Comics are Fun

Whenever I have a complaint about a direction that a comic book takes, the argument that I hear that is meant to shut me up is, “Comics are fun. They’re only meant to be fun. Who cares about the continuity?” etc.

And it’s hard to come up with a response to that because it’s pretty clear cut that they’ve made up their mind. Comics are a fun disposable medium that is meant solely for entertainment and the attempt to search for some level of sophistication is unreasonable.

I guess it’s my fault to expect it.

Poor Writing

In high school, our teacher explained to us the definition of Deus Ex Machina “god out of the machine.” It had something to do with the story’s action rising to the point where everything would fail until one of the gods would come out of nowhere, intervene and save the day.

There’s evidence of it in cartoons and comics all of the time. Ben 10’s unimatrix would give him the wrong alien. Mr. Moustachio would save Astro Boy when he was clearly infirm in the hospital moments ago. A character would come back to life without explanation in a comic book and save the day.

She also said that Deus Ex Machina was lazy writing. The thing that would counteract it is foreshadowing, when the writer would leave clues that something is going to happen or has an explanation.

Marketing a Product

When I was reading my marketing textbook, I was surprised to learn about the product lifecycle. Essentially, when a product is introduced it goes through the growing pains of finding an audience, developing a customer base, maturing (when it is pretty set in its ways) and then dying out.

North American comics appear to avoid that lifecycle, somewhat. Rather than having a title that is introduced, grows, matures and then dies; North American comics has a title introduced, grow, mature, revamped and reintroduced, grow, mature, and repeat. It’s the reason characters come back from the dead so often. They’re revitalizing the product.

So it’s not poor writing – it’s just marketing.

Changes in direction without foreshadowing is nothing more than taking a new strategy to attract a new (or existing) market. There are no hints or clues because the authors don’t know what is being planned. No one does.

It’s a good thing comics are fun. What else would I be expecting?