But Seb, why does Fantasy work in the Orient?
If you can say equally say, "Art is usually a single image that inspires the imagination, whereas comics contains multiple images that (more often than not) limit the imagination," then I'd be interested in the reasons you think so. If you think fantasy is somehow special in being innappropriate for sequential art, then I still think you're cracked.
But I will allow that some approaches to fantasy won't translate well to comics (or any other visual medium for that matter) - I just can't swallow it as a blanket statement applied to fantasy in general. Some works of many different genres would probably translate equally badly.
The "usually" most likely applies because they haven't usually been done all that well, just like a lot of the fantasy stuff in other mediums. It's a flaw in the execution, I think, not in the medium.And, again, I stress USUALLY. There are some FANTASTIC exceptions.
Or I may just be in denial because I want to do a fantasy comic.
Two of the recent fantasy books/lines that seemed to offer something new, but disappeared, were Battle Chasers and most of the CrossGen line.
Battle Chasers suffered from the creator losing interest in his own comics work and playing video games... Wouldn't be surprised if they were fantasy based themselves.
And CrossGen suffered from... too much "Cross" and not as much "Gen." If the books in the line hadn't been pitched as a giant interconnected line (that never actually panned out, as far as I know), they might've done well enough simply on their own accord. Some of the stuff was quite good.
Final Fantasy (based off the video games), which is a bit of a mixed genre of Fantasy and Sci-Fi, would've probably made for an excellent selling comic in the US if they'd done a fully American version of it. Not sure if there's a Manga of it or not, but I think licensing it out to an American company would've had a decent draw at the time of FF9 or FF10. And new readers would've come in when the MMO of FF11 came out. Same lines, Everquest could've possibly done well. Not sure if I'm way off base... haven't looked at the numbers for the WoW comics lately.
But those are, again, adaptations, more than original material.
My favorite fantasy comic has gotta' be Poison Elves. Not a huge seller, but definitely an original take on the genre. In fact, I'd say the fantasy aspect is such a minor component of the book compared to the characters themselves (Luse in particular of course).
Sigh, friggin' Green Bay.. <-- From Wisconsin.Yes, I saw football! I love it!
I gotta agree with Seb here. I think there's two big reasons why fantasy doesn't work as good in comics. 1. The whole term, fantasy, so close to 'fantasize,' 'visualize.' I think most fantasy readers are pretty original, creative, and intelligent creatures (not saying other comic book readers aren't).. And there's a certain allure to a fantasy novel. You're kind of, in a way, creating your own world. Yeah, you're reading somebody else's world, but all the little details, the colors, the look and feel is in your head as much as it's on the page. Two people's experiences / visions from any given fantasy novel may be very different and I think that's the beauty in it. We're kind of creating our own vision of this world as we read along. And 2., As has been said, there just hasn't been that many fantasy comic books (especially good or successful ones).
If you look at a shelf of 50 superhero comics you'll probably find one you like, but if you look at a shelf of 5 fantasy comics, good luck. And it also touches back on culture / our society. People in America still look at comics and shrug them off as children's stories. Some comics can pierce through that notion but not many non-comic book fans will admit it. We watch TV and we go to the movies. That's why there's so many different genres of movies out there, so many different TV shows (okay, reality TV and non-reality.. Erm) on.. Superheroes kinda lucked out and beat us to the punch. Fantasy, not so much. In the realm of comics atleast. Which is kind of sad because there's so much potential.
But take this with a grain of salt; The only fantasy stories I've ever seen were the Lord of the Rings movies. :/ So I so don't know what I'm talking about.
That's just a function of the "90% of everything is crap" reality. And the percentage of interest. The average person could look at a bookstore full of novels and find one they like, but if they look at a shelf of fantasy novels, good luck. Just like the average person could look at a shelf of 50 superhero comics and find nothing they like. Fantasy is a niche - it's a niche in the world of novels (and movies), so it's also a niche in the world of comics. And since comics are already a niche, fantasy comics are a niche of a niche.And 2., As has been said, there just hasn't been that many fantasy comic books (especially good or successful ones).
