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  1. #1
    Veteran Member Trey Strain's Avatar
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    Default Hey hey, ho ho, decompression's got to go

    When Stan Lee started using decompression in the 1960s, comics cost 12 cents. So it wasn't a big deal that readers had to buy an armload of comics to get a compete story.

    It's very different today though, and what was pretty harmless fifty tears ago has become a problem.

    It's long past time for writers to start getting their stories told more compactly.

  2. #2
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    Actually Stan started doing continued stories not decompression as we think of it today. These are two very different things. And any one of those single issues could be read in isolation and be read and enjoyed on it's own. You didn't have to buy two or three other titles in order to understand the story.

  3. #3
    Elder Member t hedge coke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ed2962 View Post
    Actually Stan started doing continued stories not decompression as we think of it today. These are two very different things. And any one of those single issues could be read in isolation and be read and enjoyed on it's own. You didn't have to buy two or three other titles in order to understand the story.
    Yes and no. Those weren't just continued stories. Even early FF would break for more intimate moments in a way that most, if not all superhero comics prior did not. By the last third of the Kirby/Lee FF, storylines and plots would come in fugues, without narrative regard to the issue, so you'd want to keep buying, keep reading; you'd "have" to keep up. Those are applications of decompression. Reed showing Sue the special tree at his alma mater is decompression, but so are splash pages or multi-page fights. Anything beyond the action-to-action summary style that comics have been growing away from (in the same fashion most narrative mediums grow away from) is, in essence, an act of decompression. Hence, it being entirely possible (and with some authors, frequent) for a comic to use both decompression and hypercompression simultaneously.

    Plenty of comics use decompression without requiring you to read more than one issue. Decompression is, at its simplest, according a moment the amount of space in a comic that suits it best. You should still, always, be getting an at-the-moment rewarding experience. Otherwise, that's not decompression that's disappointing, it's poor comics-ing (or just a comic that isn't to your taste). Having to buy two or three different titles to understand or enjoy a single comic isn't decompression, it's, well, crossovers or the comics equivalent of an ingrown toenail.
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  4. #4
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    If Bendis can get away with murder every month, then I see no reason why these modern writers would do things differently. Thankfully not everyone at the Big Two writes comics that can be read in five minutes, but the house style push for stories that fit in TPBs has pretty much killed what was for me a weekly hobby since childhood.

    A good "one and done" takes more effort to compose than a story stretched out to six issues, so I understand why a lot of these guys don't even bother.

  5. #5
    NearMintMill Founder Cross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by t hedge coke View Post

    Plenty of comics use decompression without requiring you to read more than one issue. Decompression is, at its simplest, according a moment the amount of space in a comic that suits it best. You should still, always, be getting an at-the-moment rewarding experience. Otherwise, that's not decompression that's disappointing, it's poor comics-ing (or just a comic that isn't to your taste). Having to buy two or three different titles to understand or enjoy a single comic isn't decompression, it's, well, crossovers or the comics equivalent of an ingrown toenail.
    well said.

    there is nothing wrong with decompression. stories in any form should take the appropriate amount of time that best tells the story. period. speaking as someone who's had to work with stories that were confined to a specific number of pages or issues, it just plain sucks. it's horribly frustrating. because you are physically incapable of doing true justice to the story because of the restrictions. things get cut out, left out, edited down. and the story suffers for it. and what happens? critics complain about it feeling rushed. lament that certain things werent expounded on etc etc.

    yeah comics dont cost what they did back in the day. but comics are called a hobby for a reason. they often take dedication and yes money. really good comics arent constrained and they put in the effort to truly tell a story. which. takes. time. you have to look at them like you do a tv show. some episodes are self contained into one. but others unfold over time, and you come back week after week to see it. just like comics, you come back month after month to read it.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by t hedge coke View Post
    Yes and no. Those weren't just continued stories. Even early FF would break for more intimate moments in a way that most, if not all superhero comics prior did not. By the last third of the Kirby/Lee FF, storylines and plots would come in fugues, without narrative regard to the issue, so you'd want to keep buying, keep reading; you'd "have" to keep up. Those are applications of decompression. Reed showing Sue the special tree at his alma mater is decompression, but so are splash pages or multi-page fights. Anything beyond the action-to-action summary style that comics have been growing away from (in the same fashion most narrative mediums grow away from) is, in essence, an act of decompression. Hence, it being entirely possible (and with some authors, frequent) for a comic to use both decompression and hypercompression simultaneously.

