Comics and Magick verses comics as entertainment.

I think I finally figured out why I don't always see eye to eye with the mainstream masses.  It has to do with view point on the medium.  Many see comics as a form of entertainment and that is why some people are okay with the direction of comics reverting back to the status of "funny books".  Then the more someone appreciates the medium, the more they see the potential of storytelling within this unique and special medium.  Some can be great silent storytellers like Jeff Lemire, who in works like Essex County and Lost Dogs say so much within the panels without really writing a word to read.  Some compose masterful structure such as Alan Moore in works like Big Numbers, V for Vendetta, Lost Girls and Promethea.  The medium means different to different people and that is a given, but my problem is that there once was a thread of sophistication, the fan-base understood where the medium was evolving and that is why after Alan Moore, so many masterful writers were inspired and pushed the medium forward. Odds are your favorite writer knows what I am talking about because Alan Moore opened my mind.
 
Somewhere down the line the market changed and the readers no longer want "Graphic Novels" like the epic of Grant Morrison's Batman, the masses wanted fluff and easy to digest pretty storyboards.  This is where comics are de-evolving, the comics are intended to be purely entertainment rather then partly "art", since most readers either can't or don't want to decode the collection of information of semiotics known as the graphic medium.
 
Consensus is that Alan Moore is considered the greatest, if not greatest he is the most influential writer in comics.  Grant Morrison would be a strong and solid number 2.  There is something besides being male and part of the U.K. that makes them masters of the medium.  Both see the correlation of Comics and Magick.  Maybe this is where I differ from some of comicvine and why I love both their work so much and feel I understand it.  From the many things I have written for this site, most were for personal reasons to explore this phenomenon of Magick and comics.  This is why John Constantine is my favorite character, he is the purest form of magick in comics, I mentioned it in my Crisis #4 review as well as my BD #24 review, John Constantine lives synchronicity, I would also like to point-out the metaphysics Peter Milligan can do with John in my review of issue HB #273.   Metaphysics is another amazing thing that can be done in "comics".
 
Issues #273 was Six months ago and Aztek can confirm I mentioned that it looks like Peter Milligan is explaining multiple Johns (in John's own history) months ago.  Without my knowning, I knew John would return to the DCU.  Synchronicity is shared between me and John, there is magick in the pages of comics if you want to find it.  In recent news I have debated on giving up on trying to "teach" because there are some who choose to argue then listen.  I am not perfect and I am not always right, but when it comics to John Constantine I am, when it comics to the medium I also feel I understand it better then most and that is why I try to "teach".  This is where I know Flashpoint and the reboot will fail.  It is driven by the wrong motives of money making and not storytelling.  The karma is negative and stacked against them if they continue, especially if John is in use because he really is "living" and is the messiah archetype I speak of.  His profile may increase because of the perversion of the abuse of Vertigo characters, but i fear that John Constantine will kill the DCU.  He was Key to Alan Moore Twilight of the Superheroes and DC can like it or not Alan Moore built the infrastructure for their universe. John Constantine is also Alan Moore greatest creation.  More "coincidences".....  
 
I also once told Aztek that their is a thin line between sanity and insanity and only those who walk between the two can truly state what side they are on.  Guys like Alan Moore and Grant Morrison are no longer mere mortals, they talk to the Gods and are on a different world then you or I.  Hopefully I can join the discussion with the Gods.  I hear the mumbles already.

18 Comments
18 Comments
Posted by Amegashita

  Ye, comics are devolving and the only way to actually do something about it is to overhaul all the people who are causing this devolution.  At some point comics went from telling stories to getting money, and it's this fact that pushes away many people who actually read comics for what they can present.  It's a sad thing to say, but somewhere along the line it stopped being about the story and became more about what can we do to get more people to pay for our comics. 
 
  It's truly unfortunate.

Edited by FadeToBlackBolt

What's your take on writers like Warren Ellis, who I would argue are not as multi-layered as Moore or Morrison, but who use the medium to express truly imaginative ideas? Rather than adding symbolic and metaphysical elements to their works, they're far more interested in exploring outlandish concepts? Of course, they can do both (Morrison being the prime example of blending the two), but these writers tend to just fall into one category. 
Do you consider them part of the entertainment-only persuasion, or under the sophisticated and intelligent banner?
 
