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Xavier2501
06-01-2006, 09:51 PM
When writing a comic, how much narration (captions) is too much. I personally get bored if it seems too heavy with explainations and all the blocks.
I feel it usually slows down the flow of the comic when more is used Unless the captions are of the persons thoughts as in Nightwing or something like that.
Does it bore you guys out there? or does it depend?

:huh:

Buckyrig
06-01-2006, 09:56 PM
Whatever serves the story. If it's not a crutch or the writer not trusting the artist, it works. Also works for location and time. Though some would argue I suppose that can be relayed with landmarks, newspapers, etc.

theflash
06-01-2006, 09:56 PM
for me it depends. if it's just inane running off at the keyboard type narraration, then yeah it drives me up the wall. but if it advances the story, then i don't mind.

innocentboy
06-01-2006, 11:10 PM
as a reader (as opopsed to a writer), it works when done right i guess, like many things in regards to creating

L Jamal
06-01-2006, 11:14 PM
I like to read my comics,so I like text.
I'm int he midst of reading the Cerebus High Society TPB and each issue takes about 20-30 minutes to get through. That's a nice quality read.

Mr.Musgrave
06-01-2006, 11:48 PM
Thought balloons and the like are okay when used properly. Unfortunately, they rarely are. I was re-reading one of the Days of Future past issues and Claremont has Kitty pride falling down a ramp thought-bubbling "A trap door! No! This can't be happening now! Not when we're so close! Not with so much depending on us!" NOBODY does that! A proper thought would have been "What the fuck...?!" or "Ah!"

All those so-called classic X-Men stories are filled with that junk! Not to mention the panel where she's kicking a guy and she's monologing a two-minute conversation to herself. GAH!

MrGranger
06-02-2006, 12:07 AM
I think that as a rule, narration should be used sparsely. It comes across as exposition in many instances, I'd rather see the story happen than be told what happened/is happening.

That said, all rules are meant to be broken. Just tread very carefully over that bridge.

innocentboy
06-02-2006, 12:19 AM
Thought balloons and the like are okay when used properly. Unfortunately, they rarely are. I was re-reading one of the Days of Future past issues and Claremont has Kitty pride falling down a ramp thought-bubbling "A trap door! No! This can't be happening now! Not when we're so close! Not with so much depending on us!" NOBODY does that! A proper thought would have been "What the fuck...?!" or "Ah!"

All those so-called classic X-Men stories are filled with that junk! Not to mention the panel where she's kicking a guy and she's monologing a two-minute conversation to herself. GAH!
it's funny still, can't remember where i read it, but just a week or two ago, i remember reading an interview, and they were saying how before at Marvel, the pencil would draw the page BEFORE the writer wrote the script, so often the writer would have to write enough so that word balloons would cover up certain parts of the picture.

like if the artist drew a picture of Rogue in the background, but Rogue wasn't supposed to be there, the writer would have to write enough script for the word balloon to be big enough to cover up Rogue completely.

don't know if that's how it was in the classic X-Men stories you're talking about, but was interesting when i read that

eDuke
06-02-2006, 12:36 AM
"A trap door! No! This can't be happening now! Not when we're so close! Not with so much depending on us!" NOBODY does that! A proper thought would have been "What the fuck...?!" or "Ah!"
Yeah, but that second example is what's wrong with comics nowadays. Who wants to read a comic where a superhero beats on a bad guy and all they do is grunt through 22 pages?

Gonzogoose
06-02-2006, 12:57 AM
Narration is fine if it doesn't explain what the art should be telling, like Musgrave's example. It just depends and there's no clear-cut answer because every story is different. Like someone said above, whatever serves the story.

And yeah, Marvel used to write plot style then the artist would illustrate and they would write the dialogue in afterwards. In fact, I have read statements from some old pros who refuse to work any other way. I've never tried it as I much prefer full script beforehand.

Mr.Musgrave
06-02-2006, 01:04 AM
Yeah, but that second example is what's wrong with comics nowadays. Who wants to read a comic where a superhero beats on a bad guy and all they do is grunt through 22 pages?


Nobody monologues a full description of their powers and how they're being held back by an inhibitor collar while kicking a guy once in the stomach. It's retarded. I can understand witty banter but that kind of shit is for the birds.

Oil
06-02-2006, 01:07 AM
Well, like mr. L. Jamal here, I tend to value my comics into "minutes" read...

