A Treatise on Self-Indulgence
Self-Indulgence is a rather unlooked, but probably incredibly harmful, aspect of comics. Self-indulgence is not only limited to the aspect of writing a series itself, for something along those lines is all too obvious. There are countless areas where such is clear enough, but art is where the real power lies.
Decompression is already a very loudly touted against problem that many readers have with modern comics. The feeling of not getting the content that one is entitled to for the money given in exchange. At prices even ranging upward to 5 dollars a pop, getting 22-28 pages that only amount to a fraction of that in a story content sense is enough to make anyone strain under their collars.
Notable writers who have been under fire as a consequence of this standard are Brian Michael Bendis and Dan Slott. Bendis is, in particular, guilty of this due to his predilection toward Mamet-style dialogue. Long branching dialogue trees that are meant to mimic realistic conversational speech. The problem being that while nice, in the right place, conversational speech isn’t good for driving a plot.
Art, to get back to that initial nugget, is as guilty as or even more so than the writing side. It takes up the actual space of the issue. On a regular issue, where the writer is indulging themselves, an ordinary artist might at least be able to parse these out into functional (or semi-functional) panels. It’s a false fix but it at least gives the façade of meaty content. When an artist goes “rogue”, it leads to a whole new arena.
Double-spreads are the big issue here. Like Francis Manapul or Frank Miller, countless others in fact, the practice of double-spreads are like challenges. Feats of strength for gladiators of the art. Or mere egotistical posturing for the less talented. This sounds good on paper, no pun intended, but in practice it can prove to be annoying to a fault.
To take Francis Manapul, during his Flash
run with Brian Buccellato he used double-spreads to such an insane amount that it caused a huge fluctuation in the pacing of the series. A move that those who identify as fans of the run. Not to say that his spreads weren’t swell, but 6 in one issue takes up half the issue – at least. Frank Miller, for his own part, is also technically beautiful at his best
These make for nice wall-papers, or memorable scenes, set-pieces that can be fawned over again and again. Things that will make “Best Page” lists. All of that aside would you rather one issue that told a complete story, or an issue that told one scene beautifully? Bear in mind that money is the factor here. Monthly installments that one pays for deserves some tact, a balance. If you want to self-indulge go and work on an original graphic novel, Paul Pope style.