What Do You Hate?

It’s easy to compile a list of things we love about comics, it’s easy because we love them.  There’s an undefined, miscellaneous feeling  involved in reading comics… an x-factor.  It feels cool somehow, as if there’s an unexplainable ‘comics-force’ available to tap into where reader’s imaginations are captured/collected and an invested emotion is recorded and acknowledged.

While it’s easy to fly the flag for comics as a comics person – the itching need to be vocal in our disappointment is an equally tempting trigger to pull.  Never intentionally aimed at the hearts and minds of the creators – rarely do our armature bullets even find a target, instead they’re more like random, cowboy-esque fragments of discontent, mostly fired across the internet.   What I’m getting at here is the frustrating reality that… comics is one of the only ‘hobbies’ that I can think of, where dedicated fans and followers buy the product religiously and relentlessly AND  regularly b**** about it to others online and in person, often a lot more than they ‘fly the flag’.

That said (reluctantly proceeding following the above), I’d like to join the ‘hate party’ for a moment and share the things I personally DON’T like in comics.   Maybe “hate” is too strong a word?!  since most of the things I say I don’t like – are actually integral in the ‘liking’… much the same as an enjoyable flaw in a beautiful sculpture, an additional and unintended reason to love it.

Bad Anatomy
I hate seeing poor anatomy in mainstream comics. Very rarely does a badly composed body bring anything to the page, other than frustration.   Some of my favourite creators are guilty of dropping the odd ‘clanger’ when it comes to anatomy.  Francis Manapul, whom is currently producing one of the best looking books in the new DCU – flash  – is an obvious master of his trade but even he is guilty of dropping the odd… ‘bad anatomy bomb’ on his pages.  The below is from Flash #6 and depicts a pretty big moment in the book, a moment spoilt only by Barry’s right leg and foot.  The rest of the page/panel is very impressive and quite strong-looking.  Flash (someone whom should have the legs of an athlete) looks all… wrong and brittle.  This type of visual is typical for Francis though, undoubtedly his work wouldn’t be the same without it… I still can’t help wishing certain panels were slightly different.  I only saw this and others like it because I love the work so much (thanks Francis by the way).

Lazy Shortcuts
I also hate seeing duplicated panels or sections.  Sometimes a head or arm looks a little… out of place, this could be due to poor anatomy again but, sometimes it’s down to the artist taking a lazy shortcut and light-boxing an old panel or section.  Jim Lee (another one of my absolute favourites) is a busy man these days – and I can understand why he might take a ‘short cut’ here and there to meet a deadline… I still can’t help be frustrated when I see it through (sorry Jim).  It’s nothing against Jim Lee or his work (obvious genius), I just wish he had the time to dedicate solely to the artwork.

During his first run on the New 52 Justice League, there were a number of shortcuts taken by Lee, probably due to the volume of other work he has on… as a ‘publisher’ and creative director on a bunch of other projects. Shortcuts are even obvious on the covers.   Issue 2 cover:-

Superman’s head is from somewhere else.  Maybe an editor didn’t like the original or Jim himself couldn’t get it quite right but, it’s clearly been light-boxed from an old panel or ‘posted’ in.  His expression is all wrong for the moment, his hair isn’t reacting to the angle and the 3 quarter view is typical of a static profile.  It’s still a beautiful cover and a great thanks must go to Jim for the piece (thanks Jim :-)), I just wish it was pure and maybe more organic.  Lee is guilty of this type of shortcut in some of his older and more high-profile projects, the similarities below are tell-tale.

Juvenile Storytelling
Even in the flagship titles at the big publishers, the storytelling is still a bit… ‘juvenile’.  I want to read a thrilling, character driven story that’s based (loosely) in the realms of possibility – and I want the characters to be as well-defined as they could be in their own title.  These characters should have a very obvious and rewarding ‘voice’… some characters do, others do not.  While I appreciate the writers are catering for everyone, I still feel the majority of the dialog could be a touch more… intelligent in terms of its delivery.  The best characters are massively versatile so be versatile with them, but please maintain an obvious vocabulary and mind-set throughout.  Some characters dictate their speech to the writer better than others I’m sure, “what would Spiderman say?” is easier to answer than “what would Batman say?” for example.

