Author Topic: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?  (Read 4138 times)

Online Kimoyo

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There are several conventions commonly associated with good storytelling; three acts - a beginning, middle and end, good vs evil, drama/action and a satisfactory conclusion.  I've been thinking about this for a while but watching the film Logan really frustrated me and brought the issue back to the surface.

------- Possible Spoilers -----


I read the comments in the film section for Logan, and comments by Kip and Triple X echoed my thoughts exactly.  Storytellers seem to be selfishly, sometimes egotistically satisfied with their own interpretation of a satisfactory conclusion, which I've personally found in a number of cases, most recently Logan to be unsatisfactory. It seems that many storytellers today and frustratingly those in comics/films/tv are quick to use characters death as the preferred third act trope?  Superhero comics have been publishing monthly adventures for over half a century but for some reason today films based on superheroes can't come up with more than three or four iterations of adventures without killing somebody off!?!  And, as with Logan, to give fans a film with a watered down, handicapped version of a beloved character who can't even come close to exhibiting the prowess that made him beloved and stoked the imaginations of fans and newcomers alike, feels like a short changing of the fan base at a time when technology makes it possible to exhibit so much more.  There is a serious lack of imagination IMO, going into storytelling at all levels.

Please pardon my rant, but my frustration over Coates continuation of a lackluster BP met immense disappointment over the needlessly nihilistic Logan and I had to vent.  Interested in your thoughts?

Peace,

Mont
« Last Edit: September 03, 2017, 06:54:45 pm by Kimoyo »

Online Beware Of Geek

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Re: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2017, 03:35:42 am »
I think this is the wrong question, simply because it starts from an incorrect premise:

That Ta-Nehisi Coates is a storyteller.

He isn't. 

He isn't "telling stories" (which requires knowledge of things like plot & characterization) but thinly-veiled editorial screeds about modern society.  You only have to look at the online fellatio over how great EZRA AND THE CREW is.  Not one reviewer has mentioned how well-developed the mystery is, or sympathetic the characters are.  The reviews all fall over themselves over the fact that he's "addressing questions" that have never been seen in comics before (by the reviewer, anyway).  The actual narrative is almost beside the point, so long as the allegories hold up.

(I'm not sure if this is because he's being treated as a "literary" writer, or just because he's the darling of the social commentary crowd)

There's also a separate question, here, which is "Is the three-act structure the best/only way to tell a story?", to which I must respond "No, but it is the most common one".  I recently came across a post by the guys who do the ATOMIC ROBO comic, where they discuss a different style of  story, one used mostly in the Far East:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/processing-7-14-12969485

(Note: Coates isn't using this model either ;) )

And I'm sure there are other storytelling forms out there.  Just because a story isn't following a structure you recognize doesn't mean there isn't one.

Now, if you'd asked the question "Have Comics Editors Lost Touch With The Skills Required By A Good Writer?" I would answer "Yes!".  There have been a lot of books written of late with A-List characters and Z-List writers, whose only claim to fame is some mild celebrity in another field.  Coates is merely the most egregious of the pack.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2017, 03:46:31 am by Beware Of Geek »

Online MindofShadow

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Re: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2017, 05:20:30 am »
In regards to Coates,

I agree with everything BoG said.

He gets a pass because of his name from reviewers and the internet people who want to pretend there is more to his writing than there is. The Crew is a perfect example. People pretend there is a deep, race related meaning to the story when really... it was superficial racial pandering. It just went to checked a biunch of boxes...

old black activist who everyone in the hood loved... check

mysteriously murdered in police custody... check

cops overstepping their boundaries towards minorites (americops who took from a much better run that explored race issues much better)... check

gentrification blah blah blah... check

black people peacefully riot and police show up forcefully... check

OMGZ so deep!

Of course, they ignore the fact he retconed origins to make it "work," he had the first black super hero team turn into a bunch of criminals and backed by Nazis, that he erased Edens aborginal origin to shoe horn into the book, the numerious plot holes and super convenient stuff (how to ezra get the kymoyo code again? who killed him?), or the fact that he has a black african work for a bunch of black hating nazis as their play toy.

If Bendis wrote a story this bad, this compressed, the E world would riot.

The movie world is a bit different.

Cinematic universes are relatively new on this scale. The issue movies have that comics don't is that actors age and the audience have a different expectation from movies than comic fans do for the big 2.

Jackman played an immortal mutant for... 15? yearsa nd multiple movies. Unfortunately, Jackman isn't immortal and is aging. ANd actors get bored.

So the studios get stuck.. do they risk recasting ala James Bond? Or kill them off and go the legacy route? Jackman was the first test and they chose killing him off. We will see what happens with RDJ (also getting older and even more iconic) and Chris Evans next.