If you look at a shelf of 50 superhero comics you'll probably find one you like, but if you look at a shelf of 5 fantasy comics, good luck.
That's certainly a reality anyone wanting to make a fantasy comic needs to keep in mind, but it doesn't equate to fantasy "not working" in comics. Superheroes definitely rule the roost in comics, so it could be argued that working in any other genre is going to be an uphill battle. But to the segment of the comic reading population who are not superhero-junkies, I really can't see why a well-produced fantasy comic shouldn't be as appealing as any other genre (assuming they don't simply dislike fantasy entirely).
I guess, for me, it comes down to not being able to see, "It hasn't been done much," as a reason it shouldn't be done. If anything, I think that's more reason it should be done.
Most people feel exactly the same way about fantasy novels (or movies). And science fiction too (though it gets a hair more respect). Compare the scifi/fantasy section at your local bookstore to the rest of the store. Scifi/fantasy is a tiny fraction of the inventory. That doesn't mean the genre "doesn't work" in novels.And it also touches back on culture / our society. People in America still look at comics and shrug them off as children's stories.
Last edited by CalvinCamp; Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 04:39 PM.
Dark Horse recently released a Kull comic book.
And in June 09, Barack the Barbarian sold over 21,000 copies...that's not too shabby. That's a lot more than I thought they would sell. It's a played out concept, but DD was able to squeeze out a little bit of juice with sales numbers higher than the average comic they produce.
I think George RR Martin is one of the best fantasy writers today. If you haven't picked up "Game of Thrones" you should do so immediately.
Game of Thrones? Isn't that being adapted into a TV series by HBO?
Ok I'd like to throw my hat in here. Mind you, I haven't read every response so it may already have been said.
I think fanatasy works better for novels, vs. comics for a bunch of reasons.
1. I think time has a lot to do with it. Forby mentioned world and character building- In a novel which is broken up by chapters, there's a lot of time that can be used to build up the worlds- what makes them special. you can have a few paragraphs here and there just describing a certain place, or backstory of a character.
In comics you have 22 pages, or go the GN route. But people want to know within X amount of pages who's who and what's what, just to get on with the story. But in a novel there's more time for it.
2. Nothing can beat the imagination. In a novel the writer describes things to you but your imagination fills in the blanks. So it's taylored to your personal tastes.
In comics the artist does that for you. And I must admit there are a lot of fantasy comics that don't do the books any justice. I was sorely dissappointed with Dabels Dragon Lance series. The art was eh' ok I guess. But nowdays people are exposed to video games, tv, cartoons and stuff like that where the imagination is pushed up way further than mediocre art standards.
3. And this is important. I think fanatsy can work if you have a specific story to tell. Not just being a writer and wanting to throw your hat into a specific genre, which is what writers want to do. Not saying they can't. But I think alot of comics writers just don't like it. Think of the format for most every fantasy story- the hero goes on a quest. And people think they can do things differently by doing "their" version, which ends up more of the same thing. And I think people get caught up playing with the fun elements they fail or forget to captivate the heart of the audience. If not it's more of the same.
4. It has to come form the heart and overcome the medium. Which is way easier said than done. I have a fantasy series I'm working on and as I learn more and more I keep rehashing things but I'm at a point where I'm happy with it and now it's just the creative process that'll take time. I'm hoping it won't be the same ol story. And if it is, I'm hoping the delivery and execution pulls it off so that it engages the reader.
5. Just get some good artists for the projects. Not the up and comers who really can't hold it together. I understand the situation and it goes like this. New artist wants to become an established artist. Generic but up and coming publisher wants to do a fantasy comic and hires newcomer for cheap, or free and bam! Fantasy comic produced. Not so great but done. I'm not mocking the artists, or the publishers who have done this but that's where this topic is at right now. And these situations only contribute to what's been happening so far.
Anyways, thanks Steven for the great articles. I've been coming back each week since week 14 or 15 and never miss a beat.