magesmagesmages said: So I'm reading the notes on WicDiv you posted and I had a thought. We studied comics and graphic novels in high school and I was taught HOW to teach them as an English teacher, but it always depended on having the entire story arc (or the entire graphic novel) so we could examine themes and track the journey to a definite ending. How do you feel about people attempting to critique a comic BEFORE the ending is reached? It's almost a unique-to-comics problem, at least in print literature!
It’s a tricky one, innit?
It’s unique in present printed stories, though historically not. If we’re talking 19th century novels, serialisation and even the author responding to what audience liked or didn’t was entirely how things were done. There’s a reason why Ellis gives “Read Dickens” as part of his three-part essay series on writing comics. They didn’t have fandom like we do now, but they had a period equivalent.
And obviously if we move away from printed stories, we hit TV, and the critique-as-you-go-along is very much part of the culture there. It’s obviously limited in all the ways you describe, but you can do something there…
In a real way, that a narrative is presented piecemeal means that you have to accept, allow and even encourage the readers to process it as it’s presented them. Yes, they can leap to their conclusions which is painful and messy, but that you’re showing the story the way you are means you have to accept that.
(And you can mitigate against it - cross-ref: WicDiv lampshading elements that are problematic as a nod to an attentive reader. You can argue about that as a tactic, of course - it is, on some level, arguably patronising the reader. There are no right answers. For us, we skew towards “We’d rather be upfront we’re writing about a thing than being a thing,” at least in something like WicDiv.)
There are strengths to the chapter-by-chapter deep reading though - it’s a lot of fun to simply not know. It’s intellectually less stringent, of course, but riffing on what you see now is a giggle. In some ways, if you don’t get a thrill from following a narrative month from month and doing discussions about whats-it-all-about internally, single issues are probably a bad way to read a story.
(We’re interested in the difference between a live-story and a dead story, artistically. When the whole thing is done, in some ways, it is dead. If there’s a fandom around it, it’ll be about exploring that terrain or tracing the influence on yourself. However, now, it’s a live interaction. It’s like following a band when it’s still touring. Both can be a joy, but they are different things.)
Er… that went on longer than I was planning. And more rambly.
In short: go knock yourselves out.