Tagged: Peter Parker

Amazing Spider-Man 2 Synopsis Unveiled

watch-the-amazing-spider-man-super-preview-550x207Sony has released the first formal details on the sequel to last year’s hit reboot, Amazing Spider-Man:

In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, for Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), life is busy – between taking out the bad guys as Spider-Man and spending time with the person he loves, Gwen (Emma Stone), high school graduation can’t come quickly enough. Peter hasn’t forgotten about the promise he made to Gwen’s father to protect her by staying away – but that’s a promise he just can’t keep. Things will change for Peter when a new villain, Electro (Jamie Foxx), emerges, an old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, and Peter uncovers new clues about his past.

The official, announced cast list: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Shailene Woodley, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti and Sally Field.

Additionally, the studio said that behind the camera Dan Mindel will be the cinematographer, Mark Friedberg is the production designer and Deborah L. Scott will be the costume designer and Pietro Scalia and Elliot Graham are the editors.

The film is scheduled for production this year, to be released May 2, 2014, one month after Disney’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and two months before Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, scheduled for July 18.

Martha Thomases’s Extra Heroes

Thomases Art 130125If you were to come by my place for one of my fabulous dinner parties, you would be disappointed. My kitchen table is covered with file folders and copies of every bill I paid in 2012. Yes, it’s tax season! Every person has a different set of issues with the IRS, and mine this year are especially weird. Is an ambulance deductible?

Naturally, in an attempt to avoid this tiresome chore, I’m wondering what super-heroes who find themselves in this situation do.

I mean, I’d assume that the fabulously wealthy, the Bruce Waynes, the Tony Starks, the Oliver Queens, have accountants who can write off their gear as R & D expenses at a corporate level.

And Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Doctor Doom are heads of state of sovereign nations. Whatever they might owe their respective governments, they aren’t writing checks to the IRS.

But what about the average working schmoe? Just because you can bend steel with your bare hands doesn’t mean you can deduct your spandex pants. That’s only possible if being a hero is your business, and you need your costume as a business expense. Hooters waitresses can claim their t-shirts, Grant Morrison’s Superman can’t.

It is, I think, a major problem of our tax code that this is true. Why should Anne Romney’s horse be legally deductible as business expense when Comet is a taxable money-pit.

The reason that Rafalca is a legitimate business expense is that raising her is a business, with profit and loss. Similarly, if the Romney’s chose to donate the horse (or, more likely, a piece of artwork or simply cash) to charity, they would be legally entitled to a deduction for the value of their gift.

This is a good thing. I’m in favor of philanthropy. I’m in favor of tax laws that encourage charitable giving. I might quibble with an individual’s choice of charity, but then, I quibble with my own choices, and that’s what makes a democracy.

This should also apply to heroics. If Peter Parker is saving New York from the Green Goblin, he should be allowed to deduct his web fluid. That matters more to the city’s quality of life than a dozen socialites giving their used wardrobe to the Metropolitan Museum.

And Peter needs the deduction more. He’s a working stiff.

Similarly, there are all kinds of people who do good without any fancy outfits. Working people who use their own metro-cards to help tutor at-risk kids, or work at a soup kitchen, or a thrift store. They don’t have money, so they donate their time. It would be great if we lived in a world where these problems were taken care of at a macro level by the government. Until that happens, it would be nice if our tax laws encouraged its citizens to pick up the slack.

We can use the extra heroes.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman and Something About The New 52


Review: Superior Spider-Man #1

That last page is going to calm a LOT of people down.

With the seven hundred issue run of Amazing Spider-Man ended, Marvel has started this new odd hybrid Spider-Man in a new title, Superior Spider-Man, which premiered this week.  Writer Dan Slott has presented one of the most controversial plot twists in comics in some time and set it up in a new book.  And it works exceedingly well. (Spoilers ahead.)

by Dan Slott
art by Ryan Stegman, color by Edgar Delgado


Review: “Amazing Spider-Man” #700 / “Avenging Spider-Man” #15.1

I already said in my discussion of Amazing Spider-Man 698 that I had utter faith in Dan Slott.  Yes, the plot twist he’s spun here is, at the least, controversial.  It proves, simply, that he’s got what it takes to sell  real estate. This is a story he’s been setting up for several years.  Slowly, deliberately, under our noses.  He’s taken an almost standard plot twist, seen in countless comics, movies and TV shows, and built it into a firestorm.

