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Omar Karindu

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,242
Subj: Re: In other words, all multi-writer continuities are "claytinuities."
Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 at 11:11:18 am EST (Viewed 319 times)
Reply Subj: Re: In other words, all multi-writer continuities are "claytinuities."
Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 at 10:20:30 am EST (Viewed 354 times)

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    Well I have seen some polling that supports these conclusions. Not just sales polling but also reader polling.

Care to provide details or, if it exists, a link?

    I think we can also use sales from the TV series Batman: The Animated Series, the film The Dark Knight and the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum to support this judgment.

How, pray tell? Of the things you mention, one is a multiple-writer cartoon from over a decade ago, one is a movie by entirely different people, and the last is a video game with lots of Easter eggs referencing exactly what you're calling "claytinuity." Moreover, the Batman Animated series was later tied into the other Bruce Timm-produced series like Batman Beyond, Superman: TAS and the Justice League cartoons. And those JL shows did end up having some continuity problems and effective retcons, with Hugo Strange being dropped after one episode because of the new Batman cartoon needing him and, most tellingly, the "Epilogue" episode that changed much about the backstory of Batman Beyond.

The fact that non-serial adaptations can be relatively self-contained strikes me as being the result of the demands of those media. Feature-length movies and video games are generally self-contained for reasons of risk management, uncertainty of audience response, and cost of production as much as for genuinely creative reasons.

I think dragging in media that are long-form to start with is probably a red herring in this discussion, since the more apt comparison there is to novels or other media examples that don't assume a sequel or remake when they're created.

The problem I have with your argument is more that it's harder to find examples of genre storytelling in *any* medium that don't have both a long-standing fandom that wants multiple-writer continuity and creators who try to do so. Doctor Who, Star Trek (yes, even the 2009 movie, which has a bunch of Spock-babble to explain how this reboot is actually in continuity with classic Trek after all), superhero comics, and even the latter-day descendants of pulp fiction like James Bond and the various detective book series have multiple authors who try to make it all fit together.

You mentioned the Bond movies last time, saying that every new actor was treated as a brand new start on the character. That's patently inaccurate prior to Daniel Craig, frankly: the first replacement Bond, George Lazenby, gets a fairly long "retirement" scene in On Her Majesty's Secret Service where he looks through Bond's gadgets from the Connery movies, as bits of those films' background music play. And Connery begins the next film single-mindedly seeking out Blofeld after OHMSS ended with Blofeld killing Bond's wife. (For that matter, Blofeld turns up across both actors' films.)

And even years later, in For Your Eyes Only, we get a scene whose only purpose is to sow Roger Moore's Bond mourning at the grave of Tracy Draco, the dead wife of Bond back when Lazenby played him. There's a clear effort there, especially in that last, non-jokey scene, to make all these actors iterations of one character in one unified narrative. You have to miss the evidence entirely to seriously claim otherwise.

But the question becomes, why do they do it? Well, money is the obvious answer...but why do they think there's money in it? Because they have reason to believe there's a demand for it; the only reason any sane person thinks there's money in something. (Arkham escapees need not apply.) And the existence of the fandoms who buy the Marvel Handbooks and Star Trek Encyclopedias and Bond Casefiles stuff that claims to detail the strict continuity of these decades-long multi-writer series would seem to indicate that there's both demand and money out there, abnd thet the creators or owners of these franchises have determined they have steadier income catering to the idea of a long-running serial's continuity.

Put shorter, it's not just comics that do this; it's geekdom and fandom almost everywhere. It's why wikipedia pages about these characters are written as if the continuity is not clay, why "Wild Mass Guessing" at tvtropes.org is a huge and sprawling collection of links, and so on. Even when there's no continuity, as on those WMG pages, fans try to make one. The evidence is everywhere, really.

You may be right -- in factm probably you're right -- to say that the mass audience for a particular iteration of a fictional work is turned off by this. But those are not the people who provide years oif steady income; you make that money with a certified hit, but next year's relaunch with a different creator may fizzle, and the year after that's pick up again, and so on. The geek audience, by contrast, contracts more slowly and tends to provide a predictable (if gradually declining) rate of return. Which money is then plowed into the riskier business f self-contained narratives with heavily-licensed characters, characters not beholden merely to their fictional medium but to underoos manufacturers, Happy Meals tie-ins, and a legion of ancillary merchandise across, again, decades, not mere years.

As Sir Laurence once said, "Money, dear boy."

