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  1. #2641
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    It *is* a lazy excuse, but I also think it's true. By the standards of comic book characters, Diana is a very complex character full of a lot of internal contradictions, stress points, and values that are/should be very different from anything we have in the real world, fueled by a Amazon-unique approach to feminism and culture. We've seen smart writers who do a lot of research still fail to capture the right voice for Diana, Morrison arguably chief among them.

    Saying your story sucks because Diana is tough to write compared to Flash or Spider-Man is a lousy excuse; Diana is a multi-faceted character and if you can't wrap your head around it, that's on you, not on Diana for being "too hard to write." But the fact that this is an excuse doesn't change that Diana *is* indeed more complicated and complex than most of her peers, and therefore harder to write well.

    I think you're much more likely to find characters with Diana's depth in novels than you are comics. She's got more in common (nuance-wise) with fantasy characters like Rand al'Thor or Kaladin Stormblessed, or even Logan Ninefingers, than most comic book heroes. Most of those four color guys? It's a standard archetype with, at most, a big obvious stupid flaw attached to lend the appearance of depth. Like, "Billionaire genius lady's man.....who's also an alcoholic!" is not as deep as it appears at first glance.
    Last edited by Ascended; 08-02-2020 at 01:36 PM.
    "We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe."

    ~ Black Panther.

  2. #2642
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    I'm of two minds about that. There are tricky aspects to Wonder Woman's character, primarily in that she is the by far the most radical of DC's heroes and heroines in the way she was constructed, and escapist literature nearly always is either rather conservative (in the original sense of the word) or at least moves well inside the Overton window.

    There are some writers who understood that, and pointed it out, most recently Wilson. But most other writers look at that radical core and go nah-nah-nah-can't see it at best, or try to rip it out since they are in deep denial about it. Diana becomes a hard character to write because they destroy her as they try to write her.

    But I'm not sure Diana's inherent radicalism as a character makes Diana a hard character to write. On the contrary, that should provide a rich set of contrasts to use in storytelling, something which the 2017 movie used to good effect. What it does require is a good set of storytelling instincts, some decent ideological schooling, and the time needed to do proper research, planning, and editing.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  3. #2643
    Ultimate Member SiegePerilous02's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    I think you're much more likely to find characters with Diana's depth in novels than you are comics. She's got more in common (nuance-wise) with fantasy characters like Rand al'Thor or Kaladin Stormblessed, or even Logan Ninefingers, than most comic book heroes. Most of those four color guys? It's a standard archetype with, at most, a big obvious stupid flaw attached to lend the appearance of depth. Like, "Billionaire genius lady's man.....who's also an alcoholic!" is not as deep as it appears at first glance.
    Thank you. This is why I'm not as attached to most of the Marvel heroes and the belief that they are more "complex" than the DC characters.

    Diana as a character and a concept is more complex than most.

  4. #2644
    Spectacular Member mystical41's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    I'm of two minds about that. There are tricky aspects to Wonder Woman's character, primarily in that she is the by far the most radical of DC's heroes and heroines in the way she was constructed, and escapist literature nearly always is either rather conservative (in the original sense of the word) or at least moves well inside the Overton window.

    There are some writers who understood that, and pointed it out, most recently Wilson. But most other writers look at that radical core and go nah-nah-nah-can't see it at best, or try to rip it out since they are in deep denial about it. Diana becomes a hard character to write because they destroy her as they try to write her.

    But I'm not sure Diana's inherent radicalism as a character makes Diana a hard character to write. On the contrary, that should provide a rich set of contrasts to use in storytelling, something which the 2017 movie used to good effect. What it does require is a good set of storytelling instincts, some decent ideological schooling, and the time needed to do proper research, planning, and editing.
    I don't think gww understood that. More than once she said the character is hard to write, and even suggested she was too "perfect". Her Diana was constantly having doubts. Feeling lost. Doubting her mission after so many years. She was constantly being lectured by others on her failures. And usually she needed to be juiced up in somebody else's power to win a big battle. While the pet charcters like maggie and atlantiades had more development, depth and impact in the book than the title character. For somebody with gww's background. One would have thought she was a writer capable of using the many radical themes in Diana's character and bring them all to life in a big way. But she didn't. She was actually very conservative with Diana and simply kicked her to the curb and left her there, while other characters took the center of the stage and kept the plot going. Diana was just following the plot instead of being the other way around.