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2017, 05:55:38 am »
The way I see it, Coates made his bones writing about social issues straight up, and not in a fiction format, so I wouldn't even categorize him as fiction storyteller from jump. He's written a lot of articles for The Atlantic and I believe two memoirs, and he has another book coming this year I think (which I think is just a compilation of some of his articles). As far as I know-I haven't read either of his memoirs-but I have read some of his articles-Coates hasn't written published fiction or had to create characters or use the storytelling conventions required to tell engaging fiction stories until he was gifted with Black Panther. Coates has done very well for himself writing about himself and his views on race, etc., so I just realized now that it does make sense in a way that he continues to do in Black Panther and the Panther & Crew book since that's what he knows and that's what got him accolades in the past and it's still getting him accolades now.


Offline marvell2100

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Re: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2017, 01:33:55 pm »
Coates can't write Black Panther. Period. No need to go into deep thought and introspect.
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Offline Ture

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Re: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2017, 04:14:06 am »
Coates is a social commentator who specializes in the oppression and victimization of so called Black people. He has been lauded for his elocution and like many of his kind, pride themselves on their ability to articulate the challenges of so called Black people through the lens of popular political rhetoric. The so called relatable truths of this approach masks a thinly veiled corrupt ideology designed to make Afrakans seem like their own worst enemy.

With this in mind Coates is the very antithesis of a storyteller who is tasked to craft a victorious Afrakan nation wherein its societal norms demonstrate the highest levels of human achievement while being led by an heroic Afrakan leader. By definition and vocation, Coates is simply incapable of scribing such a vision.

Storytelling for the Black Panther fails because the convention is that primitivism, drugs, poverty, corruption, coups, domestic abuse, homosexuality, feminism and emasculation must all take center stage and supplant any and all Afrakan centered paradigms of autonomy and empowerment. Comics Creators like Coates, haven't lost touch with storytelling they simply tell stories not worth telling.

My two cents.  ;)
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Online Kimoyo

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Re: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2017, 05:49:01 am »
Haha!  Powerfully put my dear brother Ture!  Appreciate the thoughts of all my fellow HEFers.  We seem to be unified in our assessment of Coates' failings.  Like it or not, he is a storyteller, albeit a very poor one where BP is concerned. Marvel has given him that platform and as someone who especially values the role of storytellers and their their impact on society, I feel it's important to hold him to it and call both he and Marvel out for how poorly he has performed in that role.  It should be recognized how poorly his stories fit in the pantheon of such stories, especially BP and Wakandan stories.  So much so that they don't even do true service to actually empower women and/or LGBTQ characters, as it appears he would like due to the poor quality of his stories.

However, the question was not intended to only address Coates' failings.  It was my dissapointment with the film Logan that actually spurred the query.  MoS makes a great point about the dynamic surrounding actors and aging in a role for film being a contributing factor to storytelling.  Should limitations of a specific medium such as film, dictate the stories that we get particularly when it comes to superhero stories?  Does the James Bond franchise demonstrate the ideal strategy for the telling of such stories; character rather than actor centric casting, replacing an actor after a run of multiple appearances? 

The death of a beloved character in comics can be disturbing for fans even though it's come to be seen as more trivial given the expected ressurection convention.  I loathe seeing this readily transferred to film as with Batman v Superman.  More troubling for me may be this depiction of the hero so weakened and diminished in power, as with Logan that he presents a watered down version of what we as fans long to see depicted.  This is a problem I've had with much of the Wolverine film franchise.  Understandably our heroes need to have some struggle, some conflict to advance a story, but are these storytellers imagining ways to have them struggle while giving fans stories that best represent the power of the characters they love?  Are storytellers properly incentivized to do so?  Do you think they care what we want?

Peace,

Mont

Online MindofShadow

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Re: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2017, 06:06:02 am »
One of the big cinematic universe is going ot have to take the recasting plunge before it becomes a thing.

AKA, Marvel is going to have to do it first. If they even want to.

One advantage to movies compared to comics is that it takes a decade to get a trilogy. So actually using legacy heroes and moving on could actually work because you are unlikely to run out of heroes before an inevitable reboot anyway.

I just can't see Disney killing off a potential merchandise cash cow like Cap or Iron Man or something like that. I mean sh*t, those dudes are going to be on T shirts. We all know they ain't putting Sam Wilson Cap on a kids tshirt...


Online KIP LEWIS

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Re: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2017, 06:15:07 am »
Actually Marvel already has done it with the Hulk.

Online MindofShadow

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Re: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2017, 07:04:33 am »
Actually Marvel already has done it with the Hulk.

true, and war machine

but that is a ton different than taking over for the Chris's, RDJ, and others at this point.

It helps Incredible Hulk didn't do the greatest either .

Online Beware Of Geek

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Re: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2017, 07:15:33 am »
There are very few film franchises that survived recasting a major character.  Bond is the exception, rather than the rule, and the only reason it works is because there was (until the Craig era) very little sense of continuity between the films.

(And, in fact, one rather arch hint that it's not the same character anyway).

So long as the MCU wants to maintain a sense of narrative, they have to address the fact that, sooner or later, Downey, Evans, Hemsworth et al will be too old to play the parts.  The approach they seem to be taking is to introduce new characters to carry the storytelling load (including a certain African royal), so that the others can be pushed into the background.  Whether that works in the long run is an open question.

