Why Are You Even READING This Crap!?!

A recent article on the main page by G-Man raised a very interesting question about how we read comics. It asked whether knowing that the hero was, ultimately, going to win in the end affected our enjoyment of the story. For decades, with heroes such as Batman and Superman, Spider man and Captain America, we have seen them placed in perilous and, seemingly insurmountable danger, only to see the overcome all obstacles. Why? Because as creative as these comic book guys get, coming up with a new sure fire hit character a month to replace the one you killed last month might be beyond even their reach (unless, of course, you were Stan Lee or Jack Kirby around the late 60’s-early 70’s where you probably could have done it in your SLEEP). Ultimately, none of the majors are going to kill their cash cows’ and the best you can hope for is an editorial enforced ‘hiatus’ of character so that you don’t get TOO sick of them. Moratoriums on characters can last years, but after decades of recycled story ideas and laboured stunts and events, even that can seem like too short a time. Another Batman/Joker epic anyone? Another phoenix resurrection? Wanna see someone else get killed in a Marvel summer event only to come back in the next issue or would you rather spend your hard earned bucks on this weeks DC reboot?

"I'm a two foot biker! No, biker! I said BIKER!"

Superman is a small cod in this one and Wonder Woman is a two foot biker!!!

But I digress (whilst secretly hoping that Grant Morrison is writing those series’ RIGHT NOW!).

The point I am clumsily trying to get to is that I don’t think anything can affect the enjoyment that comes from good story telling and let me tell you why.

Good writing makes you believe what the storyteller wants you to believe.

"Hate the game, not the playa, bitches."

I remember reading an interview with film maker Steven Spielberg where he revealed how Peter Benchley (the creator and writer of Jaws) and himself argued bitterly about the ending of the film where Sheriff Brody shoots the canister in the sharks mouth, blowing it sky high (if you haven’t seen Jaws yet then I apologise profusely and ask you to ignore what I just said and instead let me tell you that the movie ends with everybody having an ice cream in a 60’s themed diner. Thank you).

Benchley believed that it was too excessive and that no one would believe it, thinking that it too far fetched. Yet Spielberg was adamant that if he had done his job properly throughout the rest of the film, that he would have the audience in the palm of his hand and at that point, he could pretty much do whatever he wanted and the audience would go with him.

And remember kids, the first guano of the season is always the tastiest.

Of course, when the movie played to audiences, they went absolutely BATSHIT at the shark exploding (or eating ice cream in a 60’s diner) and Spielberg was proved right. Good story telling can take you anywhere because it allows you to believe. If a story has done its job properly (whether it be a film a book a joke or a comic) then you will want to believe that the Joker is REALLY going to kill the Batman this time. It will feel real as you will have engaged in a willing suspension of disbelief, because no writer can create tension on a page, they can only use their tools effectively enough to create it in your mind.

Ultimately, it is not the resultant victory that intrigues us, but what the hero goes through to get there, how they are changed or scarred, how it contributes to the characters evolution and the ultimate cost of the victory. The main thrill isn’t how the hero wins, but how he will get to that victory when all hope seems lost. The psychology of this runs deeply in all of us and ultimately ties into the same psychology that compels us to watch or read these types of fiction in the first place; the need for escape.

Which brings us to the nuts and bolts of the situation.

The bigger, overall question isn’t really if our enjoyment of this type of fiction is diminished by the knowledge that the hero will always win, but actually how can we enjoy these types of fiction when they are purely that; fiction?

These characters that we read about in the myriad titles available monthly do not really exist, the stories serving as purely hypothetical scenarios conjured up by whichever writer is hired at the time to fulfill the task. The comic book business is simply that; a business and the need to propagate these investments for as long as humanly possible is their only goal.

So why are you even reading this crap!?!

Speedball. Comics answer to diabetes.

If the stories are simply rehashed and recycled ideas filtered through a hired hands instrument over and over again, why do we allow ourselves to be used, our hard earned cash taken from our trembling hands as we hope for the next Watchmen or Speedball series?

I would imagine that it might be for the same reason that I do.

It is because past the cynicism and fanboy negativity that we can oft times heap upon these characters we believe whole-heartedly in them.. I know sometimes what I read in a comic book seems more real that the world I physically inhabit. Other times it is just a comfort or a means of escape but it is never less than something I hold as a constant in my life. I have always read comic, as long as I can remember and even though I have seen those spandex freaks come out victorious time and time again, I never tire of it.

You know why?

Because I love it.

I don’t mean to get sappy and sentimental here, but I am so shut up. I love heroes. I love heroism. I love ideals that can’t be shaken. It is probably deeply rooted in a need for such idealism to exist in the real world and being content to see it exist somewhere, even in purely fictional form. I love the character of Batman, not the fact that he will never truly be defeated. I love the character of Spider-Man, not the fact that Doctor Octopus will never impale him on his tentacles. I want these heroes to win because I have known these characters all my life. There is no story of loss for these characters that could ever be as gratifying to me as the stories of their victories.

I will never tire of well told stories of characters that have been with me my whole life, will see me through to my death and then will continue their mad dance for whoever comes after. I find something very comforting in the unique perpetuity that this art form provides.

Why else would I be reading this crap?

