Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Cancellation Blues

My post on Automatic Kafka is coming. It's a rambling, sometimes stream-of-consciousness-esque post that I've been working on sporadically for a couple of weeks now. With any luck, I'll have it up by Monday.

But, writing about it and the fact that Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip ends tonight has gotten me thinking about cancellation, and how I view the two as very different things for comics and TV.

I used to piss off my friend Shuk because I was always saying "I love the show, but I hope they do cancel Arrested Development." Yeah, that was me. And I said that simply because I didn't want to see a show I loved turn to shit like I'd seen so many times on television. In this age of DVD sets, fuck it, cancel that great show, because guess what, Mr. Network Producer? I'm going to be able to watch its brilliance whenever I want soon enough! A great example of this is Freaks and Geeks. A friend and I just finished watching it (rewatching for me, but it was her first time seeing it) and, yeah, by the end, we were both upset about the fact that there's no more episodes to watch, but the 18 episodes we did watch were amazing. Not a shitty one in the bunch. Would the same thing have happened in a second season? Maybe. A third? Eh . . . A fourth? Doubtful. Cancellation provides a chance for a novel-like experience where you're sad that it's over and want more, but at least it didn't drag out and go off the air five years too late like so many popular shows we've all watched and loved.

Why not the same attitude with comics? All of you Blade fans, why not mour briefly, but then say, "Well, at least it never had a chance to suck"? Why not look at those twelve issues as its own entity that was always meant to be contained and leaving you wanting more?

What's worse: left wanting more or being bored and annoyed at the decline in quality? Sure, you're probably missing out on a year or two of quality, but what about missing out on the few years of shit?

Or do comics avoid this because of the more singular, creator-driven vision? Do titles miss out on the chance to turn bad in the same way as TV shows because comics are often written by one writer and then passed off to another who may have such a different style and direction that it doesn't necessarly seem like the same title, while TV shows try to maintain the exact same voice no matter who is writing and what that writer's talent may or may not be?

Or, is the age of trades the same as the age of DVDs?

I don't know, but I do love how I have some short-lived comic series in my collection that kick ass all the way through and never had a chance to go bad. Same with my DVD collection.

"What might have been . . ." can go both way, you know.