The X-Films don't really have that luxury. They are well aware that Jackman's Wolverine is one of the biggest draws, hence their occasionally blatant attempts to shoehorn him into stories where he really doesn't need to belong.  But the clock is ticking, and Jackman isn't getting younger.  So giving him a (well-acted and shot) last hurrah makes sense from a movie-making perspective, even if it really doesn't help the serial narrative they are trying to emulate.

Of course, even that narrative isn't working all that well, since the various films in the X-universe don't really fit well together, even if you treat Deadpool as an exception.  Tonally, they are all over the map, characters age (or don't) inconsistently,  and by being vague about whether Logan is actually in continuity with the others, they've utterly undercut the "happy future" of DoFP.

And to top it all off, the last film really wasn't all that good.

I was talking to a friend of mine about this online the other day, and we decided that Fox's problem is that they keep making superhero films.  The X-Men band together to defeat a villain who wants to rule the world or wipe out mutants, or whatever.

Meanwhile, Marvel is making "superhero and" movies.  Superhero and caper films, or superhero and sci-fi films, or superhero and war films.  Most of the more recent movies have SOMETHING going on, other than "the heroes defeat the villain".  While Fox gives us "The X-Men fight Apocalypse". :P

One of the reasons Logan was so well received, even though it too basically was a hero vs villain piece, is that it FELT different.  More like a late Eastwood western, or something like Road To Perdition.  Even though it makes it very difficult to use Wolverine in other films, and messes with the timeline in some fairly destructive  ways, it's just a really good movie.

TL;DR:  LOGAN is a great standalone movie, but not a great franchise entry. :D

Online MindofShadow

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Re: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2017, 07:26:37 am »
It also really hurts that Jackman was playing a character that doesn't age lol.



Online MindofShadow

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Re: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2017, 07:52:46 am »
There are very few film franchises that survived recasting a major character.  Bond is the exception, rather than the rule, and the only reason it works is because there was (until the Craig era) very little sense of continuity between the films.

(And, in fact, one rather arch hint that it's not the same character anyway).

So long as the MCU wants to maintain a sense of narrative, they have to address the fact that, sooner or later, Downey, Evans, Hemsworth et al will be too old to play the parts.  The approach they seem to be taking is to introduce new characters to carry the storytelling load (including a certain African royal), so that the others can be pushed into the background.  Whether that works in the long run is an open question.


I think the only way to do it would be to put distance between the roles. A lot.

So say... Odin dies in Ragnorak. Loki for real dies this time in Infinity War. Thor is the last "royalty" left, he has to return to Asgard to rule.

So we don't see him for 10 years. When he inevitably comes back to Earth... its not Hemsworth.


Much much much much harder to do with Evans (he could be commander of SHIELD perhaps and Rogers is just mentioned but never seen). 10 year later he picks up back the mantle after some huge even story line and its not Evans.

No idea how you do RDJ. I think its imposible. I think he has to die int he role

Offline Ezyo

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Re: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2017, 08:06:53 am »
For me, it comes done to after 24ish (did Coates co write BP wow?) issues total in the BP franchise as a whole, Coates has utterly failed to capture the essence of T'Challa, Wakanda, and Superhero comics in general. Even BP Crew, Which seemed like it would be more in his wheelhouse, Dealing with social Issues and not having to worry about afrofuturism, Still failed miserably. In order to make his story 9if you can even call it that) work, he created a Mary Sue character, Retconned a bunch of heroes origins, most of them made zero sense, and STILL failed to really tie everyone together. And, just like in the BP solo, Feel into offensive stereotypes to push his story along (First Black Super team ends up being a bunch of Thugs and criminals, and get involved with Racist group and get toyed with to make it worse) and in the end, after 6 issues, We still know very little about Erza, Who the real villain was, why everyone was brought together, and what was the big plan behind targetting Harlem.

In the End its a forgettable story, no writer is going to count it as Canon (Because its stupid as hell) and it proves that Coates is not a good story teller what so ever

Online Kimoyo

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Re: Have Comics Creators like Coates, Lost Touch With Storytelling Convention?
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2017, 08:25:34 am »
It also really hurts that Jackman was playing a character that doesn't age lol.

True!  Not to mention that Jackman is still young and fit enough (with maybe a little cosmetic help) to pull off a "...best there is..." Wolvie.  How much of the franchise's story direction has to do with Hugh's contract and desire to continue in the role?

MoS, good scenarios for Hemsworth and Evans replacements.  RDJ has been absolutely great, but I don't think it would be impossible to replace him.  I do think the franchise narrative; nail to head BoG on the X-franchises, would be important to consider when making the change.  Also, marketing and promotion should be able to help sell replacement especially if the right actor is chosen.  The Hulk and War Machine stood up to changes, albeit due to necessity from irreconcilable differences, yet prior to the launch of any of these projects, we all probably had other choices for specific roles.  For instance, I still wonder what Wolverine would have looked like with Jason Statham as Logan!?!

Peace,

Mont