excellent article. It's been a while since I did this kind of analysis. I'm slow at it though since I always keep re-writing things.

So... anyone want to take a crack at page 2? :smile:

http://dcu.blog.dccomics.com/files/2009/07/ssix_12_dylux-2-copy.jpg

Wonder Watcher
09-16-2009, 03:02 AM
Enlightening to see a page broken down like that, thanks for the insight.

brettc1
09-25-2009, 08:21 AM
Meljean Brook makes some very good points, but I'd like to add some thoughts.

I like writing in prose. It's not that I cant block out a scene in the comic book format, becuase its actually very similar to writing for stage or screen and I have done that. I just prefer to write in prose.

Meljean makes the observation that you get a lot of info from this page at a glance. But those of us reading the story also know that if this were a chapter book, this would be well into the story. In prose form this chapter can pick up fromt he last without a lot of elaboration, because the descriptions of characters would have been used in the beginnign of the book, and last chapter in setting the scene as being at night with folks in PJ's.

Also, you could have some real fun describing the person speaking to the Six without actually using her name. I would have a ball talking about the looks on the faces as you hit your reader with details like red and white boots first, cause that is not necessarily much of a givaway. Gold band and billowing black hair would follow, and by the time you get to "light glinting off the silver bracers on her forearms as she reached for the glowing gold cord at her hip" the reader is hopefully smiling their face off because they know who it is and are just waiting to see the words spoken out loud.

Also, one big advantage prose gives you is character voice. Comics do this better these days with the internal monologue used as narrative, but in my opinion prose still does it better. You just get more chance to peel away the layers of a character this way. An excellent example is Frank Herbert's DUNE.

And at the other end of the artistic writing spectrum is the original CONAN stories by Robert E Howard, which I think prove that prose can indeed sweep up the reader in the action sometimes even better than a good artist, even one as good as Nicola Scott. Mental visuals formed by good writing are extremely powerful because they often connect with emotion.

I think both forms have their advantages and limitations, and I appreciate both for their various strengths.

Meljean
09-25-2009, 10:51 AM
Meljean makes the observation that you get a lot of info from this page at a glance. But those of us reading the story also know that if this were a chapter book, this would be well into the story. In prose form this chapter can pick up fromt he last without a lot of elaboration, because the descriptions of characters would have been used in the beginnign of the book, and last chapter in setting the scene as being at night with folks in PJ's.

Unless you're writing a series of books with recurring characters.

I'm not arguing with you, by the way. Typically, in that particular example, it would be in the middle of a story, not in the beginning of a book. But, in my subgenre and in my own work, there are many ongoing series, and the author simply can't assume that if a reader picks up book #5, that they will have also picked up books #1-4. So it's imperative that we give them enough information to understand the world without dumping all of the information on them at once -- which was just the point I was trying to make in that example.

But I totally agree with you. The context of my example for my readers was slightly different, but you're absolutely right on all points. Both prose and comics have their strengths and weaknesses, and I always think there is a lot to be learned by studying other mediums.