I Want Podcasts:-
There are some great podcasts out there, most notably the Comic Culture Radio Show with Chris and Walt.   A regular podcast from the big publishers would be fun too though.  DC did have a bunch of really great podcasts available on iTunes – most of which were recorded at different comic-cons, spotlights on artists and writers with good QA with the fans etc… perfect.  They have disappeared recently however, maybe to update the logo?   Marvel used to do some really great video podcasts with the big creators and the Mighty Marvel Podcast  was fairly regular for a while.  More recently however, we get a weekly marvel Podcast… which is massively formulaic and repetitive, I couldn’t listen every  week as its predictably dry.  The Mighty Marvel Podcast seems to pop up every now and then, when Jeff Suter has the time I think, with some great interviews with creators and some interesting heads-up’s on future projects… More please Jeff.

I’d really like to see (hear) audio diaries from the creators during their current projects, I don’t mind paying for them either… just give me something inspiring to listen to on the tube.

Rant over.

Danny Champion Written by:

Danny Champion is a freelance writer and artist. Follow CandyAppleFox on Twitter.

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16 Comments

  1. Eric
    March 28, 2012

    I absolutely agree with you, especially about the podcasts. Though I’m surprised you didn’t mention some Rob Liefeld’s work as an example of bad anatomy.

  2. Danny Champion
    March 28, 2012

    A great point, thanks Eric. I guess his more recent work just appears in books that I don’t naturally pick up, so it isn’t annoying me so much?! – Anyone whom inks while driving AND shouts about it?!?!?!?! is already on thin ice though right?

    What kind of podcasts would you like to see (hear)?

  3. Mot Yrreb
    March 28, 2012

    1. Bland, cartoony art.
    2. Shallow, pointless stories.
    3. Disrespect for continuity
    4. Writing to the trade
    5. Cross-overs

  4. Danny Champion
    March 28, 2012

    1. Bland, cartoony art – This is a great one, me too… I need it to be serious at least.
    2. Shallow, pointless stories… examples?
    3. Disrespect for continuity – what do you make of the new DC? What do you read?
    4. Writing to the trade – What if you want a complete story without advertising? it might be a set length/size but, at least it’s ‘whole’.
    5. Cross-overs – why? there must be a story/cross-over you would read?

  5. Charlie
    March 28, 2012

    Just curious… If you don’t want people to read your handle, why not simply change it all together as opposed to spelling it out backwards?

  6. Mot Yrreb
    March 28, 2012

    Hey Charlie, Just having fun. My name is Tom Berry, but my daughter likes to call me “Mot Yrreb” as a kind of “pet name” and I use it cause it’s cute. Hey Danny, one example of a “shallow, pointless” story lately is Uncanny X-Force 20-23. Issues 1-19 were so great, both story and art, that the most recent ark is, well, “shallow and pointless.” I primarily read Batman and other dark storyline books that include highly-detailed art (Uncanny X-Force) or exceptional writing (Snyder’s Batman: Court of Owls) I like the sinister, mystery type of stories. I don’t mind cross-overs that are short, fewer than six issues, but things like “Fear Itself” are anathema to me. I like a complete story in three to four issues, not much more. I’m primarily a Gold, Silver and Bronze age collector, but I appreciate the maturity and art work in today’s books. I love my Silver collection, but the stories are so juvenile; except Marvel, they brought comic book writing to a new, realistic level.

  7. Mot Yrreb
    March 28, 2012

    P.S. If the New 52 retains continuity, I’ll appreciate it. Hopefully they will retain the important developments in the characters history over the years. Continuity brings realism to comics; like Marvel in the 1960s. Their universe was inclusive and centered on issues and events of the day. Reality is important to the story, even fiction. At least reality as far as you can go in comics. Maybe that is why one of my favorites is the Green Hornet. He’s about the most “real” character out there.

  8. SREW
    March 28, 2012

    1. Darkness – Frank Miller has a lot to answer for, but fortunately as a new Golden Age dawns what has become a cliché is going to disappear.
    2. Dark humor – how many panels show someone committing an act of violence and making some smart quip while doing it – yawn!
    3. Pointy noses and doey eyes – a horrible Disney style descended on comics and must go away! Latest offender is John Carter Gods of Mars.
    4. Not enough text – zip through your four dollars worth in a couple of minutes and that’s it – I need words and pictures to savour.
    5. Incomprehensible continuity – panels don’t seem to follow one another and stories make no sense – that’s why I gave up on Grant Morrison’s Action Comics. Er… what’s going on?
    6. Seriousness – comics should be fun, playful, a bit silly sometimes, even when the universe is at stake. Bring back Beppo the Supermonkey or at least have super-scary villains like those fishmonsters in the new Aquaman. This is what made Deadpool so great before he was oversold so badly.
    7. Marketing gimmicks – ridiculous prices and variant covers – argh.
    8. Art that tries to do too much, when four colors used well can do it all, as Shaky Kane shows us so well. Drop the bells and whistles.
    9. You can probably guess by now that I think Bulletproof Coffin is the best thing out there at the moment – also Prophet and Kick-Ass and many Image titles – it’s not all bad!!

