Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A clarification

Well, shit. I certainly didn't mean to imply some things with my last post. I was going to respond in the comments, but I thought I'd do a new post, since I can.

Okay. First, Tom Foss mentions that I shouldn't have included Morrison in my list of writers who write decompressed stuff. He's right. Morrison can write it as well as anyone, but generally he doesn't. My bad.

Kieron said that "complaining about decompressed storytelling while having a WE3 image at the top of the page may be considered Irony in some circles." True, sir, true. But I didn't put the image on the top of the page, and I don't really think I was complaining. We'll get back to that.

And Pól says that "bad comics are the enemy," not decompressed storytelling. We'll get back to that as well.

The real reason I wanted to do a separate post on this is because of Brian Hogg's response to the original one. Brian mentions that I did not address decompressed storytelling done right, and decompressed storytelling done wrong. In the same vein as Pól, he says that "decompressed" comics aren't necessarily bad.

I couldn't agree more. I don't know how anyone got that idea. Sure, I picked on Ocean #1, but that's because I think it's a good example of bad decompressed storytelling. I enjoy a lot of decompressed storytelling. I love Jinx, for example. I'm still reading Daredevil and think it's one of the better runs on the title ever. I actually liked Ocean until Ellis fucked up the ending. My biggest point is that the way comics are currently marketed and published, decompression works against them. Go read Ocean #1 again. Except for the fact that it's Ellis, there is very little to recommend picking up the rest of the series. Now, I like Ellis, so I trusted him to tell a good story, and he did for a while. Falabel makes the point that comics shouldn't intrinsically be monthly. That sounds great! J. Kevin Carrier understands what I'm saying - if you're going to sell comics the way they are now sold, each 22-page installment should have a satisfying ending. Maybe it doesn't have to tell a complete story, but it should give you a reason for coming back the next month. My biggest point is that DC and Marvel (and the other guys) are shooting themselves in the foot by releasing their comics this way. If you have a slow-moving single issue, why should anyone buy each individual issue? Everyone will simply "wait for the trade." Well, if the individual issues don't sell, the trade ain't coming, people. I said it before and I'll say it again: Ocean would have been very good (except for the ending) if it had been released as a graphic novel. I would not have minded the 15 pages it took for Nathan Kane to get off the ground, because I would have known I didn't need to wait six months for a resolution. It's annoying.

So. My biggest problem with decompressed storytelling is that the way comics are sold these days, it works against that kind of story. I have no intrinsic problem with either kind of storytelling. I wish DC and Marvel and the other guys had the guts to release stuff the way Crazy Larry does: graphic novels with only an occasional dip into monthly stuff. If you pick up a book from Crazy Larry, you know you're getting a complete story. It can be compressed or decompressed, but it's complete. Ah, satisfaction!

Bad comics are the problem. And Bill - on looks alone, I'll take the page from Ocean too. Sprouse's art is beautiful.

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11 Comments:

Blogger Pól Rua said...

Hey, no worries.
I wasn't addressing your post in particular as much as I was a general trend in comic book punditry.
It seems like every couple of months, the comics punditry infosphere turns its cyclops-like gaze on a new thing, declares that Comics Are Doomed in its most sonorous voice and yells that this particular new thing is The Great Satan and source of all evil.
As I said.
It makes me laff.

8/03/2005 02:52:00 AM  
Blogger Danica said...

Howdy,greg !Stopped by to make a note on your blog. I simply liked it..yeah....make a comment on my
postings too! I would appreciate it...Enjoy!

8/03/2005 03:38:00 AM  
Blogger Chad said...

Why shouldn't you have included Morrison in your list of writers who write decdompressed stuff?

His entire X-Men run was one long story. Invisibles has to be the ehight of decompression. The Filth was no slouch in that department either. We3 was ridiculously decompressed. And the Seven Soliders stuff is certainly decompressed. I mean, c'mon, telling a single stories in seven series? oy vey!

