Posted by RazzaTazz (9676 posts) - - Show Bio

         

            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?            

#1 Posted by Ryonslaught (1247 posts) - - Show Bio

I like the reasoning behind this

#2 Posted by A_O_N (352 posts) - - Show Bio

I think you are right. I think writers like Bendis or Miller could be extroverts and Morrision or Hickman as the introverts.

#3 Posted by TypingKira (3509 posts) - - Show Bio

Dude, I'm totally an extrovert writer :}  I can't think of specific examples but I've seen both types. I'd say in some ways the JMS run on Thor was written extrovertly (is that even a word?). Characters came in for a few panels, usually died to show some aspect of Asgardian culture or their new, really crappy situation, and then were never mentioned again. 
 
Some writers are both intro and extroverts.
  
Great blog!

#4 Posted by thehummingbird (3380 posts) - - Show Bio

I can see what you mean for sure and agree with most....however...I believe we had a similar discussion a while ago....I understand by this definition lots of writers (I am no writer, but) would fall under the category of extrovert. I often seem as if I do not think what I write through because of my quick writing and how it is unstructured, however, when I right a story even if I do not have it all the way planned I make sure that I have a definitive reason fro bringing the character in, and will reoccur later. I think others can also fall under this more in-between category, but as you said I believe more poets and such would be considered to be the introverts, because of how you said their nature of planning and achieving a perfect story.  
 
For sure I think by what has been said especially with comic books an introvert writer would be much preferred to an extrovert. At least I think so, but that is probably because I hate random characters and not well thought out endings. Then again I might be an introvert writer and an extrovert thinker if this makes any sense XD  
 
Very cool post...I love ideas like this sorry if I ranted or stated useless things for I think I did a whole lot in the reply..>.< 

#5 Posted by cbishop (8621 posts) - - Show Bio

I think it depends on what you're writing.  I took a minute or two to think about this, after reading the blog and the preceeding comments, so I would say this is an introverted comment.  I tend to think some things through more, like blog entries.  Even if I work out the thought as I write, I go back and self-edit, making it clearer.  On the other hand, when I journal (you're a writer and you don't journal?  What's wrong with you?) it's much more extroverted - working it out as I go, if it works out at all. 
 
Incidentally, Chuck Dixon definitely had a plan with Nightwing, and all of the Bat-support-books he was writing at the time.  It was DC's nixing of his plans that caused him to leave those books.
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#6 Posted by SC (13203 posts) - - Show Bio

I am an introvert!!! Whoops... sorry, I typed that without really thinking... *grin*  I tend to think the following as it pertains to comic book writers, and introspection and extroversion. 
 
Chris Claremont - extrovert writer. Steadied helpfully with editors he was close with who helped clean up and streamline his ideas, he was still about to introduce long running threads or characters that would grow to significance much later on after a more subtle introduction, nut he would seem to set up a lot of threads, quite chaotically really, just one after the other, all piled up. Without a good editor it seems to usually be the general consensus that his work isn't as great as the high standards he once set, or arguably his style merely became dated (or both) he could quite possibly be an introverted writer. 
 
Grant Morrison - I'll peg him as a introverted writer. At least what I have read of him in a book looking at him. Supposedly he likes to draw on a bunch of various sources and think over things, over and over again, whilst browsing though everything but comics, looking for ways to refine his story ideas. Then after prolonged periods of doing this, he goes into production mode.  
 
I feel extrovert writers can generally have a good grasp on characters characterization, and interaction with each other as characters. Their voices. Especially if they are able to inject a healthy dose of variety with dialogue. The risk is characters can end up sounding exactly the same. I feel a real risk with introverted writers is putting the plot ahead of the character, and for me personally plots should be as good as so far as also being beneficial or mindful of the character, at least when it comes to books where characters are the selling point and driving force of the comic. Discretion can be applied here, this is why Morrison's New X-Men work is probably my least favorite material of his.   
 
Nice thread and thoughts RT.  
 
