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Mason Meomartini
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Posted: 08 August 2018 at 11:31am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Even though DC's and Marvel's shared worlds started with mostly self-contained stories, after years and years of this, more connections started forming and they became more like one long story.  

It seems that longform, or "epic" length, or continuous stories might have become more popular than single isolated stories in television, movies, novels, and comics.  

I can't remember the title but there was a sociology book that came out about ten years ago that compared modern fiction in all these types of media along with video games to fiction from maybe the 40s to the 80s to show how stories in general have become more complicated.  Not always more intelligent, but in terms of plotting.  Don't remember if the length of stories was one aspect of that but it might be related.  Short stories in magazines or book collections aren't as popular as novels, which are not always part of a series but much longer and more complicated anyway, and trilogies have become very popular.  For both adults and young adult fiction.  All this makes me think that even if we did have a cycle of new generations of children starting to read super hero comics, maybe they would not prefer short, isolated stories with only loose or no connections like children were satisfied with in the 40s to 60s.  Especially with all the hyperlinked and interconnected online media even young children are exposed to.  Self contained short stories in comics might be too simple now for most readers.


Edited by Mason Meomartini on 08 August 2018 at 11:32am
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Olav Bakken
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Posted: 08 August 2018 at 12:09pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Large, epic crossovers can be interesting now and then, but should never be the norm. I like to follow certain characters or teams in their isolated little corner of DC or Marvel, where the other heroes are usually absent.

The short story format is perfect for plots and ideas that would never work as a long novel. Just wish Hollywood would take the chance on more movies that consist of several shorter stories, like Twilight Zone: The Movie, or Creepshow.
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Mason Meomartini
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Posted: 08 August 2018 at 12:32pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Movies like that not being made are exactly what I mean.  Would they be popular today?  
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Mason Meomartini
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Posted: 08 August 2018 at 12:35pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Same with short story anthologies.  You might still see a few, but it's a small audience.  I know people who would never read them but will always read a novel or a long series of them.
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Olav Bakken
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Posted: 08 August 2018 at 12:49pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I understand there is more prestige in novels than short stories, but if you don't read the latter you miss a lot, for instance the shorts by Cordwainer Smith or classic Victorian and Edwardian ghost stories.

They did an animated movie related to Matrix, consisting of several shorts in a similar way to Heavy Metal. But live action is more rare. Personally I think it could do well at the theatres, but it would probably have to be made by one of the smaller studios. The larger studios focus mostly on tent pole projects today.

The Twilight Zone movie did one thing that seems a bit risky today: they made short films of very different content. There was a cozy little Spielberg movie with children, a war drama, a mystery in the skies and an omnipotent boy. It would probably be a safer bet if they made different stories, but with a similar flavor. All could be horror, like Creepshow, or it could all be science fiction, or urban fantasy. Just my opinion.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 08 August 2018 at 1:27pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

The first time I ever swore in front of my father we were driving home from the drugstore, where I had just picked up FF 25. I was reading it as we traveled home. I got to the last page and felt as if something very large and very cold had just punched me in the gut. It was a continued story. Maybe Marvel's first.

Distribution in my part of Canada was so bad, I knew I would never see the second part. (I was close. "never" turned about to be about 15 years.)

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Mason Meomartini
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Posted: 08 August 2018 at 2:58pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Wow, it's hard to imagine waiting that long these days for the continuation of a story with Marvel Masterworks, paperback reprints, and Marvel's digital archive.  

In those 15 years, did you eventually stop caring and then got into it again when you finally got the second part?  Or always thinking about it once in a while?  And how did you get it?


Edited by Mason Meomartini on 08 August 2018 at 3:23pm
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 08 August 2018 at 3:07pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Self contained short stories in comics might be too simple now for most readers.
_____________

I think that might be the impression that the publishers have now, but that doesn't make it true.  Anthology series of short stories like BATMAN BLACK & WHITE, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, and Wonder Woman's SENSATION COMICS were/are hits.

I think it's just laziness on the part of the editors & writers.  It's easier--when they have these famed "planning sessions"--to come up with one storyline they can stretch out over two years than to come up with 24 ideas that haven't been done before.




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Phil Kreisel
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Posted: 08 August 2018 at 3:15pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Mason, I'm sure JB is referring to his childhood.  As someone who is close to where he is in the lifespan, in those days none of what you have referred to existed.

I seem to recall getting FF 26 first (part 2 of the continued story), and then spending time looking around for FF 25 in used book stores, etc.

FF 25 was the 2nd epic battle of the Thing vs the Hulk.  The Avengers got involved in FF 26.  It was fantastic.  Still holds up, too.
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 08 August 2018 at 3:17pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I think the ideal balance is to have a story that is complete but also has subplots of a continuing narrative as well. Clifhangers worked better in TV, and if used sparingly (I guess at least every other Batman in the '60s had one). I remember feeling burned by some major cliffhangers in comics as well. You can have a milder type of one I think, like Iron Man has finally knocked The Hulk out but the last panel shows both of them not moving. The punch both concluded the story but also set up the next one.

