Some more quotes I discovered in my reading yesterday, most along the same themes covered in the Seed Culture post.
Having dipped my toes into film and telly recently, I’m struck by how different we are from other writers. Most TV people spend all day sitting around in wine-bars and talking about a project they’ve had in development for three years. Comics are the modern-day pulps. We work ten hour days, five or six days a week and see our work in print only weeks or months after coming up with the idea. We’re more prolific and have a wide-ranging imagination TV and movie people can seldom match. Maybe it’s because we’re never restricted by budget. Comics are also, on the whole, much better than books, TV or movies. The percentage of comics I read every month as a fraction of the overall market far outweighs the number of other media worth paying attention to. There’s a lot of high quality products out there.
I like comics because they still retain an outlaw nature, because they’re not quite acceptable. I like comics because they pay better than novels and they allow more creative control, in most cases, than “big media” like films or television. I like comics because they’re rife with untapped potential.
Comics are harder to write than TV, radio, prose or film, and pay at least 10 times less. In many ways, though, they can be more satisfying because it’s your story, and it’s all on paper, nothing about having to wait for over 50 people to get it done. And the Punk rock philosophy of comics — that anyone can do it — is nicely democratic
What other medium offers a writer the joys that comics do? I can write a story and see art a few weeks later. Then a few months after that a finished product. I can write a story in one day and get the whole thing out of my system. Or take a week or more if I feel like it. Spend a year on a screenplay? Five years on a novel? You’re kidding, right?
In other mediums you’re dealing with roomfuls of idiots who all have an opinion. At the absolute worst you’ll deal with a single idiot in comics.
I love this medium and it more than satisfies my every desire as a writer. My imagination is encouraged to run as wild as it can. I can write an SF story one week and a crime story the next and (God willing) a western every once in a while. I like the pace and I like the characters and I like the people I work with. It simply doesn’t get better than that.
I love the fact that unless you’re working for the X-office, ninety-five to a hundred percent of what I write is what actually shows up in print. Unlike in movies and television, there are fewer morons between me and my audience and less chance for what I write to get watered down. Moreover, but on a related note, there’s very little if any writing on spec in what I do now–I write a comic, I get paid–and ELSEWORLDS 80-PAGE GIANT aside, everything I write gets seen by an audience, which is also not something you can count on in any other medium. I could actually make much better money in other fields writing material that may or may not ever be actually read, but that holds no appeal for me. Yet.
Nothing compares to the comics medium when it comes to the immediate communication of stories, ideas, whatever. If you can navigate the waters of the industry correctly, the amount of control you ultimately have over your own work puts it light years beyond most other media. Comics also allow you to be as prolific as you want to be, which is always good if you’ve got a lot of stories to get out of your system
Given a modicum of aptitude and a lot of application, you can take a few pennies worth of materials and make stories containing anything you want. The other visual storytelling media, film and TV, offer fantastic possibilites, but also make huge demands in terms of resources. And the more resources you need, the more compromises you’ll have to make to get them. Harlan Ellison famously said that making a TV series is like trying to carry a rose to the top of a mountain of shit; even if you can get there, you won’t be able to smell the rose.
Storytelling in comics is often compared with storytelling in film or animation, but comics offer the possibility of greater density and complexity; after all, the reader can choose to spend more time studying one panel than another, or even to go back a few pages if they realize they’ve missed something. And, being a “literary” medium, comics are far better at portraying the internal life of characters than performance media such as Film or TV.
In short, comics are a democratic medium, available to all at some level, the only real limitation being the skill and industry of the creator(s). It offers many possibilites, and far more creative control than other visual storytelling media.
Quite simply, there is no other medium in which your vision can come to life (and print) with as little interference. The various other options open to artists just don’t have the same freedoms.
Comics are the only field where you can semi-easily create a story of your own from scratch and control every aspect of its design, where creator-owned work is becoming more and more common, where there isn’t a commitee to stomp your vision into a nice, mainstream, bitesized nugget of fluffy nothingness if you don’t choose to allow that. One can still, occassionally, create whole worlds, characters that live and breathe and a story that can directly communicate to the person who picks it up and reads it.
They’re so easy to do. A few pennies worth of paper and ink are all you need to get working. Oh, and a good idea. That’s the only not-so-easy part. And some talent (optional).
They’re direct. From my head to the page to your head. No fancy projection or sound systems needed, or standing in line and putting up with popcorn munchers. You can read them at your own pace, go back to things you’ve missed or want to look at again, at the flip of a page.
They’re low rent. No executive producers breathing down your neck. No rewrite because the director wants his girlfriend’s role expanded. No backers to convince before you can put the show on. Of course, not much rent money either, but you can’t have everything.
They’ve always had the possibility of being REALLY FUCKING GREAT. And, once in a while, they are.