Are Ideas Enough?

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As asked on the chracter thread. Are there are writers out there with fantastic gonzo whacked out ideas, but don't have the writing skill to pull off the storytelling. Who has the best ideas, who writes 'em well? Eh?

(And conversely, which writers have no new ideas).

Pete (Pete), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 11:45 (eighteen years ago) link

I was just rereading some of the Kree-Skrull Wars Avengers last night and thinking that the germ of this storyline had loads of potential, but Roy Thomas fucked it up with all that purple dialogue, slathered with the chartreuse captions. Ugh. Ideas are definitely not enough.

William Paper Scissors (Rock Hardy), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 12:16 (eighteen years ago) link

This may sound heretical, but I think sometimes the sheer volume of Grant Morrison's ideas overwhelms his storytelling ability. He often seems happy to sacrifice pace, character, drama etc. for big wacky concepts.

chap who would dare to kill all the threads (chap), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 12:31 (eighteen years ago) link

CWWDTKATD OTM. See GM's JLA:C for that. Which was awesome, but also unsatisfying.

Huk-L (Huk-L), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 13:58 (eighteen years ago) link

SO who gets the idea / story balance right? (I am thinking BKV here as a good example.)

Pete (Pete), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 14:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Boring answer: Alan Moore (generally, Promethea is a glaring exception).

chap who would dare to kill all the threads (chap), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 14:04 (eighteen years ago) link

Pace + Drama = Thrillpower, which Grant Morrison is the prime avatar of. Some of his comics are short on character, but I've never got the feeling that was accidental.

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 14:10 (eighteen years ago) link

That first issue of JLA:C, esp the sci-fat Batman, is one of my favouritest comics ever. Rest of the story doesn't quite match up, but pah.

Chuck_Tatum (Chuck_Tatum), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 14:13 (eighteen years ago) link

Where do ideas fit into the THRILL-POWER equation?

(BTW I realised a few years ago that in a single word 'thrill-power' is what I am looking for from pop, TV and indeed most art. It is in general sorely lacking.)

Tom (Groke), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 14:14 (eighteen years ago) link

The most highly thrill-powered 2000AD strips (Dredd, Nemesis, ABC Warriors, Strontium Dog) had ideas in abundance. Indeed, this was one of the main things that drove me into Tharg's embrace, the American superhero comics of the late 80s/early 90s being generally pretty moribund.

chap who would dare to kill all the threads (chap), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 14:21 (eighteen years ago) link

I think morrison's got a pretty nice balance between ideas and heart, Doom Patrol being the prime example of this.


Joe Kelly's a guy who has nice ideas, but most of the time their impact gets diminished because of his lackings as a writer.

iodine (iodine), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 14:32 (eighteen years ago) link

Yeah, there were so many parts of "The Obsidian Age" and "Justice League Elite" that I loved, but then, oh man, such shittiness in the execution.

Huk-L (Huk-L), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 14:36 (eighteen years ago) link

Of course, Doug Mahnke/Dustin Nguyen art can make everything at least nearly palatable.

Huk-L (Huk-L), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 14:36 (eighteen years ago) link

Are there are writers out there with fantastic gonzo whacked out ideas, but don't have the writing skill to pull off the storytelling.

Remove the "fantastic gonzo whacked out" section and you're basically describing Scott Lobdell to a T.

The Ghost of Black Elegance (Dan Perry), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 14:42 (eighteen years ago) link

Also Don McGregor.

So much of Marvel's 1970s "auteur" comics had good-to-great basic theses, and great-to-awesome visualizations, but crap execution. I wish Marvel had the Killraven series to do over with Don McGregor plotting and anybody BUT McGregor writing.

William Paper Scissors (Rock Hardy), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 14:47 (eighteen years ago) link

Thrill power = (Pace x Drama) + Ideas, as pace intensifies drama in a way that it doesn't do with ideas (See the immense thrill-power of The Ultimate Future Shock, despite being made out of shopworn well-loved ideas).

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 14:58 (eighteen years ago) link

I think 2000AD's emphasis on thrillpower may have ruined me for a lot of genre art, particularly the stuff that inspires "biff! comics aren't for kids!" headlines, or general appreciation by people who underestimate what 1000 monkeys in 1000 bullpens will come up with over time. This annoyingly includes The Incredibles. "A team of superheroes that is also a family? Will Hollywood's dream factory never run out of ideas?" "Yeah, yeah, needs more giant robots"

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 15:21 (eighteen years ago) link

It's funny, I find that a lot of the classic Marvel superhereos are based on pretty dumb ideas.

