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Will Pickering

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I agree with Christian.

 

The lull between issues, arcs and writers is where the real John Constantine is founded. I have no desire to have all these gaps filled, because that's how it would work in the real world. What happened to Leo Sayer between the seventies, that dance remix and Big Brother ? Who cares, don't need to know.

 

I think there'd be a very real danger of the kind of thing that besets those ongoing superhero comics ruining the story. As I said, I liked the implied time lapse leading into the end of the Tate (#214-215), and then there's six months until Mina's arc. The gaps give people like Mike Carey space to bring in some characters who John knows about from previous meetings that we have not read about - which is how real relationships work, and it's completely in keeping with someone who has "sworn off magic addiction".

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I kind of agree up to a point: there should be gaps in John's chronology where we don't know what he's getting up to, at least not until Jo McWriter needs to introduce an "old friend from way back" ten years later. But it's the distinction I was trying to make between hard and soft lacunae.

 

Put it this way...

 

A hard lacuna is like the gap between the end The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: obviously there are a few decades of Middle-earth history there, and we know Bilbo writes his book and perhaps visits Rivendell a couple of times, just as we assume Gandalf wanders back and forth through the affairs of the world doing whatever it is wizards do. But we don't know, or need to know, much more than that -- because it's abundantly clear that if there had been a whole other saga of Baggins vs. Monsters of Old between the death of Smaug and the War of the Ring, somebody in LOTR would have mentioned it.

 

A soft lacuna is more like the gaps between Die Hard movies. Two Christmases running, John McClaine has the misfortune to get caught up in major terrorist incidents; a few years later, he is specifically targeted for a revenge attack on a similar scale. We know almost nothing else about his life, except that his marriage is an on-again/off-again thing -- but McClaine is also a cop, so it's a perfectly safe assumption that he has to confront other dangerous situations from time to time, even if we never hear about them because a bog-standard liquor-store heist doesn't have the epic son-et-lumiere potential to form the basis of a major action movie.

 

I suppose I see Constantine as more like Bruce Willis than Ian Holm.

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Another example of hard vs. soft:

 

A Study in Scarlet is largely set in 1882, after Dr Watson returns from Afghanistan, although it was actually written and published a few years later. With the exception of Gloria Scott and The Musgrave Ritual, all the other Sherlock Holmes stories are set after 1886. So from '82 to '86 you've got a soft lacuna in which Holmes and Watson are living and working together, investigating cases Conan Doyle never recorded.

 

By contrast, Holmes is missing presumed dead between 1891 and 1894, while Watson is married and practising medicine in Paddington. That's a hard lacuna - it's not impossible that Watson took on the occasional criminal investigation during the period to keep his hand in, but if he did it would have been without Holmes.

 

There is a place for hard lacunae in fictional lives, but they need to be used sparingly. In general, soft ones are more fun. One of the things fans love about Doyle is his propensity to litter the Holmes stories with throwaway references to other cases - The Canary Trainer, The Colossal Schemes of Baron Maupertuis and the Netherland-Sumatra Trading Company, etc - and leave the reader to imagine the details. I've often thought that was something that would translate well to Hellblazer, but then I'm old enough to remember when "the exorcism at Newcastle" filled much the same role.

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I've often thought that was something that would translate well to Hellblazer, but then I'm old enough to remember when "the exorcism at Newcastle" filled much the same role.

 

Other authors have thrown in bits and pieces like that on occasion; Neil Gaiman made reference to "The Lupus Affair" in a couple of his Constantine stories, Ennis had Terry Butcher as some never-seen background character whose death was the subject of a couple of conflicting stories and Carey made reference to some of John's off-panel adventures - most notably in the Third Worlds trilogy.

 

Oh, and Azzarello had something about a young girl in "...and Buried?" although that was probably a plot thread that he never got around to wrapping off rather than a throwaway remark.

 

Anyway...

 

I accept there's some textual evidence - I believe I mentioned the real Park Circus fire - that Empathy and Red Left Hand were set in 2006

 

And, you know, the England v Portugal 2006 match.

 

that gives us a hard lacuna (in which no future flashbacks can happen) of over three years, which is crazy.

 

Not really. You can throw in flashbacks, just have them be flashbacks to stories where John uses his brains rather than magic. The only problem with that All His Engines is set in 2004, which contradicts your hard lacuna. But that was always supposed to be out of continuity anyway (and I like to imagine it leading directly into Azzarello's run on the book).

 

The only continuity problem really is that unless you're willing to set flashbacks in America or fill up the weeks inbetween Cat and Mouse and Black Flowers with loads of events, there's a period of six years (from 2000-2006) where you can't set any flashbacks that don't tie into existing stories in some way.

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