Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Bitter Winds

There is a bitter cold wind blowing outside.

This is strange, for the last few days have been warm enough to necessitate a brief return to AC. And yet... now it is chill once again.

Strange, but that's Maryland weather, I suppose. The only thing consistent about it is that it isn't.

In any case, no worries for me, for I have hot cocoa and pastries to soothe me.

The pastries, admittedly, are of the toaster variety, and the chocolate isn't even mine, but 'twas stolen from my roommate... though given it has gone a year without use, I suspect my theft will not even be noticed, let alone minded.

Hmm. So.

Comics. Let's talk about them.

I see that Scott Kurtz has posted an explanation as to the specific relationship between Max and Skull.

It, well... it's a good read. It explains very well exactly why things are the way the are, with Max, with Skull, with Sonja.

And yet, it is a shame it needed to be written. A lot of it worked very well without being said in the comic - just by being there, and showing it to us as we went. I think Kurtz feels this keenly, and views the need to say it more as his own failing, which I think is hardly the case.

I think, personally, he had reached a very good level of balancing how he knew things worked behind the scenes, and how much he revealed, bit by bit, to the audience. It is what made the jokes work - every time we thought we knew exactly what to expect, it didn't quite meet our expectations.

I liked that. It was subtle.

But, well... sometimes that is too much for people. And they want to know more. Want to have the details laid out clearly for them - and aren't afraid to make that demand quite clear.

Admittedly, there can be a fine line to walk between inaccessibility and exposition. I recall some years ago the same such commotion occured with It's Walky, and Willis responded to those confounded by an especially enigmatic strip by given them a version with all the details laid out, painfully clear.

Looking at those two strips, neither one is really satisfying. The overwhelmingly expository one is obviously unneeded. But the other one, as dramatic as the silence of it may be, can be a bit hard to comprehend even by those fully observing it within the context of the series. The answers to its mystery come in time, of course - and it becomes a question of whether one can wait for answers, or feels the need to have understanding promptly.

Hmm. I'm not sure I know where to make the call on whether or not people should feel justified in wanting more clarity.

But I do know this - it is a choice to be made by the writer of the strip, not the audience.

If Kurtz or Willis felt that they were satisfied with how much information they've got in their strips, then they should leave it at that, regardless of those who feel the burning need for more explanation.

And if they hear complaints, and feel there might be some truth to them? Well then - roll with it, and let a few more crumbs of info make their way into the comic.

Tossing out a full reveal, though... I don't think is ever the best solution. I can understand it, sure. You've got all these people clamering that they just don't get it, no matter what you do. But its the easy way out, the easy way to give in to them.

Kurtz says he hopes he "didn't ruin things more by trying to explain things out." I don't think he has to any significant extent.

I just think its a shame he had enough people feel the need for an explanation, and that he felt the only way to answer them was, well, to give them one.

...

It's a cold and windy night out, I've got a half-full mug of hot cocoa too rich for my own tastes, and this has been me, talking about comics. G'night, folks.

3 comments:

tedzsee said...

tis a delicate balance.

Anonymous said...

I opted not to read the explanation, at least nothing past "Skull is real." I've always figured that Skull is a variation on Bill Watterson's Hobbes with Max Powers acting as a parent/grown-up figure. That was good enough for me. I guess I like slow reveals.

Mr Myth said...

Good on you for doing so. I think as long as you can read the comic and find your own explanation within it, that makes it all the more enjoyable to read.

For all that I am wary of some of the concepts of New Criticism, I have to agree that there are a lot of ways to personally interpret the existence of Skull in PvP, and for the most part, they are all good ones.