Humour, adventure, or both?

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starscape
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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by starscape »

Im pretty much the opposite. Indeed, it amazes me adults here can still enjoy humour comics. To me, they are so juvenile, they are far beyond me. Nothing wrong with that - its the way its supposed to be. Nostalgia sure, comics study, fine, but I just cant see anything funny in them. Viz I get but then, its adult humour.

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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by Raven »

starscape wrote:Im pretty much the opposite. Indeed, it amazes me adults here can still enjoy humour comics. To me, they are so juvenile, they are far beyond me. Nothing wrong with that - its the way its supposed to be. Nostalgia sure, comics study, fine, but I just cant see anything funny in them. Viz I get but then, its adult humour.
Don't you think Johnny Fartpants, Buster Gonad and His Unfeasibly Large Testicles, Rude Kid, etc. are extremely juvenile in their humour? (I think of adult humour as Martin Amis, Evelyn Waugh, Howard Jacobson, Peter Cary, etc. Not sure what the comics equivalent would be.)

And what about superheroes? You said you were reading Fantastic Four from the start a while ago, if I recall correctly. Mister Fantastic, Doctor Doom - all that was aimed at ten year olds, too, wasn't it?

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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by starscape »

We might call Viz juvenile but it is for adults really.

Yeah, early FF wasnt my favourite. I still get embarrased by enlargo-rays and the rest but it did become "all ages", in the same way that something like the Simpsons is. The Beano isnt designed to be all ages. If you like it, fair enough but I really struggle to raise a smile.

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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by Lew Stringer »

Raven wrote: Don't you think Johnny Fartpants, Buster Gonad and His Unfeasibly Large Testicles, Rude Kid, etc. are extremely juvenile in their humour?
Viz isn't just about crude gags though is it? (That's the mistake its pale imitators made.) Strips such as Eight Ace, Tasha Slappa, and The Drunken Bakers are a satire on modern times. Not to mention the surreal comedy of some of Davey Jones' strips.
Raven wrote:And what about superheroes? You said you were reading Fantastic Four from the start a while ago, if I recall correctly. Mister Fantastic, Doctor Doom - all that was aimed at ten year olds, too, wasn't it?
Surely as we grow older we appreciate those early Marvel comics in a different way? We can learn to understand the craft that goes into them, or just enjoy them as a bit of lightweight fun?
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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by Lew Stringer »

starscape wrote:Im pretty much the opposite. Indeed, it amazes me adults here can still enjoy humour comics. To me, they are so juvenile, they are far beyond me.
I kind of see your point, as I stopped reading children's humour comics when I was 16 and only started again when I was pursuing a career in comics at 20. By which time I was enjoying them in a different way, for storytelling techniques, studying the art styles etc. and what made comics tick. They didn't amuse me in the same way as they did when I was nine, and I wouldn't expect them to, but I still enjoyed them. Besides, good art is good art, regardless of what age it's aimed at.
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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by Raven »

Lew Stringer wrote: Viz isn't just about crude gags though is it? (That's the mistake its pale imitators made.) Strips such as Eight Ace, Tasha Slappa, and The Drunken Bakers are a satire on modern times. Not to mention the surreal comedy of some of Davey Jones' strips.
I didn't say it was, and I think its best stuff isn't, particularly. But a lot of its humour has always been unashamedly juvenile.

Raven wrote: Surely as we grow older we appreciate those early Marvel comics in a different way? We can learn to understand the craft that goes into them, or just enjoy them as a bit of lightweight fun?
And surely the same applies to classic UK humour comics? My point is just that, ultimately, superhero comics are no less juvenile, really, in essence, than any other, and someone could just as easily say "It amazes me adults here can still enjoy the simplistic power fantasies of superhero comics." None of this is truly "adult" stuff. Don't you find the supposedly adult, Clinty stuff too often reads like an emotionally arrested thirteen year old's private fantasy?

I think the best of the humour material can work on an all ages level like, say, classic Warner Brothers cartoons.

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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by starscape »

I dont think humour has to work on many levels to be good. Depending on your age, programmes like Button Moon or Mr Benn were compulsive viewing. But not as an adult. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Likewise, the Tomorrow People I loved but was stunned how childish it was on a reviewing. Sapphire and Steel was another story. No way was that understandable for children.

The novels of Willard Price pretty much shaped my career in wildlife. Sorely disappointed that they werent readable as an adult but they were inspirational as a youngster.

Many people do write off superheroes but I would argue its not that different from mythology, its now written almost exclusively for adults (with a few exceptions), from a couple of years into the "Marvel Age", emotions young kids didnt have became a staple diet and, finally, adults do enjoy superhero movies. Comics are pretty much a storyboard (not quite but you take the point). There is an inherent silliness in them but from about FF 25, they were deliberately all ages. I believe the Beano deliberately is juvenile. Maybe newspaper strips like Oor Wullie and the Broons or Garfield are more all ages but I cant think of comics designed to appeal to adults as much as kids.

