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  1. #46
    Astonishing Member phantom1592's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raye View Post
    W
    - more natural dialogue with less blatant exposition dumps, villain monologues explaining their plans, and characters explaining their powers to no one in particular every other issue
    - less exposition in general, readers are often expected to put things together themeslves and infer what is happening
    - themes tend to be a bit more layered and subtle
    - less black and white take on morality, many more anti-heroes and anti-villains roaming around and less certainty on what is right or wrong
    - more decompressed storytelling, usually (but not always) with more intricate plots to match. Really, this is the key thing, because it is those extra pages that allow for the more natural dialogue etc. because now we can spend time seeing these things happen rather than have them explained to us. Sometimes it is abused to pad out a story when not warranted, sure, but in general, it was a positive move.
    - on that note you tend to see more in depth character studies, because there is more time to devote to that sort of thing due to the decompression
    - less thought balloons, though these are coming back in vogue lately. but generally, they switched from thought balloons to internal captions, more of a stylistic change, since the purpose behind them is about the same a lot of the time
    - more intricate art, coloring and lettering as printing and coloring/lettering processes improved.


    I would agree that a lot of these are changes... but I disagree that any of these are 'better'. I truly believe the exposition and thought balloons were necessary to good comic writing and the decompression I think is going to be one day traced to the fall of comic books. There are way too many people 'trade-waiting' because the monthly books are pretty BORING now days. You can't read a book and enjoy it... you need all 6-8 issues to make a coherent read.

    Most of all the reason I like the older books better... there didn't seem to be any writers going around having to explain what you just read. No youtube videos, no dissections of their profound essays, No explaintions… because the books read just fine as they were.

  2. #47
    Astonishing Member Raye's Avatar
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    While taste is subjective, and i'm not going to say you're wrong for liking older stuff, I mean, i still vastly prefer the newer style. I don't find books boring month to month, I love speculating about what will come next, and you can do a lot more of that with decompressed stories. Decompression can be used poorly, and if a writer can't keep your attention month to month, that's a sign they may not be using decompression well, but when done well, decompression actually increases my interest month to month a lot of the time. I've never had to have a writer explain to me what had just happened, I find them perfectly readable as is. Sure there are sometimes stories with a slow reveal where everything comes together at the end and you go 'oh, so that's why this and this happened the way they did' but i mean, that was clearly the intent from the start, to have the reader initially a bit confused and questioning things until the reveal. And there are some stories where the point is to pose questions rather than answer them, to make the reader think about something for themselves. But that's about the extent of it.

    I really don't believe, except maybe in the case of stories intended for children as their primary audience, that writers should be playing to the lowest common denominator and assuming people will be too slow to get something without it being explained in exacting and redundant detail. If someone is too dense to get it, or lack the patience to see a story play out before getting up in arms about an early story beat, oh well.
    Last edited by Raye; 05-22-2019 at 03:07 PM.

  3. #48
    Astonishing Member phantom1592's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raye View Post
    While taste is subjective, and i'm not going to say you're wrong for liking older stuff, I mean, i still vastly prefer the newer style. I don't find books boring month to month, I love speculating about what will come next, and you can do a lot more of that with decompressed stories. Decompression can be used poorly, and if a writer can't keep your attention month to month, that's a sign they may not be using decompression well, but when done well, decompression actually increases my interest month to month a lot of the time. I've never had to have a writer explain to me what had just happened, I find them perfectly readable as is. Sure there are sometimes stories with a slow reveal where everything comes together at the end and you go 'oh, so that's why this and this happened the way they did' but i mean, that was clearly the intent from the start, to have the reader initially a bit confused and questioning things until the reveal. And there are some stories where the point is to pose questions rather than answer them, to make the reader think about something for themselves. But that's about the extent of it.

    I really don't believe, except maybe in the case of stories intended for children as their primary audience, that writers should be playing to the lowest common denominator and assuming people will be too slow to get something without it being explained in exacting and redundant detail. If someone is too dense to get it, or lack the patience to see a story play out before getting up in arms about an early story beat, oh well.

    Check out any threads involving Grant Morrison and especially Final Crisis and you'll see most people complaining that it sucks and a bunch of other people complaing that those people just don't 'get it'.

    I've read a lot of Bendis' books where you can burn through an entire issue and the characters never even left the dinner table and almost NOTHING happens at all. I used to HATE him on Daredevil. There was a 4-6 part story involving Ben Urich investigating Leapfrog's kid... that was TERRIBLE. It could have and should have been told in about 1-2 issues but was stretched out for months of 2 characters interacting... and only one of them actually speaking. Even the 'Next issue' blurb was the same for at least 3 months... Heck, Daredevil himself only showed up in a kids crayon pictures till the last issue and didn't really do anything. I remember a few times during that run I ended up buying the same issue twice... because the covers were all the same and the interior I couldn't tell if i'd read it or not... That's just Ugghhh...

