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Cronin Theory of Comics – Don’t Compete With Your Readers

by  in Comic News Comment

I will be honest, I really do not care what writers think about their readers. For instance, you can adore your readers and you can hold them in contempt, it really doesn’t matter to me. The one thing I think you should not do, though, is to compete with your readers over how you write your stories.

“What do you mean by compete, Brian?,” you might ask. Well, here’s what I mean…

I recently spoke about how I thought that killing off Tech 9 in Blood Syndicate was a major mistake, and I think that the reason it occured was due to writer Ivan Velez, Jr. competing with his readers. To wit, it appeared as though he was approaching the book from an angle of, “What would the readers never expect? THAT’s what I’ll do, to throw a curve ball at them!”

That way, I think, lies madness (and doesn’t do well for the quality of stories, either).

Joe Casey once said

Who cares if readers guess a mystery beforehand? Does that somehow invalidate the first idea you might’ve had before the public guessing games began? Is it really about proving that you’re smarter than you’re readers? That you’re always thinking ahead of them? Aren’t you supposed to be doing that anyway? Isn’t that a primary mandate of writing comicbooks… especially superhero comicbooks?

I heartily endorse this way of writing.

Just write what you want to write. Do not concern yourself if it will “shock” readers. Do not concern yourself with how different your story is from “typical” comic stories, especially as qute often, there’s a very good reason WHY a certain style of story is “typical.” It is often because it just plain WORKS. So just concentrate on writing a good story. This is especially applicable when it comes to “shocks.” Here’s a truism – there are more readers of a comic book than there are writers of a comic book. The odds are not in favor of the writer pulling one over on the whole audience, and that’s okay!

Don’t get me wrong, if a story is BUILT around a “secret” that is extremely obvious, then that’s silly, but that’s not a problem having to do with the secret, but rather the idea of building a story AROUND the secret.

It is easy to shock your readers, if that’s your goal. You can always just come up with some crazy thing out of nowhere.

It is difficult to shock your readers while writing a good comic book.

I don’t think the expense of a good comic is worth the benefit of a surprise and/or shock.