And I want to go to the people who don’t like it and take their comics away.  because if they don’t like this storyline, they just don’t like comics.

Do not click past, lest ye see spoilers. (more…)

Marc Alan Fishman: The Superior Spider-Ploy

SPOILER ALERT: To be fair… if you’ve not read Amazing Spider-Man #700, and care about the ending, and haven’t scoured the interwebs for spoilers previously? Please don’t read this week. Go read Dennis O’Neil’s article instead. It’s better than mine anyway.

Awhile back Michael Davis and I got into a heated argument over balls. Not kickballs. Not softballs. Not soccer balls. Balls. Juevos. Or Huevos, depending on how you look at it. We bickered a bit on whether DC’s New52 was a move made with testicular fortitude. Well, I’d like to think ultimately I won. I said they didn’t use enough man-juice. They got the bump in sales they wanted, but I don’t believe for a second they “changed the industry,” “changed the game,” or did anything more than what they did after the first Crisis on Infinite Earths – but in a significantly more watered down way. But I digress. This week, I’m not here to chastise DC. This week. I’m here to celebrate a bold and ballsy move by none other than Dan Slott. His Superior Spider-Man is a gutsy concept that deserves recognition.

Slott started in on his run on Amazing Spider-Man way back at issue #546. One-two-skip-a-few-ninety-nine-six-hundred. At issue #600 Dan started what would lead to a hundred issue long game wherein he would eventually do the (mostly) unthinkable: he would kill Peter Parker, and in true comic fashion mind-swap Otto Octavious into the titular hero’s body. And he’d keep it that way. Thus, when Marvel launches Superior Spider-Man with Doc Ock as Peter Parker… we have a new(ish) Spider-Man in the 616. Balls, kiddos.

The ideology here is simple. Thwarted time and again, Octavious decided to play one of the longest cons in comic history. In bits and pieces and dribs and drabs, Doc Ock found ways into Peter Parker’s head. And after his nefarious plan succeeds, in very a Ozymandias’ way, we are left with Spider-Ock. But instead of proclaiming potential world domination, instead Slott aims Octavious towards a goal that makes him more a shade of gray than previously thought. To paraphrase: all Otto’s ever wanted (aside from a dead nemesis for years and years, and maybe a better haircut) was to improve the world. Now, with this newfound great power will come great solutions. He has proclaimed that he will be the superior Spider-Man. Natch.

Now, the whole body swap thing has been done before. As has the “replace the title character with character X.” Bucky-Cap. Dick Grayson-Bats. Frog-Thor. And yes, we know that Spidey-Classic will no doubt be back in his own body safe and sound. And let’s even be so bold as to suggest somehow Otto will get himself a new body too. Younger. Stronger. Designed with 100% more lines and angst. It’s just the nature of this business. Don’t believe me? Go look at Frank Castle. Bloodstone my Jewish ass. But that’s a whole ‘nother show, as Alton Brown might say. The key here, and the reason I’m so excited about this, is because of the sheer novelty.

It’s widely known my favorite book of 2011 was Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics, starring Dick Grayson under the cape and cowl. I had not purchased a Batman book for eight years prior. Thank you, Hush. Why did I return? Especially when I didn’t know Scott from a hole in the wall? Because of the opportunity to give me something new. And whereas seemingly all other Marvel titles being brought into the “NOW,” here Slott decided to end his pre-now run with a big bang. Everyone else put the toys neatly back on the shelf. Balls. Of course, it may be a bit unfair to say that. Slott leaves Amazing Spider-Man to go to… Superior Spider-Man. So, perhaps he’s only semi-ballsy? Nay. To start a new number one with such a concept – for however long it goes on for – is a calculated risk.

