You Gotta Know When to Fold ‘Em

You Gotta Know When to Fold ‘Em

ODY-C 4-smallIn my review of issue #4 of Ody-C  I said that it might be my last. I read Issue #5 hoping to be proven wrong.

I wasn’t.

Artistically, Ody-C is still strong, and a lot of people out there are going to love it. I’m just not one of them. What I love about Homer and the direction Fraction and Ward are taking the work are two very different things. And that’s ok. That’s how re-creations work. But as someone who has far less time to read than things she wants to read, this is going to have to drop off the list for now to make room for something else.

And that in turn made me wonder: what is it that makes you, as a reader, stop reading? When I was younger I always finished books, even when I didn’t like them. I wanted to really dissect what I didn’t like about them. I’m also just too curious to go without finding out how a story ends.

As I’ve gotten older, though, the reasons I drop a book or series have multiplied. There are those that I simply don’t like, like Ody-C. There are those that I’ve just gotten tired of, like a TV series that shall remain unnamed but is in its tenth season and probably ought to go. Even the actors look tired of their parts, my favorite side characters are gone, and the sense of peril has completely drained away.

(OK I lied. It’s Supernatural. Bobby’s gone, Ellen and Jo are gone in a way I’m still angry about, and there are only so many times your main characters can die before it stops meaning anything. Also, I think they have run out of new monsters.)

And maybe it’s age leading to crankiness, but there are storylines and characters I’m getting tired of. I’m really, terribly bored with ‘very tough on the outside and won’t accept any help but deeply emotionally vulnerable on the inside with a load of childhood traumas’. Of all available genders. This makes reading entire genres difficult.

But again, these are my objections. What are yours? What makes you drop something: a show, a comic, a book? And what could bring you back to it?

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Thomas Parker

For me, the last word on this subject was said by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Read proudly. Put the responsibility of being read squarely on the author – if he’s not read, whose fault is it? I am quite ready to be charmed, but I shall not make-believe that I am charmed.”


Well, mmmaybe just “Bending a story”, but making a Burroughs -minus the genius- bizzaro trip and putting in good although eccentric art isn’t an instant formula for success?

I’ve raved about “Political Correctness” but a point I think didn’t get across was that it was a good cover for publishers to ram through “Surface only” stuff. At the time the PC was being forced on the public through publishing were endless re-tellings of the Hero’s Journey. And of course its always imitative, some earlier work to not build on but leech off of. G-d help the man who has an original story or a new voice.

I like the art in this a lot, crazy as Druillet’s but with better technical skill. Sadly the story seems a bit shallower than “Low”.

I’m reminded of artistic takes on classic stories, though rare in any mainstream publishing/marketplace.

One thing that I really like and have the DVD box is “Alexander” released as “Reign: The Conqueror” a kind of distant past/future re-telling of Alexander the Great with art by Peter Chung – noted for Aeon Flux. That was hated by about everyone though.

Another neat and more recent one is the PS3 game “El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron” – A “Christian” game and one that A: was not made with tech 10+ years old -and- B: Didn’t suck Donk- (er. let’s not get where Leviticus says no no clearly!) BUT – because it dealt with controversial stuff -early Genesis/Book of Enoch- well they ignore it – unlike other stuff they love to either love or hate – such as Castlevania where it’s a good guy fighting monsters but tons of occult symbols – or the Dante’s Inferno game.

I think anyone reading this board would LOVE this part – suggest YouTube : “Xbox 360 Longplay [121] El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (part 1 of 5)” and go to 29:12 – it’s where the platforming breaks and there’s minor fighting at the bottom but the “Credits” to the game roll around in a semi-animated thing with design art. I heard a rumor though I can’t source it, they intended to have an RPG in the middle of it, that is explorations/fighting, then an RPG with quests, side quests, etc. then the Tower scene. The credits rolling by of many many years of the character searching an ancient earth for the hideout of the fallen ones is epic!


I get bored with wishy-washy characters and stories. Gloom and doom stories that are about ‘It’s the end of the world and there is nothing you can do about it,’ are also yawn worthy.

Nick Ozment

To piggy-back on CMR’s “end of the world” note: CMR’s talking about, I think, post-apocalyptic stories (ala The Road) where the s–t’s already gone down and the outcome is inevitable.

For myself, I would say I’m increasingly bored by the diametrically opposite end of the approaching-doom scenario: the apocalyptic threat in any narrative where you know the apocalypse is absolutely not going to happen.

