I’ll take my humor wherever I can get it these days. I’m talking about in comic books. For the longest time there’s been a drought of clever lines, witty remarks, razor tipped dialogue and everyday humor in mainstream comics. Sit and read one. Really read one. You might see what I mean.

Sometimes I think writers get away without any humor or good dialogue between characters because the readers let em’. At times I think people buy comics because they always have and just skim over em’, look at the art and then bag em’. I really hope I’m wrong.

But how else can ya explain a book like the JLA where you’ve got all these great icon super heroes and no one ever cracks a smile? This book is prime for a suppository. How can you have Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Hawkman and all the others and not ever have a human moment to speak of? Maybe with Geoff Johns coming on board we’ll see a change.

Just as life isn’t “Haha” funny every second , neither is it a funeral every five minutes. Aren’t the Batman books boring enough? Does the desert of depression have to be spread out over all of DC? For every Keith Giffen related book there are five Grant Morrison books that can put you to sleep faster than a bottle of Ambien.

Marvel isn’t much better at lighter moments either. I know the boy is pressed for deadlines, but every now and then Brian Bendis will take the time to inject a little humor into one of his super hero gangbang fests. The New Avengers #8 has a nice “fun” moment between Spider-Woman and The Wrecker. I just wish there were more. I know Brian very well. He has a great sense of humor and knows his dialogue. I just hope he isn’t getting’ skimpy on the character work because he is writing so many books. Brian Bendis at the top of his game is something to behold.

Frank Cho is a great example of how to deliver humor, action, drama and suspense to your doorstep without leaving anything out. His Shanna The She-Devil series is a great show of what I’m talking about.

Dan Slott is another that knows how to give you a full menu of character writing without skipping out on any what’s good for ya. His work on She Hulk is a wonderful mix of everything that is right with comics. Again, I’m not saying every super hero issue has to have some slapstick moment, but hell, real life has a few laughs every day, why can’t super hero comics?

Gail Simone laid out a benchmark script with her Villains United series. It’s high drama and action, yet there are moments that make ya smile as you see the characters walk across the story pavement that is scattered with broken glass. Gail has been giving us great super hero characterization in Birds Of Prey for quite a while.

As I’ve said in the past, the best example of how to write super hero interaction is the Cartoon Network’s Justice League Unlimited. Dwayne McDuffie and the gang give everyone the perfect blue print on how to mix super heroes, action, humor, dialogue and characterization. This is the path all should follow or try to build upon.

There might be lots of reasons whey we don’t see more writers utilizing better characterization with super heroes. Here are just seven:

  1. They could be lazy.
  2. Comics are all the writers ever read so they don’t know better.
  3. Bad editorial direction. Which springs from editors with no background training or school education in the field of editing and story telling. I wish we could’ve cloned Archie Goodwin.
  4. “It’s the way we’ve always done them”. That’s an excuse for the weak.
  5. They could be just collecting a check.
  6. They could lack education in creative writing. We do have an overabundance of writers that have always been comic book readers that think that’s all they need to qualify as a writer or an editor.
  7. Too many pupils and not enough teachers.

I just wanna see writers try a little harder. There is no written rule that says super hero comics have to be dead serious every second. All one has to do is think about what goes on in their own life and add that to the story.

Characterization. Personality. Dialogue that sounds real.

Writers, print the above line. Cut it out. Paste it on your computer or typewriter. Read it from time to time as you write your script. This was great advice that I got from Archie Goodwin many years ago.

I think it still holds up today.

Your amigo,

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507

Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!

About The Author


Beau Smith is a writer for Comics Bulletin