Most of us in comic land know that a shiny new #1 on the shelf is an invitation to hop on board the bandwagon before it’s too late. I missed the boat (er… wagon) already on Daredevil, Hawkeye, and a few others outside the big two. To start a book by throwing out the previously known characteristics of your lead hero is something even more refreshing that Bucky-Cap and the like. Octo-Spidey has a cold and calculating mind behind the bright spandex. He has knowledge of the underworld other heroes would not be privy to. And he has all of Peter’s knowledge on top of his own. That’s two super-scientists for the price of one, for those counting. All of these things contribute to an amazing (superior? Nah, too easy) amount of potential energy. So long as Slott can convert that to kinetic energy he has an opportunity to redefine a hero with decades of backstory (and a ton of it truly despised). Goodbye clone saga. Goodbye “One More Day.” Hello new stories. For however long they last.

Speaking of that length, I cite Señor Miguel Oro. “…It’s not merely a matter of execution: eventually, the readers’ patience will wear out. The trick it to make the arc so compelling you don’t want it to revert. That’s some trick. But even then, you’re racing against the reader’s expectations.”

And therein lies the ultimate question. How long can Dan Slott keep the ball in the air. The longer he does it, the more attention will gather around the book. I mean, with a major motion picture looming not too far off in the distance, can Slott successfully maintain a Spider-Man that isn’t? Only one way to tell. And while I only read “Ends of the Earth” on his Amazing Spider-Man run before being lured elsewhere… I for one will jump on board as long as he delivers.

Dan Slott, the balls are in your court. Now (heh), use them.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Sunday Cinema: What’s wrong with “The Amazing Spider-Man”?


Now that The Amazing Spider-Man is out on DVD and Blu-Ray, there is now a short video, “Everything Wrong With The Amazing Spider-Man In 2 Minutes Or Less”, that gives us 53 different Movie Crimes crimes throughout the film, like Peter Parker’s Comics-Code safe usage of the phrase “Mother Hubbard” and his magic skateboard. (Warning: There are spoilers in this video.)


And we also have a take on how it should have ended:


I do have to admit that we glossed over a lot of these in our review when the movie first came out in July. What about you? What do you think was missed?

Martha Thomases: Don’t Try To Dig What We All Say

In my daily perusing of the Internets, I came across this post. A short post, it says (with one little snip):

“Dear Old People (and this includes me), the kids today are not hip to your cultural references. This is not a failure of education. Things change. The end.”

It’s not about comics or the movies or television. If anything it’s about Baby Boomers and how insufferable we can be. The popular art that moved us must move you, or you’re ignorant.

This is not a new attitude. My mother, for example, loved E. Nesbitt and J. D. Salinger, so she thought I should read them. My high school English teacher thought that Fitzgerald and Hemingway were the greatest writers of the 20th Century, and skewed their curricula accordingly.

None of this was as insufferable as my generation has been.

In Hollywood, my generation has minded the television shows of our youth into (for the most part) wretched movies. Car 54, Where Are You?, which was an entertaining glimpse of the 1950s Bronx, was made into a terrible movie that abused my beloved David Johansen. See also: McHale’s Navy (here and here), I Spy (here and here), and more. Exception: The Addams Family was genius, and so was equally transgressive movie.

We also made smug jokes. Do you know Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings? These days, if someone tells that joke, that person must explain what Wings was.

In comics, the insidious influence of the Boomers is even worse. Every attempt to reboot a character for a modern audience is eventually derailed by continuity geeks who insist that everything fall in line with the way it was when they were kids. Sometimes, I’m like this myself. I liked the Supergirl who hid her robot in a tree. I liked super pets. I think they made the world a better place.

You know what else made the world a better place? Me, being young and cute and hopeful.

We need to get over ourselves. The Flash doesn’t have to be Barry Allen (that re-reboot robbed my adult son of the Flash he grew up with). Superman doesn’t have to be in love with Lois Lane, nor Peter Parker with either Mary Jane or Gwen Stacy. Those stories exist, and we can read them whenever we like.