    Diana as a character tackles many topics that are controversial even on today's society. So in that sense she is difficult to write. Because sadly we don't get writers with open minds too often.

  5. #2645
    Mighty Member Gaius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    It *is* a lazy excuse, but I also think it's true. By the standards of comic book characters, Diana is a very complex character full of a lot of internal contradictions, stress points, and values that are/should be very different from anything we have in the real world, fueled by a Amazon-unique approach to feminism and culture. We've seen smart writers who do a lot of research still fail to capture the right voice for Diana, Morrison arguably chief among them.

    Saying your story sucks because Diana is tough to write compared to Flash or Spider-Man is a lousy excuse; Diana is a multi-faceted character and if you can't wrap your head around it, that's on you, not on Diana for being "too hard to write." But the fact that this is an excuse doesn't change that Diana *is* indeed more complicated and complex than most of her peers, and therefore harder to write well.

    I think you're much more likely to find characters with Diana's depth in novels than you are comics. She's got more in common (nuance-wise) with fantasy characters like Rand al'Thor or Kaladin Stormblessed, or even Logan Ninefingers, than most comic book heroes. Most of those four color guys? It's a standard archetype with, at most, a big obvious stupid flaw attached to lend the appearance of depth. Like, "Billionaire genius lady's man.....who's also an alcoholic!" is not as deep as it appears at first glance.
    I guess it's not a completely unfounded thing to say. Even writers, like Rucka, who have done well with the character say pretty much the same thing you do about her. I'm just more used to, annoyed actually, hearing it brought up as an unchallenged mantra for why the character hasn't succeeded as well as Superman or Batman or as I said earlier when writers/fans want to defend a mixed/poorly-received iteration of her.

    I guess it's similar to the "Superman is too powerful = boring" argument but I've generally seen at least more push back against that.
    Last edited by Gaius; 08-02-2020 at 03:30 PM.

  6. #2646
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius View Post
    Not sure if this goes here but I've kind of become unsympathetic to the argument that "Wonder Woman is hard to write for", at least when I hear it coming from writers and other creative people involved with her. The more I hear it, the more it just ultimately sounds like an excuse to me why a particular writer's interpretation of her or story involving her wasn't received well/set the world on fire.
    Piggybacking off of this, I also find it absurd that people complain about how there is never any fresh ideas with Wonder Woman given that every new writer throws out what was established before and now Diana has a reputation for being the one character in DC and possibly comics as a whole that can be counted on to be as inconsistent as possible. To say nothing of how a lot of these new ideas end up failing or turning out to have a limited shelf life.

    I found this complaint and the one Gaius brought up often go hand in hand.

  7. #2647
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mystical41 View Post
    I don't think gww understood that. More than once she said the character is hard to write, and even suggested she was too "perfect". Her Diana was constantly having doubts. Feeling lost. Doubting her mission after so many years. She was constantly being lectured by others on her failures. And usually she needed to be juiced up in somebody else's power to win a big battle. While the pet charcters like maggie and atlantiades had more development, depth and impact in the book than the title character. For somebody with gww's background. One would have thought she was a writer capable of using the many radical themes in Diana's character and bring them all to life in a big way. But she didn't. She was actually very conservative with Diana and simply kicked her to the curb and left her there, while other characters took the center of the stage and kept the plot going. Diana was just following the plot instead of being the other way around.