 
@thehummingbird:
 
Those are some great thoughts. I think a lot of extrovert writers can cheat and appear to be introvert writers, by making use of various tropes. Or alternatively, formulate a simple plan on the spot, as an extrovert, but then retroactively insert the type of details and plot which mimics introverted writing styles. This can be a polarizing style, like Jeph Loeb for example. He has two books that really follow this process. Red Hulk story arc especially lol Loeb is a clever writer, maybe not a universally popular writer but still. I think this owes from his experience with movies. You have a rough outline, but a lot of the meat of the story only comes with the actual acting and execution of ideas, so a different process to say writing and giving characters dialogue.  
 
You didn't rant, very useful perspective and thoughts. 

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#7 Posted by thehummingbird (3380 posts) - - Show Bio
@SC:  
 
Why thank you I am just not having the time as of late to think my ideas thoroughly through and write them, most are just quickly typed up with more opinion than fact which is a pet peeve of mine..I like facts and opinions to be equal it makes a stronger argument  =)  
 
I find character development to be just as key as plot line and in comics often the character development are forgotten about. I agree though that many writers that do not write in an introvert way, can pretend they do, by bringing up old or basic knowledge and reusing it. I think the more introverted writing style is probably the ones that people refer back to years in the future, because they are more so well delivered. 
#8 Posted by SC (13203 posts) - - Show Bio
@thehummingbird:  Agreed, a good writer will look for ways to balance the best of both natural approaches. I am sure whatever you identify with won't have the negative effects so predominantly displayed as the strengths for example, plus borrow the strengths of the perspective you don't identify with, sort of like how cbishop mentions the two as well. 
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#9 Posted by caesarsghost (559 posts) - - Show Bio


Geoff Johns, my favorite comic book writer possibly of all time, would definitely fall into the introvert category. I mean, he started plotting Blackest Night years in advance. Nothing happened that would not become significant, and that significance is still taking shape and evolving. It is just incredible, he sets up these little details that become so important later on. Such detailed writing certainly has planning and thought put into it before it just explodes onto the page. And now with what he is doing in Flash's world... it just makes me excited. I have read and re-read Flash: Rebirth and Brightest Day Flash just waiting to pick up these little hints that are going to play a huge part in Flashpoint.

 

Peter Tomasi, another of my faves, might be a bit more on the extrovert side. He has been working under Johns's direction, but the events that happen in GL Corps seem to be a bit more spontaneous, organic as you say.

#10 Posted by Red_Jack (285 posts) - - Show Bio

@SC said:

I am an introvert!!! Whoops... sorry, I typed that without really thinking... *grin* I tend to think the following as it pertains to comic book writers, and introspection and extroversion.

Chris Claremont - extrovert writer. Steadied helpfully with editors he was close with who helped clean up and streamline his ideas, he was still about to introduce long running threads or characters that would grow to significance much later on after a more subtle introduction, nut he would seem to set up a lot of threads, quite chaotically really, just one after the other, all piled up. Without a good editor it seems to usually be the general consensus that his work isn't as great as the high standards he once set, or arguably his style merely became dated (or both) he could quite possibly be an introverted writer.

Grant Morrison - I'll peg him as a introverted writer. At least what I have read of him in a book looking at him. Supposedly he likes to draw on a bunch of various sources and think over things, over and over again, whilst browsing though everything but comics, looking for ways to refine his story ideas. Then after prolonged periods of doing this, he goes into production mode.

I feel extrovert writers can generally have a good grasp on characters characterization, and interaction with each other as characters. Their voices. Especially if they are able to inject a healthy dose of variety with dialogue. The risk is characters can end up sounding exactly the same. I feel a real risk with introverted writers is putting the plot ahead of the character, and for me personally plots should be as good as so far as also being beneficial or mindful of the character, at least when it comes to books where characters are the selling point and driving force of the comic. Discretion can be applied here, this is why Morrison's New X-Men work is probably my least favorite material of his.

Nice thread and thoughts RT.


