Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Schools--A Snippet

Figured I'll begin updating a bit more with non-reviews.

One of the classes I'm currently taking is a seminar on modern drama, specifically the avant-garde. This week's we're doing a little bit on the Futurists. Last week it was Symbolism or something like that. Each week, it's something different. And it made me think: why don't we see more schools/theories/whaever in comics?

Maybe they're there and I'm just not paying attention. And I don't mean the traditional superheroes vs. everything else division. I mean, strict divisions over the purpose of comics, the style of creating them, the motivation of creators, etc. As I said, that may be there. You sometimes see it pop up in what we love to call feuds between creators, but those always seem childish.

One reason I've been thinking you don't see it often is that a lot of comics are done on a work-for-hire basis, which would mean a lack of theory behind the work, the creator supressing its own desires in favour of those of the publisher. The same way you don't necessarily see strong theory divisions betwee TV shows, rather just different genres and styles.

But, I'm certain there has to be various schools, at least outside of the traditional North American mainstream. And if, somehow, there aren't--why the fuck not?


Written, like, five minutes after posting the above: Actually, a thought just occurred to me that there are different schools within the mainstream, they're just unstated. The one that springs to mind immediately contans people like Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross and Grant Morrison. The Silver Ageists, I guess you could call them. Now, each of those writers has a distinct style and all are very modern in their styles, but the sensibilities harken back to the Silver Age--or, basically, the comics they grew up reading. Of course, this ties very specifically into the characters they write--and, in this case, very specifically DC characters, although you can see certain elements in their work at Marvel (Marvels, the Earth X trilogy).

The example of this sensibility showing up in a specific comic that sprngs to mind is Infinite Crisis #2, which contains a long screed by Johns on everything wrong with the DCU, going back over a decade. It's the one issue of the series that I own, because when I read my dad's copy, it just jumped out at me. It was just a huge fucking rant right in the middle of a huge company crossover--and, pretty much, laid out the philosophy behind the series. And, as my review of Superman: Up, Up and Away! discussed, the first thing I saw done with Superman post-Infinite Crisis was a setting up of pre-1986 situations. I've heard similar things were done with Batman.

I just find it interesting that a lot of this stuff goes unstated--except for brief allusions in interviews or online columns or message board posts. I, personally, would love to see essays written by creators on stuff like this.

Warrants more thought, I think. Well, now I know what I'll be doing with my break.