Feb 5th, 2009, 11:55 AM
I think what you're looking at and being irritated by, are the problems inherent in what I call long form fiction, and I think I discussed in one or another of my 'Hey Dork' columns.
I'm sure there are folks out there with more letters after their name then I currently have who have identified this form and called it something else, but whatever it is, in terms of fiction is a pretty modern thing.
you can find it in any fiction with multiple writers, some nod to continuity and a fairly long time frame.
The longest examples would be soap operas, about which I know next to nothing, but I gather some of them are still on the air that began on radio and feature an admittedly strained but ongoing continuity. You find the same thing in multi season television series, and comic books.
It isn't just a young art form, which al by itself accounts for lots of failure, it's a collaborative art for with all the pitfalls of any collaboration (movies, theater, group sex) plus it has an evolving dynamic. Not only do all the creators not know each other, same of them are sepearted by generations at this point.
What I admire about Morrison is that he treats comics like an art form and takes a whack at accepting and incorporating it's problems, strictures and limits.
I also like one issue stories or short arcs that don't deal with continuity, or thumb their noses a it or just go along with a good yarn without worrying about it. BUT I credit Morrison with taking a look at long form for what it is and trying to do something with it.
The tie ins are what I think are a mistake. Not only is it too expensive, but you can't count on them to be readable, let alone in a league with the major work.
If a writer counts on tie ins to fill in the blanks, or even flesh out the story, he's partly responsible if they suck and fully responsible if he leaves gaping holes in his own stuff others don't fill.
It's problematical, and I can't imagine what the vast majority of readers make f the whole mess. I think they just probably ignore it and move on
and that's fine for an audience, but I think writers do to, and that is one of the big pitfalls in a longform fiction