  9. Stephen B. Keisman
    March 29, 2012

    I hate with a passion the hijacking of the history,
    art, the comic book and turning it on its head by
    distorting its true value as a artifact,and replacing
    it with an obsession with SPIDER MAN CRAP PROPAGANDA,
    MARVEL GROUPIES, AND THE OBSESSION WITH HIGHEST GRADE!! PUSHING TONS OF PRODUCT DOWN OUR THROATS
    IS NOT FOOLING SERIOUS COLLECTORS AND INVESTORS!!

  10. Danny Champion
    March 29, 2012

    Hey Tom, What do you think is the main reason for the gear change on Uncanny X-Force? Has AvsX got anything to answer for on this? – I’m also a great fan of the Bat-books but, I enjoy the more mystery/detective/problem-solving side – with 17 Bat-books to choose from, you’d think they could cater for most…

    There’s a potential story approaching in Justice League that might explain an understanding of the changes… within the story, this could completely validate the new 52… or massively de-value it. It should make for interesting reading either way. Almost every book you pick up these days has to be approached as a kind of… “what if… this…” we just need to take our own understanding of the character, park it – and keep an open mind on the page we’re reading, you can almost pick and choose the elements of continuity that you want to buy into. I think.

  11. Danny Champion
    March 29, 2012

    “Darkness” – I like the darkness sometimes, we’ll miss it if it disappears.
    “Disney style descended on comics and must go away!” – I agree, please take the art seriously in serious books.
    “Not enough text – zip through your four dollars’ worth in a couple of minutes and that’s it – I need words and pictures to savour” – A balance is critical for sure, the words should complement the art and vice-versa, they should never do the same job, the art should be in addition to the story that’s being told with words.
    “Incomprehensible continuity – panels don’t seem to follow one another and stories make no sense – that’s why I gave up on Grant Morrison’s Action Comics. Er… what’s going on?” – That’s funny, I gave up on it due to the art. Morrison seems to tell a whole story from the outset, which often means jumping around inside its own arc… It will probably make sense at some point… maybe from a great height.

  12. Danny Champion
    March 29, 2012

    Do you still love comics though? it’s a love hate thing… i get it.

  13. Mot Yrreb
    March 30, 2012

    Hey Danny, I think it may be an attempt by Marvel to popularize Capt. Brittain and associated crew. I may pick the book up again, but it will depend on the story and art. I can’t stand “CARTOONY’ art. Even a good story can be ruined by the art. I’ve always focused on the mystery, horror type books. I have an extensive collection of horror and horror type comics. Snyder’s recent work on Detective and Batman is excellent. He tops Morrison any day of the week.

  14. Mot Yrreb
    March 30, 2012

    I’m with you on that

  15. Danny Champion
    March 30, 2012

    I can see how Detective and Batman would appeal to you then. I did enjoy the Dollmaker and what he did to the Joker etc. but, it still feels like it’s leaning more towards the Horror than Mystery side of things In the Bat books… which is great for you! I lust want a bit more… clues, easter eggs, layers… don’t give it all to me, make me go back and read issue 2 after something that happens in issue 7 – and let me find something cool in the background.
    Q:- In Batman since the 52, what’s the story with Robin, Red Robin and Nightwing? Were they ’52d’?

    I’d love to see a british character in a solid story set in london… hell, maybe I’ll make one 😉

  16. Mot Yrreb
    March 31, 2012

    Nightwing and Robin are in; still haven’t seen Red Robin (Tim Drake). As for the mystery-horror gig, I sort of like a mixture of both too I suppose. I don’t like a story to be predictable; so the clues, mystery, unrevealed secrets works. Scott Snyder is good at that; although he’s more on the mystery-detective side. Good stories. I don’t buy a lot of new stuff. I’m really picky. Can’t wait until they get rid of artist Greg Tochinni on Uncanny X-Force. Can’t stand his style of art. Hopefully, Remender can return to write a compelling story in #24

Make It Good.