Saturday, March 26, 2011

Great Moments In Fiction Writing

When it comes to entertainment I'm not that critical, especially with the superheroic kind. Fantastic Four, Spider-Man -- I grew up reading that stuff, comic book adventures.

But as an adult I wince at some of the bad writing in those 12¢ wonders. Nowadays comic books are supposed to be more sophisticated, taking on pretensions like slapping a bunch o' issues into one book and calling it a "graphic novel." How dignified.

Even Marvel Comics has shed the "comic" part to become Marvel Characters, Inc. [TM]. Looks better in the stock market listings. Very dignified.

Superheroes are now more "adult." Their chroniclers strive to be modern Shakespeare's, delving so deeply into the human condition. That's nice.

But despite all the adultification and more erudite stories, most comic books still feature hack writing, even when the same material is reconstituted into a prose paperback novel, an attempt to be more literary (no four-color drawings and word balloons).

For your consideration. "The Ultimates: Tomorrow Men" by Jan Michael Friedman (Pocket Star Books - Marvel Press, 2006). It features various Marvel "Characters" [TM] like Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. You know Thor, don't you, the Norse god with the big hammer and beard? Even though he hails from Asgard, a mythological character dating back to the days of the Vikings, he's now [TM] Marvel Com-- I mean, Marvel Characters, Inc.

As author of "Tomorrow Men," Friedman has his talents, but if you wanna get beyond bubblegum brigade readers (to use Stan Lee's term) you have to write better than this:

Page 45: Thor chuckled into his beard.

Page 96: Thor chuckled in his beard.

So does Thor chuckle in or into his beard? What else beard-wise does he do? Does he upchuck in or into his facial hair?

Such questions only arise from bad writing. And such questions also interrupt the narrative flow, wrenching the reader by his balls out of the fantasy world the writer has created.

After all, this work has the imprint of Marvel Characters, Inc. [TM]. One expects better ink from an Inc.

1 comment: said...

If you don't like the writing in COMIC BOOKS, why don't you try real literature? I'm not a huge fan of the comic genre myself, but, I don't expect anyone is reading them for the brilliant writing; it'd be like watching Two and A Half Men for the same reason.