Finally got around to watching “V for Vendetta” last night.
It was kinda interesting–it was an okay movie, bit cheesy in places, but you could see the bones of a really good comic book under it. Lots of things that don’t quite hold up in movies work very well in comics, and I could practically see the Cliff Notes version of ’em going by. So I probably enjoyed it more than it deserved on that basis alone.
It makes me wonder though, why comic books work.
No Scott McCloud am I, and yet, for some reason that I’m not quite sure of, I think we…mm…we like characters much more readily in a comic than we do in movies or books.
Of course, I’m influenced by the fact that I’ve generally only read the very cream of the crop in comics–I don’t pick one up until people have recommended it a dozen times and it sticks in my brain–so perhaps I’ve just gotten lucky on comics.
Still, I think we fall in love easier for some reason in a comic.
Take, oh, “Sandman.” The initial exposure to the character Dream is, if memory serves, pretty much three identical panels of him sitting and glaring out of a glass bubble.
You’re rooting for the guy by the second page.
Oh, part of it is that there was a whole bit in advance about how he got caught, sure, and you always root for the underdog, but still, even a character like Dream–who’s frankly not a likeable guy–you’re sold almost immediately.
Or take “Bone.” Three weird little guys arguing. I am actually surprisingly skeptical of cute, perhaps because I’m a purveyor of such myself, and have an almost professional suspicion, but still, a page or two in, you’re sold.
It’s rare that you do that in a book. It generally takes pages and development to sell you on a character, and there’s not all that many authors who have you rooting for the hero on the first page.
Plus, I think you can just…I dunno. You skim over more in a comic, and it works anyway. If I was writing Digger, I’d have to spend pages agonizing over her inner torments and angst about her family and engineering jobs back home, but in a comic, a coupla panels and generally people are perfectly willing to accept it. I don’t have to keep mentioning things in a comic the way I would in a book.
Maybe I’m just using too small a sample size–Gaiman and Smith are obviously very good, and perhaps if I was reading some crappy comic, it would take me pages to become invested. (Which, ironically, since a lot of the stuff I read are webcomics, means that I probably wouldn’t stick around to become invested, for that matter.)
Maybe it’s that we can’t see what the characters are thinking most of the time in a comic, so we trust that they are thinking things, whereas in a book we’d have to see it.
You say a lot less in comics, and yet people are willing to give you a lot more.
Maybe it’s the readers, not the media itself. I dunno.
Still, it’s weird that way.