Last weekend, for Valentine’s Day, in a move that could only be the best in history, my husband and I went to see Deadpool. It was raunchy. It was hilarious. And it was a really, really good movie (that isn’t for kids – I feel like I’d be remiss in not stating that clearly).
Now y’all know I love comics. Gimme my sequential art. I need it like air. And if it’s a good adaptation and I can learn some stuff, all’s the better.
And now I share them with you. Five Things Writers Can Learn from Deadpool.
- Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue – I will get into this one later this week, but even if I just read the script and couldn’t hear the voices, each one was unique. It is so crucial that all your characters don’t sound exactly the same.
- Challenge all conventions – Do they think it’s going to be a comedy? Throw in some emotion. Woops, are they getting comfortable? Time to ruin that moment like a cold pair of feet under a comforter.
- Better be likable – There better be at least a few things the reader can look at in the main character and go, “Yeah! That guy is worth sticking around for!” Even if he’s a violent psychopath who really shouldn’t be looked at as the hero.
- Don’t be afraid of the first person – talk to me, Mr. Narrator. A conversational feel to a story can really pull us in.
- Happy endings aren’t just for garbage stories – it feels like we’ve gotten to a place as a culture that we expect something to go poorly at the close of the story. Someone dies. The hero fails. The villain escapes. The villain escapes with the girl who has fallen for him/her. And sure, not everything should work out with a little bow on top, but if you can have a happy ending now and then, it will absolutely keep your readers guessing.
Whatcha waiting for? Go get a chimichanga and head out to see Deadpool!
Dare to grab hold of things that make you really happy. Even if no one else gets it. Even if there isn’t a greater goal.
Watch cartoons. Read comic books.
Draw. Paint. Get a bucket of chalk and work your sidewalk until the rain washes it away.
Make things without agency or intention beyond bringing something into existence that wasn’t there before. Don’t you realize how godly that is?
Dress up and stay home.
Play with action figures.
Make castles in the sand.
Stop thinking about it.
Watching: Orange is the New Black — I’ve seen it all the way through Season 2 but now I’m watching it with the husband. What a great series. Fantastic characters, good story, it’s all awesome. Except Larry. But then, well, I think everyone feels that way. Even Jason Biggs.
Loving: Funko Pop Figures — “Your obsession with these things is getting out of hand,” I’ve been told. “Don’t you have too money of those?” I’ve also heard. No. No, no, no. I need more. Please and thank you. Next on my list is Groot. Also, if someone could hook me up with the bloody Hannibal from SDCC14, that would be great.
Reading: “Seconds” by Bryan Lee O’Malley — Y’all already know how I feel about Scott Pilgrim. Now, there’s a new, full length, COLOR (?!) comic out. So far, so good. And it’s another huge comic, on par with “Blankets.” I’m hearting it a lot.
Hearing: “Mandatory Fun” by Weird Al — I bought this album about a week ago and I cannot stop listening to it. It also has the first of his polka remixes that hasn’t made me want to be ill. I love it. Also, thank you, Weird Al, for creating a parody of that horrible song (which shall remain nameless) so now when I’m afraid it’s getting stuck in my head I just start singing YOUR words instead. And laugh.
Doing: Crochet — I am teaching myself crochet so I can do amigurumi and make adorable little somethings as gifts when I don’t feel like felting. I seem to have the chain stitch down, and that took longer than I thought. Next: single crochet! So much more excited than I should be!
It’s Monday. What are you doing?
That’s right, fans of sequential art in all its forms! And in celebration, here is a post I wrote about five comics that writers should read. Enjoy!
Comics. I love comics. They really were what made childhood awesome. My dad and I would go to the comic shop every week and buy stacks and stacks of comics, and as a result, I’ve never stopped loving them.
You don’t have to write comics, but there is a lot you can learn as a writer from them: characterization through dialogue, the importance of a strong image, the power of silence. Don’t ever tell me comics aren’t literature. They can be as powerful as a novel – memorable, emotional, character-driven. So what if it has pictures?
So! This week we have 5 comics for writers. I’ve tried to avoid long-running series – it wouldn’t be fair to go, “Read Batman” would it? – but there may be one or two that was technically serialized or came in multiple parts. Whatever.
1. Blankets by Craig Thompson
I started college with this graphic novel. It was the largest book I had ever owned, and it still dwarfs most of my collection (along with Thompson’s most recent work, Habibi, which is also worth reading). It is a beautiful story about growing up, falling in love, having it fall apart, and then putting your life together again. It’s Catcher in the Rye, Garden State and all those other teens-and-early-twenties-trying-to-make-sense-of-the-world movies and books altogether with beautiful dreamlike inkwork.
2. Watchmen by Alan Moore
At the basest look, Watchmen is a story about super heroes. And that alone makes it awesome. But when you start taking apart the characters, looking at them as they peel apart throughout the story, you realize that it’s a story about human beings. Each person in this book represents all the things a hero can be, and what a hero can become for a world that may or may not deserve him.
Speaking of heroes…
3. The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
This comic does pretty much the opposite of what Watchmen did. What we have here is a decoded, dissected look at a villain (a villain who plays the part of the narrator, at that). And then, as we think we know what is sanity and insanity, what is good and evil, the reader questions just how different the protagonist and antagonist are.
4. Maus by Art Spiegelman
This was the first “non-super-hero, not-for-kids comic” I ever read. It is a metafictional plot in which a father recounts his experiences as a Jew during World War II to his son (who is a comic artist). With all races being represented by animals – Germans are cats, Jews are mice, etc. – it is left up to Spiegelman’s amazing storytelling to make each creature unique enough in voice and features that they can be told apart.
5. Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley
I love Scott Pilgrim. I love this entire series so hard. When it was first pointed out to me at a local comic shop in Richmond, I had my doubts. But what started as this fantastical, video-game-esque surreal world became…well, it all became suddenly very real. Suddenly, you were seeing your own relationships, your own friendships, your own misconceptions of events.* It suddenly became this weird headtrip that put together every love you’ve ever had. It’s a lot of fun, and then it punches you in your heart-face.
*not in the movie. I liked the movie alright, but just…nope, everything was exactly as it seemed in the movie. Fuck.