September 03, 2009

Comics vs. Novels

Today's topic: comics...or novels? Statistics, which I don't have references for, tell us that the predominent readers of novels are...middle-aged women. I haven't seen the same statistics for comics, but if you've ever visited a comic book store, I think a quick visual poll reveals that it's mostly younger males.

Much of that spread likely has to deal with the way women and men function. Men are generally more visual. Women are generally more of (for lack of a better term) "feelers." Women can immerse themselves in the words while men like to be "Oooo-ed" and "Aaahhh-ed" by steriod-injesting men and well-endowed women. Again, we're speaking in generalities. Of course men like to read novels, and of course women read comics, but I'm just speaking in overall terms.

So, I have two questions for you...
  1. What do you primarily choose to read? (and let us know your gender - we'll do a quick pole)
  2. If you also write, what kinds of implications do these (vague, unproven, and untested) statistics have on your writing?

As an aside, here are some suggested reading materials/people to follow/places to visit. Enjoy!

  • Jospeh Petro's "Standing Next to History" (an excellent memior about his time as an agent in Ronald Reagan's secret service detail)
  • Lajos Egri's "The Art of Dramatic Writing" (a great, thought-provoking exploration of the writing process)
  • (and follow @pulptone on Twitter)
  • People to follow on Twitter: @nscheck (illustrator for @pulptone (creator of Sergeant Zero) @bobbynash (writer) @jamesscottbell (writer)
  • And of - new episodes every Monday and Thursday!


Unknown said...

I'm a male and I read pretty much anything that I think would interest me. I'm also about to turn 30 and I read quite a bit that others my age don't or stay away from. Meaning right now I'm reading an Elmore Leonard book but the book before this was Revolutionary Road. It could be the time period that catches me but mostly it's a well written story with well written dialogue. When I went to the shop last week I passed on the new Dark Horse crime book, mostly because I didn't have the money for it. The shop owner said I thought that would be something you would be interested in. But just because I write noir doesn't mean it's all I want to read. Sergeant Zero is influenced by movies, and novels, just as much as it is HP Lovecraft and RE Howard.

BobbyNash said...

I'm a 38 year old male who reads a lot and also writes.

What do you primarily choose to read?

Whatever strikes my fancy. I really enjoy reading thrillers (Michael Connelly, Alex Kava, Stephen Cannell, etc.) and also some science fiction or adventure books. I even occasionally read a Star Trek novel, depending on who is writing it. I also read comic books and graphic novels. Sometimes a cover or write up will grab me. I meet a lot of authors and will often pick up books written by people I've had nice conversations with.

If you also write, what kinds of implications do these (vague, unproven, and untested) statistics have on your writing?

None whatsoever. I write what I write because that is what interests me. I have, however, noticed that certain books I work on sell to a certain demographic. My thriller, Evil Ways, sells better to women whereas my pulpwork,Lance Star: Sky Ranger, Domino Lady, etc., has a larger male audience.


J Sherer said...

Thanks for responding, guys, I appreciate it.

A bunch of other people responded on Facebook (which copies the post in its entirety).

What we're starting to articulate here (as with Facebook), is that it's not so much about the form as it is about the type of story. As such, comics lend themselves to a certain type of story.

Revolutionary Road just wouldn't make a good comic. I would argue that it didn't make much of a movie, either, but maybe that's just me. As a novel, however, it holds its own. Comics and novels explore different elements of storytelling in different ways.

As Bobby mentioned, it's not so much about deciding what to tell your audience, but rather writing what you feel you need to write. Find the audience later. But, before you put pen to paper, look at the type of story you want to tell and see what form lends itself best to the telling of the story.

Excellent stuff. Any other opinions?

Unknown said...

I agree with everything Bobby said and I feel the same way. I write what interests me.

I can watch a science fiction movie but rarely read them in book form. I can take or leave comics. For me different genres are better in certain types of media. It's just my personal preference. I have a ton of Star Wars books but I like watching the movies more so.

No I don't think Revolutionary Road would make a comic comic nor do I think it should be made into one. I have not seen the movie however so I can't comment on it. But in reading it you can see how perfect DiCaprio and Winslet were for the rolls based on their mannerisms and acting styles.

BobbyNash said...

I've had certain stories that only work in comics and some that only work in prose format.

As a comic book writer I think of the the visuals as I'm writing and sometimes write scenes with no dialogue or captions because I want the reader to see them.

When writing novels or short stories, I can get into the feelings of the characters in ways I would probably not do in comics.

Some stories are interchangeable between formats, but not all. I wrote a comic script once that became a novel. I've written some stories that wouldn't work unless they were in comic form.

I don't have a hard and fast rule for it. I just go with my gut.