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Why is comics continuity so dense and how to make it less so

superhero comics can be very hard to break into because they have years of (often convoluted) continuity that people feel they need to understand in order to fully engage with the comics. Why do comics insist on linking connecting everything into a confusing mass of continuity, and how can we make it easier for new and potential readers?

  • This is a great topic to discuss. From a storytelling perspective, I find this to be one of the biggest frustrations with the industry. Even the MCU films are reaching a point where I feel that the continuity is beginning to weigh it down and restrict it. – Sean Gadus 3 months ago
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  • Cool topic, though would suggest tweaking the wording of the title. Title - Why do comics have such complicated continuity? OR Why are comic series continuity so dense and what can be done about it? I suspect this continuity issue you're talking about applies to super hero series mostly. The continuity issue could be compared to long running manga or independent comic series. I think there are super hero comics that are not the main Marvel/DC series that do not have the same issues as those ones. – Jordan 3 months ago
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  • I love the mcu And it is an issue. I will like to say that you should make the distinction between the marvel comics and the MCU as they do it differently In the comics continuity only works if it sells. If not the character gets a new back story etc. plus in comics there are multiple writers, where they have the license to do something different with the characters. They are more flexible. Just look at any of the characters, like spider man he went through so many reruns that he has a lot of what makes his character rewritten. It’s comical . Where as in the MCU Every director/writer is under the control of the glorious Kevin Figie (forgive me for misspelling) He is the one who calls the big shots I love what he does but sometimes as of late it feels like every movie must be connected some way and that leads to a restriction on what writers/directors can do with their own movies. I feel the weight of continuity started with endgame and it’s convoluted time travel which constantly gets rewritten with every new installation I hope that with the multi verse we get more diverse stories but at the same time not every thing needs to be connected – Amelia Arrows 3 months ago
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  • At the end of the day, this tactic is used to drive sales. Comics have done this for decades and will continue to for the foreseeable future. I think a better topic might be "How to break into dense comic continuity" or "How new readers can make comic continuity less daunting/intimidating." Trying to change the industry especially now that movies and tv shows have adopted the same kind of continuity will only leave you disappointed, but guiding those who want to enter the scene is a great way to introduce fans to the world of comics! – Taylor 2 days ago
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The Importance of Mystery and the Past in Lady Mechanika

"Lady Mechanika" is an independent comic book written by Joe Benitez, telling the story of a woman having lost all her memories. More importantly, she doesn’t remember what happened to her as a child, as she’d been the victim of horrific experiments that have left her deeply scarred. Her limbs (arms and legs) were replaced by prosthetic limbs made of metal and her eyes have turned red, with the sclera now black.

The main character is shrouded in mystery, which is one of the main themes of "Lady Mechanika". The identity crisis she’s going through shoves challenges and obstacles in her quest of finding out the truth about her past, although it raises questions that shouldn’t be ignored: is it that important to find out about your past, despite it being horrific enough to blow your mind, while you could just rebuild your life and move forward?

Shouldn’t it be better for the main character to rid herself of the shackles of the past and look forward to the future?

It would be interesting to confront these questions in regard to the main character, who is so focused on her quest for identity throughout her adventures in the world created by Joe Benitez that it might seem borderline obsessive. While she has every right to find out the truth about her past and why she’s been mutilated, going through such ordeal could also be seen as torment or being a glutton for pain.

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    Consistency, originality and creativity in

    The lore of "Trese" is as mysterious as it’s intriguing, because the comics are based off Filipino mythology. This is quite uncommon to write about, as the comic book industry is vastly dominated by the super-hero genre, with issues coming out with brand new storytelling that haven’t won over the public lately, but rather pushed them away. There are several reasons for the decline of the American comic book industry, such as a focus on a character’s sexuality instead of writing a substantial story or rewriting a character that has already been established years ago to fit the present narrative.

    Consistency, originality, characterization and creativity seem to have been shoved aside to push an agenda forward. This agenda also drives comic book readers away, who can’t stand to see their favorite characters becoming a figure of representation and diversity. This issue is problematic, as comics themselves offer a deeper introspection into the universe created by the writers; this is their vision they’re willing to show to their potential readers through the characters, story and lore they create. The more original and creative a story is without the problems associated with diversity and representation, the more interested readers will be in comics.

    The "Trese" series have been ongoing since 2005 and have recently been given a Netflix adaptation, due to the success of the comics in the Philippines. What has been observed is that not only is it still coherent and consistent in its story-telling, but the originality and creativity in its lore keeps eliciting curiosity and a need to learn more about Filipino myths. The black and white style used by the creators also compliments the essence of "Trese", fitting the theme of horror. Such series that have remained unaffected by the drastic turn in the comic book industry is a rare sight to behold nowadays. It would be interesting to analyze the pros and cons of "Trese" to understand why and how the series succeed where American comic books have been failing for some time.

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      Are comic book movie and TV adaptations more realistic than the source material?