    Diana as a character tackles many topics that are controversial even on today's society. So in that sense she is difficult to write. Because sadly we don't get writers with open minds too often.
    Did GWW succeed in making a new vision of Wonder Woman? No. I think I saw what she wanted to accomplish with her run, but I also know that I'm in the minority on that, and Wilson never got the chance to really finish it. In a way, I think Wilson's run was too ambitious in what it wanted to do, in critiquing the way that Wonder Woman has been written before.

    But to take an earlier interview, Wilson doesn't really call Diana hard to write. She rather describes her as a challenge.

    Those are very human storylines. We can really relate to them on a lot of levels. Whereas with Wonder Woman, not only is she this invulnerable warrior goddess-type figure who was raised in a completely different world, a utopia, literally called Paradise Island in some story arcs, she’s made from clay or she’s the daughter of gods, depending on which timeline you go with. It’s really hard for us to relate to that. Lots of us come from Kansas. None of us come from Themyscira.

    It’s tougher to get into her as a character. And to me, she’s often the most frustrating of those three characters to read, because I think our instincts as writers is just to pile on gravitas. “We’ll just make it very serious because that’s what you would do if you were a goddess.” The challenge and the creatively compelling part of writing her story for me is to try to get to her human side, get into her flaws and what makes her relatable and what of her experience meshes with ours, us mere mortal schmucks here in the real world. And that is a really, really cool challenge for me as a writer.
    To put it another way, I think Wilson found Diana a tricky character to write because she got the complexities and the place Diana came from, not because she couldn't understand the character.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  8. #2648
    Spectacular Member mystical41's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    Did GWW succeed in making a new vision of Wonder Woman? No. I think I saw what she wanted to accomplish with her run, but I also know that I'm in the minority on that, and Wilson never got the chance to really finish it. In a way, I think Wilson's run was too ambitious in what it wanted to do, in critiquing the way that Wonder Woman has been written before.

    But to take an earlier interview, Wilson doesn't really call Diana hard to write. She rather describes her as a challenge.



    To put it another way, I think Wilson found Diana a tricky character to write because she got the complexities and the place Diana came from, not because she couldn't understand the character.
    In that interview, she is basically calling her a flawless character who lives in a perfect world aka utopia.

  9. #2649
    Mighty Member Gaius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Piggybacking off of this, I also find it absurd that people complain about how there is never any fresh ideas with Wonder Woman given that every new writer throws out what was established before and now Diana has a reputation for being the one character in DC and possibly comics as a whole that can be counted on to be as inconsistent as possible. To say nothing of how a lot of these new ideas end up failing or turning out to have a limited shelf life.

    I found this complaint and the one Gaius brought up often go hand in hand.
    I don't see as it often but would mostly agree, I suppose it depends on whether the new ideas are received or executed well.

  10. #2650
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    I'm of two minds about that. There are tricky aspects to Wonder Woman's character, primarily in that she is the by far the most radical of DC's heroes and heroines in the way she was constructed, and escapist literature nearly always is either rather conservative (in the original sense of the word) or at least moves well inside the Overton window.

    But I'm not sure Diana's inherent radicalism as a character makes Diana a hard character to write. On the contrary, that should provide a rich set of contrasts to use in storytelling, something which the 2017 movie used to good effect. What it does require is a good set of storytelling instincts, some decent ideological schooling, and the time needed to do proper research, planning, and editing.
    I think it's more like....it's not that Diana is a wildly complicated character when you factor in the grand scheme of great literature and fiction, but more that she's a wildly complicated character within the limited venue of the comic book.

    I think, maybe, I think there might be two reasons for this problem with Diana. This first being the nature of the medium; this is such a visual art, and as a reader you have to internalize so much of what's happening; the page is mostly art and what little room for text there is has to be used for the most important observations and dialogue. A novel, on the other hand, can burn three pages just explaining how, I dunno, a flower reminds a character of their broken past. Prose can get into the characters' heads and motivations and philosophies in a way the comic book typically can't. Comics do provide characterization, obviously, but it takes a true master of the comic art to squeeze in as much nuance and depth as a basic prose novel.

