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Thread: ELLIS: Pop Comics

  1. #1

    ELLIS: Pop Comics


    Taken from About comics, but useful for thinking about games in general and Cassandra specifically...

    Opinions, as always, wanted.


    There's a notion that's been bugging me for a while, that sort of crystallised while I was in New Zealand. For lack of a better term, I'm calling it Pop Comics.

    I'm already working in serious longform adult comics with my political sf novel TRANSMETROPOLITAN, and in a sequence of graphic novels and short story collections with HELLBLAZER. Once I eventually finish out my time on
    THE AUTHORITY and PLANETARY, I'm really not going to want to leap into more long pieces. And, besides that...

    I like buying comics. I like going into comics shops and seeing new comics. And I like the little charge of creators I like starting something new. Coming in on the ground floor of new Alan Moore books these past few months has been great -- just grabbing these beautiful objects off the shelves to read new ideas from him, see what he's thinking about, see where his mind is and where he thinks the culture is (the best working definition of good fiction: a writer telling us where he/she thinks he/she is today, and what he/she thinks it looks like). And it doesn't happen often enough.

    Comics are way too geared towards the ongoing series, to things never-ending. Even Alan is intending his four new ABC books as ongoing titles. The status-quo comic is a comfort thing; something the reader is supposed to sink into with relief after dealing with an unquiet, unpredictable real world. This is the essential appeal of the
    X-Men; a family of outcasts for the outcast comics reader. No-one really dies. But, you know, as an adult, I demand more than that from the medium. I think, deep down, most people do.

    I want a bit of excitement from the medium, a sense of constant novelty and invention. I want the equivalent of
    a new single by your favourite band every three months. I want Pop Comics, if you like; my favourite writers
    inventing something brand new every few months, working with artists to create fun and beautiful comics that
    I'm not afraid to pass on or lose or even stuff in a bin, because I know that if I like it there'll be, as with a single,
    an album not far down the road, a TPB collection.

    This is my current intent. Beginning this winter, I'll be arranging the release of a string of new three-issue
    miniseries. My Pop Comics. Every couple of months, in addition to my long works, you'll be able to see something
    brand new from me, produced with the most interesting artists I can find.

    * * * * *

    The audience splits fairly neatly into two, in my estimation.

    This is an imaginary audience; rather like Imaginary Time, it does whatever I says it does. It is also, by and large,
    the audience I address in my work, as opposed to the entire potential audience. I can't legislate for people who
    read fucking AQUAMAN or something.

    There's the (usually) older reader who's prepared to spend more money on an original graphic novel, who will
    probably be receptive to thoughts and themes concerning politics and culture and sexual innovation. The
    TRANSMET and HELLBLAZER audience. They'll put the books on their shelves. This audience will be best served
    by original graphic novels. This audience is prepared to consider leaving the world of the infinite, never-ending
    "ongoing" title. This audience is, in fact, ill-served by the ongoing series,
    for ongoing series tend not to be hotbeds of innovation, energy or creative ambition.

    There's the (usually) younger reader, who wants their slab of culture quick and cheap(ish) and disposable, who
    will normally read the comic a few times and then chuck it on a pile or leave it on a table or give it to a friend.
    This audience, too, couldn't give much of a toss about the ongoing book, because they're after the adrenaline
    and innovation and eyeball kicks and chrome nipples and big explosions.

    And I want that audience, the Pop Comic audience, as well as the GN audience. I've got them right now -- I've
    got them with PLANETARY, with THE AUTHORITY, and with Wizard. And I want to be able to continue talking to
    them once I've finished with AUTHORITY and PLANETARY. And, in the longform TRANSMET and the novel and
    short-story-collection structures of HELLBLAZER, I have an in with those people who'd consider buying original
    GNs (especially if they were reasonably priced, instead of those damn $30 hardback wankfests that come
    shrink-wrapped so you can't even see if it's any good before you buy it)...

    I'm working both sides of the coin. The Pop Comics, and the original graphic novels (of varying lengths). These,
    as far as I'm concerned, are the two ways forward.

    Yet another painful musical analogy; There were always singles bands, and there were always albums bands, and they tended to have two different audiences.

    Death to the "ongoing" title. Death to works of no ambition. Death to all who don't want to make their own futures. Fuck mediocrity, fuck cosiness, bugger the consistency of years. I want my comics INJECTED.

    [This message has been edited by Brem_X_Jones (edited April 06, 2001).]

  2. #2

    I was planning to burn some cash on comics, finish my Sandman collection, get some more Preacher and perhaps look into Hellblazer or Transmetropolitan (TPB natch, getting those here are hard enough, getting original issues would be more trouble than it´s worth). Then I had to go and give a car a little kiss on a parking lot...sigh

    Anyway, I agree that never-ending series are extremely lame. A story needs an end, if they decide to drag out the series and milk the cash-cow a bit more, you´ll eventually lose interest, The X-files is a good example.

  3. #3
    Registered: May 2000

    I definitely agree, that these series are too long and thus lack a focus. It is far more interesting (to me) to see narrative-based series which have MAJOR events happening in them.

    Also the neverending series / parallel series phenomenon is overwhelming. Do I really want to watch 4 series with 23 episodes of some Japanese manga?

    Of course in terms of stock characters reworked into witty 1 off episodes The Simpsons rocks

    Also there is a huge (and partially deserved) prejudice against the idea of Adult Comics, people think that you are talking about porn / pointless violence / poncy superheroes.

  4. #4

    I used to read a lot of comics, but having to wait 3 months for a regular issue to ship whilst it's finished, begins to grate on the nerves after a while. I have (literally) boxes of half a run of comics.

    Even the story arcs within a long running title don't save on going titles from being annoying. I'd rather wait a year and get a TPB, than spend 2 years buying 12 issues.

    Then again i have a reall short attention sp

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