Comics aren’t movies.

If you try to eliminate everything you can’t do in movies — captions, thought balloons — in writing comics, that’s a legitimate choice, but it’s not an inherent virtue.

Comics are words and pictures together, not pictures with words as a necessary evil.
Comics are an artwork. They’re not movies, they’re not novels, they’re not stage drama, they’re not poetry, they’re not fine art or illustration. They’re their own thing with their own strengths.

Movies are cool too, but they’ve got motion and sound and tone of voice and all...
…they do things comics can’t.

But comics can do things movies can’t. Eliminating techniques from comics because other forms don’t (or can’t) use them makes comics less than they can be.

Comics use words and pictures together. The words are not an intrusion.
“Artwork” should have been “artform,” there. Thank you, autocorrect.
Comics can be text-heavy and still good. They can be text-light and still good.

But the graphic juxtaposition of words and pictures is one of the things that comics have as a strength that few other forms have — print advertising has it, too.

It doesn’t just matter what...
…the words are, it matters _where_ they are.

A caption in the upper left and a caption in the lower right have different effects. A sound effect in the foreground and a sound effect in the background have different effects.

Comics are graphics as well as drawing, and words...
…as well as pictures.

The images can carry the narrative, with the text adding to it. The text can carry the narrative with the images adding to it. Between text and art you can have two (or more!) narratives happening in a single panel.

Comics are their own artform.
I broke in in the 1980s, so I learned a lot from comics of the 70-80s, but a couple of my go-to examples for varied use of text narratives in comics are DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN, where Miller & Mazzucchelli tell their story using first-person and third-person narration, shifting...
…the spine of the storytelling from visual to verbal and back again as needed. And ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN, where multiple narratives, visual and textual, braid together in ordered chaos.
But Jaime Hernandez’s “Locas” in LOVE & ROCKETS used text and graphics well — there’s one bit where Hopey is screaming so loudly the panel can’t contain it and the words are cropped by the borders.

And Simonson’s THOR. Chaykin’s AMERICAN FLAGG. Sound effects as design elements.
Comics can be as deceptively simple as DENNIS THE MENACE, or as narratively varied as THE SPIRIT or as controlled as ON STAGE or as florid as the Moore/Bissette SWAMP THING.

There’s such a wide range of techniques.
Some people use the techniques well and others use them badly, but it doesn’t make the techniques good or bad.

Craft tools are only as good as the craftsmen weilding them.

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More from @KurtBusiek

15 Aug
Another thing I’ll metion in all this ramble about creativity and direct inspirations…

Ideas are not ownable.

Copyright is about “the concrete expression of ideas,” not the ideas themselves.
You can use ideas from anywhere.

You can’t use them in exactly the same ways that someone else did. But you can use them.

You want to write about a kid who sees his parents murdered and sets out to fight crime? Go right the hell ahead.
Just don’t have him dress up as a bat with a kid sidekick and a butler, and fight a murder clown.

[Actually, you can probably do all of that if you make it feel different in keys ways.]

But ideas themselves are not property. They’re free for anyone to use.
Read 7 tweets
15 Aug
@xtop It depends on what you like about the concept; sometimes the “serial numbers” are the appeal.

For instance, I like Swamp Thing a lot, but not just the muck-monster part. I like the Arcanes and the Parliament of Trees and Chester and the legacy aspect.
@xtop So it’s easy to create a Plant Guy (Astro City has the Green Man), but not so easy to re-create what I like about SWAMP THING.
@xtop Similarly, it’s not hard to create an Amazon-warrior superhero, but WONDER WOMAN has a lot of lore I’d like to explore, and finding ways to replace that while staying on the right side of the line from infringement is hard.

And don’t get me started on the Legion!
Read 16 tweets
11 Aug
Some of the online reaction to what’s going on at DC makes me think of Ace the Bat-Hound again.

If you’re personally affected by the layoff, my full sympathies, and you won’t care about this. But for others...
A couple of times in the past, I’ve run across comics fans online trying to figure out whether Ace the Bat-Hound was a copy of Krypto the Superdog, or maybe of Rex the Wonder Dog, since Rex appeared three years earlier.

There was much debate and comparisons of content choices...
…after all, Ace has no powers, and he and Rex are both German Shepherds, etc.

But in the whole discussion, there were two names that didn’t come up: Lassie and Rin Tin Tin.
Read 12 tweets
6 May
Still thinking about this, at least a little, because it’s just so daffy.

“It’s not about adding diversity for the sake of diversity, it’s about subtracting homogeneity for the sake of realism.”

The guy who argued against this statement went on to argue that it should be...
…a matter of merit, not ethnicity or gender or whatever, that determines how the cast is built.

And I’m just gobsmacked at the idea that he seems to think writers interview a bunch of applicants in order to build the cast for a story.
When I started writing AVENGERS, the superheroes on the roster were all white, because we wanted a “classic cast,” and due to the fact that most of Marvel’s classic characters come from an era when almost all superheroes were white (and they haven’t aged out yet), that’s how...
Read 7 tweets
2 Feb
Gardner Fox was a bad writer.

Stop liking Gardner Fox, people.

He wrote bad scripts. They were bad.

Bad, bad scripts. So bad.

Understand this.

Oh, you will say. What about the classic “Day of the Thing That Did A Thing”?

Right, right, I respond. That was the boring one with the arbitrary puzzle based on made-up science and no personality, right?

Yes, that one.
No, no, not that one, you say.

Oh, the mystery story with the dumb scheme and the irrational clues and no personality? That one?

Yes, yes, ahh.
Read 6 tweets
11 Aug 19
Lots of people read DARK KNIGHT and enjoyed cranky, brutal, frustrated old Batman so much that we got cranky, brutal, frustrated young Batman very often as a result.

That’s not Miller’s fault. He wrote (and drew) a really good book.
But the takeaway from it, as is often the case, was the shallowest, least nuanced takeaway available. Much like when one of the takeaways from MARVELS was “let’s do more plastic covers."
Cranky old Batman’s internal narrative became cranky young Batman’s dialogue patter, rather than, say, his cleverness and humor.

The idea that it took years of enforced retirement to create that frustration was ignored.

Batman got simpler.
Read 9 tweets

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