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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by Lew Stringer »

starscape wrote: I cant think of comics designed to appeal to adults as much as kids.
Not so much in this country, no, because for better or worse there's been a tradition of humour comics being 'kid's stuff' for 100 years or more. Although recent Beanos have shown more sophistication in some stories, which made me laugh at any rate, and I'd say Ken Reid's Jonah in the 1950s or The Nervs in 1968 would raise a chuckle for anyone from 7 to 90. (91 year olds might like it too.)

Thing is though, adults on this forum aren't buying comics for the same reasons as they did when they were children anyway. As the discussions on nursery comics and girls comics have shown, members here are interested in appreciating the artwork. The age the comics were aimed at becomes irrelevant in that respect.

It is a shame though that the UK didn't follow the model of Europe where some humour comics are for all ages. Still, it's never too late.
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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by Raven »

starscape wrote: Sapphire and Steel was another story. No way was that understandable for children.
I watched and understood that as a child! I would imagine its most enthusiastic audience was kids; it was one of those that shows got discussed in school the next day. (Initially presented to Thames as a kids' show, it obviously changed a bit when ATV took it on for an evening slot.)
The Tomorrow People will always seem especially juvenile because the central cast were kids, though it's just been reinvented as a US show for an older audience.
starscape wrote: The novels of Willard Price pretty much shaped my career in wildlife. Sorely disappointed that they werent readable as an adult but they were inspirational as a youngster.
I read one of those a couple of years ago, out of interest - Cannibal Adventure! - after hearing some fond recollections, and, yes, you're right about the readability. (Their wildlife escapades seemed very dodgy to me, going around capturing wild animals in their natural habitat and flogging them to zoos, circuses, and Seaworld!)
starscape wrote:Many people do write off superheroes but I would argue its not that different from mythology, its now written almost exclusively for adults
Yes, but superhero comics are mainly written for the fast-dwindling market of forty-somethings who never shook off their pre-adolescent reading habits (I think a lot of that stuff made such an impact on ten year old minds, many find it hard to put aside, and still hope to get the same experience.)

I don't think they were really "all ages" from FF 25 because generally adults don't read those kind of juvenile power fantasies; it's all too simplistic, and usually with terrible, corny dialogue that, itself, wouldn't be readable to most. (You know, a character called Galactus booming "I am doomed to ride the endless skyways! Know you not that none may thwart my will? So speaks Galactus!" etc. This is kids' stuff.) I think the material more genuinely likely to be of interest to older readers tended be outside the superhero realm.

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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by starscape »

Marvel, at the height of its power, was written for all ages quite deliberately, including adults. Stan Lee made many tours of colleges and universities -the main buyers of his comics in the USA. Although there was enough four-coloured action for kids, no child would be interested in Reed and Sue falling out over her pregnancy, Johnny Storm being insanely jealous over a broken love affair with Crystal as she leaves for Pietro or Matt Murdock not revealing his love for his secretary due to his disability. I wasnt a great fan of the early Mar-Vell but there was pretty much nothing but adult space opera in there. Not a lot for kids (in the same way that Star Trek the next generation was far more adult space opera than Thunderbirds).

It was escapist fiction with as much corn as there was Shakespeare but it was aimed at (after a while) and sold to adults. I still think the Galactus trilogy is a terrific read. Not exclusively for adults but with enough in there to be a great ride.

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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by Phoenix »

Raven wrote:Don't you think Johnny Fartpants, Buster Gonad and His Unfeasibly Large Testicles, Rude Kid, etc. are extremely juvenile in their humour? (I think of adult humour as Martin Amis, Evelyn Waugh, Howard Jacobson, Peter Cary, etc. Not sure what the comics equivalent would be.)
Lew Stringer wrote:Viz isn't just about crude gags though is it? (That's the mistake its pale imitators made.) Strips such as Eight Ace, Tasha Slappa, and The Drunken Bakers are a satire on modern times.
Raven wrote:I didn't say it was, and I think its best stuff isn't, particularly. But a lot of its humour has always been unashamedly juvenile.
You are obviously familiar with the content of Viz, Raven, and it seems to me that although you are distinguishing between, on the one hand, the extremely juvenile humour in some of the strips, and, on the other, its best stuff, you don't feel that its best stuff can stand comparison with the adult humour that you see in the novels by the writers you mention, although you don't then go on to give us any indication of the nature of that adult humour. Is it not just possible that you are guilty of dismissing too quickly the strips that Lew identifies as being a satire on modern times, when expert commentators of English literature would agree that novels by Amis, Waugh and Jacobson are doing exactly the same thing?

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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by PaulTwist »

Lew Stringer wrote:Although recent Beanos have shown more sophistication in some stories, which made me laugh at any rate...
I laughed out loud at the Beano for the first time ever the other week - and I never used to laugh out loud at it even when I was in the target audience for the comic! (It was the 75th anniversary issue, Dennis the Menace, a joke about comic characters never changing their appearance, followed by a brilliantly-timed reaction from Dennis's dad.)

