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JohnMcMahon

What Mike Carey did next

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Crossing Midnight is bloody good.

 

It's slightly odd in that, if you dialled back the gore, it could probably be an all-ages title and really not suffer that much for it. You can't go wrong with what you get though - interesting characters, intriguing mythology and beautifully clean art. Hopefully this'll have the trade sails to justify a Lucifer-esque run as it feels like Mike might easily surpass the high quality of story-telling he achieved therein.

 

The only quibble I'd have is that, at times, the cultural references feel like they're being laid on a little tick.

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"Comics I Read..." thread.

 

I didn't like it. First Mike Carey comic I've ever thought was actually "bad". Not everything Carey has written is great, but I've never thought any of it was outright bad before.

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Any word on Faker then ?

Not read it yet. Shall I come back next month when I have?

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Faker is not bad.

Christian just thought it was.

 

So far it's scene-setting.

It's about horrible people who have some sort of payback coming their way.

And Mike's written a total bitch rather than a melodramatic villainess.

So far we have found out about one "Faker" and I suspect there's more to come.

 

Reminded me of Finals but without the twee art.

 

NB I liked FInals and Brian K Vaughan's Swamp Thing.

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Finals is one of the few old Vertigo comics I still really want to get hold of, along with Menz Insana and... probably something else. If anyone in Britain can find me some copies let me know and I'll buy them off you. Cheers.

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Ade's description makes it sound a lot more promising than Christian's.

 

I really liked Finals, has that one not been collected? It's Will Pfeiffer and Jill Thompson, for heaven's sake. You'd think DC were capable of capitalising on that. (Mind you, you'd also think they were capable of keeping the Nevada collection in print as well...)

 

(There was nothing wrong with the issues of the Brian Vaugn Swamp Thing series I've read: I'll have to get around to acquiring the second half of the run at some point.)

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I was (and still am) planning to pick this one up in trade, but this little disagreement piqued my interest, so I downloaded a copy of the first issue. As both Ade and Christian point out, the issue is largely devoted to set-up, with what is presumably the main plot of the series only really kicking in with the final few pages (which are, indeed, reasonably intriguing, so I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it when it's collected), and it's hard to make any substantial judgements at this early stage.

 

That said, I lean a lot more towards Ade's response than to Christian's - thus far, it seems promising, and while the characters are, indeed, largely dislikeable, it seems pretty obvious that this is supposed to be the case. Take that for whatever it's worth.

 

Lovely art, obviously.

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Yes, but when all the characters make me hate them so much that I want them to die so I never have to hear about them again, you're moving into the territory of trouble.

Unless you're a sick, twisted soul who reads books to see really bad things happen to people and you keep reading just to see horrible things happen to the characters you hate so much, you're just going to stop buying the book.

You know, if the characters were Jerry Falwell or Adolph Hitler or something, yeah, I'd have the mean streak to read to see them get horribly maimed or whatever, but just annoying, too-hip-for-thou teenage fucks....no, thanks.

 

Menz Insana was great, James.

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Unless you're a sick, twisted soul who reads books to see really bad things happen to people and you keep reading just to see horrible things happen to the characters you hate so much, you're just going to stop buying the book.

 

Ah, personal attacks on the moral fibre of people who respond to art in a manner different from your own. I think you've just hit on the perfect way to further the civilized discussion of a comic book. Well done!

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You know, get off your arrogant high horse for one fucking minute you patronizing fuckwit....God, you piss me right the fuck off.

 

We read fucking Hellblazer! "Sick, twisted soul" is hardly a demeaning way to address people who love Hellblazer. The damn character we all love is a "sick, twisted soul".

 

That's just my point of view about Faker. I hate these people. I don't want to read about them. I can't see why people would want to read about characters that they absolutely hate.

This whole idea of "the characters are all meant to be unlikable" makes no sense to me.

I don't spend time with people who piss me the fuck right off in real life, for obvious reasons, so why would I want to spend my time reading about them?

There was not one redeeming character who did not annoy me in the story. Usually, there's one character that the reader can relate to, so you actually care if people start to get killed. In this story, if people start to horribly die, I feel it would be a blessing. But, I couldn't care less about any of them, so even if they do die, it would just be a matter of relief to me, rather than my example of seeing Falwell get horribly maimed.

Understand?

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Look at this way, Christian: it's very easy to make a reader care about what happens to a sympathetic likable character. Making them give a stuff about an unsympathetic unpleasant shit, on the other hand, is far trickier and can give rise to more interesting results. (Alfred Bester, Ian McEwan and your man Phillip K Dick were all masters of this art, to pick a few examples.)

Taking this approach never did Carey's work on Lucifer or Hellblazer any harm, did it?

 

Unless you're a sick, twisted soul who reads books to see really bad things happen to people...

A horror fan, you mean, Christian?

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Unless you're a sick, twisted soul who reads books to see really bad things happen to people and you keep reading just to see horrible things happen to the characters you hate so much, you're just going to stop buying the book.

