Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Words and Pictures

Ballet class was killer last night. I think it will ultimately be good for me, and I know of a few exercises I now want to work into my daily routine because they attack some of my weaknesses, but for now, I'm aching all over, and it's entirely possible that I will be barely mobile tomorrow.

However, if I do work those exercises into the daily routine, a few months from now I will have amazing legs.

Still banging my head against the wall with the book. Every time I solve a problem and move forward, I come up against another problem, and solving it requires going back to fix a few earlier things. If I do get it all worked out, this could be the best thing I've written (and I really hope it gets to see the light of day). Or else I will be a quivering pile of jelly by the time I'm done and the book will have dissolved into gibberish.

I have a tendency to be a bundle of contradictions -- like my favorite ambient temperature is being both warm and cold at the same time, or I'll order onion rings as a side while requesting no onions on my hamburger. Well, here's a new one that may eliminate several points of geek credibility:

I don't like comic books or graphic novels.

It's really not a snob thing, where I think they're for kids or childish or anything like that. And it's not because I haven't tried reading the good ones (I really, really tried reading the Sandman series because I love Neil Gaiman's writing, but I couldn't follow the story). I have. I just don't get them, and I think it has something to do with the way I process information. I'm very, very verbal and not very visual at all. When I read comics or graphic novels, all I see is the words, but if it's a good one, the idea is that the pictures are essential for telling the story. I don't seem to process the words and the pictures at the same time, and as a result, even after reading a graphic novel, I have no idea what happened and I can't really follow the story.

This generally wouldn't be a big problem, but now it seems like all the TV shows I've loved that died before their time are being continued in comics form. I want to know what happens next and I want to follow those stories, but even if read the comics, I still wouldn't know what happened. For instance, I read the comics that came between the Firefly TV series and the movie Serenity, and I still couldn't tell you anything that happened or how it related to either show or movie. I've read at least one other Firefly comic and retained absolutely nothing. The Buffy and Angel stories are also continuing in comics, and then there's Farscape and apparently even an upcoming Pushing Daisies comic. What I need is a text-only recap so I can know what happens.

But here's where the contradiction comes in: I LOVE newspaper (or newspaper-style) comics. My favorite part of the daily newspaper and a big reason I still subscribe is that I love reading the comics while I eat lunch. My local paper has cut a lot of comics in recent years, and I've started following all those online, plus have added some new ones to follow. Then I discovered that you can also get "classics" as daily strips, so I'm back to getting a daily dose of Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbes. As a real bonus, also has Berke Breathed's first strip, Academia Waltz, which was the precursor to Bloom County that ran in the Daily Texan at UT. As a former Daily Texan staff member who was at UT not too terribly long after that strip ran, it's fun and nostalgic to follow that strip because life at the university wasn't that different in my time and because you can see the seeds of a lot of the Bloom County elements there. Bloom County is a lot more fun to me when I know that Steve Dallas is really a UT frat boy. One of the fun things about reading comics online is that some of the sites have comments like blogs, and some of the artists even join the conversation. I liked the strip Lio when it was in our paper, but I love it even more online because the artist will post comments and engage with people discussing the strip. I guess my visual information processing issues continue even with the simpler and easier-to-absorb format of a newspaper strip because there's always some visual gag I didn't even notice until someone points it out in the comments.

I'm not sure quite why I can love newspaper comics but not get comic books. The shorter form may help me absorb all the information. I may just enjoy the humor more than the serious storytelling. Or it could be that this is what I grew up with. Instead of reading comic books as a kid, I was reading compilations of newspaper strips. In general, I don't like pictures in my books, aside from the sections of photos that come in some non-fiction books. The visual thing sometimes even applies to TV and movies. I listen to TV more than I actually watch it, and I'm likely to lose interest in shows where too much of the information is given visually instead of in dialogue. I have to find a show absolutely compelling and be really emotionally involved before I can just watch with my full attention and even notice the visuals.

I'm also starting to discover web comics, which mostly seem to work like the traditional newspaper strip. My friend Rob Chambers -- who did the cartoon artwork on my web site -- has just launched a new web comic that I think my readers might like. It's a humorous fantasy comic called MeatShield about a barbarian on a quest and the student bard trying to record his adventures for her thesis. It's still new enough that it's easy to go back to the beginning and catch up, and it now posts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Be sure to read the commentary with each strip and the background on the characters. So, check it out, and if you leave a comment, tell him Shanna sent you.


CrankyBeach said...

I'm with you on the Firefly and Serenity comic books... I go back and try to re-read them from time to time, and, like you, I still haven't got a CLUE what happens. Other than that the fed Mal shot and threw off the ship in the first episode didn't die after all.

Pushing Daisies tv show said...

It is great news that comic series of Pushing Daisies tv show also upcoming. This is my favorite tv show. I mostly watch Pushing Daisies online. It is great show. and read good news from your blog....

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