By Beau Smith
Comic books. That’s what they’re called, but there is very little “comicEto emE
Right now if you were to sit down and read the stack of comics that ya bought at the comic store last week I think you’re gonna find that there’s barely one of emEthat made ya smile with humor durinEthe read.
Not I’m not sayinEthat every comic should have slapstick, laugh out loud, bust a gut jokes on every page. Nope. We ain’t walkinEdown that trail, amigo.
What I’m talkinEabout is humor. Normal, natural, every day, sense of humor. The kind we all have and use every day or our lives. I’m so tired of readinEall these monthly comics that are devoid of a sense of humor. You’ve got all these great characters, some with fantastic powers and backgrounds, yet none of emEever crack a smile or say anything that would make ya wanna hang out with emE
Take most any X-Men book. The biggest “XEthey need is a big dose of Ex-Lax to keep the characters from being constipated with angst. I get so sick of crybaby characters.
The “X-FactorEfor The X-Men?
Just because they’re savinEthe world from a universal horde of intergalactic bad guys doesn’t mean they can’t crack a joke in between dodginElaser beams.
Roll back the clock a little bit. I remember Stan Lee havinEThe Thing throwinEsome smart-ass barbs around while tryinEto keep Galactus from eatinEEarth. Spider-Man was always good for some witty remarks when poundinEthe crap outta his league of bad guys. In fact, with Spider-Man it was almost like one of his super powers. His smart remarks always pissed off his bad guys to the point of distraction.
Now I don’t wanna confuse ya. I’m not sayinEthat a few glib jokes durinEa fight will save the day. What I wanna see is better writing as a whole. I’m sorry to say, but any dime a dozen writer can do grit your teeth drama with a haymaker fight thrown in the middle.
It takes a real writer to add true human nature and humor into their characters. That’s what makes readers want to come back every month for.
Marvel and DC have 60 years of history behind their characters. Some readers stick with those characters because they have read since childhood. Out of habit. Loyalty doesn’t always make that habit a good one.
Johnny has read Superman for 10 years. But has Johnny really stopped to truly read the new Superman comic he just paid for? Is this character written well, or is it that Johnny just knows the character for so long that he is addinEin more characterization into Superman than is really being written?
I’m not pickinEon Superman or any of the dozen people that are writing him now. I’m just usinEthat as an example. You can insert any character in the place of Superman.
It takes a really good writer to make ya like a character. To do that, the character is gonna have to have a sense of humor and well rounded human emotions. I find that most of the characters beinEwritten don’t have any layers to emE Not to pick on a sacred cow, but how much of a personality does Batman have? Let’s face facts, in band we call comics he’s an instrument that doesn’t play a wide variety of notes.
WHEEEEWEWhat’s That Smell In My Bat-Pants?
Spawn is another one. Almost 150 issues and he is still the biggest crybaby of all. I know. I worked there. I had to read emEall. I’m burnt. I love my wife. The Devil made me do it. WaaaaghEaaaaagh!
There are writers out there that are doinEa really good job and should be set up as writing lessons to others. Check out the incredible job that Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis have been doinEwith JLA Classified and Formerly Known As The Justice League. Look at what Gail Simone does with Birds Of Prey and Villains United. The most perfect example I can think of is not even a comic book. It’s on TV called Justice League Unlimited. That show has EVERYTHING and in perfect working order. Characters you care about, wonderful dialogue and humor without becoming the Three Stooges in spandex. Dwayne McDuffie and the rest of the gang on JLU are doinEit so right.
In comics it may not be the writers that carry the bulk of the fault. Editors and upper management may also be to blame for stiff, boring characters. Do this for me. Here in the next couple of weeks really read what you’ve bought. Forget the web hype and the Top Ten writers lists. Try not to think of the character as one you’ve known for 30 years. Is the writing giving you characters you like. Characters you care about. Characters you want to invest your time with.
Think of it as a date. Do you wanna spend time and money on someone that is serious 24/7? Do you wanna be with someone with a burr under their saddle and a one-note personality? When it comes to entertainment you should look for the same qualities you look for in romance.
You don’t have to eat what’s beinEfed to you. You can look at the menu and choose for yourself. Take some time to really think about who is really a good writer in comics right now. Forget the hype. You decide. Can this person really write dialogue? Say the words out loud and see if they sound silly. Think about how that character is being written. How many layers do they really have? Also try and separate if you are reading your own history of that character and the writer is just moving the character through the motions or are they adding another layer to that long standing character and making their words and personality improved?
Any writer worth a donkey dump will tell ya that comedy is much harder to write than straight drama. The best writers can mix the two and come up with a near perfect script
Demand a sense of humor. Demand sharp dialogue. Demand good writing.
You pay too much money for comics to get the short end of the stick. You’re in charge. Your wallet is the carrot to dangle in front of the donkey. Make him work for it.
Big Daddy’s Day 2005
For father’s day I had lunch at my son Nick’s house. We ate and spent the afternoon watchinESam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch. Nick had never seen it.
Beau and The One True Real Man–My Dad
Needless to say it was a manly afternoon and he learned what good writing and directing in movies was all about. We talked about the movie and the characters for a long time. We talked about what it means when a man gives his word. We spoke of honor, friendship and loyalty. Nick “gotEwhat the movie was about. It’s nice to know that a 22 year old can sit and watch a classic manly film like The Wild Bunch and get stoked.
Time spent with my son was a great Father’s Day gift. SpendinEthat time together was also our gift to my dad. We miss him very much.
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