25 Comments
25 Comments
Posted by SC

Beautiful blog! Very nicely put together with great points. I am the type of reader that reads for the same reason you do **smile**

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Posted by azza04

I do agree but theres only so much crap I can put up with.

Posted by InnerVenom123

That was very well put together. Nice work.

Oh, and I think this is part of the appeal of the anti-hero character. Because there's a chance they actually might not win, and they don't as often. Especially the cursed ones, like Spawn or Ghost Rider, or the ones on a learning curve like Kaine in Scarlet Spider.

Posted by TheTrueArturoKayvee

Genius blog!

Posted by blacmindZen

Thank you for articulating this through prose. We're with you brother (in Hulk Hogan voice)!

Posted by feebadger

@SC: Ah, a kindred soul. Thank you for the kind words. Oh, and i've always been meaning to ask, but who is the character that you use in your profile photos? Is it someone you draw or is it from a comic (or both)?

@azza04: I completely understand where you're coming from Azza. There have been times (and i'm sure there'll be times again where i feel like maybe this medium has come to the end of its creative cycle, but at that moment something like Fables, Walking Dead or Sandman will come along and reaffirm my faith.

Posted by GiantsizeManThing

Aw, I thought this was a thread about bendis' moon knight.

Posted by lykopis

I thoroughly enjoyed this! Thank you so much --- so nice to see someone with a similar mind-set to my own! Very, very well done.

Posted by CATPANEXE

@azza04 said:

I do agree but theres only so much crap I can put up with.

Same here. Myself though I don't have the time to dedicate to reading every book under the sun, so choosing quality first and catering to myself a bit more is the logical course.

Posted by Deadcool

Well, I read comics because I find them enjoyable... Some stories are similar to other stories that I have read, but at the end they are not the same, they are their own thing by itself just because the events on it.

Posted by Vance Astro

I barely read new comics and there's a enough comics from before I was reading them to last me nearly forever.That's why I can still read comics.

Moderator Online
Posted by Inverno

WORK OF GENIUS DUDE!

Posted by Maniac2312

Hear hear, nicely put. I thank you.

Posted by SC
@feebadger said:

@SC: Ah, a kindred soul. Thank you for the kind words. Oh, and i've always been meaning to ask, but who is the character that you use in your profile photos? Is it someone you draw or is it from a comic (or both)?

@azza04: I completely understand where you're coming from Azza. There have been times (and i'm sure there'll be times again where i feel like maybe this medium has come to the end of its creative cycle, but at that moment something like Fables, Walking Dead or Sandman will come along and reaffirm my faith.

 
No problem, this sort of blog should be featured on the CV front page, Hint, hint if any moderators who know how to do this see this. **smile** 
 
Oh, nothing I drew, its a Norwegian comic character called Nemi. I put the link to her Comicvine page. She has newspaper strips and books. Let me know if you like her, I can send you some of her small newspaper comics (I have them in my gallery)
Moderator
Posted by Hawkeye446

For a brief moment I thought the Shark blew up, which would have spoiled the film I have been meaning too see for like 5 years, but I'm glad you cleared up my mis-conceptions. ;)

I really need to see it! I suck!

Great blog. Very true, and I can relate wholeheartedly! There was a certain line/paragraph that I adored, where was it:

Good story telling can take you anywhere because it allows you to believe. If a story has done its job properly (whether it be a film a book a joke or a comic) then you will want to believe that the Joker is REALLY going to kill the Batman this time. It will feel real as you will have engaged in a willing suspension of disbelief, because no writer can create tension on a page, they can only use their tools effectively enough to create it in your mind.

So true. Merci beaucoup!

Edited by ZEELLO

I had a theory that ''will the hero survive'' events will always be boring, which is why a story should be about something else entirely.

Also, while it's obvious hero will not die.. it may not be obvious whether he will subdue the villain, or when. Or who will die besides the hero. So these are all things where you can make the audience guess. In this sense it is probably a bad idea to present any situation where the hero failing would result in the hero dying. (or the world exploding) Such as tying them up and leaving them in a barn with a timed bomb. Gee I wonder if he will escape in time.

Posted by BumpyBoo

SO well said. I'm glad I dug through your archives and found this ^_^

It's all about heart, yo :P

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Posted by Delphic

Posted by CrimsonCake

That's why we have alternate universes :D

Posted by feebadger

@BumpyBoo: Respeck to the heart (gives a Jimmy, which is a weird gestural thing that Jimmy Smits used to do with his hand and his mouth at award ceremonies. Not as filthy as it sounds. Honest).

@Delphic: My GOD, it's like the voice that constantly runs through my head made manifest and posted on youtube!

@CrimsonCake: So we can blow s#@t up and kill anyone you want and keep 'em dead? Viva La Alternate Universes!

Posted by BumpyBoo

@Delphic said:

QFT!

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Posted by Holaso

Nice necro on this thread...I enjoyed it and AGREE!

Posted by RedQueen

Very well thought out blog....and I agree entirely.

Posted by BumpyBoo

@feebadger: *knows the Jimmy well* Testify and such :P

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Posted by feebadger

@Holaso said:

Nice necro on this thread...I enjoyed it and AGREE!

Necro? What is necro?