Interesting read all the same =]

Posted by turoksonofstone

Corporations like Time Warner and Disney use Marvel/DC as a way to push other media. Unfortunately care taking of the The content should come first. I doubt the Executive who the respective EIC's report to knows the first thing about continuity. 
The magic you speak of is not cost effective to these people. Indies are where it will be in the future. 

Posted by aztek_the_lost

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU...

(sorry, apparently when you accidentally navigate away from posting a comment on a blog, it doesn't stop you and let you finish your post as it does in the forum and I don't want to repeat all of what I said...)

the gist however is that:

  1. I can verify all his claims of things he told me are true
  2. I hope the gods find a nice cozy place in your head, we need to prove it's writers from the Commonwealth and not just UK that write great comics
  3. something about wishing the best for DC because of my love of the characters being used and abused but finding it so difficult to retain any respect for the men behind the masks (by which I mean editorial, not the alter egos of the characters <_____<)

@FadeToBlackBolt said:

What's your take on writers like Warren Ellis, who I would argue are not as multi-layered as Moore or Morrison, but who use the medium to express truly imaginative ideas? Rather than adding symbolic and metaphysical elements to their works, they're far more interested in exploring outlandish concepts? Of course, they can do both (Morrison being the prime example of blending the two), but these writers tend to just fall into one category. Do you consider them part of the entertainment-only persuasion, or under the sophisticated and intelligent banner? Interesting read all the same =]

also, I questioned what you meant by Ellis being outlandish? I agreed that he's a different category of great writer but looking at the Ellis works I've read, I see nothing outlandish...his stories are a lot more grounded in the world we puny mortals inhabit then anything by Moore or Morrison (or pretty much anything mainstream for that matter)...Supergod, Transmetropolitan, Hellbazer, Desolation Jones, Planetary, Orbiter (the bulk of my personal Ellis exposure) are all very accessible and realistic IMO...from what I've seen Ellis just loves to explore the dark underbelly of humanity, when he finishes his stories that is, although Orbiter was actually just him trying to inspire humanity back into space (a personal passion of his)

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Posted by FadeToBlackBolt
@aztek the lost: I suppose outlandish was probably wrong word, I meant that much of his stories are very unique, either in plotting or tone. Planetary for instance, whilst not appearing overly original, is certainly very different to any other "superhero" comic. They might be relatable and easy to get into, but they still have very interesting and well thought out ideas that aren't at all common in other works. I guess that's what I meant by outlandish.
Posted by Silkcuts
@FadeToBlackBolt said:
What's your take on writers like Warren Ellis, who I would argue are not as multi-layered as Moore or Morrison, but who use the medium to express truly imaginative ideas? Rather than adding symbolic and metaphysical elements to their works, they're far more interested in exploring outlandish concepts? Of course, they can do both (Morrison being the prime example of blending the two), but these writers tend to just fall into one category.  Do you consider them part of the entertainment-only persuasion, or under the sophisticated and intelligent banner?  Interesting read all the same =]
Warren Ellis is a great writer in the way he makes himself accessible.  He loves the medium, we can see that with his HUGE library of work.  Ellis at his best is sophisticated, at his worst he is writing stuff like RED.  Speaking again about Constantine, if you look carefully at most of Ellis' work, there is a "John Constantine close" of some sort.  The magick is there, it is just not as mind warping as Moore and Morrison or even Milligan (at his best).  Ellis teaches in his own way and he has a huge following because he has made himself accessible.  While Moore tries harder and harder to make his older work impossible to read.
 
A writer can make an entertaining story multi-layered and good, but the fault is now on the readers.  Not all can truly appreciate comics to their true potential and with the move to make comic even more accessible and easier to understand, the medium will not grow the minds of these newer readers.  The industry is dying because characters out sell stories, but some characters should forever be story driven, such as John Constantine, since his sole purpose to to represent a certain archetype.@aztek the lost said:

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU...