In the meantime, there’s lots of terrific new entertainment that us old farts could learn from. Off the top of my head, there’s Sherlock, a brilliant new way to look at a classic character. There’s Copper on BBC America, a blueprint for the way the GOP wants to rebuild American society. There’s Cosmopolis, a movie that analyzes modern life from the interior of a stretch limo. And, love him or hate him, Mark Millar is taking major risks as he creates his media empire.

Now, excuse me. I have to go and watch Nashville again.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman, Rob Liefeld, Scoot Snyder, and Burning Down The House


Michael Davis: The Death Of Batman

From the second I saw the original Batman television show I was hooked.

Just that quick, Batman had replaced Spider-Man as my absolute favorite superhero. Bruce Wayne replaced Peter Parker, Dick Grayson replaced Gwen Stacy and the Joker replaced Dr. Octopus.

When the TV show became corny to my friends, I was still a fan. I didn’t care that they had all switched to the Green Hornet. Yeah, Kato was cooler than Robin and the Green Hornet was just, well he was just cool, but Batman was still my guy.

When Michael Keaton was cast in the 1989 film I was all in. When people started bitching that Mr. Mom was going to play Batman like a joke I didn’t care. I just wanted to see Batman on the big screen. Batman the movie was one of the first DVDs I ever brought and this was when DVDs cost a lot more than they do now.

I’ve seen every episode of every Batman animated series. I own hundreds – maybe even more than a thousand action figures. Without a doubt the single action figure I own more of is Batman.

I write this in my office under a framed 1966 Batman movie poster. To the left of the poster is a cabinet full of porcelain and bronze action figures, of the 18 figures in the cabinet there are four Batman’s and that is the only figure that is represented more than once.

I was very close once to buying a replica of the 1966 Batmobile. How close? I was filling out the paperwork when I realized I was buying a fucking Batmobile.

What kind of asshole buys a fucking Batmobile when he lives in Manhattan and rarely drives the car he already owns? Hell, what kind of asshole buys a fucking Batmobile anyhow? For about two hours I was that type of asshole and a few years later I regretted not buying the car and yes, on occasion I still think I’m that type of asshole.

I own every single Batman movie on DVD and some even on VHS. I’ve watched and own every single Batman TV episode. On many occasions during late nights in my studio I watch from episode one until I stop working. I once did more than 24 hours of watching the show. I was high on coffee and Adam West and loved it.

There has not been one Batman movie I have not seen the opening weekend. In most cases I’ve seen the movie the day it opened, except for the current one. I had every intention of seeing The Dark Knight Rises the opening weekend. I wanted to go to an all day screening of all of the Christopher Nolan Batman films with my dear friend and business partner Tatiana El-Khouri that would climax with The Dark Knight Rises but I was too busy.

I missed that boat and with it I think I missed my one chance to see the film I’ve been waiting well over a year to see. I hear the latest Batman may be the greatest yet. I fear I may never know because I have no intention of seeing it.

I was unable to write my column last week and it’s most likely a good thing that I didn’t. Undoubtedly because of the Aurora shootings and my personal experience with violent crimes my article would have been a hate filled call for revenge against the shooter and his friends and family.

Yeah. His friends and family also.

I’m well aware (now) that makes no sense, but in my initial rage it made all the sense in the world. My piece would have been filled with all sorts of reasons to just beat the living shit out of the crazy motherfucker who committed this sick act.

My heart goes out to the victims of the massacre. There is nothing and I mean nothing that can prepare you for the news that someone you love has been murdered. Trust me. I know.

Because of my history and the way my stupid mind works I simply cannot bring myself to go see The Dark Knight Rises.

I hope and pray that I’ll get over this but I fear that is not to be. I have issues and as much as I love my ComicMix audience I’m not prepared to give you the low down on the details of those issues that prevent me seeing The Dark Knight Rises because of that revolting motherfucker’s actions.

Alas, the people the madman killed and their families are what is important and what we should be thinking about. On a much and I do mean much lesser note that coward with a gun also killed Batman for me. My favorite superhero has now been corrupted in my mind.

To many I’m sure it seems silly for me to give that asswipe the power to corrupt one of my favorite things but unfortunately I have no defense over how I feel. If I associate something with something that’s bad I’m powerless to stop it as much as I try to do so.