That is, if I spend less than 20 minutes reading a comic, it's better be a "quarter bin" issue. The only moment I will judge a few-worded issue worth 20 or more minutes of reading, is when the artist puts lots of interesting details in the pictures, in a efficient way (I'm NOT talking about cross-hatching or texturizing human skin until it feels like solid rock -- I'm talking about rich images). But since not everyone is George Pérez or Chris Bachalo or Jim Mahfood, I would eventually press any creator to "word" their comics up. I used to read Dazzler back when I owned the original issues. It took like 40 minutes to read a single issue (the first few), because it was jam-packed with words, eight to sixteen full paragraphs a page!!! Once done, I felt like I had read a longer book than it really was, and this was a very satisfying feeling...

My conclusion? Give your books pretty pictures and flashy colors, so that, when browsing through, the random buyer will pick it up - but make sure to get the best and richest prose material outta that 24-pager, so that your reader comes back to you asking for more!

At least, that's my customer's point of view.

Olivier R.

dano
06-02-2006, 10:18 AM
I like to read comics too. I hate paying $3 a book and whipping thru it in 15 minutes or less.

Heh! Remember when captions were actually prose text that described the story and not just someones thoughts?

independent comics creators have the opportunity to do what the big guys are afraid of; innovate and advance the artform. We don't have to copy the formats that they've set up. You can use word balloons, thought balloons, captions and so forth in a variety of ways. Or you can say 'screw the captions, I'm writing an entire panel of prose to advance the story faster.'
Prose has some value and impact that pictures dont have. We shouldn't think that just because comics have pictures that words are unnecessary. Don't use captions only for narration!

Buckyrig
06-02-2006, 10:21 AM
Captions should only be used for paid endorsements. :D

L Jamal
06-02-2006, 10:41 AM
independent comics creators have the opportunity to do what the big guys are afraid of; innovate and advance the artform.

Indies, good indies, for the most part have. But some have taken it to the extreme (Cerebus). I personally find too much prose in a comic book to the boring. If I wanted that much prose, I would read a novel.

Indies should focus on done in one stories as you don't have the luxury of spreaing a story too thin.

eDuke
06-02-2006, 11:31 AM
Nobody monologues a full description of their powers and how they're being held back by an inhibitor collar while kicking a guy once in the stomach. It's retarded. I can understand witty banter but that kind of shit is for the birds.
Right. But you do understand why it was done in the past, correct? Each comic was written that way to be accessable to the casual reader -- it was always someone's first issue. And because of newstand distribution, if you missed the previous issue, you could be caught up pretty easy and quickly understand the way the character acts. I know it worked for me as a kid and having this in the book never destroyed enjoyment. As an adult keeping up with the monthly story, yeah, it's a different story, although I wish they adapt something better than the one-page text recap. I'd be more likely to pick up various issues.

Nowadays comics are written for die-hards so they don't need to bother inserting recap stuff. Which in turns makes most newer comics unaccessable to new readers.

DannoE
06-02-2006, 11:54 AM
Right. But you do understand why it was done in the past, correct? Each comic was written that way to be accessable to the casual reader -- it was always someone's first issue. And because of newstand distribution, if you missed the previous issue, you could be caught up pretty easy and quickly understand the way the character acts. I know it worked for me as a kid and having this in the book never destroyed enjoyment. As an adult keeping up with the monthly story, yeah, it's a different story, although I wish they adapt something better than the one-page text recap. I'd be more likely to pick up various issues.

Nowadays comics are written for die-hards so they don't need to bother inserting recap stuff. Which in turns makes most newer comics unaccessable to new readers.
Amen. I've been reading DH's Conan reprints, and they kick ass. That old-style pacing kicks the crap out of nearly all of today's comics. They just spent more time thinking through where the issue breaks ought to go and telling more story per issue.

There was a 4-issue story arc in the newest reprint I read (#7 I believe), but each part was essentially done as a short story that together amounted to a complete story-arc. It was an adaptation of an epic fantasy novel, so that form made a lot of sense in a sequential fiction format.

Anyway, now what you get is a story that's called a story arc but really isn't. That's fine sometimes, but you are getting much less story for your buck. Those old comics weren't like that at all.

