Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Few and Far

Back when I was collecting comics, I usually purchased based on pictorial quality, and not for the story writing. Comic book stories have usually seemed to me to be silly, simplistic or just downright stupid. Now don't get me wrong, that's part of the charm of being all-in-color-for-a-dime. But as comics evolved to become seemingly more 'mature' and certainly more expensive, I had greater expectations for the story quality. 

EC comics in the '50s are consistently lauded as having had great art and great writing. Yeah, the art was pretty great, and the writing by Kurtzman and the Bradbury adaptations and a few others was way cool. But a lot of the stuff was predictable and silly, even though way above other comics of the time.

In the '80s, beyond the superhero genre, comics took on adult appeal more and more. Art was racier and  of pretty good quality, but many of the stories were either retreads and/or just plain lame. I had great expectations from series like Alien Worlds and others. Here, Al Williamson's art was as good or better than his EC work and very reminiscent of those days, and the writing tries to be — but ends up being a tired old retread (writer to go unnamed here). You can see why some of us buy comics just for the art. REALLY good writing examples in this medium are just few and far between.

Sometime soon, I hope to post some samples of what I think is some really good comic book writing, superhero, no less. Stay 'tooned.

Above, Joe Chiodo —lovely cover of Alien Worlds #1, December 1982

 Above and below, Al Williamson, from that same issue, very strong art


M. D. Jackson said...

I bought that exact same comic for the exact same reason. That was one of the reasons I originally loved HEAVY METAL Magazine, because I thought the writing was superior. I eventually discovered that much of it was very vague and deliberately obtuse. Just because it was from Europe didn't automatically make it better.

The art was great, though!

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Yes, good point MD. I NEVER bought HM for story. Some of the art could be enlarged as ALmost 'fine' art.

Daniel [oeconomist.com] said...

For me, a trite or silly story that seems quietly aware of its own shortcomings, perhaps even ironic about them, may be amusing; while one that seems indifferent may be tolerable. But when the author seems to regard his-or-her clichés, nonsense, or clichéd nonsense as clever or as profound, then I'm at best annoyed.

Of course, there have been occasions where a comic book has had something that actually was clever or profound. “Why not let Two-Face decide what to do with me?”