8/03/2005 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Chad - I don't think Morrison is considered a "decompressed" writer as much as Ellis or Bendis is. I would say that he's much more balanced - for instance, Seven Soldiers is decompressed in that it's telling a single story in 30 issues, but each issue gives you a little bit more than your typical "decompressed" issue.

Hi Danica. Guys - you might want to check her blog out. It's interesting.

8/03/2005 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

I think there are key reasons why decompression doesn't work in American comics like it does in Manga.

Manga installments come out weekly, so the decompression isn't as paonful issue to issue. Superhero comics come out monthfully, and in the day of the "superstar deadline," maybe not even that often! Ultimates comes out whenever Hitch finishes it and Iron Man is hung up on Granov.

Manga comics come in big phonebook compilations. That means that although you may be getting nothing but set-up in one story, the next story may be at the big fight scene page and the story after that may be at it's resolution. You get a full range of reading throughout a big SHonen Jump type compilation. If you get a single issue of a decompressed comic andits all setup, you have nothing else to read unless you buy a big stack of comics, which gets expensive, which leads to me last reason...

Price. I can spend less than $10 and get a shitload of reading in a weekly Shonen Jump book, that's a LOT of decompressed reading for your dollar. To try to soften the pain of decompression in American comics by buying a shitload of reading would end up costing a lot more.

For these reasons I think American monthly comics shouldn't decompress so much. I agree with Greg, it's not a question of decompression's validity as a storytelling method, it's a question of expensive monthlies as a valid vehicle to tell decompressed stories in.

Oh and Danica's HOT! But alas, only 18. :(

8/03/2005 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

P.S. Shameless plug, check out my blog johnnytriangles.blogspot.com.

1st post is up.

8/03/2005 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger layne said...

... and plus her favorite song is 'Your Body is a Wonderland'. Strike two. For some reason, I feel strangely threatened by her:
[Monty Burns Voice]I don't know what phallocentric means, but NO GIRLS!
[/Monty Burns Voice]

I think there are a lot of issues (HA!) to consider when discussing decompressed storytelling in American comics; the format, the market, the expectations of the audience are the big three.
I think that a lot of writers and publishers use it as a crutch, to compensate for certain creative weaknesses, to get a little more lucre in their pocket.

I don't want to sound like one of those people who believe that the quality of a piece is directly porportional to the length of time it takes to read, but I'm not paying $4.50 for 10 minutes unless there's heavy breathing involved.

Would retailers support longform comics as the primary format? Their per unit outlay would skyrocket(I'm unsure of the lingo but you know what I mean), and it would put a huge dent in the collector's market.
Comic stores would probably be unable to compete with the big book sellers if the emphasis on monthlies was diminished.

I think things are going to stay the way they are for a while; even though the monthly format - which does have a role - currently does a disservice to both creators and consumers, to abandon it would require a restructuring of this thing we call comics, on every imaginable level.

Hunh... five years later, and Ellis finally got to me.
Or is that five years too late?

8/03/2005 07:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why shouldn't you have included Morrison in your list of writers who write decdompressed stuff?"

Because he doesn't use decompressed storytelling?

"His entire X-Men run was one long story. Invisibles has to be the ehight of decompression. The Filth was no slouch in that department either. We3 was ridiculously decompressed. And the Seven Soliders stuff is certainly decompressed. I mean, c'mon, telling a single stories in seven series? oy vey!"

You don't actually know what "decompressed storytelling" is, do you? Because it has nothing to do with the length of a story arc.

8/03/2005 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger layne said...

I don't want to misquote anyone or speak on anyone's behalf, but my understanding of the nature of decompressed storytelling results in a longer-paced, more protracted piece. While a lenghty storyline does not a decompressed story make, successful, effective decompression requires more space than is available in comic's most dominant format, which is what I think we're discussing here.
Hey, if I'm wrong, I'm wrong... please elaborate, anonymous.

8/03/2005 11:23:00 PM  
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