Home Culture Cartoonists Darryl Ayo asks: Do you like comics?

Darryl Ayo asks: Do you like comics?

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Cartoonist Darryl Ayo reminds us not to get too jaded, and provides a comics image gallery that would make anyone sit up and take notice.

I think that a lot of comics’ greatest champions are burnt out. They feel that they have seen it before, done it before, been bored of it before and it’s hard to convince them that there’s anything worth getting excited over. I see a lot of sleepiness and boredom with comics. I see a lack of emotional investment. I feel that comics’ champions–even the creators themselves–have been on the force for too long. And like a grizzled flatfoot weeks from retirement, they would rather go home and drink themselves into a coma than engage further with this soul-destroying line of work.

  1. What does make a writer excited, enthusiastic, or involved in writing a story about Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, et al., beyond the prospect of being paid for writing, if he knows that what he’s doing has been done before?

    If someone writes a story, he can choose between self-expression, which might make finding a publisher difficult, or entertainment, which means writing for an audience, while striving to be inventive and clever. Or — he can treat writing as a job, doing n words in return for a paycheck.

    Rowling’s Harry Potter novels might stand as fantasy classics for decades, reaching new readers continuously. What would happen to Potter if he and the others were licensed out? How long would it be before the first retcon happened?

    As far as the characters are concerned, doing Superman, Batman, the FF, et al., as serial comics might have been the worst thing that could have happened to them. Once the good stories about them had been done, they became primarily sources of profit.

    SRS

  2. “I see a lot of sleepiness and boredom with comics.”

    I agree and it makes me really sad. I think this is what happens when the industry isn’t focused on making new customers. Bringing in new people is what creates excitement and keeps things fresh. We’ve got to get back to doing that.

    Amazing gallery.

  3. I’d have to agree, but I wouldn’t paste that across the entire industry. But I’m sure Ayo wasn’t implying that. Still, I agree in general. But there is a LOT of great comics out there now.

  4. But there is a LOT of great comics out there now.

    If someone solicited a story from you about Spider-Man, Superman, or another character, how would you respond if you didn’t decline the offer? Would you emphasize doing something which hadn’t been seen before, or would you focus on a skillful treatment of existing thematic and plot material?

    SRS

  5. “There are no boring classes, only boring students”. Possibly the same principle applies here – maybe it’s the reader(s) who are bored with reading the same stories over and over and projecting onto creators. I’ve certainly felt that way, found myself collecting purely out of habit, and managed to prune away the titles I was bored with, but I place the boredom on my own tastes, not the creators. In recent weeks I have had enjoyable reading experiences with Paying For It, The Nightly News, the latest Fables TPB, Ultimate Spider-Man and Secret Six.

    Also, I love Harry Potter as much as the next person, but to say Harry Potter as a character is not “primarily a source of profit” at this point is absurd.

  6. Also, I love Harry Potter as much as the next person, but to say Harry Potter as a character is not “primarily a source of profit” at this point is absurd.

    How so? Rowling wrote Potter’s story completely and stopped. She’s not forcing a sequel, she’s not covering the same ground with a slightly different lead, nor is she licensing the characters to be exploited by other writers. She can’t be faulted for having movies made about him, or for making money off of him. The universe she created is large enough so that if she wants to do more stories set in it, she can do so without repeating herself.

    Compare that to writing a story about, say, Superman. What is there to say about him that hasn’t been said before? If the writer picks a familiar villain for the sake of name recognition, then he’s already walking over plowed ground. Coming up with a slightly different scheme doesn’t matter if the motivations and ending are the same.

    The only way I see to do new material about the Big Two characters is to do stories that have them age, change, and progress toward endpoints, even if they move slowly.

    SRS

  7. synidar said: “the only way i see new material about the big two characters is to do stories that have them age, change, and progress towards endpoints, even if they movce slowly.”

