So this week’s Community Star (well at least he is for another 27 hours or so) and I were discussing introversion and extroversion this morning. I actually thought of two ways that this applies to comics so bear with me please because I will be bombarding you with two topics today on this subject.
First of all it bears explaining what an introvert or an extrovert is. A lot of people assume that an introvert is the shy, reclusive person that is afraid to talk to people, whereas the extrovert is the outgoing loudmouth. These may be characteristics exhibited by the two groups, but it is far from the definition. Rather an introvert can be more accurately portrayed as a thinker inside their head whereas an extrovert can be thought of an outside thinker. Extroverts will fill a room with words, some meaningless, other golden gems. They mostly vet their ideas by having others vet them for them. Introverts on the other hand vet their ideas internally. If you run across an introvert and ask them a question, they are likely to prefer to take a minute or two to give a response. An extrovert will probably start talking without really knowing the response and then move the discussion towards their answer as they talk. This is a fairly simplified version of the definitions. I know there have been books upon books written on the subject.
How I think this applies to writers is as follows. I think writers who are extroverts generally tend to just write and not follow any set guideline in what they are writing. They certainly have an idea of what they want to write, but I think they take a much more organic approach, letting their ideas flow as opposed to having a defined concept. Introvert writers on the other hand would be much more focused on a concept and basically have something like an outline in place where they just fill in the holes. As an example of both, Frederick Forsythe admits to writing in this exact way. For anyone who has read Day of the Jackal the action proceeds almost like a chemical reaction. Conversely, anyone who has read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne might be confused at the rather abrupt ending and some of the general pointlessness of the entire story. It seems as though Verne wanted to get the main characters on the Nautilus and then decide from there what to do with them.
In applying this to comic book writers it is of course a bit different. Unlike a novelist, the comic book writer has a publisher that they are more responsible to and usually have to produce at least one comic monthly. They are of course given some artistic leeway, but the publishers also impose some order as well as direction if they want the character gravitating in some way, or want them set up for a big crossover. Still based on my definitions do you get the impression that some comic book writers obviously fall into one of these two categories based on their work? Like how some seem to build a story for twenty issues or so, while others seem to write an issue and then forget they ever did? I can think of two specific examples. Chuck Dixon in his run on Nightwing seemed to be one of the most well-thought out series ever. No character was introduced who wouldn’t be relevant ten or twenty issues later. Larry Hama’s run on Batman (around issue 600) seemed to be about the opposite, characters were introduced and then never heard from again (incidentally these issues both feature one of my favourite artists – Scott McDaniel.)
Any thoughts? Am I off mark? Or can you see this having an effect on the way our favourite comics are written?