I’m thinking about all the comics/books/TV shows/movies that derive from a superhero comic-book formula or inspiration, where the heroes face a threat (usually in the form of a super villain with world-conquering/destroying aspirations). The moment said villain utters the lines “I am going to destroy the planet!” or a hero utters the line “If we don’t stop this device, it will blow up the planet,” the main plot objective is immediately taken off the table, rendered completely uninteresting. Now, the narrative might still offer other pleasures: interesting character interactions, humor, wittiness, neat action set-pieces, compelling minor story lines — even particular unforeseen sacrifices the heroes must make in order to reach the foreordained victorious outcome. But the main overarching conflict of the plot — Ultron wants to destroy humanity vs. the Avengers want to prevent Ultron from destroying humanity — well, there’s no suspense in how that’s going to turn out.

Which is why “smaller” stories can be so much more effective and suspenseful. Daredevil: Fisk wants to become the criminal Kingpin who runs Hell’s Kitchen. That is a real threat, i.e., we don’t really know the outcome of that because it can happen (to some extent, it’s already happened). Despite Daredevil’s best efforts to prevent it, he could very well achieve that goal. So in addition to all the cool character stuff that’s going on, there’s real suspense in the main conflict as well.

Nolan’s Batman trilogy, which was so rooted in gritty (albeit comic-book) reality, misfired in the third when the villain’s main objective was to “blow up Gotham!” At that point, Bane’s potentially compelling complexities and any character parallels with Bruce Wayne were completely overshadowed by falling into the stereotype of yet another stock villain who wants to destroy the city/nation/world/solar system/galaxy/universe/cosmos.

One of Whedon’s (few) faults is leaning too heavily in that direction with the threat of the Big Bad — who usually is threatening destruction on a massive scale. So much more effective are the villains with smaller, more achievable aspirations. Wants to blow up the world? Well, we know there’s gonna be a sequel, so we already know how that works out. Wants to get revenge on the hero by threatening his loved ones? Well, that’s something he could pull off, so real suspense is generated.

I wish sometimes these story lines would go SMALLER, rather than bloating and bloating, getting BIGGER and BIGGER like an increasingly thin balloon.

Nick Ozment

I must’ve missed a backslash (/) in my html there, because I didn’t intend for the entire second half of my post to be in italics. 🙂

John ONeill

Nick — fixed it for you. 🙂

Wild Ape

I agree with CMR and Nick—save the world stuff is not as exciting as the hero thumping on some local thug on a smaller scale.

The last comic series I quit out right was one of my long standing favorites: Captain America. I had been following him since 1972. I mowed lawns, worked odd jobs just to get every issue and back issue. I completed it before my senior year in high school. Long afterwards I kept on reading it through lean and good years up until Brubaker took over the writing. Once he took the helm I dropped it after a year and I have never looked back since.

I think the Hollywood writers of today understand the characters more than the comic writers they have installed in the comics currently. They can write the characters and keep with a long standing storyline but I think many in the industry, like Brubaker, are too lazy and lame.

The Winter Soldier which is said to be one of Captain America’s greatest stories in the series is a different story on film than it was in the comics. They did a much better job at the story than Brubaker did, and it was HIS story. Joss Whedon and his writers probably muzzled Brubaker and put his Chia Pet butt somewhere where he couldn’t touch the script. Brubaker is why I won’t vote for The Winter Soldier for the Hugo. That guy ruined my favorite comic. The Winter Soldier is proof positive that Brubaker is not the best but the worst writer that Marvel has. The movie is beyond what Brubaker could ever come up with on his own talent and it is a shame that his name is attached to it. When I compare the stories the only thing that I can see that Brubaker contributed to the movie is the title. I’d love to vote for Whedon and the crew that created the movie for the Hugo but it has Brubaker attached to it.

Sarah Avery

Nick and Ape, I absolutely concur about the virtue of the smaller-scale story versus the global cataclysm story. There’s a lot of advice coming out of the publishing industry urging writers to raise the stakes on every page. Especially in SF/F, that can reach the point of absurdity and tedium.

I loved many things about Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars series, but I was deeply ambivalent about how she handled her global cataclysm. On the one hand, the cataclysm did actually happen, but with its expected effects altered by the heroic efforts of the major characters. There were people and nations that survived well enough to rebuild, and the suspense was all in which ones, and how, and with what results. Despite the sometimes surprising things Elliott did with the cataclysm plot, I still felt emotionally done with the story a whole volume sooner than she and her publisher wanted me to. I’d been buying volumes the second they came out, right until the volume that established that the end of the old order had decisively arrived, and that there were some survivors. Then it took me seven years to get enough curiosity back about the series to pick up a volume that basically amounted to 900 pages of denouement.

I write long, but even I think 900 pages is a little long for a denouement. If you can’t fit your denouement into 50 pages or less, something’s wrong. There was some lovely stuff in that last volume, but the series as a whole would have been better structured if Elliott had spun the things she couldn’t bear to leave unwritten into free-standing short stories.

(When I self-publish my insanely long epic series and find myself humbled by the same structural problems, feel free to remind me I said that.)

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