(sorry, apparently when you accidentally navigate away from posting a comment on a blog, it doesn't stop you and let you finish your post as it does in the forum and I don't want to repeat all of what I said...)

the gist however is that:

  1. I can verify all his claims of things he told me are true
  2. I hope the gods find a nice cozy place in your head, we need to prove it's writers from the Commonwealth and not just UK that write great comics
  3. something about wishing the best for DC because of my love of the characters being used and abused but finding it so difficult to retain any respect for the men behind the masks (by which I mean editorial, not the alter egos of the characters <_____<)
Thanks for defending my honor and being my witness to my connection to the Gods.  I do hope they find a cozy place indeed.
 
I want so badly to be happy more people will get to see John Constantine, but I know it is not the real John and that makes me sad.  It is a sign of the times.... a medium that depends so much on understanding the relationship of semiotics is a medium where it is driven by people who only want pretty art.
 
@turoksonofstone said:
Corporations like Time Warner and Disney use Marvel/DC as a way to push other media. Unfortunately care taking of the The content should come first. I doubt the Executive who the respective EIC's report to knows the first thing about continuity. The magic you speak of is not cost effective to these people. Indies are where it will be in the future. 

"Magick" is not cost effective, but is makes bloody good comics!  Too bad most peopled don't see that.  May be I should make a list on "required course material" if I would teach about comics.
Posted by aztek_the_lost

@FadeToBlackBolt said:

@aztek the lost: I suppose outlandish was probably wrong word, I meant that much of his stories are very unique, either in plotting or tone. Planetary for instance, whilst not appearing overly original, is certainly very different to any other "superhero" comic. They might be relatable and easy to get into, but they still have very interesting and well thought out ideas that aren't at all common in other works. I guess that's what I meant by outlandish.

Okay, I can accept that...however, I will say that I find most of Ellis' works to be completely plausible...whereas, something like the Marvel or DC universes are completely ridiculous fantasies, his story's are always placed in worlds that either could potentially exist someday or (in the case of Planetary) could already exist and we just don't know about them, I like that about his stories

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Posted by aztek_the_lost

@Silkcuts: all we can hope is that this new comic will work like the film presumably did (although I don't know if that's true) in that it brings readers into the true Hellblazer...although, I have a feeling some people already are developing worse opinions of characters they don't know well like Swamp Thing and John Constantine due to Brightest Day, I never really read positive things about their roles in the series from the mainstreamers

Moderator
Posted by FadeToBlackBolt
@aztek the lost said:

@FadeToBlackBolt said:

@aztek the lost: I suppose outlandish was probably wrong word, I meant that much of his stories are very unique, either in plotting or tone. Planetary for instance, whilst not appearing overly original, is certainly very different to any other "superhero" comic. They might be relatable and easy to get into, but they still have very interesting and well thought out ideas that aren't at all common in other works. I guess that's what I meant by outlandish.

Okay, I can accept that...however, I will say that I find most of Ellis' works to be completely plausible...whereas, something like the Marvel or DC universes are completely ridiculous fantasies, his story's are always placed in worlds that either could potentially exist someday or (in the case of Planetary) could already exist and we just don't know about them, I like that about his stories

I agree completely. Gah, I'm struggling to illustrate my point. I suppose, when you read a comic by Matt Fraction, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns, Gail Simone, etc... they all feel rather similar. Of course some are much better than others, but they all read in much the same way. 
 
Morrison, Moore, Ellis, Milligan (on good days), etc... excel beyond that sameness, and no matter how realistic or plausible their stories are, they simply feel more imaginative and "out there". Does that make sense? O_o
Posted by aztek_the_lost

@FadeToBlackBolt: Yes, sorry for being difficult, that makes sense...although I might have misunderstood your initial post because I thought you were saying Ellis was in a different category then Morrison/Moore/Milligan (when he's trying). I was trying (and failing) to agree with you and say that in comparison to the M's, Ellis' stories aren't so "out there". You can easily find someone out there who read a Morrison, Moore or Milligan comic and said, "wtf?" because they didn't get it but Ellis, well, I think anyone can see the message he's trying to convey. I'd say the same goes for Ennis (although he's probably another category altogether).

