Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Night Murals: No, these comics are not in 3D

There's at least one obvious cliché in interconnecting comic book cover murals, and I like to call it "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here!" It's the portrayal of team's members (or, in the case of a crossover, two or more teams) across the vast landscape of the cover mural. It's the equivalent of the family reunion photograph where everybody tries to crowd into frame and nobody notices until later that Uncle Bob (or Blue Beetle) is making bunny fingers behind the head of Grandpa (or, Batman).

You can break this either further down into a few different sub-genres. As the blogosphere's #3 stuffed animal blogger but its most noted expert on muralography (I have a degree!), I'm gonna hereby give some of 'em their technical names, and make sure you continue to use them in further comics scholarship so I get mentioned in the 2099 Encyclopedia of Comic Book Culture:
  • "Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting": A mass meleé of characters, all mixed and meddled up, fighting each other or teaming up to fight a larger super-threat (See: New Teen Titans #37/Batman and the Outsiders #5, or the the Millennium Giants mural).
  • "It Keeps You Running": the cast of characters are sprintin' towards something, whether it be a menace (or ice cream truck) onscreen or offscreen (X-Men #1, or The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe)—or towards us...hey, we're not super-villains...stop hitting us! (Outsiders v.2 #1 Alpha and Omega)
  • "Strike a Pose, Let's Get Down to It": highlight each and every member of your team by creating a mural that's continued across comic books covers. If you've got four members,, I'm sure there must be a team that has four members, but darned if I can think of one. Anyway, four members, one each on four comic covers that link up to form one big fantastic mural. Of four. If you're got ten members, you could put on one each cover of a ten-issue miniseries, unless of course you're DC and you cancel the book one issue short. Or, say, if you're publishing Legion of Super-Heroes, you have a mural that spans roughly from here to Takron-Galtos and takes one hundred and thirteen months to publish. But whatever you do, make sure you feature the characters doing what they do best: always put your best assets right up front:

Gotham City Sirens

Gotham City Sirens #1-2 (December 2009-February 2010), art by Guillem March
(Click picture to double-D-size)

So, there ya go. Six com...three comics that, if you're not careful, will put your eyes out.


misterjayem said...

They don't call 'em "comic-book racks" for nuttin'.

-- MrJM

suave8 said...

I think you just about nailed them all here. Except maybe the ominous, looming collection of disembodied villian-heads hovering over a single character. But that's not a very catchy name at all.

I enjoy the blog here. Keep up the good writing!