Thursday, 5 December 2013

ALF #21: "...Love Wrought New Alchemy..."

(Actually, it should probably be "don't's".)


(We're skipping NMU #26 for now, since it explicitly takes place after UXM # 193).

Good morning class. Please take your coats off and sit down. Shooter! Stop flipping off your classmates, you need to learn how to get along. Straczynski; you shouldn't even be in this class, so hop it.

Today we'll be - put those toys away, Mantlo - today we'll be having another lesson on the dos and don'ts of comics.  Once again, we'll be using Byrne's homework as a test case. Don't start sniffling, Byrne!  If you didn't want a bit of constructive criticism you shouldn't have turned in a confused sexist mess every week last term.

Headmaster Lee mentioned at briefing that he'd like us to practice the "praise sandwich" method when critiquing our students' work, but that would ruin the structure of my comments, and that I shall not abide!


Don't structure an issue of a comic so that a villain explaining their origins and plan takes up more space than the villain being defeated by your heroes. If you spend nine pages on a flashback to explain how your villain has lived for centuries through their insane experiments, don't spend four pages from the moment your hero meets her to her abject defeat.

And on the subject of flashbacks, young Byrne:

Don't slap your heroes on the cover fighting a villain who only appears in flashback. If your story isn't interesting enough to find a scene to advertise it fairly, then rewrite your story.

On the other hand, do try pulling some artistic flourishes in your flashback scenes.  Sepia-toned images? Lovely. Never showing Gilded Lily's face after her 1875 car accident so as to leave it ambiguous when things went south for her?  Very nice.

Which reminds me:

Do just suddenly have a character revealed to not be a human but a decapitated emaciated face and lungs atop a robot with wheels.  That's just so gloriously insane it gives me shivers. I don't know if Diablo built her or if she's been replacing pieces of herself for the last century, but then that's what's so great about it.

But don't have her defeated instantly by removing her mask.  See earlier comments. If you have to choose between cutting short the climactic throw-down between hero and villain and truncating the tale of a villain we've never seen or heard of before and who you're going to kill off, for God's sake choose the Tale of How I Went Mad and Murderous. Also, don't take your heroines mental troubles - which you're already on thin ice about, Byrne; we've talked about this before - and use it as an excuse as for why she's suddenly completely helpless and needs her boyfriend to effortlessly rescue her.  This is a modern classroom, Byrne, and I expect contemporary attitudes! Even though I refer to you all by your surnames!

(Oh, and don't give her a terrible approximation at a phonetic stereotype of a French person massacring English.  You'll give Claremont ideas.)

For the love of God, Byrne, don't use nine pages for your first flashback and then take up another page so as to explain what happened last issue. After spending almost half the issue explaining how Gilded Lily got and used her powers, we hardly need it explained what happened to Sasquatch.  Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, don't stick in a page about Snowbird feeling ill.  You've already compromised your structure all to pot. No sense making a bad situation worse, for all that you seem determined to make that your motif.

Right.  That about does it for Mr Byrne.  No sense sulking, young man. If you wanted to avoid these sessions, you should just stop writing sexist stupidly-paced nonsense.  Let's move on to our next subject: uses and misuses of the splash page. Oh stop smirking, Land!


This story takes place in approximately real time.


Thursday 19th April, 1984.



Contemporary Events

Daniel Whitmire and Albert Jackson publish their theory of "Nemesis the Death Star", which according to them orbits the Sun at a range of tens of thousands of AU, entering the Oort cloud once every 26 million years and sending a wave of comets into the solar system to create all sorts of unpleasantness.

No proof of the existence of Nemesis has ever been found, which makes the whole idea delightfully wacky and unhinged.  One wonders Stargate's Daniel Jackson was named in honour of these two astronomical pioneers of weird.

Standout Line

You need the panels for this one, really.

Such horrible, sad last words. Chilling.

(On the other hand, having her death destroy both her lab of unnerving delights and the strange house around her just feels like lazy end-tying.)

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