"Okay, guys, he's a man...with the powers of A SPIDER."

Or The Thing. Or Giant Man etc etc.

It's what is then invested in the character itself that is the hook. Which makes me think: is it possible in superhero stories for the "powers" angle to be utterly superfluous?

steviespitfire (steviespitfire), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 15:30 (eighteen years ago) link

They probably have to be handy in a fight. Spidey's lucky in that his powers literally include "you are handy in a fight" (unlike spiders). His other powers are sort of incidental, except they help him get around Manhattan, and sometimes get a decent photo for his day job.

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 15:47 (eighteen years ago) link

The specifics of the powers usually are. It's the fact that the character is blessed/burdened with them that makes things interesting.

xpost

chap who would dare to kill all the threads (chap), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 15:48 (eighteen years ago) link

"Yeah, there were so many parts of "The Obsidian Age" and "Justice League Elite" that I loved, but then, oh man, such shittiness in the execution."

You're right, this is especially notorious in the JLA run and Steampunk. His Superman stuff is much simpler and streamlined, and his Deadpool run wasn't really concerned with cramming a thousand ideas in the same panel.

iodine (iodine), Wednesday, 12 October 2005 22:29 (eighteen years ago) link

It's a shame this thread didn't really go anywhere. :(

steviespitfire (steviespitfire), Thursday, 13 October 2005 22:31 (eighteen years ago) link

It's all about execution. A thousand, or even a single, brilliant idea ont the page doesn't matter unless it works in the narrative at hand. So, no, Mad Ideas ain't enough, and sometimes they're working strenuously to the detriment of the story.

Late to the party as usual...

Matt Maxwell (Matt M.), Thursday, 13 October 2005 22:38 (eighteen years ago) link

Ha! Glaring counter-proof to the idea that ideas are enough or even necessary: Japan.

Most manga has no original ideas but makes up for it with incredible character development (which has NO parallel in western comics) and true graphical storytelling.

Anyway, as to balance: I reckon Bryan Talbot is under-rated here. "Heart of Empire" had a great balance of pace, drama and ideas. Plus fantastic art, obviously. His Nemesis work was decent too...

Jacob (Jacob), Friday, 14 October 2005 06:29 (eighteen years ago) link

Actually, what am I blithering about? His nemesis arc sucked. Must be thinking of something else...

Jacob (Jacob), Friday, 14 October 2005 06:47 (eighteen years ago) link

Heart of Empire was great (very tightly plotted), except the ending was a little too happily-ever-after.

chap who would dare to kill all the threads (chap), Friday, 14 October 2005 11:37 (eighteen years ago) link

And I agree that O'Neill should have drawn all of The Gothic Empire, but to say Talbot's work on Nemesis sucked is really rather harsh.

chap who would dare to kill all the threads (chap), Friday, 14 October 2005 11:38 (eighteen years ago) link

Most manga has no original ideas but makes up for it with incredible character development (which has NO parallel in western comics) and true graphical storytelling.

Did you mean to say "incredible character design"? Because most manga I've read features characters that are indeed well-fleshed out, but stay basically the same for hundreds or thousands of issues. Also, most mangas with a romantic theme or sub-theme (Ranma, Maison Ikkoku, Oh My Goddess, Outlanders, etc.) seem to be based on an endless variation of a single premise. I guess the fact that they can still stay somewhat interesting is proof for the importance of good story-telling skills, something that many manga artists indeed possess.

Tuomas (Tuomas), Friday, 14 October 2005 12:23 (eighteen years ago) link

eighteen years pass...

Hilarious take on ideas.

Our mission statement is the same as it is on the podcast: that people should be able to understand complex ideas and have fun at the same time. All the knowledge. None of the pain.

— Ian Dunt (@IanDunt) May 22, 2024

xyzzzz__, Friday, 24 May 2024 08:54 (one month ago) link

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xyzzzz__, Friday, 24 May 2024 08:55 (one month ago) link

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Roman Anthony gets on his horse (gyac), Friday, 24 May 2024 09:51 (one month ago) link

Harsh!

xyzzzz__, Friday, 24 May 2024 10:33 (one month ago) link

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