July Continues

R. Fiore's Funnybook Roulette returns, with a classic-style roundup of reviews of recent-ish comics by Winshluss, Jean-Claude Carrierre, Pascal Girard, Jason Shiga, and Jeffrey Brown, among others. A sample:

No fair observer would deny that it takes more than one book to fully explore the absurdity of the Transformers concept.

We also bring you Katie Haegele's review of It Is Almost That, an anthology of text-driven artworks (& art-driven texts) created by female artists. It begins:

It Is Almost That is not an anthology of comics. In fact, most of the work in the collection has no narrative in any traditional sense. But the 26 works collected here all use words and visual art and combine them, in some way, to tell a story. As editor Lisa Pearson writes in her afterword, “…texts do not always appear on pristine white fields; images are not illustrative and language does not explain; stories do not unfold in predictable ways—and yet every page is meant to be read.”


Hairy Green Eyeball brings jpegs of Wally Wood parodies of comic strips from Mad.

Finally, Darryl Ayo voices a frequently heard complaint about the unsatisfactory nature of many comics when read as individual issues. It's difficult not to sympathize.

Two things come to mind in reaction to this. 1: DC recently (sort of) announced that they were going to start addressing the issue, by no longer padding out stories with filler to bring them up to collection-length. We'll see if that actually happens. Padding may be a hard habit to break.

And 2: In an interview conducted by Matt Zoller Seitz, David Simon (co-creator of The Wire and Treme) responds to similar complaints about the perceived unsatisfactoriness of Treme episodes, and how that show's writing staff writes with the eventual DVD set in mind, not weekly viewers:

The measure that I care about is not the episodic. I just don't care about evaluating these things by episodes. It's like I'm building a house, and you're telling me, "I really like the stairwell, but I don't like the balustrade." Well, great, thanks, y'know? What do you think of the house? When you get to the end [of a season], did it feel like she got where she was supposed to go, and that she really experienced these eight months as an ordinary human being would? That's the real challenge, because film is a shorthand for everything.

[...] I don't care about the thrills you get in every episode. I want it to be resonant at the end, in a cumulative way. Eric feels the same way. We feel we're writing a singular, elemental thing.


[We're] writing the show for people who have a complete season DVD set in front of them, or who are watching the show via HBO On Demand, or who can otherwise absorb it all as a piece, and watch [the episodes] all in a row.

That being said, every Treme episode I've seen contains an enormous amount of narrative detail in comparison to your average issue of Flashpoint, so keep in mind that by bringing these two together, I'm comparing apples to ham sandwiches.

8 Responses to July Continues

  1. Pat says:

    Anybody that connected to The Wire should get a free pass for the rest of their lives, but boy, Simon’s stance on how Treme works seems completely ridiculous to me.

    If you’re writing a DVD box set, just put out a DVD box set.

  2. Paul Slade says:

    But doing that means HBO would have to forgo the income stream episodic broadcast and sales produce. Plus, without the advance buzz and exposure of a TV series, the DVD box wouldn’t sell in anything like the numbers required to be profitable. Why would HBO (or anyone else) finance a project that relied on an economic model like that?

    What Simon’s really saying (again) is “Fuck the casual viewer” – a philosophy which has allowed him to produce The Wire, which I suspect we would agree is hands-down the best TV series ever. He doesn’t literally mean a DVD box set is the only way to watch Treme, just that it won’t fully yield up its rewards to anyone who’s only half paying attention or watches a couple of random episodes in the wrong order and then wonders why they can’t make sense of it. And fuck them.

  3. PW says:

    I don’t know “Treme”, nor have I seen the Wire but I don’t think it’s fair to blame the creator for asking a different level of engagement from the viewer. I doubt he’s saying “fuck you” to the casual viewer because they can’t just cruise in for a single episode like Starsky and Hutch. I’m guessing he’d simply making a series that doesn’t follow the format of the other shows. So what?

    Must all shows (or comics) be set up for the casual reader? Why not make a series that has different expectations? So it has a longer narrative and yet is told in small segments? If you don’t like it you don’t have to purchase it or watch it. What is the big deal?

    Strikes me as typical comic book fanboy entitlement!

    “If you aren’t giving me exactly what I want then you must be an asshole!”

  4. Pat says:

    “If you aren’t giving me exactly what I want then you must be an asshole!”

    It’s more like “If you’re aren’t giving me something that you care about you must be an asshole!”. And that’s only “more like”. I don’t think anybody was accusing anyone of being an “asshole”.

  5. PW says:

    I’m confused. Isn’t the complaining here about the format not the level of the creator’s engagement? Maybe the misunderstanding stems from the comparison between the Treme TV series and this Flashpoint comic series. From that brief interview excerpt above it seems the creator is pretty engaged!

    I know nothing about the Flash series but surely it’s just some hackwork…but even there I bet it’s earnest hackwork. Neo-hacks– as Gary Groth smartly coined.

    I thought the complaint was that these products weren’t satisfying the casual customer!? That seemed like entitled griping to me?

    Either way, punch my ticket. Apologies all around. I clearly don’t know what I am talking about.

  6. Darryl Ayo says:

    My argument is the *opposite* of fanboy entitlement.

    Entitlement is the idea that this writer has–that his vision is so wonderous that the casual reader/viewer is at fault for not obsessively following it all from the beginning.

  7. Paul Slade says:

    It’s not so much that the casual viewer is at fault – just that Simon’s work is not intended for them and that they’re unlikely to get much out of it.

  8. Pat says:

    “I’m confused. Isn’t the complaining here about the format not the level of the creator’s engagement?”

    Simon said (haha):

    The measure that I care about is not the episodic. I just don’t care about evaluating these things by episodes.

    The guy’s putting out something in a format that he’s saying he doesn’t care about. I think it’s pretty fair to say that’s problematic.

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