The Invisibles, Shade the Changing Man (and I'm going to say Promethea even though I haven't read it yet but Silkcuts can say if I'm wrong here) are epics in the comic industry that will never be as popular as a Preacher or a Transmetropolitan because although all are filled with all sorts of "higher thinking", the latter group are pretty straightforward while the former require a few more reads before you get it all...I personally don't believe either style is better and appreciate both but they aren't the same

Sorry...maybe I'm totally in some other conversation I imagined in my head :P

Moderator
Posted by FadeToBlackBolt
@aztek the lost: No need to apologise, it was good, you allowed me to elaborate on my point better :) 
 
I always enjoy talking about the "high concept" comics. I'm a clever guy, but I'm still rather ignorant on many of the subtleties in the various Vertigo works. It's always nice to be enlightened ^_^
Posted by Silkcuts
@aztek the lost: I will solidify the statement Promethea is an overlooked epic.  The 32 issues alone show Moore's mastery of the medium, the series deals with Magick and Kabbalah's "tree of life" where to my understand there is 32 paths.
 
Before DC pissed me off I was planning Promethea being the next thing I dissect. Not sure if I will write about my findings, since my heart is not in reviewing right now, when I know most people still only care about the mainstream that doesn't treat their readers right.
Posted by BKole

Its interesting, I was thinking about this today. Well, rather the paths of new evolutions of Occult and Magic away from herbs and that sort of business into the new directions of humanity and society. Sequential story-telling is a lot like a chant, isn't it? You're passing a message on through with images rather than words and noise, but there's still an underlying rhythm of beats and feelings isn't there?

Ellis sort of gets this, he's out there busting out his own short stories trying to impart a sort of...evolutionary mechanism for comics. Long form, by that I mean years and years and years, comics are killing themselves with rotating visions, creative blunders and pandering to business, lack of creativity and direction. Ellis knows what he wants and busts it out in five or six issues, perhaps a few more. Black Summer and No Hero are perfect examples of message and execution and they're things that are revisited by me quite often.

Red Rocket 7 by Mike Allred is a direction filled love letter to Music filled with affection and desire and that reads as a different sort of magic. Perhaps I am better off explaining my version as Alchemy actually. Originally, Alchemy was not about transmutation of base elements into newer "better" elements, it was about introverted consciousness changing. It was about going inside your mind, body and soul and knowing yourself and changing yourself with conscious precision, but then Crusades and Christianity went and turned it into something less occult and more like primitive chemistry. Comics are indeed a sort of alchemy, David Hine had an exploration of sexuality and genetic mental traits in Strange Embrace which was really interesting, it changed my views a little. It gave me a tad more knowledge and open mindedness than I had before.

At best comics can change the way you think, feel and speak, and at worst they're mindless versions of CSI: Portsmouth. They're drivel leaking from a corporate teat. So...I'm with siltcuts on this. Science, storytelling and magic are all the same thing and should be mixed into a single, expressive and visually stirring bag, not pumped out on a homogeneous lump.

Posted by Silkcuts
@BKole: Thanks 
^_^
Well said
Posted by FadeToBlackBolt
@Silkcuts said:
@aztek the lost: I will solidify the statement Promethea is an overlooked epic.  The 32 issues alone show Moore's mastery of the medium, the series deals with Magick and Kabbalah's "tree of life" where to my understand there is 32 paths.  Before DC pissed me off I was planning Promethea being the next thing I dissect. Not sure if I will write about my findings, since my heart is not in reviewing right now, when I know most people still only care about the mainstream that doesn't treat their readers right.
Is Promethea really that good? I've heard positive things, but I've never really seen it in the same circles as some of Moore's other work. I suppose it being a WS book rather than a Vertigo one always made me second guess it.
Posted by Silkcuts
@FadeToBlackBolt: I am a huge Alan Moore fan, possibly comicvine's biggest.  Roxanne Starr can validate my love for Moore.  His ABC stuff is overlooked.  I consider Promethea his greatest achievement.
Posted by BKole

Promethea is just gorgeous on every level. I totally agree about his ABC stuff being under-rated. Its almost like its ignored for some of his more "controversial" or in continuity comics. Tom Strong, Top Ten and Promethea are all love letters to comics in general.

Posted by Silkcuts
@BKole: ABC is ignored because people want to think they know Moore's style.  But Moore has no style he can write anything.  So if people only factor in his pre-ABC stuff they can call him a dark angry writer.