I take some comfort in the knowledge that America has rejected the bastard and the hold he has over me is insignificant for America has made The Dark Knight Rises a big hit.

Bravo America. USA!! U S Fucking A!

My demons are mine alone and I rejoice in the fact that the film is doing well in spike of the doings of a limp dick psychopath.

I stop people from telling me about the movie. Not because of my issues but because I’m going to make every attempt to see it. If I don’t manage to see it on the big screen then I will endeavor to watch it when it’s available on pay for view if not then I’ll try and see it on DVD. If those efforts fail I’ll try and watch it on HBO.

Somehow, somewhere I’ll see that movie. That sick motherfucker may have won the battle in his demented mind, but America has already won the war and as for me, I’m determined to win my personal battle.

I don’t know a lot but I do know this, crazy sick assholes do not make the rules, they just make noise. Today that bastard may have killed Batman for me but everyone knows that killing a superhero is just temporary.

I’m sure that Batman will be back in my life and I’m just as sure that the shooter will be forgotten and his victims remembered at the same bat time on the same bat channel, forever.

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold Goes To A Party!


Emily S. Whitten: Marvel Civil War – Prose vs. Graphic Novel

When I heard Marvel’s Civil War was being adapted into a prose novel, I was delighted and intrigued. Civil War is one of my favorite comic book crossovers for several reasons. One is that this is a crossover in which every character has a legitimate reason to be involved. I don’t like it when companies do crossovers for the sake of crossovers – to drive up sales or reader interest or the like – but if the story would logically call for each character to get involved or take a stance, then a crossover can be amazingly interesting and engaging… and this one was.

Another is that along with epic fights and explosions, this conflict speaks to intellectual issues larger than the concerns of an individual protagonist – such as privacy and personal autonomy versus social responsibility and accountability – that are very relevant in the real world. Even though the plot includes a plethora of brawls and superhero disagreements, we also get to see the writer(s) interpreting how long-established characters would react to important social issues.

A third reason is that since the plot pits superheroes against superheroes (as opposed to solely super-villains), we get a story in which almost everyone, no matter which side of the conflict they’re on, is a sympathetic character. They’re mostly all admirable people and heroes, devoted to helping people for one reason or another. Thus the emotional impact of their conflicts with each other is much greater, particularly if you’re already a fan of, say, both Captain America and Iron Man, and were invested in both characters equally before the beginning of the story. The fact that the “villain” of the tale varies depending on which point of view you agree with, and sometimes depending on each particular action as both sides make mistakes, makes it a more substantive and thought-provoking read.

Civil War is about a world growing increasingly uncomfortable with super-powered vigilantes who are able to use their secret identities to dodge public accountability. In this atmosphere of distrust for the superhero community, a tragedy explodes when a group of young superheroes takes on more powerful villains on a reality show in hopes of filming a spectacular triumph and driving up ratings. Unfortunately, instead a villain’s explosive power annihilates 859 citizens in Stamford, Connecticut, including a school bus full of children. It’s a national tragedy that, despite other superheroes coming to help with the aftermath, pushes a bill Congress had already been considering, the Superhuman Registration Act, to the top of the government’s list of priorities. The Act requires metahumans to undergo registration and training with the government before being permitted to legally use their powers in public, and gives the government extremely broad (and often violent) powers of enforcement. After the Stamford tragedy, and with the support of Tony Stark, Iron Man, the Act is quickly pushed through and enacted into law.

All that government procedural stuff might sound a bit dry, but the result of the Act is a full-on war between two camps of superheroes (with the X-Men and a few others just hangin’ out like Switzerland) headed by the pro-Registration Iron Man, and the Anti-Registration (or pro-Privacy/Freedom, depending on your viewpoint) Captain America. At first glance, the sides chosen might seem counter-intuitive, given Iron Man’s love of keeping his affairs and intellectual property away from government control, and Cap’s history as a loyal soldier for Uncle Sam. But Iron Man is basing his actions on the various “optimal outcome” calculations of brainiac Mr. Fantastic and his own outlook as a “futurist,” with a goal of minimizing damage and upheaval; whereas Captain America starkly brings home his reasons for not rounding up a bunch of “different” people for regulation or imprisonment when he reminds everyone of, you know, that time he fought for the United States in a war against the Nazis because they did just that.

