Where Words and Pictures Party

Got Issues

Added on by Jonathan O'Briant.

I'd like to take a little break this week from talking process, to looking at comics as a fan. I liked comics as a kid, fell out with it in my teen years and then reignited my passions in my 20's. That's a fairly typical arc for a comic fan. When I returned to reading comics I started getting trades (collected stories) exclusively. It wasn't until DC's New 52 initiative that I started picking up floppies. And I'd like to take this last month of the year to see what reading books in the issue format has changed about my opinions on the medium.

Reading on an issue to issue basis, makes me a lot more aware of the pacing people choose in stories. I had heard many people complain about the decompression in superhero stories. I hadn't had any problems when reading trades, but it becomes a much larger problem with only 20 pages a month. I'm happy with continuing narratives, and I don't require all loose ends to be tied at the end of each issue. I just feel like I get a lot more progress in comics like Glory or Saga than I see in a typical DC or Marvel comic. My pull list has dropped from 52 DC titles, to 26, to 3. I'm still buying lots of comics, but superhero stories are not being told in a way conducive to the way issues are distributed.

The switches in the genre of books I'm buying has been really fun. I'm buying a lot of humor and all ages books. Popeye is one of the best books on the shelves, I think another advantage Popeye has is that each issue is completely self contained. Sonic the Hegehog impresses me constantly. Every issue is fun, action packed, and contains layouts that are completely unique to those books. Superman Family Adventures manages to stay lighthearted and genuinely funny, while also telling complete stories each issue. I'm still buying that while I've dropped both Superman and Action.

I also really appreciate the consistency of art teams in my books. Some have dodged this issue by telling alternate parts of a large story, everyone working on Prophet has done an amazing job and worked to creating a consistent world. I like Andy Kuhn better than Dan Duncan most of the time, but when he came onto Ninja Turtles I had to get used to his take on the characters. Even books I'm loving like Conan lost a lot of excitement when Becky Cloonan left to do other books. This bothers me in trades as well, but I'll cut a story much faster now that I'm buying issues.

I'm not sure how exactly this effects my own work in comics. I don't write issues per se. I guess the big take away is to be keenly aware of how I'm telling a story and making sure there is a substantial amount of enjoyment to be derived in each chunk that I show. I do a good job with this in P.E. I tried with Awful Lot, but some pages work better than others, and the story is much better when taken in large chunks. I feel like MAPS gave a substantial amount of story, but I've had a lot of comments about the open ended nature of the tale. My next webcomic project is really going to push this to an extreme. I wonder how that will be received?