    Plenty of comics use decompression without requiring you to read more than one issue. Decompression is, at its simplest, according a moment the amount of space in a comic that suits it best. You should still, always, be getting an at-the-moment rewarding experience. Otherwise, that's not decompression that's disappointing, it's poor comics-ing (or just a comic that isn't to your taste). Having to buy two or three different titles to understand or enjoy a single comic isn't decompression, it's, well, crossovers or the comics equivalent of an ingrown toenail.
    When I think of decompression, I'm not so much thinking about what's happening in the story as much as I'm thinking the pace and technique in which it's told. I'm thinking of say one panel where Clark greets Bruce and says "Hi. How are you doing?" vs six panels of that exact same thing. Now of course, you can have six panel of that exact same dialogue and tell a an actual story within that one page, but it depends on what you're communicating. I think there's some comics out there that take a slower pace because they want you to appreciate the mood, dialogue, character etc, but there's others that are formula stories and they're just wasting time.

    You're right when you point out that buying multiple titles is really a crossover problem rather than a decompression problem. It uh...just kinda irks me sometimes...

  7. #7
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    Maybe an example we can look at would be Watchmen. The plot that's taking place in the present would only take 6-7 issues. Almost half of the story is giving the reader the back story of certain characters and events. But it's the exact opposite of decompression. It's incredibly dense and those diversions actually enhance the greater over narrative. And those individual issues work as stories on there own in a way.

  8. #8
    FF purist/snob CaptCleghorn's Avatar
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    These are comic book stories. One can look at a plot and decide that X issues will handle that story and others may disagree. It's not deciding how many truckloads a pile of freight will take based on truly quantifiable packing techniques. It's deciding size and number of panels. With this artist, a certain double page spread would be magnificent. With another, the self same panel is a waste of space. Some artists can do exquisite facial expressions which can be used as a balloonless panel to convey emotion. A page of Kevin Maguire faces reacting, awesome. Another lesser facial artist, a single panel with balloons is all that's needed.

    It's all qualitative and impossible to define exactly.

  9. #9
    Elder Member t hedge coke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ed2962 View Post
    Maybe an example we can look at would be Watchmen. The plot that's taking place in the present would only take 6-7 issues. Almost half of the story is giving the reader the back story of certain characters and events. But it's the exact opposite of decompression. It's incredibly dense and those diversions actually enhance the greater over narrative. And those individual issues work as stories on there own in a way.
    It's not the opposite, though. A lot of Watchmen are tracking shots over several panels, or suspended moments, lengthy rumination, reactions. (Watchmen is, also, I think, blatantly, "written for the trade," for that matter.)

    I'm going by decompression as defined by Warren Ellis, here, who popularized the term, though the techniques are much older. It's just extending pacing beyond action-to-action or action-to-accomplishment. Decompression isn't a lack of density of plot or information. No single panel, image, or framed painting, etc, needs to lack informational density just for being an image or moment. Information isn't just found in those action-to-action or action-to-accomplishment transitions.

    I think I get the things that bug you, and why the aren't to your liking, but they're not exactly what decompression is, or limited to comics relying on decompression.
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  10. #10
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    Yeah I'm thinking of dropping some comics if the situation doesn't improve. I wonder how decompression has figured into lower comic sales with people waiting for trades or not bothering at all.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by t hedge coke View Post
    Yes and no. Those weren't just continued stories. Even early FF would break for more intimate moments in a way that most, if not all superhero comics prior did not. By the last third of the Kirby/Lee FF, storylines and plots would come in fugues, without narrative regard to the issue, so you'd want to keep buying, keep reading; you'd "have" to keep up. Those are applications of decompression. Reed showing Sue the special tree at his alma mater is decompression, but so are splash pages or multi-page fights. Anything beyond the action-to-action summary style that comics have been growing away from (in the same fashion most narrative mediums grow away from) is, in essence, an act of decompression. Hence, it being entirely possible (and with some authors, frequent) for a comic to use both decompression and hypercompression simultaneously.

