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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member mathew101281's Avatar
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    Default Old comics feel to wordy, but new comics read to fast.

    Anyone else have this problem? Old comics are more likely to have speech bubbles with huge walls of text, most of which is redundant because it just restates what is already evident due to the image. New comics on the other hand often read do fast that you feel like you don’t get your money’s worth. This is especially true given the price of comics these days.

  2. #2
    A Wearied Madness Vakanai's Avatar
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    Maybe it depends on the books you read or writers you follow? I don't really come across this problem much with the books I get.

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member HandofPrometheus's Avatar
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    I never felt that with older comics. I feel like older comics had lengthy word text but it made you learn about the characters better. For example, whenever I read Wolfman's TT or Claremont's X-men, the lengthy text are always making us learn what a character feels emotionally or what they're thinking. I like this because we learn about the characters on the teams more. Each character had input in an issue

    Newer comics, however, I agree. They end quick but almost nothing happens. They are way to decompressed.
    I also dislike modern narration boxes especially when the characters are talking from there because it pulls me out the story. I prefer thought bubbles.

  4. #4
    Extraordinary Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    I probably lean towards appreciating the wordy side, even though there is a level of redundancy. I think having scarce dialogue works if the art is intentionally designed to convey mood and emotion, but lots of times the pages are filled with large panels that barely show anything happening, so the issue flies by.

    Maybe it has to do with on-screen media affecting how people make a story flow, I sometimes feel like they're storyboarding a show, very step-by-step where fewer panels would have sufficed. But I'm no expert on the technical side of laying out a comic book.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mathew101281 View Post
    Old comics are more likely to have speech bubbles with huge walls of text, most of which is redundant because it just restates what is already evident due to the image.
    You think so? I've heard this before, but I don't find it to be true. I remember one of the early Captain Marvel stories had this problem--but I think it restated things textually, too, like a character said something and a caption would say the same thing. This redundancy seems to be most evident in early comics, because they were still figuring out the medium [and thus that's interesting to me, because I'm intrigued by how comic books developed their motifs].

    But really, I find most classic comics state a part of the narrative in lieu of panels depicting it. And it would be hard for artists to show in picture form the full narrative of the story. Even with a two page spread to work with, it would be difficult for a modern artist to show in detail exactly what is happening and the meaning behind it.

    Another reason why the scripter would explain what is happening in the story, rather than trust the artist to show it, was because often writers didn't know which artist was going to draw the story. They had to indicate clearly what was happening in the story for the reader to follow, because chances were that the artist assigned would fail to get that across in the pictures.

    It seems to me that classic stories had a lot more moving parts--there was a lot more going on in the plot--so the writer had to explain all of that. It would waste time for the artist to even attempt that--although I like comics with diagrams in them. Modern writers have to strip out a lot of the complexity from their stories, so they can be told visually.

    I think comic books have become too precious about the artwork. Part of the art of the comic book was its functionality. The pictures and text function to tell a story--that's how they are artistic. That the panel is a pretty piece of art that can stand on its own should be a secondary consideration. Each panel is supposed to connect with the next--so a beautiful two page spread might look nice but it's not serving the art of what I think is comic book story telling. The artist has to be selfless enough to accept that a bunch of captions and balloons are going to be in the panels and so must design the panel to accommodate that function.

    Walt Simonson did a nice issue of ORION totally in picture form. But the problem for me was it didn't stick in my head. Classic comics are more sticky. I can retaiin what happens in them because I'm a wordy person. I linger on pages that have words on them and I take more in. I find that a good use of text and pictures can give a comic book the proper pacing. When the story teller wants the reader to slow down and think about what's happening, it's best to have more words on the page. When the action needs to speed up, then it's best to leave out words.