    Yeah, I much prefer the old days. where stories progressed, were easy to understand and sold a LOT of issues... not just to a specific subset of the audience... but for Everyone of all ages. I see the declining sales and the younger audience being alienated and forgotten... and honestly I would be surprised if monthly comics survive another 10 years.
    Last edited by phantom1592; 05-22-2019 at 03:27 PM.

  4. #49
    Astonishing Member Raye's Avatar
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    Oh, i am well aware that some people don't like Morrison or any number of other writers. I just don't see a problem with that. If people don't like Morrison, or Hickman, or whoever else, they don't have to read it. Leave it to the people who do like those kinds of stories. If not enough people like that kind of writing, the book will fail, same goes for any book. Not every book will be for every reader, and that's fine. We have a wide diversity in styles nowadays, including some writers who have a more classic style.

    And the books written in a more classic style aren't automatically going to have a wider appeal. You have a bunch of people in this very thread, including myself, that they don't like that style. If every book on the stands was suddenly written in the style of Claremont, I'd drop the books. Every style will have it's fans and detractors, there is no one size fits all style, that's just how it is. But i think generally at this point in time, more people are on board with the modern style. Should they have some more classic books on the shelves who prefer the old style? sure, not my thing, I'm not the audience that's buying Jim Starlin's new Thanos stuff, I'll take Donny Cates' version instead. but I don't have a problem with the Starlin stuff being made available.

  5. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by RBerman View Post
    I am sure you are correct that kids were not actively seeking social content. However, plenty of comics in the 1960s and 1970s dealt with political issues, because the creators wanted to cover that ground, and the Silver Age fan base was aging into college age. Lois Lane becoming a black woman to experience prejudice first-hand. The Justice League dealing with pollution and the loss of plankton upsetting the circle of life. Green Lantern and Green Arrow on their journey across America. X-Men being mistaken for commies because they ran away from crowds that threw rocks at them. Captain America vs USAgent. Wonder Woman fighting Nazis in the Golden Age. The list goes on and on.
    My reply was a comment to the Marvel comics I grew up with.

  6. #51
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    This can actually be a good thing, since it leaves it up to us to extrapolate about the characters and argue about what motivates them. It was harder to have arguments about the inner life of a Claremont X-Men character because they told us everything they were thinking about absolutely everything. But it means today's comics are more like movies, while the older comics at their best were more like novels, where the inner life of a character can be analyzed and explained in detail.
    There is nothing wrong with having the character's thoughts defined. If nothing else, it is the writer's job to make that clear. More importantly, the writer should damned well be able to pull that off with more skill and grace than tedious monologues and thought bubbles. (If they are not competent enough to do that, why the hell are they writing?)

    I would not tolerate that Claremont bullshit from a kid or an amateur. The fact that an alleged professional got away with it for so long is an indictment of the comic industry's standards.


    The other technique is what I call "the amazingly insightful friend." Instead of Johnny saying or thinking, "I am acting out because I am angry that my father called last week and said he wasn't going to visit this summer," Johnny's friend Sam will make the brilliant observation that, "You are acting out because you are angry that your father called last week and said he wasn't going to visit this summer."
    This gets to what somebody said above, about the characters constantly being alone. Giving the characters somebody to talk to/with (other than nonsensical jabbering during a fight scene) goes a long way towards fixing the monologue problem.


    I really don't believe, except maybe in the case of stories intended for children as their primary audience, that writers should be playing to the lowest common denominator and assuming people will be too slow to get something without it being explained in exacting and redundant detail. If someone is too dense to get it, or lack the patience to see a story play out before getting up in arms about an early story beat, oh well.
    Last edited by Raye; Yesterday at 06:07 PM.
    Those people (kids and adults) generally are not going to read comics (or much or anything). There is no reason to pitch to them.

    Kids should be reading up.
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  7. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by CentralPower View Post
    There is nothing wrong with having the character's thoughts defined. If nothing else, it is the writer's job to make that clear. More importantly, the writer should damned well be able to pull that off with more skill and grace than tedious monologues and thought bubbles. (If they are not competent enough to do that, why the hell are they writing?)

    I would not tolerate that Claremont bullshit from a kid or an amateur. The fact that an alleged professional got away with it for so long is an indictment of the comic industry's standards.
    I should note that it's really only in certain kinds of comics, mostly the big monthlies, that thought balloons are obsolete. They're still used frequently in independent cartooning, the work of cartoonists like the Hernández brothers, but they're used to say things the characters would not realistically say out loud, rather than the superhero way of thinking in exposition or thinking things the character already knows.

    So I agree with you that superhero comics writing in some ways had lower standards than other comics, even at the time. You don't see Uncle Scrooge or Snoopy thinking thoughts that are redundant or that they already know.

    But I doubt that some of these superhero comics would be what they are if they had had more sophisticated writing. Claremont's X-Men broke a lot of the rules of "good" writing and wound up making readers feel that they knew the characters better than any others in the medium, and created a fund of stories and characterizations that comics and movies to this day are still drawing on. I'm not sure that any of the rules of what make good writing can stand up to that; "show, don't tell" is a decent rule but only to explain why something doesn't work.

