Why Comic Books Need Good Writing
Some people may call comic books juvenile, but this statement makes it clear they don’t read comics. Avid comic readers will tell you that the medium is home to some of the deepest stories ever told. Sure, there are books written for children. But nobody would call “The Godfather” juvenile only because “Dumbo” is also a film. Like any art form, there are markets for different customers.
There are comic classics that can stand up to great works of literature. While many see only pictures when they look at a comic book, most pick up a comic for the words. For the story told in the panels. The pictures don’t detract from the experience, they amplify it. Even with the most detailed artwork, a comic needs quality writing to keep the pages turning.
Frank Miller has earned widespread appeal in modern times due to the film adaptations of some of his work, including “Sin City” and “300”. Still, the writer gained the freedom to create his own books due to the notoriety he achieved working on classic comic characters.
Miller began as most comic writers do, taking assignments they don’t have much passion about in the hopes of establishing a brand. Working on several small titles in the late-70s, Miller eventually earned a gig at Marvel. His writing for “Daredevil” earned him fame and acclaim. So much acclaim, in fact, that he jumped ship to the rival company DC Comics. There he would create comic history.
His first offering for DC came in 1986, and forever changed the landscape of comic writing. This title, called “The Dark Knight Returns,” shows readers an older Batman, post-retirement. Much grittier than previous Batman stories, Miller brought the edge to Batman that catapulted the character to another spectrum. The old, angry Bruce Wayne, is lured out of retirement for one final oorah. (That is until “The Dark Knight Strikes Again”.) If readers could have only one book by which they criticize the comic industry, “The Dark Knight Returns” should be it.
Miller went on to create original works that were met with equal praise. He pushed the envelope in established brands before developing brands that stood toe-to-toe.
While most regard Stan Lee as the father of modern-day comics, Jack Kirby deserves an equal claim to that title. Kirby and Lee worked on many of the projects together that Lee is often connected to. This includes The Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Incredible Hulk. Kirby also created the iconic Captain America character. This work is a telling statement by Kirby, as he is also a World War II veteran.
Kirby did not stop at Marvel. He moved on to DC and penned some of the most classic works published under their label. He came into the industry when comics were hardly noticeable, and he lent the books credibility through his unique creative mind. It could be said that there would be no comic book industry without the work of Kirby and Lee.
This Japanese comic artist and author is famed for the lavish worlds he creates. Toriyama began publishing comics in Japan’s “Weekly Shonen Jump” comic anthologies. There, he would pen short works that would develop over the course of several months. His first work, “Wonder Island” was published in 1978 and received moderate reviews. Fame came quickly on the heels of his next series, the comedy “Dr. Slump.” But in 1994, Toriyama created the series that etched his name into comic legend.
“Dragon Ball” was an instant success in Japan, having sold over 150 million copies to date. The story tells of a young boy named Son Goku who is sent to Earth by a dying race, much like Superman. Also similar to Superman, Son Goku is incredibly naive and has advanced fighting abilities.
The story was later advanced in the follow-up “Dragon Ball Z,” which brought Toriyama even more praise. The series also spawned a line-up of successful television programs and films.
Aside from comics, Toriyama lends his artwork to video game characters. His unique style and voice developed him an identity that few can match.
More Great Comic Authors to Be Found!
The three names mentioned above all share a common perseverance and creativity. Their writing brought readers to new worlds in a medium that still fights to be called “art”. The stories crafted by these masters can measure up to the quality standards founds in other forms of entertainment.
There are many other comic authors who deserve notice. Authors who break the silly notion that comic books are only for children.