    Finally, since I grew up reading classic comics, a lot of the captions go by for me very quick. I'm not going to linger on a "Meanwhile . . ." caption. These captions serve as a way to bridge between two scenes, so the readers knows we're now in a different part of the story. I barely notice those transitions. Half the time, you don't even need to read them.
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  6. #6
    Mighty Member jb681131's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mathew101281 View Post
    Anyone else have this problem? Old comics are more likely to have speech bubbles with huge walls of text, most of which is redundant because it just restates what is already evident due to the image. New comics on the other hand often read do fast that you feel like you don’t get your money’s worth. This is especially true given the price of comics these days.
    No, it all depends on what comics you pick-up !

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    You think so? I've heard this before, but I don't find it to be true. I remember one of the early Captain Marvel stories had this problem--but I think it restated things textually, too, like a character said something and a caption would say the same thing. This redundancy seems to be most evident in early comics, because they were still figuring out the medium [and thus that's interesting to me, because I'm intrigued by how comic books developed their motifs].

    But really, I find most classic comics state a part of the narrative in lieu of panels depicting it. And it would be hard for artists to show in picture form the full narrative of the story. Even with a two page spread to work with, it would be difficult for a modern artist to show in detail exactly what is happening and the meaning behind it.

    Another reason why the scripter would explain what is happening in the story, rather than trust the artist to show it, was because often writers didn't know which artist was going to draw the story. They had to indicate clearly what was happening in the story for the reader to follow, because chances were that the artist assigned would fail to get that across in the pictures.

    It seems to me that classic stories had a lot more moving parts--there was a lot more going on in the plot--so the writer had to explain all of that. It would waste time for the artist to even attempt that--although I like comics with diagrams in them. Modern writers have to strip out a lot of the complexity from their stories, so they can be told visually.

    I think comic books have become too precious about the artwork. Part of the art of the comic book was its functionality. The pictures and text function to tell a story--that's how they are artistic. That the panel is a pretty piece of art that can stand on its own should be a secondary consideration. Each panel is supposed to connect with the next--so a beautiful two page spread might look nice but it's not serving the art of what I think is comic book story telling. The artist has to be selfless enough to accept that a bunch of captions and balloons are going to be in the panels and so must design the panel to accommodate that function.

    Walt Simonson did a nice issue of ORION totally in picture form. But the problem for me was it didn't stick in my head. Classic comics are more sticky. I can retaiin what happens in them because I'm a wordy person. I linger on pages that have words on them and I take more in. I find that a good use of text and pictures can give a comic book the proper pacing. When the story teller wants the reader to slow down and think about what's happening, it's best to have more words on the page. When the action needs to speed up, then it's best to leave out words.

    Finally, since I grew up reading classic comics, a lot of the captions go by for me very quick. I'm not going to linger on a "Meanwhile . . ." caption. These captions serve as a way to bridge between two scenes, so the readers knows we're now in a different part of the story. I barely notice those transitions. Half the time, you don't even need to read them.
    Very well considered point.

    You will read a book. Character A says "lets go here" (vintage dialogue by me)t o B. One panel of b stoney faced. Next panel b rubbing his eyes. Next panel b rubs his chin. Final panel b gives a wry smile. Thats great but weve burnt up most of a page now just on one line of dialogue. Turn over and its a splash page of a and b on motorcycles.

    I dont know when and why story being so rationed as if it were spun gold but... it really isnt.
    Last edited by iron chimp; 06-14-2020 at 10:40 AM.

  8. #8
    Dark Angel of Feminism Shadowcat's Avatar
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    No. The Bronze Age of comics is my favorite era, and the text gave you a better feeling on their personality. Today’s decompression and how they use panels is a huge downgrade, imo.

  9. #9
    DC Comics Forum Mod The Darknight Detective's Avatar
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    I grew up with the bubbles, so like many here, I also lean towards them (the words, at any rate).
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  10. #10
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    I think comics could get a bit too wordy in the 1970s and 1980s, as characters started to emote a lot more. At the time I thought this was great, because they were exposing more of the character. But I changed my mind since then.