 

Ah, personal attacks on the moral fibre of people who respond to art in a manner different from your own. I think you've just hit on the perfect way to further the civilized discussion of a comic book. Well done!

 

 

Aw, I just thought he was joshing.

(No offence, Josh)

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But, Christian, you spend time with us.

 

Seriously though, I think you're needlessly ignoring a whole swathe of fiction, and

"you're a sick, twisted soul who reads books to see really bad things happen to people and you keep reading just to see horrible things happen to the characters you hate so much," wilfully ignores the more serious proposition that you apparently would read all of the above happening to someone you care about.

 

One side-genre of horror films that I adore is the "fucking annoying* (american) teens get sorted out by faceless horrors" (*I can do without them fucking to be honest as it's a certain give away of moral retribution to come).

 

Also, a writer ought to be just as skilled at describing a character who is hateful/annoying/arrogant.

 

In summary, see my previous post.

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That said, I lean a lot more towards Ade's response than to Christian's - thus far, it seems promising, and while the characters are, indeed, largely dislikeable, it seems pretty obvious that this is supposed to be the case. Take that for whatever it's worth.

 

Lovely art, obviously.

 

I dunno, the storyboarding was as good as ever (Jock's a master at that) but I wasn't a fan of the scratchy, thin lines and what appeared to me to be less focus on detail and shading than usual. If this is actually a departure from Jock's usual style - and we all know what my memory's like from time to time so it might not be - then I can only assume it's intentional... but not to my tastes.

 

Other than that, I gree with Mark - the actual writing was fine, though obviously it's too early to draw any conclusions just yet. Sure, the only (two) characters we got much information on were fairly unpleasant, but that's obviously the point. And the implication of child abuse in whatserface's dream suggests that there will at least be a reason for the character's callousness and it won't just be cynical nastiness for its own sake.

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I want them to die so I never have to hear about them again

 

...

 

Unless ... you keep reading just to see horrible things happen to the characters you hate so much

 

Surely this ought to be right up your street then?

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Oh yeah - I read God Save the Queen a little while ago and thought that while it certainly didn't deserve the critical kicking that it received, it also wasn't particularly amazing.

 

My biggest problem was that it was so predictable - I guessed that the girl was part fairy (well, I actually thought she was a proper changeling who'd been swapped at birth with a human, but near enough), guessed that her mother was the true fairy, guessed that the iron spoon would kill Mab, guessed that her human friend would buy the farm (in a Mike Carey fantasy story, every purebred, unaugmented human has a lifespan of about sixty pages) and guessed that she would use the drug to bring forward Mab's souls for the final kill.

 

I'm not saying I expect - or want - a twist and a surprise around every corner, but to be able to identify each plot point with perfect accuracy pages before it turns up is rather disappointing. The characterwork on the protagonist was deft and the central idea was great, but they were tied to a story that was so thin and perfunctory that they were pretty much wasted. And yes, I get that it's more about the main character's emotional growth than about fairies and spells and whatnot, but nine times out of ten - and certainly in this case - that emotional growth still has to be tied to a compelling and surprising story to make it satisfying. And God Save the Queen doesn't have that at all.

 

I blame the pagecount, myself. If it were a little longer we might at leat have been given some subplots to muddy the waters a little bit, and the attack on the castle wouldn't have been fought and won in all of ten or so pages.

 

John Bolton not being the best storyteller in the world didn't help. Shame.

 

I do wonder, though, where this came from in the first place and why it became a 90-page hardback. Did Mike want to do something else with John Bolton and come up with this story to facilitate that? Did Vertigo ask for another OGN to keep the Sandman Presents brand ticking over? Who specifed the page count? I don't know anything about anything, obviously, but it feels to me like either the story was supposed to be bigger but was squeezed down for some reason, or else the story was thought up after outside factors decreed that another Carey/Bolton OGN would be desirable. It certainly doesn't feel to me like the book as is was something that was screaming to be told.

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Seriously though, I think you're needlessly ignoring a whole swathe of fiction, and

"you're a sick, twisted soul who reads books to see really bad things happen to people and you keep reading just to see horrible things happen to the characters you hate so much," wilfully ignores the more serious proposition that you apparently would read all of the above happening to someone you care about.

That's the motor that drives most fiction, Adrian: making the audience care about a sympathetic character so that they'll stay to the end of the story to see if s/he makes it out of the other end okay. I'm not sure it's fair to criticise Christian's statement as a dodgy assumption given that.

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Seriously though, I think you're needlessly ignoring a whole swathe of fiction, and

"you're a sick, twisted soul who reads books to see really bad things happen to people and you keep reading just to see horrible things happen to the characters you hate so much," wilfully ignores the more serious proposition that you apparently would read all of the above happening to someone you care about.

