Friday, March 12, 2010

I don't care what it looks like on screen!

Long live the king?

It was a little too quiet. Everything was resolving nicely and there were sighs of satisfaction as the good things happened to the good characters and bad things happened to the bad guys. And then came, King of Fear number three and everything you thought you knew about B.P.R.D. and Abe Sapien got turned upside down and turned inside out. If this is the beginning of the new things to come I'm locked, loaded and ready to roll. I've been thinking about this book for a couple of days now and it's finally dawned on me why I love Dark Horse comics so much.

You see, I love stories where the plot revolves around what the characters are doing instead of who they're doing and Dark Horse is one of the few places where those kind of tales are still being done. To me, it just seems that whenever I look at any of the mainstream superhero titles anymore its all about the soap opera drama. I spend more time watching the characters go on and on about their personal lives and whatever they're supposedly doing in the story gets bogged down in psychological minutia. This whole idea of making the characters as "real" as possible has gotten completely out of control.

Somehow a group of young writers have managed to grab the attention of company board members and convinced them that they know what we as comic book readers are interested in reading and they've turned our superhero fantasy world into a paper bound soap opera. And if these young guns are so correct in their assumptions and are indeed giving us, the reader, what we really want in our comic books why are sales dropping so hard and so fast? Why aren't we (the reader)buying more and more comic books if these guys are so zeroed in on what it is we want?

Maybe it's because they don't care about the comic book reader anymore and the only audience they're targeting and catering to is the film industry. Maybe they're so busy catering to what the corporate board members are concerned with, landing big name movie projects, that the real audience for comic books has fallen by the wayside. Readers don't seem to matter much to the new writers making books today. They're so busy writing stories designed towards the eventual film viewers that what they're giving us to read right now just isn't very interesting to us.

Look, the elements that work so well on the big screen just aren't the same as the elements that make a good comic book. The tension between emotionally involved characters that rivets the attention of the movie voyeur isn't the same as the action generated conflict that drives the reader towards a pulse pounding conclusion. Viewers want one thing from a story and readers want something else. The current crop of writers driving the industry right now just don't seem to understand this fact.

Dark Horse is about comic books first and movie deals if they come along. They make books for readers first and it makes their titles so enjoyable to those of us who want our characters doing things and not just talking us to death. There's nothing wrong with a little characterization, but when it becomes the entire focus of the story it bogs down the action and ruins the pace of the comic book. Enough of the screen plays already. Sales figures should be sending the message loud and clear. I don't care what the writers are saying to the board members, they're wrong and what they're doing right now isn't fixing anything. Someone needs to start writing with something more in mind than, "Wouldn't that make a cool movie?"

Dark Horse is publishing books where things happen and stuff gets down. Whether it translates onto the silver screen isn't as important as how it works in the book right now. Their stories keep the reader engrossed and coming back for more and that's what a real comic book should do. I for one am glad they don't have more screen writers working for them, those guys don't know crap about what makes a good read.

Go and read B.P.R.D. King of Fear number three and you'll know what I'm talking about.

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