Comic books are not novels. They aren’t movies and they aren’t TV shows. Each one of these vessels of art and pop culture are their own vehicles. They are all constructed differently and have their own craft and format. It’s supposed to be that way because they’re all different and meant to be different so they’ll work properly.. Just like men and women. That’s a good thing.
Many of you have read my words in columns, writing classes and in my own work? comic books are words AND pictures, mainstream super hero comics more so than any other genre. Yes the edges should always be reached for, but not so much to where it becomes something it’s not. At that point you aren’t doing comics. You’re attempting to do one of the other vehicles I mentioned. Just because you put Chicken McNuggets on your finest china and serve it with an expensive bottle of wine doesn’t change the fact that it’s still Chicken McNuggets. That’s not meant to degrade or lessen the importance of comic books. I know you’re smart enough to get my meaning. After all, you’re reading MY column aren’t you?
I’ve had lots of readers me that they miss the action in super hero comics that they truly seek. I asked them to be more specific, are they talking about movement like characters flying and jumping around or are they talking about the battle of hand to hand and real fighting. This also covered combat with weapons, guns, swords or other weapons to defeat evil. More important I asked if they meant action that moves with the story in tow.
Most got back to me and said that it was the story and action moving together like a couple in love and lust? and the hand to hand combat and weapons fighting. They felt they weren’t getting enough of either.
So I grabbed a stack of recent Marvel and DC Comics (selected by my readers) to see what the deal was with talking and action.
This is not a scientific math thing or endorsed by any national survey institute. This was me going through a random stack of comics. Out of a stack of 50 comics I just grabbed these. That’s all.
I went through every page of each comic and broke them down to these simple categories:
Talk: This means standing, sitting or laying around talking. Text captions are included as well.
Movement: This pretty much means the characters are flying, walking or jumping while talking. Text captions are included as well.
Action: This means moving and fighting with fists or weapons.
Busted Knuckles: This means “Busted Knuckles”, The ultimate in real man, Busted Knuckles fighting with fists of weapons in a real and creative way. Not your standard throwing a haymaker or zapping someone with a ray gun. It also includes the important element of the story moving with the action to progress the plot and characters.
I thought I’d share my knuckle dragging results with you:
Written By Greg Rucka
Art By Jesus Saiz
Total: 21 pages
Talk = 15
Movement = 4
Action = 2
Written By Kurt Busiek
Art By Butch Guice and Tony DeZuniga
Total: 22 pages
Talk = 17
Movement = 4
Action = 1
Written By Joe Kelly
Art By Ron Adrian, Rob Lea and Norm Rapmund
Total: 22 Pages
Talk = 11
Movement = 5
Action = 6
52 Week Fourteen
Written By Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid.
Art By Keith Giffen, Dale Eaglesham, Art Thibert and Eric Powell.
Total Pages: 22
Talk = 19
Movement = 1
Action = 2
Captain America #5
Written By Ed Brubaker
Art By Michael lark and Steve Epting
Total Pages 21
Talk = 10
Movement = 4
Action = 7
New Avengers #17
Written By Brian Michael Bendis
Art By Mike Deodato and Joe Pimentel
Total Pages: 22
Talk = 15
Movement = 4
Action = 3
The Incredible Hulk Destruction #2
Written By Peter David
Art by Jim Muniz, James Raiz, Kevin Conrad, Mark McKenna and John Stanisci.
Total Pages 22
Talk = 12
Movement = 2
Action = 8
Let me say right now that I was pretty lenient with choosing of action. Even with that, nobody got into double digits with action. Most of the ones with any kind of action count were standard or below standard action. The were merely simple punching or gun/ray zapping. Nothing with any true impact or imagination. I found nothing that moved the story or the characters with much meaning or importance. The action seemed to only be a quick reward for all the talking.
There were many opportunities in these stories to show action and also move the story/dialogue with it. It looks like some writers find it easier to just write talking heads and take the easy way out. My advice to them if that is the fact?write a novel.
I’ve gotta admit, I was disappointed with the results. I thought there would be much more story moving action. Moving and telling the story in comic books are key. It’s a huge part of the craft of writing good comics. This is something that has been taught and preached by the icons of comic book story telling such as, Will Eisner, Archie Goodwin, Jack Kirby, Alex Toth and Stan Lee.
If this random check of mine is any kind of sign of what’s going on in comics right now then it might mean that there needs to be changes in the way comics are written, drawn and edited. I don’t think it’s a matter of the publishers giving the readers what they want or ask for. I think it’s a matter of the art of interesting story telling being lost, forgotten or never taught. I hope that apathy and laziness is not the fault. I’d hate to think that self-satisfaction was the motive and goals of writers, editors and publishers that are in a BUSINESS to entertain paying consumers.
Next time you go to your local comic shop and buy your stack, when you get home, do the little “Busted Knuckles Page Count” and see what you come up with.
You may be surprised.
Busted Knuckles Babe Of The Week
Marthia Sides does it all and with beauty and style. She’s a up and coming country singer as well as a noted actress in such films as “Two Weeks Notice”, “The Glasses”, and “The Heist”. You may have seen her on TV in “Sex And The City”, “Popularity Contest” and “Date Patrol”. Her latest CD is “Born Again In Country”. You can find out more about this dark haired singing beauty at her website http://www.marthia.com or her MySpace site at http://www.myspace.com/marthia.
Tell her Beau sent ya.
Busted Knuckles Manly Cover Of The Week
The Thing #8
Marvel Comics 2006
Now THIS is the way I always saw all of my favorite Marvel super heroes hanging out. Having a few brews, some friendly poker, shop talk about what bad guys are a pain in the ass and what super powered women wear their spandex the best.
This issues pretty much has all of your favorite Marvel characters acting out of character by being real folks. There’s much fun and a cover that will delight everybody. The only thing missing from this story was a good bar room brawl. I will say this much? The Thing gets lucky and I ain’t talking cards.
There was a HUGE response from last week’s topic of aging and super heroes. I got over 500 emails on it and the various message boards on the internet news sites were loaded with threads on this topic. Seems like everybody has an opinion in the age factor in super heroes.
I continued to spend most of the week poolside in my off time. The weather was good, the beer cold and the music even better. I listened to a wide variety of blues, rock, classical, west Texas country and Spanish guitar. Life was good.
I wanna thank Lucinda Stone out of Santa Barbara, California for being kind enough to send me nice used copies of Essential Spider-Man Volume 6 and Essential Daredevil Volume 3. That was very kind and I appreciate her thoughtfulness. Lucinda, I hope you enjoy the package that is on your way from me. It’s the least I can do.
As always I look forward to reading your latest thoughts and opinions. I’m always around and ready for em’. It’s busy and it may take a little bit of time, but I always reply.
Remember that the final issue of Cobb: Off The Leash #3 comes out in stores August 30th. There is no promise of a trade paperback, so I suggest you grab these issues while you can.
The Flying Fist Ranch
Ceredo, WV. 25507
Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!