I had FF25, never had 26 though. :^(


Edited by Rebecca Jansen on 08 August 2018 at 3:18pm
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Mason Meomartini
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Posted: 08 August 2018 at 7:42pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Yes, I meant a comparison between the '60s and how much access we have now.  
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 August 2018 at 6:15am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

FF 25 was the 2nd epic battle of the Thing vs the Hulk. The Avengers got involved in FF 26. It was fantastic. Still holds up, too.

In large part because it was two parts! Imagine the same tale today, dragged out over a year....

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Andrew Bitner
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Posted: 09 August 2018 at 11:12am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

It'd be it's own crossover miniseries. You'd see:

THING VS HULK 1-6 - it's the battle of the century! See the Fantastic Four's Ben Grimm take on the Jade Giant for all the marbles, in a fight that rages across the U.S. Face front, True Believers, this is the one you demanded!

THING VS HULK: X-MEN - when titans collide, where will the X-Men make their stand? Plus, the return of Phoenix!

THING VS HULK: DEFENDERS - with one of their own battling the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing, can Dr. Strange, Namor and Silver Surfer remain on the sidelines? What terrible new threat will pull them away from helping a friend in need?

THING VS HULK: AVENGERS - after chasing the Hulk across the globe, the Avengers risk getting between two of the biggest powerhouses of all time. What fateful decision will Captain America make? And what will Iron Man do when the battle comes to the doorstep of Stark Enterprises?

THING VS HULK: AFTERMATH - as the dust settles, who will be the victor and who will know defeat? Only one can triumph, and the end will shake the Marvel Universe for decades to come! IT ALL ENDS HERE!

...bombastic enough for today's Marvel? ;)
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Mason Meomartini
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Posted: 09 August 2018 at 12:50pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

That sounds so much like how the promotion would be written.
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Andrew Bitner
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Posted: 09 August 2018 at 1:20pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

That's the intention! :)
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Mason Meomartini
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Posted: 09 August 2018 at 3:11pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

I didn't know about those anthologies, Eric.  It's a good point.  I just wonder if the popularity of longer, large scale stories would still outnumber stand alone issues or anthologies in super hero comics.  

In a different sense it might work.  I also know some middle-aged readers who like self-contained stories, but they have to be something big and unusual.  A very strong idea.  Like Grant Morrison's JLA Earth 2, the Elseworlds books, Marvels, Kingdom ComeThe Dark Knight Returns, or a collection of a 4 or 6 or 12 part story arc from a monthly series.  Or collections of a longer series like Transmetropolitan or Preacher. It has to have some length, not just a single 22 page issue.  Collections of reprinted material or original graphic novels, as long as it's a bigger project than just a single issue of a series.  I know people who would read a Visionaries paperback of John Byrne's Fantastic Four, but not individual issues of it.  

They want something like a substantial novel.  To these readers, a single self contained issue feels too minor, even though sometimes unusual, exceptional ideas have also appeared in that format.  I think it has to give the perception of being something special, not just another ordinary monthly issue.  I know to generations in the past, a monthly issue did feel like something special.  It did to me in the 80s.  I don't know if it would anymore to even younger readers.  I have no idea how they react to new single issues these days.  I'm curious to know if the culture has shifted and the majority of readers of all ages is like this.   

I don't think the creators at Marvel and DC can come up with 5 new ideas that have never been done before, never mind 24.  Like it came up in another thread, I think they can only update old ideas or derive new stories from them that will be new to new generations of super hero fans like you see happening with the movies that are adapting what's already been done.  




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Mason Meomartini
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Posted: 09 August 2018 at 3:13pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Yeah, Andrew, but you were able to do it exactly the way they formulate it!  They might as well use it.
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Andrew Bitner
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Posted: 09 August 2018 at 5:05pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

I forgot a couple...

THING VS HULK: SPIDER-MAN - with New York City getting smashed all around him, everyone's favorite neighborhood webhead is up to his big white eyes in trouble. And when Rhino and Sandman join the party, it's gonna be Mayhem in Midtown!

THING VS HULK: S.H.I.E.L.D - it's just not okay to have two of Marvel's biggest monsters slugging it out, no holds barred, so Nick Fury and his team have to jump into action. But when they do, things are gonna get hot for the one-eyed superspy!

THING VS HULK: FANTASTIC FOUR - with one of their own in the battle of his life, Reed, Sue and Johnny scramble to save Ben from the Incredible Hulk! But will they be too late? What a time for the Frightful Four to join forces with Doctor Doom!