      It seems as though, when comic books (Japanese or Western) get adapted into movies or TV series, they become less over-the-top and stylized. The visuals may be toned down, for instance, and some of the characters may talk, act, or even look more like real people would in their situations. For instance, many of the characters in the "Deadman Wonderland" anime talk and act much more realistically than their manga counterparts did. The Netflix adaptation of "The Umbrella Academy" is also supposed to be more realistic and restrained than the original comics, and makes more of an effort to flesh out the characters’ personalities and motivations. Are most comic book adaptations like this, or does it depend on the individual adaptation? If indeed it is a trend, what are some of the factors driving it? For instance, do characters simply have to become more realistic once a real person is charged with bringing them to life?

      • This would be a good topic to write on. However, the perspective of the reader/viewer should also be included to lay emphasis on the change in expectation level if any when a comic book is adapted into a movie or TV series. Also, if there is much difference when an animation adaption of a comic book is compared with anime adaption of a manga. – Abhilash Roy 2 years ago
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      • It's a good topic, definitely! For me, the term "realistic" needs to be defined. Obviously the characters are usually going to be depicted more realistically, if they're actors being filmed rather than figures being drawn, but that's not the meaning of "realistic" that you have in mind here. Do you mean something like "round" (in the sense of round characters versus flat characters), "developed," and "psychologically complex"? – JamesBKelley 2 years ago
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      • I think this a topic important to write about. – Diani 2 years ago
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      The Usage (or Lack Therof) of Page Layouts in Calvin and Hobbes

      Calvin and Hobbes is a widely well regarded comic that is liked by the young and old alike. While the comic has much to say about art and philosophy, it can also be noted for it’s deliberate usage or occasional abandonment of a standard layout of it’s panels. While a good deal of the strips adhere to a more rigid and standard layout and let their content shine through, as the comic went on Watterson began to explore more novel layouts, allowing the interweaving of Calvin’s fantastic imagination his mundane world together in new and compelling ways, or creating strips that exist in a much more dynamic fashion with very few actual panels at all.

      An article could discuss how these panels and strips make use of both the traditional and the irregular to better serve the comic’s storytelling and narrative capabilities.

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        The Rise of Comic Culture

        In its early days, comics were mainly for kids as a way for them to be intrested in the newspaper. Later it evolved as a nerdy activity, that evolved into a cultural phenomenon. Famous comic writers like the late Stan Lee became millionaires as big film companies adapted their comics as films. Now DC and Marvel have their own movie cinematic universe, and are making millions.
        Examine how did this niche grew into what it is today.

        • Interesting topic! The French movie “The Intouchables” / “Untouchable” may be another example, as it tackles the relationship between two very different men, one of the differences between them being the fact that one is quadriplegic, while is other is able-bodied. – Gavroche 2 years ago
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        • I love this topic. There are also several series on Netflix based on other less-known comics. I think it'd be interesting to talk about the evolution of the comic medium and how it might impact the popularity of on-paper comics since they have been adapted. Do the comics now attract more readers? – hazalse 2 years ago
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        • There are so many sources available to you regarding this topic— and so many viewpoints to take about where the rise started and where it is globally! – espadaccini 2 years ago
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        The (In)Humanity of Superheros

        What DC and Marvel seem to differ between is style of superheros, the way in which they exist. Superman for instance is basically invincible and is also almost always right and just, which is part of the appeal to some people. While if you take Tony Stark from Marvel he has human faults and characteristics. There are many other characters that could fit into one category or another between the new universes. However, with Captain Marvel in the field now some say that she too is just too powerful, not relatable. Take the difference between Inhuman and Human archetypes of comic book/movie characters and explore why people find such interest in one or the other, is one more entertaining, or emotionally connecting? Are ‘human’ characters more emotional to the reader/audience because of the relatability? Or is the ‘inhuman’ character more appealing because it plays to people’s wildest dreams and fantasies?

        • This is why I love Marvel. People by design are social creatures. They love to connect with people on an emotional level, which is why when they read a book or watch a movie or TV show, they have a better connection with fictional characters that have a sense of human nature within them. That does not mean they need to be human per se, but they must have human characteristics. Such as vulnerabilities that anyone on earth can relate to (the loss of a love one, feeling cheated, having a disability, falling in love, being bullied etc. The more human experiences the character has, the more relatble they are and the more the audience will like them. – Amelia Arrows 2 years ago
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        Out of the Ashes: Building New Societies in The Walking Dead

        The Walking Dead comic series shows various groups of people trying to form new societies in order to survive the zombie apocalypse. Examine the different types of societies in the show (Woodbury, The Kingdom, The Hill, Terminus, etc.) and how they form and sustain their societies as well as the flaws that inevitably lead to their downfall at the hands of the Walkers.

        • I'm not familiar with this show (not a fan of zombies, vampires, and etc.) but this sounds like a fun and informative topic. It might be worth contrasting the strengths of each society with their weaknesses (e.g., is one society weak in an area where another is strong). – Stephanie M. 5 years ago
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        • This is a very engaging idea for a topic. As a fan of the show myself, Ive noticed the recurring trend of moving from location to location in a trial and error effort to rebuild civilisation. I think the different societies depicted exhibits the different humanitarian approaches to the apocalypse itself and a discussion of this would be extremely interesting. Great Idea! – AdilYoosuf 5 years ago
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        • This topic would be interesting to look at given the last major arc in the series (with the new Governor, and the idea of poeple being placed in their pre-apocalyptic roles), and that the series is now over and it finished with somewhat retrospective ideas from Carl. More to work with. – msnfrd 3 years ago
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