A Comic Book Entry – Tyrant-in-Chief, Part 2

First, I would like to direct blog readers to my Smashwords link.  I’ve just published a short story (and it’s totally free!) to try to further interest people in my writing, and maybe get people to buy my novel (only $0.99!).  Also, if you like me, please go to my Facebook page and make it official (also in the links).

Ok, shameless self-promotion is now done.  On with the snark!

I really don’t have a set number of rules I would enforce as the Tyrant-in-Chief, but here are a few more for your reading enjoyment.  These, by the way, are solely rules regarding the writing.  Rules regarding illustrations are an entirely different rant.

The last rant ended with character death not being allowed for various reasons (also I have a loooong post on that very subject as well).  From that follows:

Rule 5) Certain ways of cheating death with not be accepted.
Rule 5a) No clones or lookalike robots.
Exception 5a) If character has a long history of making clones or lookalike robots (I.e. Doombots), then that is an acceptable mechanism for cheating death.
Rule 5b) No mistaken diagnosis of death.
Exception 5b) If the character has a power/ability that actually makes it difficult to tell if they are dead, that’s acceptable.
Rule 5c) No accidental transference to another dimension.
Exception 5c) If the character was actually involved in an accident with a machine/person that could possibly cause such an effect, that might be acceptable (however, apparently after being shot in the chest with a gun, Captain America somehow ended up in another dimension).

Rule 6) I really can’t believe I have to spell this out (and yet, I can), but comic books are NOT softcore pornography.  Ok, some are, and some are hardcore, but they are clearly labeled as such.  Mainstream comics should not be.  This also ties in for rules for artists, but if the writers didn’t write certain situations, the artists would have nothing to illustrate.  Now, see, readers do think about these sorts of things.  Humans are kind of perverts that way.  When Reed Richards has the power to be infinitely flexible and any size he wants, well, there are certain obvious thoughts that arise (no pun intended) concerning his relationship with his wife.  I don’t object to mentioning sex because it is part of human relationships.  But I think a casual cut scene or off-handed remark is fine.  I really don’t need to be treated to Catwoman banging Batman on a roof, or a tiny naked Ultimate Henry Pym walking up Janet’s bare chest covered in certain bodily fluids (hint, not saliva).  Yes, we all think about that, but I see no benefit to making it as obvious on the page as one can without actually writing/drawing porn.  I mean, unless the industry only wants to sell comics to adolescents.  If you want porn, buy porn.  If you want to see your favorite superheroes in pornographic situations, well, that’s what the internet is for.

Rule 7) Certain plots will not be accepted.  They have been overdone to the point of hackneyed.  Be creative, people.
Rule 7a) No clones.  The first Spider-man clone story was kind of cool.  The fourth Spider-man clone story was just stupid.
Exception 7a) A really good clone story with a character that’s never had it done before may possibly be allowed, but it had better be damn good.  Exception to the exception – no clone stories for Spider-man, period.
Rule 7b) No deus ex machina.  Internal logic must remain consistent (continuity – boom).  This means no I mean NO retroactive continuity.
Exception 7b) There is no exception to this rule.  If you can’t save your story without something implausible and inconsistent, you shouldn’t have written it and I as the editor shouldn’t have allowed it.

Rule 8) Don’t allow writers to write something just because, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?”  The classic example to me of a victim of “wouldn’t it be cool if…?” syndrome is Psylocke.  Her character started out a British supermodel/secret Interpol spy telepathic mutant.  How cool is that already?  But at some point in the 80s, the writers who got their hands on the X-men titles said to themselves, “wouldn’t it be cool if the team had a kick-ass ninja?”  So they tried to figure out how to get a ninja on the team, and one of them looked at Psylocke and said, “wouldn’t it be cooler if the team had a kick-ass telepathic ninja?”  The reality-altering mechanism, to be fair, was already in place in the story, but the writers used it to change a British telepathic supermodel/spy into an Asian telepathic ninja (literally; she had a new body).
Exception 8) The only exception to this is if the writer can wow me, as the tyrant-in-chief.  I would not have allowed Psylocke to end up as an Asian ninja.  However, at least the writers used a mechanism they already had in place (yes it was literally a deus ex machina), and tried make it consistent with internal logic.

Rule 9) Character development is allowed.  Character derailment is not allowed.  Chris Claremont was allowed to do this probably more than he should have been with the new X-men.  Some of the stories he wrote were almost more of a “what if” than a mainstream as he seemed to be trying on characteristics on his characters for fit.  He created them, so I guess he was allowed a lot of leeway in how they developed (also, his stuff sold when Marvel was really hurting).  This ties in actually with Rule 7.  Writers think, “wouldn’t it be cool if X was a bad guy?” or “wouldn’t it be cool if Y was a good guy?” and go with it.  No, that’s character assassination.  A character that is a good guy for 30 years of comics does not just up and turn bad guy (also see the rule about no clones).  A character that is a bad guy for 30 years of comics does not just give it up for righteousness.  Likewise, this applies to other character traits.  A character who is known for being a nice guy does not turn into a jerk-ass overnight, nor does the jerk-ass suddenly become a nice guy.
Exception 9) There are no exceptions to this.  A character whose moral make-up is more gray than black or white can change sides without disrupting continuity (Hawkeye switching sides was fine).  Trying to switch a character whose moral make-up is more black or white can be done, but it has to be done gradually (I.e. development/evolution, not assassination).  Even the gradual transition of Emma Frost from White Queen/villainess to White Queen/X-man through the device of her students and the Gen-X comics was not badly done (it was not well done either).  It was perhaps a little short, but comic time is weird anyway.  The writers took existing elements (her school) and used that to soften her character (although I won’t say turn her into a good guy as such based on pretty much everything that happened once she was an actual X-man).  But Cyclops turning into a total jerk-ass following the House of M was badly done and much too sudden.  He threw Bobby out of the mansion – a guy he’s know since he was literally sixteen years old, a guy who is more of a little brother to him than his own actual brother!  ARGH!  When Wolverine has become disgusted by Cyclops’ actions and Magneto is telling him, “You remind me of me,” well, I think that says it all.  That’s some serious character derailment.

Ok, enough for now.  More rules will be forthcoming as I think of them.

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awritershailmarypass

S. J. Drew is an aspiring writer who finally entered the blogosphere to shamelessly promote that writing (as evidenced by the title of the blog). Whether or not this works remains to be seen, but S. J. hopes you are at least entertained. And if you're actually reading this, that's probably a good sign.

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