    One time I was at a comic book swap meet in the 1990s and there was a couple within earshot looking at an issue of DAREDEVIL COMICS, featuring the Little Wise Guys, and the woman was saying to the man "look at this characterization." This would have been art by Charles Biro or Norman Maurer and what she meant by characterization was how the artist was able to bring out character through expressions and appearance. Which was a light bulb moment for me. I realized that older comics had characterization, it just was often in the art and not in the dialogue.

    I'd say that prior to the late 1960s, there wasn't as much dialogue or thought balloons dwelling on personality--these were used mainly for exposition. The longest piece of writing was usually in the legend on the opening splash page of the story. Just as that splash page was the artist's opportunity to show off in a visual way, the legend was the writer's chance to display a command of language. And the rest of the story was economical in having just enough to deliver a complete story in one issue (sometimes in only seven pages).

    One of my favourite comics of all time is DETECTIVE COMICS 361 featuring "The Dynamic Duo's Double-Deathtrap." Gardner Fox has Bruce teach Dick a mnemonic device. It's very simple, but in that interaction I got a sense of how much Bruce cared for his young ward and the attention he freely gave him. I was wishing my father took the time to explain things to me like that. This was all in a few panels, but it was effective character development--and it served the plot. Having Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene draw Bruce and Dick didn't hurt either.
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  11. #11
    Boisterously Confused
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    It's case by case to me. Claremont, Wolfman, Lee and Thomas could all yak your ears off. O'Neil (rest his soul) had a very nice balance.

  12. #12
    Astonishing Member phantom1592's Avatar
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    yep, I'll take words over no words any day. While you may think the thought balloons are wordy or redundant and modern artists can tell a story without wasting that space....

    I see a LOT of debates on here about what the character was thinking and doing that proves they really AREN'T redundant at all. Counting on the artist to tell the story only leaves for vague stories and inconclusive characters.

    I want access to all their innermost thoughts and feelings and motivations.. It also makes for better 'reading' I can't stand spending $4+ on a book and being done in 2 minutes... give me my money's worth!!

  13. #13
    Extraordinary Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantom1592 View Post
    I see a LOT of debates on here about what the character was thinking and doing that proves they really AREN'T redundant at all. Counting on the artist to tell the story only leaves for vague stories and inconclusive characters.
    That's really interesting. Any examples of those debated ambiguities off the top of your head?

  14. #14
    Mighty Member Chubistian's Avatar
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    I don't think the problem is that they're less wordy, that has to do with a style and cultural context. I think the problem gravitates toward the U.S floppies market, they are expensive and the quality of the paper isn't great, at least the regular series DC and Marvel publish. Old superheroes comics are more redundant, but that doesn't mean they're better or worse, again, it has to do with the context. I get a lot of fun from the old stories I consider good, but I don't like when current comicbooks go the unnecessary wordy route if it's to give me an information that I already have thanks to other tools, like pencils. When I approach any form of art, I do with knowledge of the time it came out. Superheroes are often redundant when delivering information and I don't consider it always a bad choice, they are aimed at a large audience and want everyone to understand what the story and important events in the character's past are about, that's fine and I take that in mind when reading a Marvel or DC comicbook. Shonen manga are even less wordy that a current superhero comic, but since Shonen Jump publishes at a low price the regular installments and later collects them in books according to each series (similar to the idea of a tpb in the US market), the decompression isn't as shocking as with todays DC and Marvel comicbooks published in a monthly basis. In Europe, the album format allows for a similar feeling, and the quality of their editions of US comicbooks, even in floppies, are better in my opinion, which makes for a more satisfying reading experience
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  15. #15
    Mighty Member Johnny Thunders!'s Avatar
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    I sometimes wonder if we just are use to reading less text now and days. Even when I watch old movies, especially some black and white, they seem to talk non stop as if the novelty of sound was in the air.

    Having said that, some Silver Age Books are tough for me to slog through. Same for some current books, I am on an early Vertigo Kick and I could barely take all that mopey text when it first came out, now I just say some writers are better than others.

    I really enjoy all the text in the old 50's E.C. comics.

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