Monday, June 23, 2008

Informal Storytelling Engines Poll

At this point, I've now done seventy-six entries in the "Storytelling Engines" series, which is a lot longer than I generally tend to stick with things. (Honestly, I'm kind of impressed with myself. Probably much more than my audience is impressed with me.) But the problem is, I'm actually running out of things to talk about. I originally based this series on the great big "Essentials/Showcase Presents" volumes because they were cheap, and because they gave a nice overview of a long period of a series' history, which allowed me to take a look at the way storytelling engines changed over time.

Well, unfortunately, Marvel and DC aren't publishing them as fast as I'm writing about them. As I write this, there are seven series ('Shazam', 'Sergeant Rock', 'Metamorpho', 'Robin', 'Human Torch', 'Rampaging Hulk' and 'Captain Marvel') left that I haven't done an entry on. And honestly, I have no idea what to say about the Human Torch's solo series. DC is coming out with a few new volumes in the next few months ('House of Secrets' and 'Blackhawks'), but after that, I'm officially out of material.

So I'd like to hear people's opinions for a moment. Should I, at that point, wrap it up as a regular feature? Eighty-five entries, thanks very much, good job and well done? Or should I try expanding it to other areas, some of which wouldn't be comics-related? (For example, I've got the entire series of Buffy, Angel, Firefly, the Critic, Monty Python, Futurama and Black Adder on DVD, not to mention more Doctor Who and Simpsons than you could possibly imagine.) Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section. I'll be paying close attention.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like this series quite a bit, and it would be a shame to see it end. I'd just as soon it stick to comics but if there isn't any material available then I can live with giving overviews of classic TV shows. You could always go back and take another look at engines you've already covered. Some of them may have changed radically enough over time to justify a second entry.

Eric said...

I also enjoy this series. As a fan of almost all of the non-comic properties you mentioned, I would continue to enjoy the series, should you cover them. Wow, that sounds really formal. How's this: keep on keeping on, brother. TV, novel series', whatever oils your motor (ha ha).

Caine said...

I've really enjoyed this series as well. I think that any good "storytelling engine", regardless of the medium in question, should be up for consideration.

I'd also love to see you go back and re-touch some that you've done. The first one that comes to mind would be Batgirl; while you touched on other "takes" of the character that may or may not have worked I think there is a lot to Batgirl that could fill three or four more postings.

As another idea, you may want to take suggestions such as: "Could you break down the 'storytelling engine' of__________"...

Roger said...

I too enjoy this series, and this post moved me to say "do storytelling engines for anything you can grab!"

Reading your work showed me how a good status quo makes serialized entertainment fresh and exciting week/month after week/month, whereas a bad engine gives you Battlestar Galactica. I'd love to see your insights applied to the realm of TV, where bad storytelling engines abound.

On that note, I humbly request that the first post of the new series be an enhanced version of the Buffy storytelling engine you showed us in CSBG.

RichardAK said...

Please allow me to add my vote to those urging that this series be continued. And I think it would be great to look at story engines in different media. Not that I think you should stop doing the comic-book ones, as long as DC and Marvel are still publishing the Showcase and Essential collections. Also, since Dark Horse is now publishing their version of these collections, maybe they'll do a Nexus collection and you'll do an essay on that one, because I'd still like to see that. Regardless, I hope you'll continue this series of essays.

Tom Clancy said...

Another vote for continuing.

Andrew said...

Please keep up with this series. Maybe you can go back and look at some of the engines you've previously covered in more depth? Examples of what worked and what didn't would be great, as would your take on what would be a better engine for a given comic (Seavey Presents: Batman and the Outsiders!)

Nathan said...

Add me the chorus of folks encouraging you to continue this series. Your storytelling engine posts are the most thoughtful critiques of the actual content of comics, and have changed the way I think about other serial media as well.

Michael Hoskin said...

I'd like to see the engines continue (and note that you haven't covered Iron Fist - just Power Man & Iron Fist). When you run out of Essentials/Showcases you could try some series with short publication spans which have been collected - Aztek, OMAC, Devil Dinosaur - there must be something worthy of comment in the short-lived titles too.

Anonymous said...