It’s a slightly extreme comparison (although at least Cap, unlike most people who bring up Nazis in an argument, was actually there), but even Spider-Man, while working with Tony on the Pro-Reg side, sees that parallel. Of course, once the lines are drawn, both sides struggle with their chosen stance, particularly as injuries and casualties begin piling up; and the fallout of the decisions made as the Act is being passed inform the rest of the story.

If you read the original crossover, you might be saying, “I know all this; why bother with the novel?” But the novel format generally allows for the most insight into characters’ thought processes, and in this book, Stuart Moore opens a door to a better understanding of many characters’ motivations than we might have gained from the graphic version. Thanks to the format he is also able to present characters’ private insights into the personalities of their fellows, such as when we hear Sue Richards’ internal perspective of her husband’s choices and actions, or Tony Stark’s private musings about Peter Parker.

I also noticed that I had a stronger distaste or admiration for certain characters after reading Moore’s prose interpretation than when I read the original crossover (man, did this story make me want to punch Stark in the face) because the prose format is immersive and excellent for drawing readers in emotionally. The flip side of this, of course, is that I did miss the visual impact of a couple of the most moving scenes in, for example, the Spider-Man graphic novel storyline, even though Moore does a good job with them; but I think it’s an even tradeoff (and a fine reason to read both versions, if you liked the original story).

Conversely, if you’ve never read Civil War or are looking for a good read that will introduce you to many of the key characters in the Marvel Universe, this book would be a great choice. Moore’s adaptation efficiently orients readers to the characters and situation. With a pretty massive ensemble cast, he manages to provide enough details about each successive character for us to know where they stand and why we should care while almost entirely avoiding awkward information dumps. He also quickly sets the scene via the book’s shifting character perspectives (namely Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-man, and the Invisible Woman). Although occasionally the sentences get a little stilted as Moore translates a fight scene that could be viewed in three graphic panels into several pages of text (and I would vote for not italicizing actions like punches in future adaptations), Moore does a solid job of conveying the action from those information-packed images into something the prose reader can follow – not a simple task. The story is cohesive and easy to get into, even with the changing perspectives. It definitely kept my attention and made me eager to read on, even though I already knew the general plot.

I did have a few complaints that come primarily from this being an adaptation of the graphic version – first among those being that I missed the characters who didn’t show up here. For instance, I didn’t really expect to see Deadpool (sadly), but didn’t Cable have a decent-sized part in the original story? And what happened to the Iron Fist/Daredevil subplot? I also would have liked to have seen more of the X-Men and other groups or characters. I know exactly why Moore and Marvel didn’t include them – because the ensemble is already pretty big, and they were presumably aiming for one cohesive, comprehensible, and reasonably-sized book to kick off their new prose novel line. That’s fine, and they succeeded. But I would have happily read, say, a three-part prose series of this storyline if it meant even more focused character perspectives (She-Hulk? Ms. Marvel? Cloak and Dagger could have made for some fun reading) and fringe characters making (justified) appearances. The more rich and in-depth a prose story is, the better. Just something to think about for next time, Marvel.

I also felt that the ending was a bit weak, particularly as it leaves out a key closing event in the graphic novel storyline (as well as any mention of Penance, although really I didn’t miss that too much). I suspect the choice to not end the story in death was made to avoid going out on a down note – but the impact of (SPOILER WARNING) this story thread and the character reaction in this scene on how one views the overall story that came before, and the characters in the aftermath, is huge; and to me, that, not where the government or superheroes end up going from there, is the close to this chapter in Marvel history.

However, don’t take my few small criticisms to mean I didn’t really enjoy the book. For a prose adaptation of a major Marvel storyline, it’s excellent. Moore did a stellar job with a complicated text, and through his own interpretation made this novel an excellent companion to the graphic crossover or a great stand-alone way to get into the Marvel universe. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and would certainly recommend it. And I look forward to seeing what prose novel they come out with next.

