Comics vs. Novels, TV vs. Film

Been thinking about this lately.  All four are great media for storytelling, and each has its own strength and weeknesses.  I wanted to talk about that a little bit, maybe get your own thoughts on the subject.  This is just thinking out loud, really.

I never followed a single television series with any great interest until 1998, when I caught the second and third seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in reruns and got hooked.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say an early infatuation with a pre-skinny Sarah Michelle Gellar added some appeal.  I fell in love with the characters, who grew so much over two short seasons.

I quickly realized the longterm storytelling potential of the serial television format.  It’s the same as in longform comics series.  Both serve characters more than story.  We get to know the characters and watch them grow over time, travelling through several character arcs, rather than the single arc presented by films of novels.  For character buffs like me, it’s heaven.

Which isn’t to take anything away from novels or film.  No way.  Both are excellent for stories.  They just lack that, dare I say, soap opera thrill.  You’ll never see a Luke and Laura reunion in a novel, and that’s the way it should be.

Are their exceptions on either side?  Sure!  Look at Harry Potter or The Dark Tower.  Keep an eye open for Brian Keene’s upcoming The Labyrinth series.  And some of comics best work has been in limited series such as Watchmen.  There’s been some misfires, as well.  Look at the mess that is just about any Marvel or DC character’s continuity.  And a lot of your television crime serials are two busy solving the mystery of the week to do anything more than pay lip service to such paltry things as character developement.

The trick is balancing the best aspects of all media and creating something durable, yet flexible.  Something that will let characters grow and change, yet not turn into an unbelievable mess.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

1 thought on “Comics vs. Novels, TV vs. Film

  1. I’m working up a similar blog post. I think comics, film and TV each have something to learn from one another, and they each have their own bad habits.

    And a big part of the problem of each medium is too many rules beyond just telling a damn good story.

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