Mr.Musgrave
06-03-2006, 05:23 PM
Right. But you do understand why it was done in the past, correct? Each comic was written that way to be accessable to the casual reader -- it was always someone's first issue. And because of newstand distribution, if you missed the previous issue, you could be caught up pretty easy and quickly understand the way the character acts. I know it worked for me as a kid and having this in the book never destroyed enjoyment. As an adult keeping up with the monthly story, yeah, it's a different story, although I wish they adapt something better than the one-page text recap. I'd be more likely to pick up various issues.

Nowadays comics are written for die-hards so they don't need to bother inserting recap stuff. Which in turns makes most newer comics unaccessable to new readers.

Yeah, but there's a way to recap and a way to talk down to your reader. Recapping a character's powers step by step while captioning a description of everything that's happening in the drawn scene is treating your readers like morons.

Buckyrig
06-03-2006, 06:07 PM
We are morons...didn't you get the memo?

eDuke
06-03-2006, 07:28 PM
Yeah, but there's a way to recap and a way to talk down to your reader. Recapping a character's powers step by step while captioning a description of everything that's happening in the drawn scene is treating your readers like morons.
You do realize comics started out as entertainment for children, correct? It wasn't talking down to them, it was actually helping some learn the language by showing illustrations of what was happening. It didn't change until the 80's when the industry wanted to pull themselves out of being 'kid entertainment' -- remember this: Comics just aren't for kids anymore.

Mr.Musgrave
06-03-2006, 07:37 PM
I'm not talking about when comics started out. I'm talking about those 80's comics you mentioned. My example was Claremont and his verbal masterbation, remember?

And comics could be written for both kids and adults if the creators would stop taking the easy way out and figure out how to do it. Look at the Harry Potter books. Stories that kids can understand and that adults can enjoy. The problem isn't the medium, the problem is the creators.

eDuke
06-03-2006, 07:57 PM
And comics could be written for both kids and adults if the creators would stop taking the easy way out and figure out how to do it. Look at the Harry Potter books. Stories that kids can understand and that adults can enjoy. The problem isn't the medium, the problem is the creators.
Wait a minute... you just didn't compare prose to comics, did you? Wow.

Mr.Musgrave
06-03-2006, 08:01 PM
I'm too tired to tell if you're being sarcastic or not.

scottr
06-04-2006, 08:04 AM
Ed hit the nail perfectly. The problem is that there isn't enough exposition between characters, insightful thoughts that help establish plot backgrounds, characterization etc. These are all things that Stan Lee and the generation after him made sure of, because they recognized that each issue was someones first issue. I don't see that anymore. Novels have narration and prose versions of thought balloons, it only makes sense to bring that same method of storytelling into comics. I don't understand why some comic readers apparently don't want to actually read a comic.

dano
06-05-2006, 12:46 PM
It didn't change until the 80's when the industry wanted to pull themselves out of being 'kid entertainment' -- remember this: Comics just aren't for kids anymore.
i throw up a little bit into my mouth when i hear that phrase. :confused:

Mr.Musgrave
06-05-2006, 02:56 PM
Ed hit the nail perfectly. The problem is that there isn't enough exposition between characters, insightful thoughts that help establish plot backgrounds, characterization etc. These are all things that Stan Lee and the generation after him made sure of, because they recognized that each issue was someones first issue. I don't see that anymore. Novels have narration and prose versions of thought balloons, it only makes sense to bring that same method of storytelling into comics. I don't understand why some comic readers apparently don't want to actually read a comic.


I don't disagree with having SOME exposition and such. What I'm saying is that too much (Claremont) is a bad thing. There's a fine balance.

Amtekoth
06-05-2006, 05:22 PM
I've written a number of stand-alone 8 page horror stories for my anthology, A Gathering of Crows (http://www.graphicsmash.com/series.php?name=crows)
Sometimes I can get away with very few caption boxes, and other times I overdo it.

The short story format is TOUGH because you have so little room to introduce your characters and situation (beginning), develop them (middle) and resolve everything (end) in 8 freaking pages. Oh yeah, and entertain folks while you're at it!

Dirk Manning, writer of Nightmare World (http://www.nightmareworld.com) , has been doing a great job of it. Sometimes you've got to hit people with more exposition than they're used to to tell the story.

Poboy
06-05-2006, 06:42 PM
My personal opinion is show, don't tell. I liked Claremont on X-Men though, so go figure. I liked seeing them do dishes and have personalities developed beyond 'I'm a bad*ss'. I wasn't sorry to see, 'the best at what I do' every issue go away though.