That's the motor that drives most fiction, Adrian: making the audience care about a sympathetic character so that they'll stay to the end of the story to see if s/he makes it out of the other end okay. I'm not sure it's fair to criticise Christian's statement as a dodgy assumption given that.

 

Hmm.

In a broader sense you are right (although I always maintain the reader has a small responsibility in collaborating with a writer). Since we are not talking about poor writing or badly written characters I don't think your "fictiony motory thingy" has that much relevance. Christian does care enough to hate them.

 

What I believe I have chastised him for is his contention that Mark responded to.

I was countering his statements and you will notice that at no point did I suggest it was a "dodgy assumption". It's not an assumption, it's his reaction to the characters.

It is however a dodgy dismissal of a story type - especially in the terms Christian outlined, which I will gratuitously paraphrase as:

 

A "I don't like these characters."

B "There are other people who I don't like who I would rather see die horribly in fiction."

C "Those of you (sic) who read this sort of thing blah blah blah ... not as good as me."

(Like I said, I could see the hyperbole in Christian's comment and took it as good-humoured.)

 

I did say he was wrong earlier, before his rant about how we should all want Adolf Hitler to die in every horror story instead of nubile girls, stupid americans and that nice Cary Elwes in Saw.

 

In fact I said you were somewhat right, but the statement "making the audience care about a sympathetic character so that they'll stay to the end of the story" is false. There is nothing wrong about making a character so unsympathetic that they'll stick around for a bit of schadenfreude.

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There's nothing wrong with it, but I can understand why someone might not want to carry on reading if they don't find the protagonists sympathetic.

 

That said, I disagree strongly with Christian's earlier posts.

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Seriously though, I think you're needlessly ignoring a whole swathe of fiction, and

"you're a sick, twisted soul who reads books to see really bad things happen to people and you keep reading just to see horrible things happen to the characters you hate so much," wilfully ignores the more serious proposition that you apparently would read all of the above happening to someone you care about.

That's the motor that drives most fiction, Adrian: making the audience care about a sympathetic character so that they'll stay to the end of the story to see if s/he makes it out of the other end okay. I'm not sure it's fair to criticise Christian's statement as a dodgy assumption given that.

 

Hmm.

In a broader sense you are right (although I always maintain the reader has a small responsibility in collaborating with a writer). Since we are not talking about poor writing or badly written characters I don't think your "fictiony motory thingy" has that much relevance. Christian does care enough to hate them.

 

What I believe I have chastised him for is his contention that Mark responded to.

I was countering his statements and you will notice that at no point did I suggest it was a "dodgy assumption". It's not an assumption, it's his reaction to the characters.

It is however a dodgy dismissal of a story type - especially in the terms Christian outlined, which I will gratuitously paraphrase as:

 

A "I don't like these characters."

B "There are other people who I don't like who I would rather see die horribly in fiction."

C "Those of you (sic) who read this sort of thing blah blah blah ... not as good as me."

(Like I said, I could see the hyperbole in Christian's comment and took it as good-humoured.)

 

I did say he was wrong earlier, before his rant about how we should all want Adolf Hitler to die in every horror story instead of nubile girls, stupid americans and that nice Cary Elwes in Saw.

 

In fact I said you were somewhat right, but the statement "making the audience care about a sympathetic character so that they'll stay to the end of the story" is false. There is nothing wrong about making a character so unsympathetic that they'll stick around for a bit of schadenfreude.

Fair points, I was just thinking of your suggested corrollary to Christian's point that his not wanting to read about ghastly things happening to horrible shits was that he wanted to read about ghastly things happening to people who didn't deserve anything of the sort. (The Hitler thing had, I admit, passed me by.)

 

I tend to prefer fiction about unsympathetic characters myself, but I've always got the impression that this turns off a lot of people who appear to just want to mindlessly empathise with a character who has no uncomfortable or disturbing elements to their personality. (But as you say, Hostel would have tanked if everybody thought that way.)

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"Fair points, I was just thinking of your suggested corrollary to Christian's point that his not wanting to read about ghastly things happening to horrible shits was that he wanted to read about ghastly things happening to people who didn't deserve anything of the sort. (The Hitler thing had, I admit, passed me by.)"

 

I said he "would" not he wanted to or even would prefer to.

It is a useful challenge to his polemic.

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I tend to prefer fiction about unsympathetic characters myself, but I've always got the impression that this turns off a lot of people who appear to just want to mindlessly empathise with a character who has no uncomfortable or disturbing elements to their personality.

 

Now you're doing the same thing that Christian was doing, but from the other end of the spectrum.

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I tend to prefer fiction about unsympathetic characters myself, but I've always got the impression that this turns off a lot of people who appear to just want to mindlessly empathise with a character who has no uncomfortable or disturbing elements to their personality.

 

Now you're doing the same thing that Christian was doing, but from the other end of the spectrum.

Quite probably, though to be fair it's a line I've seen a few editors come out with when describing the tastes of their audience (and not solely in rejection letters, come to that).

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