@thehummingbird: Those are some great thoughts. I think a lot of extrovert writers can cheat and appear to be introvert writers, by making use of various tropes. Or alternatively, formulate a simple plan on the spot, as an extrovert, but then retroactively insert the type of details and plot which mimics introverted writing styles. This can be a polarizing style, like Jeph Loeb for example. He has two books that really follow this process. Red Hulk story arc especially lol Loeb is a clever writer, maybe not a universally popular writer but still. I think this owes from his experience with movies. You have a rough outline, but a lot of the meat of the story only comes with the actual acting and execution of ideas, so a different process to say writing and giving characters dialogue. You didn't rant, very useful perspective and thoughts.

I really like that point you made about Grant Morrison being an introverted writer. Another clue to guessing he is an introverted writer is that his material always has a lot of dreamlike imagery incorporated.

I'll agree with you too on when you said Grants work on X-men is his worst. When you see some of his other work and the amount of surrealism he likes to use, it goes against the grain of how X-men had been built up. Also, I did notice the the monologues between x-men characters were too similar to monologues in all other grant morrison work. He managed to make an effort on sticking to Wolverines unique speech traits though.

Robert Kirkman seems to be an introvert writer. He mapped out the first 100 series of walking dead before publishing them, but you can not differentiate the characters speeches in the series.

#11 Posted by SC (13203 posts) - - Show Bio
@Red_Jack said:

I really like that point you made about Grant Morrison being an introverted writer. Another clue to guessing he is an introverted writer is that his material always has a lot of dreamlike imagery incorporated.

I'll agree with you too on when you said Grants work on X-men is his worst. When you see some of his other work and the amount of surrealism he likes to use, it goes against the grain of how X-men had been built up. Also, I did notice the the monologues between x-men characters were too similar to monologues in all other grant morrison work. He managed to make an effort on sticking to Wolverines unique speech traits though.

Robert Kirkman seems to be an introvert writer. He mapped out the first 100 series of walking dead before publishing them, but you can not differentiate the characters speeches in the series.

 
Great points, especially pointing towards Morrisons dreamlike imagery. Also his use of high concept. Also his use of character protagonists that aren't traditionally character protagonists *We3 for example) Oh and nice example with Robert Kirkman as well and his writing and planning. 
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#12 Posted by BatWatch (2812 posts) - - Show Bio

Interesting thoughts all around, but I see one potential flaw in your theory, how do you know that the specific writers you mentioned are introverts or extroverts? You might have information on this which you just did not include, but...yeah, it is hard to say much one way or another without it.

Personally, I've always viewed those writers who introduce characters and concepts and then do not follow through on them as bad writers. I have no idea if it has anything to do with introversion versus extroversion.

I majored in English in college (stupid idea, I know, but hindsight is twenty twenty and all that), and I consequently have written quite a lot, but my writing has been almost exclusively non-fiction. Over the past two weeks, I decided I wanted to test my writing abilities, so I've been doing comic reviews, political writing, and other projects. One of the things I am working on is a Red Robin story, and this is really the first piece of fiction I have ever written more than a few pages long.

What is relevant to this discussion is that I am even on the introverted/extroverted scale. Interestingly enough, I never had to make an outline for my non-fiction writing...at least not an outline of any detail. I know what I want to say, and I say it. Even if I am writing a twenty page article, I would not make more than a few words regarding what order I am using, and then I am good to go. On the other hand, I have been drafting the H*** out of this Red Robin story. Perhaps if I were not trying to stay true to the comic medium, it would not be so bad, but since I am trying to make a professional grade product, I want each story to have an arc the length of a comic. It is very difficult to tell a satisfying story in the equivalent of twenty pages or so while still building from issue to issue.

Anyway, I am not sure what to make of this, but I thought it was interesting.

Are you familiar with the Meyers Briggs Personality Sorter, and if so, what is your type?

@Red_Jack:

As someone who usually keeps more to himself, I find I am having a hard time getting my characters to have good voices as well. I know how to differentiate between voices, but it is difficult to make them sound unique and believable.