    which they used to do. supes and spidey getting married, and spidey going from high school to college, killing off girlfriends for some of the characters and getting them involved with someone else, reed and sue having kids (which they still have), the black panther and storm getting hitched (are they still hitched?). what ends up happening tho’ is the inevitable complaints of these progressions making it hard for new readers to jump onboard because of the deep continuity, so they go ahead and dismantle any progress or growth a character has made and returm them to a somewhat pre-continuity status quo (i’m waiting for the day when they have reed and sue’s kids disappear), and dc is about to use this policy on their entire line. why does this get boring after a while, causing burn-out among creators and fans like? because these characters become the equivalent of archie andrews, where nothing changes year in and year out, where archie is forever being chased by a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead (wow, now there’s a change) with no end or change in sight. could you imagine reading over forty years of peter parker still in high school, living with his sickly aunt, being on again, off again with betty brant? man, how frickin’ boring would that get? it really doesn’t matter what changes are made to the big two’s characters over the years they can make whatever changes to the character’s personal life all they want and keep those changes in place as long as the essence of the characters are kept intact, you can have the characters getting married, getting divorced, having kids, having affairs, one night stands, getting sick, getting a nose job, a colonoscopy, whatever, as long as spider-man, wolverine, batman, green lantern, etc., in essence remain the same characters, with lots of action, butt-kicking, etc., people will still read the stories. having those kind of changes will also keep creators and fans engaged in the stories, if for no other reason than to see what the hell happens next. thanks for letting me rant!

  8. First of all, the way I understand it Rowling absolutely can control how the Potter characters are spun off. They don’t make the movies, theme park, bedsheets, etc without her approval. I’m not blaming her for it at all, just saying that at this point Harry Potter is just as much a money making machine as Spider-Man.

    Secondly, I started reading comics in the mid-70s, as I assume you did (maybe 80s for you?). By that time, most of the DC characters had been around for decades, and the Marvel characters for 10+ years. Those 70s and 80s comics were what I fell in love with and still look back on fondly, despite the fact their adventures had already been serialized since long before I was even born. Today’s adventures may be redundant and boring to you, but someone picking up a comic in 2011 for the first time doesn’t bring your (our) history and baggage to it and deserves the chance to have the same experience we had when we picked up our first comic.

  9. I’m definitely not bored about comics. I love creating comics. I love reading comics. The comics I’m not interested in I just avoid instead of criticizing them.

    And this article is about comics, not about superheroes.

    Quitely, Pope and Otomo are awesome by the way.

  10. Today’s adventures may be redundant and boring to you, but someone picking up a comic in 2011 for the first time doesn’t bring your (our) history and baggage to it and deserves the chance to have the same experience we had when we picked up our first comic.

    Perhaps he does, but those characters’ stories are being written by people who know that they can’t just recycle old stories with new artwork. They have to do stories that at least appear to be new in some respects.

    No series from Marvel or DC is as accessible to a new reader as a single book from a writer is. Someone can borrow a copy, go to a library, go to a bookstore, or read online about the book and others the author has published. Getting into superhero comics now without reading randomly selected TPBs requires becoming a hobbyist immediately.

    If the comics being published now had been out in the ’70s, I wouldn’t have started buying them. I wouldn’t have seen any writing in them. I’d have dismissed them and stayed with the SF novels and anthologies I was reading.

    Publishing series of issues is a marketing strategy that might have outlived its usefulness. If DC’s relaunch fails, where will the characters and the readers who love them be? There’s no satisfactory way of stopping a serial without providing an actual ending to the lead’s story.

    SRS

  11. ““There are no boring classes, only boring students”. Possibly the same principle applies here – maybe it’s the reader(s) who are bored with reading the same stories over and over and projecting onto creators. I’ve certainly felt that way, found myself collecting purely out of habit, and managed to prune away the titles I was bored with, but I place the boredom on my own tastes, not the creators.”

    If the readers are bored, the publisher is not doing their job. The customer has the right to be fickle because he or she is spending their hard earned money on the publisher’s product.

  12. I love comics, but as far as liking the comics that Darryl Ayo likes, we only share about 50% of our tastes, apparently. That’s not bad, I guess, but I’m scratching my head at a lot of the choices in that gallery.

    Nothing wrong with filling your own blog with whatever you find cool, of course. But if you’re going to include 8 Brandon Graham images, and 13 Akira images, maybe it would make more sense to do separate blog posts about those specific topics?

    And while I loved that photo of Lynda Carter making a funny face on the Wonder Woman set, what’s the relevance to comics of the “Reality Bites” photo? (I haven’t seen the movie. Do they talk about comics in it?)

    And finally, while I can empathize with anybody feeling tired or burnt out, I think it’s a pretty serious mistake to generalize your own momentary feelings to reflect on a whole industry or medium. Take a break. Relax. Comics are doing fine, and they will do fine without us now and then.

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