Excelsior!
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Mason Meomartini
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Posted: 09 August 2018 at 7:13pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Since they can't increase the number of readers, they increase the number of series they can buy.  It's too bad they have to resort to that. But it goes back to the question of whether the majority of new readers would want mostly one or two part stories these days, or if anthologies like the successful ones mentioned in this thread would be about even in sales.  It's the popularity with young readers of Harry Potter as a series of several books that made me think about this.  Maybe that wouldn't relate to how most young readers would view the comic book format.  

Rebecca, I forgot to respond in another related thread to your comment "A Gasoline Alley or real time 'universe' of super powered characters could be interesting."  Marvel tried a real time universe called the New Universe in the 80s.  I think each issue meant that a month had passed in the series too.
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 09 August 2018 at 7:32pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

"Rebecca, I forgot to respond in another related thread to your comment "A Gasoline Alley or real time 'universe' of super powered characters could be interesting."  Marvel tried a real time universe called the New Universe in the 80s. I think each issue meant that a month had passed in the series too."

It's too bad I was pretty much on my way out the door in terms of buying DC or Marvel comics when those started up, I very well may've liked those titles a lot. Maybe I could still check some out retroactively...whichever didn't have the huge '80s shoulder pads and spikey MTV hair... that's all I remember seeing of the New Universe in some ads at the time. :^D
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Mason Meomartini
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Posted: 16 August 2018 at 2:09pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Rebecca, about the compromise for serial fiction where you can have one main plot with subplots that lead to the next main plot when the last one ends, it's a good system for comic book series that go on indefinitely.  But I notice when a long series has one continuous story it's more dramatic because it can keep building a more and more elaborate story.  When a series has to keep stopping once in a while to start over with a new main plot, it loses the kind of momentum that a series with one longer story can achieve.  I'm not sure but it seems the long term conspiracy episodes of X-Files were the most popular.  Of course a monthly comic that is meant to go on for decades can't do this sort of thing for so long.  It would be impossible for new readers to follow unless they wanted to go all the way back to the beginning.  But if it's decades long, it becomes impractical to catch up.  Shorter stories also have qualities unique to that length though.


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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 16 August 2018 at 5:48pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

From what I gather the powers that be at Marvel intend to get the X-Men back, finally, to normal -- or as normal as the X-Men can get considering how quickly the X-Men's popularity led to the New Mutants and X-Factor and so on. But of course they're doing mini-series lead-ins to lead up to the storyline that will finally bring things back to "normalcy." 

You CAN fool some people all of the time. 
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 16 August 2018 at 5:58pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

I've read some fairly recent CAPTAIN AMERICA and IRON MAN recently. Single issues.

Sorry, but little-to-no action, too much talking. For three quid or more per book, it doesn't feel like value. Why wouldn't I wait for the trade? 

Put together, as a trade, the issues would compile a great story. But as solo issues, three quid or more is a lot for TALKING HEADS.

I bought an IRON MAN book in the late 80s. In the issue, there was talk. Stark clashed with Fury. But there was action, too. Iron Man VS Mandroids. It felt like value for money.
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 16 August 2018 at 7:49pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

It does seem like you used to get at very least half of a full story in the '70s or '80s plus a look at a couple of sub-plots, and now it seems to be more like an eighth, and worse than that it's an eight of maybe three or four separate titles. Nailed it on the price too! Any wonder why they fail to attract new readers? Then there's people hating on cartoony comics that do tell a complete story at least, like Teen Titans Go... fans and fans turned pro killing the thing they supposedly love?
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 16 August 2018 at 8:04pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

I looked into some of those New Universe titles and I think maybe going by Morituri they are a combination of fairly simple art and story crossed with a lot of supposedly realistic graphic violence and death. So not for me really, unless Star Brand possibly. I might give that a shot sometime.

All the successful comics that lasted long term that I can think of have a sort of unchanging frame to them, kind of like Mash, Cheers and Gunsmoke had. A character or two, a place, something that stays as long as the title is there. With Thor it was maybe even just Mjolnir the hammer! You figure out what's a load bearing wall to the particular title and you either don't mess with it, or only very temporarily. X-Men to me seems to have to have mutants who have to be careful but stay true to wanting to live alongside humans. Then you illustrate and explore variations on the central theme. Someone else gets the hammer, some mutants decide they have had it with all humans and others vow to hinder them or reason with them that they're as bad as the humans who want no mutants. Donald Duck is a spaz, Uncle Scrooge likes to have all the money, Huey, Dewey and the other guy are the smartest characters in the comic. Tell a story. Make it interesting. Spice with some longer developments. Find yourself back with the original load bearing elements, but re-arranged or changed slightly. Tell other stories. Show different sides of an issue. Make people care. A story is an engine according to Stephen King) you might want to tune it up to run smoothly for a long time or do some other non-serial kind of thing.
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