By Beau Smith
I have a Busted Knuckles Challenge for Marvel and DC Comics super-hero books. Give the readers one full year of stand-alone stories.
Stan Lee used to invite you into the clubhouse and did his best to make you feel like you belonged. Today it’s more like trying to get into Studio 54 in the 1970’s. Marvel and DC don’t want new readers and are doing their best to make the long time readers feel confused with event after event, stories where the weight of the dialogue would test the shoulders of Hercules. There’s the misconception that a lot of dialogue and blocks of text equate into good writing. In the craft of writing comic books, that ain’t so.
It’s not hard or interesting to take good vs. evil with a huge cast and drag that story out over 6 issues as well as spread it out over the rest of your publishing line. It’s an editorial nightmare and causes writers to be late with deadlines – which should rarely happen. With the first part of the relay being clogged up, it only puts more pressure on the art team, letterer and colorist, not to mention sales and marketing.
Continuous events and crossovers can only enhance a story and characters when it is just that: AN EVENT. When they happen every week they are no longer awe-inspiring. They become mundane and boring to regular readers and nothing short of confusing to someone trying to step into mainstream comics.
Currently it’s supposed to be a writer’s stage in comics. Let’s see who can belly up to the bar and do a compelling twenty-two page story with a beginning, middle and end. If they’re a REALLY a good writer they can do it in eight pages. There’s a reason you don’t see anthology books anymore, writers don’t want to work that hard and editors don’t know how it’s done. (Not all, but most. Save your emails telling me different.)
I don’t believe the pile some folks try and offer up that today’s readers want the endless storyline that grapevines into eternity. They’ve just been fed the same menu for so long they haven’t had a chance to taste variety.
Behind the scenes I’ve had a lot of the busiest Marvel and DC creators tell me that they are so frustrated with the constant assembly line of events, crossovers and rewrites due to so many uncreative fingers in the pie. Editors have told me that they long for a more streamline path to getting good comic books out on time.
I’m not talking “old school” here. I’m talking SCHOOL in, as you can see, capital letters. Stand alone stories can be collected into trade paperbacks just as easy as never ending sagas. I’d really like to see Marvel and DC take this challenge. I don’t think it would take readers too long to find out “write” from wrong. At the current $3.00 a pop for comic books it would be nice to really get your money’s worth within twenty-two pages. At those cover prices I would feel a lot better about buying more comics knowing that I was going to get stories I could read and not ones that were continued in another book I don’t want to read or an event series that never stops. Good marketing is selling good product that’s worth the cover price, not the trail bread crumb effect. I want good stories, not crumbs.
Who’s up to the Busted Knuckles Challenge?
Busted Knuckles Many Cover of the Week: Combat Casey #14
I really don’t think I have to draw you a picture for this one. This is the one where Combat Casey serves up a menu of a fist full of TNT with a side order of bayonet to the chest. No low sugar diet for the commies in this issue.
Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week: Constance Ramos
She’s got perfect skin, perfect hair and knows how to sling a paint brush as well as a hammer, what’s not to lust after? Constance Ramos is a dream come true. She has no flaws (Unless she can’t cook, but you know she can) that I know of, that’s why she is the Busted Knuckles Babe Of The Week. Check her out on HGTV’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I’m ready to play house.
Here at the ranch I’ve been working on putting all the comic books that I’ve written into order. After twenty years of writing them it’s turned into a job. I never realized that I have written so many books. Thanks to Chuck Dixon’s suggestion, I’ve been putting them in Sterlite Stackable containers and it’s working out really well.
While going through all these books I came across the Wildcat books that I had done. Batman/Wildcat #1 through #3, Catwoman/Wildcat #1 through #4 as well as various eight page stories in various DC annuals and his appearances in my Guy Gardner run. Wildcat has shown up in lots of DC Comics since then including the really nice role in Gail Simone’s Birds Of Prey run. Recently in JSA: Classified #36, Wildcat returns to the spotlight courtesy of wonderful tough guy writer, B. Clay Moore and artist Ramon Perez. Yeah, Wildcat has show up in other issues of JSA Classified, but THIS is where it really counts!
Clay is one of the first writers to do Wildcat that made me think “I wish I had written that!” He really has nailed the mood and the tough guy sense of humor that I worked really hard to instill in Ted Grant/Wildcat. This issue also makes the return team up of Catwoman and Wildcat. It’s great stuff! Ramon Perez’s art is amazing and the colors by Dave McCraig fits like a custom boxing glove. The story telling and characters are dead on and if you’ve never read a Wildcat story, then this is the one to jump on with. It’s got a perfect mix of talk, character, action and set up. Nothing is overdone and Clay puts on a writing show that others should learn from. This is one of the best writer/artist teams I’ve seen in many a moon. This run is gonna pay off in a big way. It has my highest recommendations. Check out B. Clay Moore’s site at http://bclaymoore.blogspot.com.
Tell him Beau sent ya.
Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!