We Used To Tell Great Stories of Greatness; No More

Monday , 25, June 2018 11 Comments

People have forgotten how to tell good stories. Or maybe just forgotten what makes up a good story.

Comics have forgotten what makes good stories. They’ve decided that actual adventure stories with actual superheroes are boring and passe (or maybe they just don’t understand heroism). In the place of awe-inspiring more-than-merely-mortal bad guys and good guys, we’ve got heroes and villains straight out of a Cartoon Central animated TV series, art included. Irony, silliness, and LOL-so-random humor are en vogue, instead of epic clashes between beings who are the next best thing to a force of nature.

Movies have forgotten what makes good stories. Manly protagonists—like Indiana Jones, John McClane, and classic James T. Kirk—are OUT, and hapless, inept men who are the butt of the joke are IN. Great fight scenes are almost entirely extinct, replaced with spastic “shaky cam” and editing so awful, you simply can’t tell what’s supposed to be going on.

Fantasy & Science Fiction tales have forgotten what makes good stories. Heroism, action, and virtue have been overthrown by nihilism, narcissism, and vice. Characters who were paragons, and hence inspiring and aspirational, have been replaced by fools, scumbags, and losers. Their stories are meandering and pointless tales that go nowhere and mean nothing, and succeed only at wasting the audience’s time.

Now, some of you are going to scream that I’m completely wrong because there’s exceptions. I know there’s exceptions, people, hold your horses. But the exceptions are rare, and that’s the point. They’re rare and generally only found among the indies, that is, among people in the artistic hinterlands, not in the centers of power.

I’m not saying that the situation is hopeless, far from it. I’m saying that the center has not held and is currently in a state of collapse. The time when a former hegemon is losing their grip on power, is the time most propitious for barbarians from the hinterlands to strike, conquer territory, and establish their own dynasty. And that time is now.

More and more people are leaving the fetid, decaying districts of the majors, striking out on their own, and seeing some measure of success. I’m sure all of you can think of excellent examples.

So don’t wait, and don’t hesitate. If you can craft great stories, there is little competition, and vast audiences hungry for your fare.

Go forth, create, and remind people what greatness is.


Jasyn Jones, better known as Daddy Warpig, is a host on the Geek Gab podcast, a regular on the Superversive SF livestreams, and blogs at Daddy Warpig’s House of Geekery. Check him out on Twitter.

11 Comments
  • Tomas Diaz says:

    Can we get some examples?

    The more I look at comic books, the more I’m finding that the stories depicting “heroes and villains straight out of a Cartoon Central animated TV series, art included” and “Irony, silliness, and LOL-so-random humor are en vogue, instead of epic clashes between beings who are the next best thing to a force of nature” are the exception. They get the biggest spotlight because they make great clickbait, but those still telling solid stories still continue selling and are the dominant market trends. For Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl, there’s a cancelled Iceman and cancelled Mockingbird and cancelled Riri-Iron Man.

    On the other hand, books like Super Sons are getting renewed (Adventure of the Super Sons starts in August). Dan Abnett’s run on Aquaman is doing solid. Jason Aaron is doing fun stuff in Avengers (to give Marvel it’s due).

    Even the most egregious SJW stuff is being limited to other imprints (see news on Sarkesian’s comic book – just people jumping on the “look how hip comic books” are bandwagon without any love for the genres it’s tied to the hip at).

    Comic book creators may not be as vocal as Twitter-Alt-Right, but one can see the contours of an insider-war easily – the Bendis move screams of shoving out someone with too much influence, influence which may have lost Marvel writers like Hickman and Remender now hiding out in creator-owned world. DC already learned it’s lesson in the backlash against New 52 and trying to restore the brighter, heroic status quo in Rebirth. We’ll see if Bendis is acceptable to the DC crowd – I’m putting money on no. I like Bendis, but he’s not Johns who tapped into something primal in the DC world.

    This is fertile ground for reforming. Comic books may be one of the few mediums that are capable of being restored – it lives and breathes off nostalgia of the concrete variety. It has far less of the boundless imagination of fantasy or the progressive push of Sci-Fi which allows them to be rather easily co-opted.

    I guess I push back because I think we’re cutting off our nose to spite ourselves. The genre-fields of comics, books, and movies need both outside competition AND reformers on the inside. The more we bash the big names, the gatekeepers, the more we’re going to keep out those who could work to reform them. Then we’ll have say over only one theater of the war when we could be coming at them from multiple fronts.

    Don’t compromise your principles, but don’t let the barbarians have Rome. And if you think you can’t reform them without compromise, well, I think you’re giving the devil and his minions way too much credit.

    • Alex says:

      The consensus I’m seem regarding Bendis is shock and surprise from the doubters that he’s actually doing good work on the new supes mini-series. I’m not a supes fan and I thought the teases for it were really weak, but I hear good things about the series proper.

      I don’t follow enough titles to have a big picture view, but while Metal was great, the wheels are falling on Snyder’s “epic”; he doesn’t have Morrison’s chops for crafting characters and mythologies around them–he’s running out of “oh, this sounds like it would be awesome” ideas to throw out there and it’s finally caught up with him in the new Justice League Book which just feels like an unnecessarily lengthy epilogue to Metal.

