Saturday, November 18, 2006

Comic Book Prose: Aside from the Zombies, you've got a gas problem

Comic books of the Golden Age and early Silver Age often featured self-contained text stories. Usually uncredited, they filled space in a comic book, presumably being less expensive to produce than a page of art. The text story (accompanied by a small illustration or two) was utilized quite often in the romance lines of DC and Charlton all the way up to the 1970's. DC, as part of their usual PSA features also gave the reader not only a genre-related story but several text pages of educational informational on subjects such as whaling, cloud formations and the solar system.

Some stories would be seen as creepy by today's snarky, too-aware comic book readers. The prose stories in many of the romance comics in particular portray women as needy, suicidal, crazed stalkers. One story about a teen-aged girl looking for a dress to model for her Father is a little disturbing.

I admit that when I was a young comic book reader I usually skipped the text pages. I bought comic to look at pictures, not to study the history of lightning. But Steve Gerber changed my mind about that when he used prose to great effect in several issues of his Man-Thing run as in-story narration.

Read The Walking Dead, from Adventures Into Darkness #10 (June 1953)


1 comment:

  1. Here's the problem.

    It's sort of like when a ballplayer hits a pop-up to first base.

    99 times out of 100, it will be caught and the batter will be out, so every time, you will see the batter stroll to first base.

    Well, 1 time out of 100, the ball WILL drop, and the batter COULD have made it to second base if he had hustled out of the gate.

    But I don't blame the batter for not running, because 99 times out of 100 it will end the other way - so how can I rip him because 1 out of 100 it turns out otherwise?

    Same thing with text pieces.

    1 out of 100 of them may be good, but I'll never know, because the odds are so poor, I'm just going to skip them all - even if it means I'm going to miss the occasional good one.


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