I'll add my voice to the chorus asking for more - be it comics or classic TV or novel series. Your enteries on different series I've read has really made me think about how a story is put together.

Mory said...

Ooh, expand, expand!

Tyson said...

I hope you continue. I like the idea Michael Hoskin gave of examining short-lived comics - even though it only went 8 issues, what is your analysis of OMAC's storytelling engine, for example?

I also like the idea of re-examining some of what you've already done in depth. You had a couple of posts about Spider-man, based on the way the engine changed, and it strikes me that you could do this for a lot of comics - different eras, different engines.

It would also be interesting to see what you do with these in other media.

magidin said...

I like the series in general, both in its general and particular viewpoints (the 'fake status-quo' vs. what makes a particular character tick or not, for instance). I would say keep doing them as long as you feel you have something to say: I certainly am happy to listen!

Teebore said...

Keep it up! I'd love to see you include other mediums alongside forthcoming and incomplete Showcase/Essential volumes, and all the suggestions made here would be great as well, including other series not collected in those volumes or giving us your take on improving a "broken" engine, or even going back to expand on some existing articles.

You keep writing 'em, I'll keep reading 'em!

Anonymous said...

I love what you've been doing in this series. I read it every week even when I have no knowledge of the comic at hand; they are very entertaining and informative columns.

I saw go ahead and branch out into other media if you like. One thing I like about the "engine" concept is that it applies to serialized entertainment almost exclusively, so it can be worked into TV shows easily.

I like the storytelling engine as it applies to comics most of all, however, because so many comic book entities have lasted decades and some characters / titles have had literally hundreds of people working on them and building within that same framework.

Oh and the Human Torch's engine? "We at Mighty Marvel thought the FF "realism" experiment might fail, so here's a more traditional-styled superhero book to fall back on just in case..."

Karaoke said...

I love this feature and I would love it to continue. This is really what has made your blog a must-read for me. Please do expand into serial TV and maybe even movie serials from the old days if you feel up to it!

Reid said...

I really enjoy the series, and would hate to see it end. I blame Marvel and DC for not keeping up with you.

Carlos Futino said...

I vote for continuing. I can't wait to see Buffy's Storytelling Engine.

John said...

I would also vote for continuing. Like other commenters, I read this series even when I've never heard of the comic in question (and there are many in that category, unfortunately for me). I'd also like to say that in addition to tv shows you could also tackle long running movie series (James Bond, for instance) or even novels (which is admittedly getting pretty far afield, but anyone who has read the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K Hamilton can definitley speak to the way that series has changed over the years). In any event, keep up the good work!!!

Eric Teall said...

Sigh. Yet another vote for continuing. I love this series. Especially during the school year, when I'm stressed out, this blog is a little ray of sunshine in my life. Sad (for me) but true.

TV shows, movies, etc. would be great. Bond, Firefly, Buffy, Angel, and BSG would be my first requests.

Anonymous said...

Although as your sister I am morally opposed to stroking your ego, I think you should continue with anything you can get your hands on.

Mark Clapham said...

Another vote for continuation. How about doing some of the early 2000AD strips, which are now in thick, inexpensive B&W volumes? Judge Dredd Casefiles would be a good place to start.

Or, if you really want a challenge, all of Jaime Hernandez's Maggie the Mechanic stories from Love & Rockets are compiled into three phonebooks.

Chuck G. said...

Add my voice to the chorus. Keep 'em coming. I too would like to see you expand on some of the older entries. A Doctor Who storytelling engine would be fantastic considering how long that show has been running, and who wouldn't want to read an in depth view of Black Adder?

JNG said...

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

Jared said...

Please keep the series going. My personal suggestion for future series would be to look at some of the more obscure heroes-the New Warriors, Gravity, Darkhawk, the various Spider-Women, and Sleepwalker.

Maybe some of the enduring villains, like Doctor Doom, Lex Luthor, the Joker or the Green Goblin, could also be looked at?

Lupin Yonsei said...

I really enjoy your series, which I found through Comics Should Be Good, and would enjoy reading your thoughts on story engines from any medium as well.

I hope you keep making awesome parenthetical statements, as you did in your analysis of Robin, as well.

jonmcsingee said...

The series rawks--Futurama, please!