So go out there and give it a try. And until next time, Servo Lectio!

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold, Creators’ Rights, and One Big Wrong


John Ostrander: Details, details, details

There’s an old maxim that says “God is in the details.”  So is a story and especially in comics.

I’ve said and I believe that a good writer can write any character. I don’t have to be African-American to write an African-American character; I don’t have to be female to write a good female character. Gail Simone, for example, writes terrific male characters. So did Kim Yale. Our own Mindy Newell does a terrific job as well with this. What you have to be able to do is have empathy and to understand what is universal – the common humanity. If you don’t connect with your characters, neither will the reader.

All that said, there is a need for what is called the telling detail. Something specific that helps the reader feel the story you’re telling is based in some kind of reality. You can do research and come up with a ton of details but not all of them are necessary for the story. It may be necessary for you as the creator to know them but they’re not necessary for the reader to understand the plot or the characters.

It’s what I call the “iceberg theory.” The bulk of an iceberg is underwater. That bulk is necessary for the part of the iceberg that shows. In the same way, you need to know a lot about the characters, the setting, the story but only a certain percentage of it needs to show. So you select which details help make the story real and convincing to the reader. Those are the telling details.

A writer needs to be able to describe the scene to the artist; likewise, the artist needs to pick the details that he or she will draw. An example is what the character is wearing. That is how the character chooses to present him or herself to the world and that says something. What Peter Parker chooses to wear as Peter Parker says something about him just as what Bruce Wayne wears as Bruce Wayne says something about him. They shop in different places. The look, the texture and the drape of an Armani suit is going to be different than something from Wal-Mart. The reader may not be consciously aware of those changes but, if those details are not there, if everyone dresses the same, the reader is going to pick up on that as well. It will feel false.

What we choose to wear says something about us. You may think that doesn’t include you; many guys – and sometimes I am one of them – will say they just pick what is clean, or cleanest. That, however, does say something about that person and how they wish to be perceived. Do you have a power tie? Do you wear something special when going to meet someone important? What are you projecting about yourself? How do you want to be perceived? It’s true in our lives and so it should be true in our stories as well.

In the past few decades, many people have opted to become walking billboards for a particular brand. It might be a cola company or a sports team or even a comic book character or comic book company (be sure to buy your GrimJack stuff at the ComicMix store, btw – end of shameless plug). By wearing that apparel, we claim a tribal affinity. Stuff like that used to be given out as free advertising; now you have to pay real bucks for them – and sometimes its not cheap – to say you belong. It becomes part of the wearer’s identity. Details like that matter.

When I taught classes at the Joe Kubert School, I tried to make the students think about character design, the costume. It’s not just a matter of what “looks cool” or is easy to draw. The character is telling something about themselves when they choose what they wear. It is a choice they make that says something about themselves and what they are trying to project. At least, they should.

When Jan Duursema, my partner of many Star Wars stories, draws the martial arts fights or sword or lightsaber fights, there is an authority there because Jan herself has studied martial arts, including swordplay. Jan thinks out her locales as well and includes all kinds of information in the background.

When I first met My Mary Mitchell and she showed me her portfolio, I was floored by the amount of telling detail in the panels. Her heroine’s bedroom looked like someone’s bedroom – there were details in the pictures and what the woman hung on the wall that made me think of her as a person. A few panels later, when the woman was walking down the street, there were all kinds of people in the panel, all different body shapes, all wearing different clothes. The clothes reflect what the weather is as well.

Mary also was conscious of the buildings in the background; like any real city, there will be different types of buildings one against another. It gives a visual texture. Too many artists draw a generic background and that makes the story a generic story. Cities are characters in the story; New York is different from Chicago which is different from Memphis or Detroit or Los Angeles or Portland. I’ve been in all those cities and you can tell.

It all matters. The storytelling needs to be universal and, at the same time, it all needs to be specific. It may sound like a contradiction but I’ve found throughout my life that truth lies in the seeming contradictions. God is a contradiction; he/she is in the details and so is the story.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell