I recently started reviewing comics for Comic Crusaders. This very site.
Reviewing a single issue of any series is like trying to describe the inside of a cat by squinting up its pencil sharpener. That’s why one of the cardinal sins a comic can commit is omitting a basic synopsis and a previous issue blurb in the front of the book.
When I review a floppy I keep it short, to the point and give my honest reaction, and while this makes me a riot in the male changing rooms it makes me unpopular when creators don’t like a review. But one huge thing they can do to make their situation better is put a recap page at the front. A basic understanding of what came before can give you a bit of foundation and increase your interest. Every comic has the possibility of being someone’s first and the effort to go on Wikipedia detracts from the experience, immediacy of the simple joy of reading a comic.
Morning Glories committed this minor violation of uncommon sense when I read #47.
Now brace yourselves because I know this comic has its fanbase but it was boring. Getting through it felt like trying to swim through the colour beige. Another problem with reviewing a single issue is that it might be the one where the artist’s cat died or the writer was late for a booty call. The more likely reason is that with the growing trend of writing for a trade, the issue has to set some dominos up to fall in the next few issues. Now it might be that the emerging pattern is a stunning display of vibrant elegance but the fact of the matter is you are still watching someone painstakingly place a line of dominos in what amounts to a boring issue.
Knowing the effort it took to set those dominos up might give the reader some appreciation of all the hard work that went into creating that comic, after all how many comics or books are bought off the back of a synopsis? For someone who’s heard good things about a comic but is still on the fence, a quick glance in the front might be enough to cement a sale.
This doesn’t seem unreasonable, except to the creators of the comic. When I put it to Nick Spencer this is what I got.
Yep, snot was thrown from both sides to be honest I’m not going to pretend to be a saint, but when all is said and done, he didn’t have a point. Apart from the fact Marvel have been at this lark for seventy five plus years, they manage to do a recap page. TV does actually do re-caps and the kind of person who walks into a film an hour late wouldn’t understand the film if he’d walked in during the popcorn advert.
But what stunned me the most was the ease with which a recap can be done. A quick trip to Wikipedia, which incidentally was a bit of a ball ache due to technical difficulties, produced this…
The series takes place almost exclusively at the fictional Morning Glory Academy, an exclusive boarding school for teenagers. Beneath its placid facade, the school is actually involved in the murder and torture of students as well as various investigations into occult and supernatural phenomena. The main action focuses on six students from diverse backgrounds as they enter Morning Glory Academy and try to survive.
There’s a basic premise and here’s a completely made up previous issue…
Rod, Jane and Freddy stole the drugs while Bungle was fucking Zippy behind Georges back. Meanwhile Geoffrey and chums go to a secret party…
Obviously nothing to do with the comic but it paints a picture and delivers the broad strokes the point is; it’s hardly fifty pages long. Re-capping a single issue is not a treatise on the mating habits of the Giant Galapagos Tortoise.
So no, re-caps are not hard to do. You don’t need to know fifty issues just to help understand that in this issue a character called George might get his feelings hurt and Geoffrey might get lucky.