    And the second reason, maybe possibly.....and I don't want to sound mean here, because I have a lot of respect and admiration for a lot of these people, but comic book writers aren't usually counted among the great authors of their era. Not to say that comic writers are bad at writing, but unless they also write a lot of novels, digging deep into a character, the way someone like Diana requires.....that's just not something they're used to.
    "We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe."

    ~ Black Panther.

  11. #2651
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    I think, maybe, I think there might be two reasons for this problem with Diana. This first being the nature of the medium; this is such a visual art, and as a reader you have to internalize so much of what's happening; the page is mostly art and what little room for text there is has to be used for the most important observations and dialogue. A novel, on the other hand, can burn three pages just explaining how, I dunno, a flower reminds a character of their broken past. Prose can get into the characters' heads and motivations and philosophies in a way the comic book typically can't. Comics do provide characterization, obviously, but it takes a true master of the comic art to squeeze in as much nuance and depth as a basic prose novel.

    And the second reason, maybe possibly.....and I don't want to sound mean here, because I have a lot of respect and admiration for a lot of these people, but comic book writers aren't usually counted among the great authors of their era. Not to say that comic writers are bad at writing, but unless they also write a lot of novels, digging deep into a character, the way someone like Diana requires.....that's just not something they're used to.
    On the other hand, it is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.

    My observation is that writing comics is a wildly different mode of writing than writing normal prose. Pictures are in many ways a more efficient medium of conveying emotions, action, and situations than prose, and good comic book writers have learned how to lean on and trust the artist. It's a wildly different style of writing than for prose writers, even more so as half of the writing is only seen by the artists and editors, not the readers. The comic book scripts I've seen look more like theatre manuscripts than prose, but with lavish scene descriptions and relatively little dialogue.

    Now, world-building and characterisation—as in understanding the characters and their relations—are much the same. Plotting too.

    What I think is more relevant than the medium here are two things. One is the conveyor belt nature of most comics. There is simply no or little time to sit down and plan and ponder plots and characters. The other is that modern mainstream US comics is very much a monoculture of superheroes, with their focus on action. I think it's telling that a lot of the great comics within the superhero field—TDKR, The Hiketeia, Man and Superman—are written outside of the periodicals, and I think it's exactly because the writer got the chance to plan and ponder beforehand, and wasn't forced to produce at once.

    The monoculture also hurts here, because there is a push away from tools like worldbuilding and relationship drama. Stjepan Sejic has mentioned that writing Sunstone made him improve as a writer, because there is no action in that comic—only long-running relationship drama—and I think that experience shines through in Harleen.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  12. #2652
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    What I think is more relevant than the medium here are two things. One is the conveyor belt nature of most comics. There is simply no or little time to sit down and plan and ponder plots and characters. The other is that modern mainstream US comics is very much a monoculture of superheroes, with their focus on action. I think it's telling that a lot of the great comics within the superhero field—TDKR, The Hiketeia, Man and Superman—are written outside of the periodicals, and I think it's exactly because the writer got the chance to plan and ponder beforehand, and wasn't forced to produce at once.
    Crap, I meant to mention the deadlines in my post. Yes, I absolutely agree with that.
    "We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe."

    ~ Black Panther.

  13. #2653
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    Did GWW succeed in making a new vision of Wonder Woman? No. I think I saw what she wanted to accomplish with her run, but I also know that I'm in the minority on that, and Wilson never got the chance to really finish it. In a way, I think Wilson's run was too ambitious in what it wanted to do, in critiquing the way that Wonder Woman has been written before.

    But to take an earlier interview, Wilson doesn't really call Diana hard to write. She rather describes her as a challenge.