      I’m finally off the Tom King train with his last issues of Batman. While I’d been enjoying his cozy approach to the character and stories, a story where the Joker kills a bunch of people, Batman shows up and doesn’t manage to save anyone, and it all ends with a lengthy heart to heart between Joker and Catwoman was just too much, and I’m done.

      Liam Sharp’s Brave and Bold mini-series, however, is one of the best books out there and ought to be something everyone in the pulprev is talking about: Batman & Wonder Woman in a Dunsanian Irish fantasy mystery with the most gorgeous freaking art you’ve ever seen.

      • Tomas Diaz says:

        Eh, I’m still holding out on Snyder. He doesn’t have Morrison chops, true (who does?) but his JL is only two issues in. I haven’t picked up the second, but the first hinted at potential.

        Really, it’s No Justice which gives a sign of wheels coming off the track – though really, I think that was less Snyder and more an attempt of three authors to set up their own series using the book. I want to get into Dark, but I’m holding out to see what Tynion comes up with. And I’m picking up Odyssey for the art alone – I love Sejic.

        Never read any King, but have heard nothing but good from the Brave and Bold. Will probably pick that up in TPB.

        See, this is the convo on comics I’d like to see here. Don’t just make scattershot commentary akin to Twitter hate. Do them the same justice we try to give to Roleplaying stuff, especially if we’re touting Alt-Hero. Sure, crap on what needs to get crapped on, but point out what’s really good. And warn when it may be getting bad (go read Power Rangers before Marguerite Bennett makes it political; pray to the Lords of Atlantis Kelly Sue DeConnick doesn’t replace Abnett)

        My comic budget is much tighter than I’d like, or I’d to review some stuff myself.

        • Alex says:

          I actually liked No Justice, but I think my opinion of it benefited from it being way better than it should’ve been. The writing actually ran counter to how it was marketed–despite the 4-team gimmick, Snyder managed to write them as one huge team and made it work.

          I think that things need to diffuse a bit in the DC universe so that the next major cosmic crisis actually has some impact to it.

          I’m curious about Justice League Dark, but not enough to warrant the probable need to follow all three titles regularly to get the full story.

        • Nathan says:

          If something catches your eye enough for a review, please let me know.

  • Jennifer says:

    I agree and feel that nihilism is in so much of popular culture and entertainment. Where is the magic? The true art?

  • Heart of Adam says:

    There is a nasty history about the comic book industry that you are ignoring.

    You can trace a direct line from the formation of the comic book industry in the 1930s and the full-on legalization of pornography whereby kids as young as 10 years old are now watching hardcore porn:

    https://merchants-of-sin.com/2017/03/01/part-ii-the-great-comic-book-scare/

    I support the effort to create wholesome comics. But it’s silly to talk “reformation” when the comics industry has been pozzed for 90+ years.

    • Borgen Takkor says:

      So the author claims that the comic books industry has been “almost entirely” Jewish and then he comes up with just a few extreme examples liked those EC Comics abominations. Such a bold statement begs more than explanation and in my view there is much more to comic books than an alleged Jewish attempt to destroy the American culture.

      • Ben G. says:

        Hi,

        I’m the author of the work in question (found this comment from a trackback to the Merchants of Sin website).

        I feel the urge to respond to your comment because I’ve seen this argument many times and I feel it is a misreading of what i actually wrote.

        That the comic book industry has been “almost entirely” Jewish is not a claim of mine but rather is a quote from a Jewish author used as an epigraph.

        This fact is found not just in that particular Jewish author’s work but in any history of comic books.

        If you read carefully though I never make a judgment on this fact at all, or even a condemnation, I merely state that as a fact.

        The article is a chapter in a book on the Jewish role in liberalizing U.S. obscenity laws, and is merely a bridge between the early battles over censorship (>1948) and the later era (1954<).

        It's about the Great Comic-Book Scare, an interesting historical event, that's all.

        The book is chronological and during that time period comic books were the main focus of censorship scares/battles.

        Never do I make a blanket claim that comic books were merely a "Jewish attempt to destroy American culture" as you suggest.

        I give a specific instance where this was the case, MAD magazine – and rightly so. MAD was a Jewish endeavor and it was indeed damaging to American culture and corruptive to American youths. It was be absurd to argue otherwise.

        Aside from that I'm rather indifferent to the historical influence of comic books. It's not something that I'm terribly concerned with (unlike pornography, the main topic of the book). I think some of it has probably been negative (nowadays they seem especially bad) but I assume mostly they have been relatively innocuous, and maybe even beneficial in bringing joy and sparking the imagination of young people.

        I would be interested to see if you found anything in the article inaccurate or objectionable when read properly and in context.

  • DW nailed it.

    Get off the bench and in the game.

  • Xavier Basora says:

    No we have’t forgotten. It’s being stolen from us by vindictive cultists. They hate stories that don’t checkbox and pontificate on the meme/issue du minute(tm)

    xavier

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