    Plenty of comics use decompression without requiring you to read more than one issue. Decompression is, at its simplest, according a moment the amount of space in a comic that suits it best. You should still, always, be getting an at-the-moment rewarding experience. Otherwise, that's not decompression that's disappointing, it's poor comics-ing (or just a comic that isn't to your taste). Having to buy two or three different titles to understand or enjoy a single comic isn't decompression, it's, well, crossovers or the comics equivalent of an ingrown toenail.
    Hmmmmm... I'm not sure about that. Have you read any of Hickman's Avengers?

  12. #12
    Elder Member t hedge coke's Avatar
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    I think, one thing that decompression-heavy comics don't necessarily reward is skimming. If you're skimming a comic by only stopping to read the words or treating a splash page as you would a single panel, it probably all goes by too fast and a lot gets missed that might, otherwise, be enjoyable/significant. There's a lot of wordless information in, say, Batman Inc or New Maps of Hell, but if you're skimming (especially skimming to get to the next storyline), then New Maps of Hell is going to just zip by as over a tenth of it is transformation sequences and prepping vehicles for launch that won't lead into the next year's stories. Context gets lost. But, also, visual information, body language, silent actions, or details of setting get lost, and those might, otherwise, have energy and purpose to them.

    If you're flipping past the parts of a Sin City comic without words, or zipping through Skip Beat as fast as you can read the words, you're missing out on what makes them more than just passable.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliffHanger2 View Post
    Hmmmmm... I'm not sure about that. Have you read any of Hickman's Avengers?
    I've read too much Hickman. Decompression isn't his problem. Dragging things out with the promise it'll eventually be worthwhile, or for the incredibly rare decent character moment... those and some weird social politics in his fictional worlds... those are problems. (For me. Some people love his comics.) Decompression doesn't mean "slow" or "never developing anything." or "talking heads."

    Quote Originally Posted by CliffHanger2 View Post
    Yeah I'm thinking of dropping some comics if the situation doesn't improve. I wonder how decompression has figured into lower comic sales with people waiting for trades or not bothering at all.
    If something's not working, you might as well drop it. If you change your mind later... well, you can read it later, right? I know we're "not supposed to" demand immediate satisfaction, but especially with entertainment, I demand immediate satisfaction. There's too much good stuff out there, not to.
    Last edited by t hedge coke; 05-21-2016 at 02:05 PM.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by t hedge coke View Post



    I've read too much Hickman. Decompression isn't his problem. Dragging things out with the promise it'll eventually be worthwhile, or for the incredibly rare decent character moment... those and some weird social politics in his fictional worlds... those are problems. (For me. Some people love his comics.) Decompression doesn't mean "slow" or "never developing anything." or "talking heads."



    If something's not working, you might as well drop it. If you change your mind later... well, you can read it later, right? I know we're "not supposed to" demand immediate satisfaction, but especially with entertainment, I demand immediate satisfaction. There's too much good stuff out there, not to.
    See I guess that's what most ppl think of as decompression-dragging things out. I know i do but I guess done right it can be good like DBZ.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by t hedge coke View Post
    It's not the opposite, though. A lot of Watchmen are tracking shots over several panels, or suspended moments, lengthy rumination, reactions. (Watchmen is, also, I think, blatantly, "written for the trade," for that matter.)

    I'm going by decompression as defined by Warren Ellis, here, who popularized the term, though the techniques are much older. It's just extending pacing beyond action-to-action or action-to-accomplishment. Decompression isn't a lack of density of plot or information. No single panel, image, or framed painting, etc, needs to lack informational density just for being an image or moment. Information isn't just found in those action-to-action or action-to-accomplishment transitions.

    I think I get the things that bug you, and why the aren't to your liking, but they're not exactly what decompression is, or limited to comics relying on decompression.
    But within those Watchmen tracking shots and repeated images, there's still emotion or information expressed. It's being done to create an effect rather than just to drag out a conventional story. There's the building of suspense etc. Plus with that particular story there's often background details that gain meaning on 2nd or 3rd reading. So while nothing is happening plot-wise, the reader is still gaining something as far as the reading experience.

    When I think of decompression...maybe this isn't the best way to describe it, but it's like you've got a page to fill up, but instead of typing more words, you start using unusually larger font.
    Last edited by ed2962; 05-21-2016 at 03:33 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliffHanger2 View Post
    Yeah I'm thinking of dropping some comics if the situation doesn't improve. I wonder how decompression has figured into lower comic sales with people waiting for trades or not bothering at all.
    I've heard/read that from a number of people. That they prefer to trade wait because it's a more satisfactory experience.

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