    To put it another way, I think Wilson found Diana a tricky character to write because she got the complexities and the place Diana came from, not because she couldn't understand the character.
    I find it telling that writers all too often point what people don't have in common with Wonder Woman but they'll either try to point out how other, equally fantastical characters are "just like us" or they won't bring it up at all.

  14. #2654
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    On the other hand, it is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.

    The monoculture also hurts here, because there is a push away from tools like worldbuilding and relationship drama. Stjepan Sejic has mentioned that writing Sunstone made him improve as a writer, because there is no action in that comic—only long-running relationship drama—and I think that experience shines through in Harleen.
    Wanted to say more on this the other day, didn't have time.

    So yeah the art can help express emotion, but not necessarily the "why" of that emotion.

    Like.....okay, here's an example. The Wheel of Time. It's a high fantasy series consisting of fourteen long novels (not counting the prequel). The characters there are multifaceted and complex, with lots of fascinating contradictions and internal conflicts.

    A few years back, one of the indie comic studios did an adaptation written by Chuck Dixon. Now, say what you will about Dixon, but we'll probably all agree that even if he doesn't write stuff we personally like, he still knows his craft, right? There are far, far worse writers out there.

    But the WoT comic? It fails to capture the deeper nuance of the characters. The same events happen and the characters react and feel the same way, but the comic doesn't come close to capturing that deeper development and character exploration. It can't, the space for text is limited, the art can only tell us so much. Without a thousand pages of text the comic just can't dig as deep into the heads of the characters and their motivations and reactions.

    And here's Diana of Themyscria, who is as layered and complex a character as nearly anyone from the WoT novels......but unlike Rand al'Thor, Diana's largely struck in the comics. Diana's character goes deeper than the comic page allows. Comics *can* reach that level of depth and nuance....but odds are, unless the name on the cover is "Gaiman" or "Chabon" it won't. It takes a legit master of comics writing to achieve what a novel readily and easily can.

    I agree about the monoculture; each issue having a requisite action sequence really gets in the way of character development. And I think that's fine, as far as your Flashes and Spider-Men go, that's part of the genre and a major selling point; I'm not as likely to read Thor if I don't get to see him kick ass on a semi-regular basis (maybe not every issue, but at least every two or three). But Diana? She's a different kind of animal. She's a prose character trapped in a four color world, and we rarely get to see her full potential because of the medium's natural limitations.

    We need more Harleens and fewer Justice Leagues.
    "We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe."

    ~ Black Panther.

  15. #2655
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Funny that you mention Wheel of Time, because I was quite the fan of the series for a very long while. I even created one of the more highly-regarded personal WoT web sites, 20 years or so ago (no, it's not online anymore, though I think I have a local copy stashed away somewhere).

    I'm not sure I agree that Diana is more of a "prose" character than a "comics" character. The prose stories I've read about her—the movie novelisation by Nancy Holder; Diana and the Island of No Return by Aisha Saeed—both felt rather lacklustre to me, and that included characterisation. A novel is also a very different beast in terms of scope than a single comic issue, or even a full-size graphic novel. Most graphic novels are more comparable with a movie, and the natural prose story format for a two-hour movie is rather a novella. I haven't read the Wheel of Time comics myself, but those are massive books with even more massive plotting going on, and it gets more convoluted and complex the further one gets into the series. Dixon was given a near-impossible task.

    And there is such a thing as too much introspection or info-dumps in prose. I think a prose story certainly can tell more why a certain character feels a certain way, but a comic or a movie can make those feelings far more visceral and apparent to the reader. That's also valuable, arguably more so than the why. It's more important that we know the characters feel and emote than the reasons why. Faces and body language (and voice inflections) are the tools we use in real life for reading emotions, and comics can do two of those very well, with the right artist. The fact that comics essentially has two streams going on concurrently—the pictures with dialogue and the prose narration—gives a lot of narrative potential, when used right.

    But yes, I very much agree that we need more Harleens more than we need Justice League, in terms of developing the storytelling of comics and the way characterisation is done.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

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