    Edit: That made it sound like I think the stories are objectively good, which of course isn't true. If they don't work for a reader then the reader is justified in saying that one reason they don't work is the clunky, tell-don't-show writing style. But they work for me, and because they do, I would hesitate to say that the writing would be better if it were more sophisticated; the style is simply something I have to accept as a trade-off for what he does with that style.
    Last edited by gurkle; 05-23-2019 at 01:44 PM.

  8. #53
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    Granted that Claremont could be verbose and force the artists to endure dozens of pages of talking heads, sometimes the hidden thoughts made a perfect contrast to the dialogue, as when characters are censoring themselves.

    u4pJ7JV.jpg

  9. #54
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    Funny enough, I struggle to read older comics.

    Even stuff I really enjoyed as a child. There are some exceptions (like the more mature oriented titles at DC and some Marvel titles like Iron Man and Spider-man) but I struggle to read stuff from the 70s and 80s.
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  10. #55
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    The benefit of the wordless exchange above is cancelled out by having the characters navel gaze for 5 panels. (A better written exchange would still have it be clear that "oh no, painful thoughts"....without actually saying "oh no, painful thoughts". Maybe have Kitty written at an adult level, which opens up two options. Case 1: She calls Peter out for never saying that to/about her. Case 2: She complains to a friend, like an adult would.)

    But I doubt that some of these superhero comics would be what they are if they had had more sophisticated writing. Claremont's X-Men broke a lot of the rules of "good" writing and wound up making readers feel that they knew the characters better than any others in the medium, and created a fund of stories and characterizations that comics and movies to this day are still drawing on.
    The OCD style writing did not help comics. If anything, it makes me wonder how well Claremont, or some of his fans, mastered "theory of mind", the ability to understand what another person is thinking or knows without being specifically told


    "show, don't tell" is a decent rule but only to explain why something doesn't work.
    "Show don't tell" does not need to be explained to a writer if it is done correctly in the first place.
    Last edited by CentralPower; 05-23-2019 at 02:14 PM.
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  11. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by CentralPower View Post
    The OCD style writing did not help comics. If anything, it makes me wonder how well Claremont, or some of his fans, mastered "theory of mind", the ability to understand what another person is thinking or knows without being specifically told.

    "Show don't tell" does not need to be explained to a writer if it is done correctly in the first place.
    I think my point is more that if I think a story is effective then its violations of the "show don't tell" rule aren't necessarily flaws.

    There are a lot of rules of storytelling that are really just arbitrary, e.g. most theatre and film has a rule that characters should not talk to themselves out loud, but that's just a convention of realism, it doesn't apply to a character like Hamlet.

    And while Chris Claremont is not William Shakespeare, I think there's a similar point to be made; the idea that Kitty should have expressed her feelings verbally rather than in a thought bubble seems more like a convention of a particular type of realistic storytelling, which doesn't account for how close all this inner-monologue action makes us feel to the characters. At its best it takes on some of the qualities of a novel, where narrators or characters often do analyze their thoughts, but combined with the dramatic storytelling properties of comics.

    At its worst, it's terrible, granted, but I think X-Men written at an "adult" level wouldn't really be what it is.

  12. #57
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    Should be said that some of the issues with past writing some people have were because of technical issues. For example, Stan Lee often liked to end phrases with exclamation points because the quality of the printing wasn't always top notch and the dots would just disappear; likewise, part of the reason of the overly-descriptive narration and dialogue was because the quality of the printing might be poor and lead to difficulty of readers understanding what was going on.

    Also, Jim Shooter like every issue to have the codenames and powers of every character because it could always be someone's first and they hadn't have the idea of using recap pages yet.

  13. #58
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    Shooter could have just assumed that readers could figure it out. Or, they could have had an info-dump page at the beginning of certain issues. Then, the rest of the comic can read like it was written by a civilized person.


    And while Chris Claremont is not William Shakespeare, I think there's a similar point to be made; the idea that Kitty should have expressed her feelings verbally rather than in a thought bubble seems more like a convention of a particular type of realistic storytelling, which doesn't account for how close all this inner-monologue action makes us feel to the characters.
    It does not make me feel "close" to a fictional character. It makes me think that the writer is an imbecile, or is writing for imbeciles.


    At its worst, it's terrible, granted, but I think X-Men written at an "adult" level wouldn't really be what it is.
    It would be better.
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  14. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by CentralPower View Post
    Shooter could have just assumed that readers could figure it out. Or, they could have had an info-dump page at the beginning of certain issues. Then, the rest of the comic can read like it was written by a civilized person.
    .
    True, but I was just saying the writers can't be blamed for this.

  15. #60
    Better than YOU! Alan2099's Avatar
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    I'm seeing a lot of "anybody that doesn't write comic the way I like is stupid" in this conversation.

    Lot of people here act like their opinion is worth a lot more than it is.

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