I occasionally buy The Beano, partly for nostalgic reasons, partly to "check in" on what's going on. To be honest, until recently I only bought one or two copies a year, but the reintroduction of loads of classic characters last year (Biffo, Baby Face, Rasher etc) led to me buying it every week for the first time in 20-odd years. Then these characters disappeared and, despite the introduction of Jamie Smart strips (I've been a fan since the Bear days), I haven't felt the urge to buy it since the anniversary issue.

I'm not complaining - it's not aimed at me, and you could argue that if The Beano WAS appealing to me they'd be doing something wrong...

I do, however, still read superhero comics, but these tend to be at the "quirkier" end (Hawkeye, Waid's Daredevil, Fraction & Allred's FF etc).

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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by Ginger »

starscape wrote:Im pretty much the opposite. Indeed, it amazes me adults here can still enjoy humour comics. To me, they are so juvenile, they are far beyond me. Nothing wrong with that - its the way its supposed to be. Nostalgia sure, comics study, fine, but I just cant see anything funny in them. Viz I get but then, its adult humour.
Ha, yes, it's a fair point! We're all a bit backwards, that's all!!!
(Just kidding!) I buy modern comics mainly for my kids, and to support them, as I have enough nostalgia about them and love of the media to be interested in them and to want them to survive. In truth, my kids aren't that interested, but I keep trying.
The New Beano definitely seems to be aiming at a more all-ages audience, as has been mentioned, with varying degrees of success. I think even you might find something funny in the new Ball Boy, for example, Starscape.

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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by Raven »

starscape wrote:Marvel, at the height of its power, was written for all ages quite deliberately, including adults. Stan Lee made many tours of colleges and universities -the main buyers of his comics in the USA.
What makes you think college and university students were the main buyers in the USA? The main buyers of the comics in the Silver and Bronze age were children. You can tell who the dominant audience of a periodical are by its advertising, and the advertising filling the colour comics was for children's guns, candies, Saturday morning cartoons, sea monkeys, children's trainers, lots of 'KIDS-EARN EXTRA MONEY BY SELLING GRIT!' type ads, X ray specs, action men, etc. If the main buyers were university students, the advertising would have been very different, and not aimed at 10-12 year olds.

It's true that Marvel liked to cultivate the idea of older readers, and I've seen interviews where it's admitted that letters "from college students" were faked by Bullpen members for letters pages - and it's certainly true that Stan Lee toured the campuses, and they acquired a certain student cool for a while, borne, I think, out of the camp craze triggered by the Batman TV series, and getting a kind of association - probably completely unintentionally - with the druggy counterculture for a while, from the likes of Steranko's psychedelic Nick Fury art and the more cosmic-looking stuff. I'm not sure how long all that really lasted, though.
starscape wrote: Although there was enough four-coloured action for kids, no child would be interested in Reed and Sue falling out over her pregnancy, Johnny Storm being insanely jealous over a broken love affair with Crystal as she leaves for Pietro or Matt Murdock not revealing his love for his secretary due to his disability.
Kids aren't just interested in battles. From when I first read Spider-Man Comics Weekly, it was the stuff in Peter Parker's private life I found most interesting! It was sometimes annoying when the rather repetitive fights interrupted all that. This soap opera stuff was hardly sophisticated, but it added an extra layer - same with the other titles - that I doubt most kids would have had any trouble with.

To get back on topic, as a younger kid, I preferred UK comics that were mostly humour, but felt that they were disappointingly lacking something if they didn't have one or two adventure serials. When I got a bit older, I liked the Buster mix of humour and adventure. Starting a new one now, I think it'd be a good thing to add a realistic-looking adventure serial or two to a humour comic, as variety is good, one of the good things comics probably did was help to introduce kids to the serial form, which is very appealing when done well - and, of course, if you have writers who've mastered the cliffhanger, it's a good way of enticing them to buy the next issue!
Last edited by Raven on 02 Sep 2013, 10:22, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Humour, adventure, or both?

Post by Raven »

Phoenix wrote:Raven, and it seems to me that although you are distinguishing between, on the one hand, the extremely juvenile humour in some of the strips, and, on the other, its best stuff, you don't feel that its best stuff can stand comparison with the adult humour that you see in the novels by the writers you mention, although you don't then go on to give us any indication of the nature of that adult humour. Is it not just possible that you are guilty of dismissing too quickly the strips that Lew identifies as being a satire on modern times, when expert commentators of English literature would agree that novels by Amis, Waugh and Jacobson are doing exactly the same thing?
Phoenix, when I said "I didn't say it was, and I think its best stuff isn't, particularly", I meant its best stuff isn't just about crude gags, not that it isn't a satire on modern times. I was agreeing with Lew. (Though I associate literature with more truly adult comedy because it has the space and the language to explore ideas more thoroughly, and with a higher degree of complexity.)
Last edited by Raven on 02 Sep 2013, 10:31, edited 1 time in total.

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