Friday, October 23, 2009

Pillars of The Comics Community

Full disclosure:

I'm weird that way.

I've never really had a desire to write Superman. (No one's asked lately either so, we're good.)

Batman? Hell, everyone's got a Batman story in 'em.

Spider-Man? When I was younger I'd have pegged this as my dream book. Teen, smart-ass with superpowers. Now?

The current problem with Spidey's that if you wanna live through him, you have to do so through a twenty-something guy who can't pay his bills and has an open invitation to live with his auntie.

"Hey, kids! COMICS!"

So, a question I was asked the other day led me to this post.

The question asked was, "Devon, why don't you write comics?"

The answer was sorta threefold:

"Um... because," and seriously, it seems that unless you've written for TV or film, or done novels, or published independently, you don't have much of a shot.

The other was, to me, the more interesting reason:

"Well, on any given day, I have more Krypto The Superdog stories in me than Superman stories."

I simply am in love with supporting characters.

If you were crazy enough to let me write any book I'd want, I'd come back the next day with one full year's worth of Krypto plotted and it would be glorious.

I know it's sort of wrong to assign "humanity" to an animal but I guarantee you, you give me Krypto and I could redefine your very understanding of the word "humanity" using a fictional, cape-wearing dog who shoots lasers from its eyes.

I could. I know the story engine power of a superdog.

That interests me more than the idea of figuring out who Superman will fight in January.

Lois Lane? Phhhphpt!!! Don't get me started!

There are so many stories to be told with these characters. They live in-between the panels and are called into action depending on the needs of the story...

and that's what excites me as a comics fan. The untapped storytelling potential of the supporting character. Sadly, the strength of the supporting character lies in its limitation: the edict put upon them to simply enhance and usually nothing more. They serve to hold up the hero's humanity, acting as a sounding board for the hero's worries and more often, a marker for the hero's journey. Where Superman and Batman are the meat of the story, a Jimmy Olsen has become the steaming, cheesy potato on its side.

That sort of saddens me. If you could watch three seasons of a Veronica Mars, could you not read the monthly adventures of a Lois Lane or a Jimmy Olsen?

Could you not? Seriously?

If anyone needs me, I'm here. At this blog. ;)


BIG MIKE said...

Couldn't agree more... Look at Gotham Central? Great, solid book that did a lot with supporting Batman characters. And the Bat was in it, but we got to see him through a different set eyes... and that was truly refreshing. Now one of the main characters from THAT book is a DC mainstay. Funny how that works.

kingbeauregard said...

I'm not sure I could read month after month of Jimmy Olsen adventures (unless, of course, they consisted of Superman and Jimmy being complete dicks to each other). But that's why God created backup stories -- in a perfect world all comics would have the main story plus an eight page backup, which could be about Krypto, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Stan Hooper, Perry White, or whatever the editor thought would be a good way to kill eight pages. The backup story would basically be the toy inside a cereal box.

Allan said...

I too have occasionally daydreamed about writing for DC and always come to same conclusion as you did here. The thought of writing for any of the major established heroes doesn't seem like a lot of fun, but the thought of trying my hand at a modern take of SUPERMAN'S GIRLFRIEND LOIS LANE makes me positively giddy with glee. Even better would be the chance to possibly resurrect a past hero who never got their due. Liz Warner, I'm a-thinkin' about you....