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Author Topic: A New Way to Tell an Old Story  (Read 5265 times)

red52

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A New Way to Tell an Old Story
« on: 10 Apr 2006, 13:31 »

Lately, I've been thinking about the webcomics we've all become rabid fans of and their importance in the sense of telling story. Way back when, comics in general were thought to be for the kids, trash that adults shouldn't waste their time with. Yet as we've all learned, comics can pack a tremendous punch as telling an entertaining tale is concerned. So with that settled, I turn to another thought:

Are words printed on a page losing their power as comics and webcomics grow in popularity?

Some might argue that this is a foolish fear, that 'novels' (and they always say novels with an arrogant tone.) will never be surpassed by such trash. But I defy you to find a novel done in the past or recently that is up to the standards of storytelling that QC has risen to. It's pacing, characters, and overall story are highly entertaining and at several times I've found myself actually caring about these people that Jeph has created.

And QC isn't the only webcomic to achieve these hieghts of story telling brilliance. Anyone checked out Megatoyko lately? Fred, despite any and all emo moments he has, is a gifted man and has been able to weave a complex and interesting tale. These comics are out there, exploring brave new horizons that books have yet to tap, ones I'm afraid they never will.

Thoughts?
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ZJGent

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A New Way to Tell an Old Story
« Reply #1 on: 11 Apr 2006, 16:16 »

I'm a big megatokyo fan (and QC fan!) as well, and I'm inclined to agree... to a point. I suppose I don't want to bundle novels and comics in the same category, I know that they both want to tell me a story, and I know that the characters are important, but it's stuff like really good imagery writing (Pullman and the like) that gets me thinking that they're just two completely different methods. I don't think one can surpass the other, unless it's in the way that, for me, cheese surpasses ham. I know cheese and ham don't have the same background, and I know neither of them is intrinsically 'better' than the other, nor can one out-perform the other in a general sense, but I still prefer one over the other as a matter of personal preference only. It's the same, I suppose, as with novels and comics. I know that a character and a storyline can be presented by both, but I love the imagery that writing can call up in my imagination by simple juxtaposition of metaphor and lexis and all the rest of it. At the same time, I love with a passion different and fresh comic styles (art and story). But I don't think one can surpass the other because they're... made of different stuff. And there's my thoughts. In short: Novels and Comics, Ham and Cheese. Peace out.

- ZJ
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Kukushka

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A New Way to Tell an Old Story
« Reply #2 on: 11 Apr 2006, 17:33 »

Many people will tell you that the novel was the death of poetry, yet how many of us listen to music?

And, of course, many people thought that TV and movies would be the death of novels, yet we still read and write, perhaps just as much.

While both are mediums used to tell a story, they are different. I agree with the ham and cheese analogy (yum!). Each has its strengths and weaknesses. They are different enough that one does not cancel out the other.
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tomselleck69

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A New Way to Tell an Old Story
« Reply #3 on: 11 Apr 2006, 19:24 »

are you really asking us to prove that novels written better than QC exist?



i don't think literature is at all threatened by comics/webcomics. if anything, i feel like tv and movies are more likely to be the nails in it's coffin.
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Gryff

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A New Way to Tell an Old Story
« Reply #4 on: 11 Apr 2006, 19:58 »

Quote from: red52
I defy you to find a novel done in the past or recently that is up to the standards of storytelling that QC has risen to.


So basically you are saying that QC is the absolute pinnacle of all literature? Wow. That's just so dumb. Really. I- I just can't understand why you would say this.

I mean, have you actually read any novels?

Bunnyman

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A New Way to Tell an Old Story
« Reply #5 on: 11 Apr 2006, 22:52 »

At this point, all paths can only lead to tears.

QC is a well-told sequential story.  If you're talking about motifs, underlying issues, imagery, etc., QC is an off-the-cuff photomontage of hipster conversation.  When 'real issues' (tm) boil up, they're incidental.  Novels are generally written from the ground up with the ideas (or at least that's what my English profs would have me believe, buncha wankers) and either way they fine-tune their prose over months if not years to achieve the exact desired effect.

Apples.  Oranges.  While points of comparison do exist, an earnest and objective assesment of the relative merits of one and the other is irrelevant.

Then again, I'm right.  So your opinion is equally irrelevant.  Defend Chocolate, I'll defend Vanilla.
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cuchlann

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A New Way to Tell an Old Story
« Reply #6 on: 11 Apr 2006, 22:57 »

The thing about the "death of printing" that's been talked up so much ever since computers were cheap enough to own...  Well, a few things.

One, it hasn't happened yet (not a strong argument, obviously)

Two, it won't for a while - it'll be years before people can buy something to tide them over on a plane ride and have it be reading material and digital at the same time.  Sadly, a great proportion of reading happens like that - people run somewhere to buy a book for a trip.  I'm an English major, this depresses me.

Three, digital reading doesn't have the tactile "now" feeling of a printed product.  Comic books and other printed materials create, to translate some literary theory stuff into terms I can hold in my head this late, a little circle.  That is, you start at your head, go down your right arm (or your left, if you're cool - and left-handed), hit the comic, and go back up the opposite arm to the head again.  It's actually good to think of this as a field the reader is making.  Within this field, and almost the whole body is in here, it's all about the reader and the text.  

Four, related to three, the actual reading changes.  In writing comic scripts, I've had to learn to remember when the page is turned, when the reader can see something, even though it hasn't "happened" yet, and how to deal with all this.  Simply, big reveals go on the left-hand pages - the page that's hidden until the moment you're reading it.  This isn't always true, but it's a great simple "rule" to keep in mind.  Using the computer, this kind of thing doesn't work anymore.  True, with some comics (like QC here) the page length creates the tension.  You have to scroll.  Some people, however, refuse to read comics where you have to scroll.  It's often cited as a design thing, that the content page should be contained in the window without scrolling.  That's a bit silly for comics, but a good idea for something like a search engine or a portal.  Also, reading at the computer removes the sense of absorption.  Even if you don't multitask while reading online comics, you know you *can*, and that the tool you're sitting before can do many more things.  I check most of my webcomics while eating breakfast, something I can't do while checking out the latest issue of Battle Pope.  

Damn, this is long.  Can you tell I'm in a class about graphic novels?  

Oh, and the thing about "words on a printed page" versus comics?  I think someone made a more interesting version of the "apples and oranges" analogy already.  Yeah, exactly.  Comics provide more immediacy, but rely on that.  A novel (or short story, short-short, poem) has the luxury of building, letting the language itself construct everything.  Of course, prose relies on that.  You don't get much in the way of "gut-punches," as you could call the immediate, emotional slams a comic can deliver.  Comics don't really give a reader the kind of chilling, filling atmosphere prose writing can, because there's just less to move through - each word in a well-written prose piece contributes to what Poe called the "singularity of effect."
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Re: A New Way to Tell an Old Story
« Reply #7 on: 11 Apr 2006, 22:59 »

Quote from: red52
Lately, I've been thinking about the webcomics we've all become rabid fans of and their importance in the sense of telling story.


I'm sorry, what were you talking about?  My favorite webcomic is Penny Arcade.  What's this continuity of which you speak?
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grrraham

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A New Way to Tell an Old Story
« Reply #8 on: 12 Apr 2006, 17:32 »

Questionable Content, and other webcomics with indefinitely* ongoing stories are more like television sitcoms than novels in their storytelling.


*I know that Jeph said it's going to end, but he also makes it clear he doesn't know what's going to happen before then or how much longer it's going to go
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