    However even if we disregard the polling and examples which I am willing to do, generally speaking it is easier for new readers to get into a comic book series that starts from the beginning than to accept a current ongoing old comic book with several decades of clay continuity baggage. \:\-\)

This is probably true from a common-sense argument, tough one always finds counterexamples. My first regular comics were stuff like Who's Who and the OHOTMU, and many fans and pros have written of being entrancerd, not repulsed, by the idea that there was an entire mythos waiting to be discovered. And again, it's not limited to comics, really.

    I mean which one would you recommend to a new Batman comic book reader? Batman: Year One or Batman R.I.P.?

I wouldn't recommend Batman R.I.P. to a lot of old readers, but its problem isn't really that you need to know lots of old stories to read it. Its problem is that its very narrative structure is quite obscurantist and bizarre; R.I.P. is hard to follow even if you're a hardcore continuity-loving geek.

I'd say a better example of the pure continuity lockout is JLA/Avengers, which was essentially several hundred pages of beautifully drawn Easter eggs and not much else. Easy to follow, but quite hollow and dull if you didn't care about all the little references.

    In terms of accessibility for new readers currently both DC and Marvel have a problem.

Yes, and not all of that is content. A lot of it is also distribution. Which is an entirely different matter.

    In terms of pleasing old readers both publishers also have a problem.

Yes. Mainly, that it can't be done any longer.

    Old readers are tired of the status quo and actually are in favor of a big change supporting aging such as their favorite character getting old or another younger character taking the place of their favorite character.

Not all of them, no. For every Chris Tolworthy at these boards there's an Ed Love who's angry that Golden Age characters aren't written with old status quo and characterization. (You can archive-hunt those names at, respectively, the FF board and the JSA board.)

    It seems both publishers are trying to eat their cake and have it too. They want to have a comic book for new readers, but at the same time have the same comic book for old readers. However this in the end then leads to displeasing both types of readers.

Yup, and they fall between two stools. That's why I say, have a continuity line for the old-timers and lots of self-contained projects for the new kids. As long as the old-timer stuff is labeled for them, the new kids can ignore that label and read more creator-oriented projects. It's not as if they haven't done that already, with DC's Elseworlds and All-Star stuff, not to mention Justice, and Marvel's....well, Marvel could do more of it honestly.

    My premise would in the end I think solve the problems of both camps of readers by allowing the favorite character of old readers to age, while at the same time letting there be a reboot of the favorite character after a period for new readers.

I think you underestimate what I see as a proven quantity of readers who want conventional multi-writer continuity, and who will pay for it if someone publishes it.

    So long as it is done right I think both camps of readers will he happy, but if the publishers only do it incompletely half-way with no transparency they will end up displeasing both sides.

Again, I think it's clear we agree on transparency. I just see it more as a problem of creating distinct publishing lines with plenty of distinct support from the publisher to cater to as many of these sub-audience groups as are big enough to dole out the shekels. But the kind of continuity you're arguing is death does seem to have its aficionados, and it'd be foolish to tell them to settle for something we tell them is better or to just take their cash and go home.

Someone's buying those handbooks, so you may as well take their money.

The Batman examples are all self-contained works starting from a beginning that have sold out well, showing the public has a demand for this.

Sure Batman: The Animated Series later continued on in spin-offs that milked it, in particular Batman Beyond but in the first series it was just fine.

I never exactly said every Bond version prior to the Daniel Craig reboot was a reboot. Quite the contrary, at first they tried to integrate all these different Bond versions into the same character, although later on after a few decades they tried the opposite approach to show that these different Bond versions were different men that had taken the place of Bond.

Sure, they did it because of money, but later on they also did the Daniel Craig reboot because of money.

Point is that this kind of cheesy campy irreponsibility is behind the times, which is why later on they tried to correct their mistake.

Well we haven't had many long works that have lasted purely with a grand quality with a great market value, over time just about every long work has degenerated into garbage which ceases to sell well.

Before many of these companies you mentioned didn't even have a clue about reboots nor about works having a grand quality with a time limit. Over time though several of these companies have figured out that for a work to have a steady grand quality it needs to have a time limit. Afterwards, if they want to continue to milk the product they can do a reboot. Today, though it seems most companies understand these basic ideas.

Well for multiple writers we have had works such as Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight and Batman: Confidential which is basically let each writer do his version of Batman that doesn't need to fit into any particular continuity. These types of comic books from what I have seen have had mixed sales.

Fandom can be filled with illogical unreasonable mistaken individuals that will just buy anything regardless, however without getting a new steady stream of new readers both DC and Marvel will eventually lose all their readership rendering publishing comics a waste of time and money.

At this stage in the game it might be already too late.

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