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December 04 2007

Some issues with "Angel: After The Fall": Philly Daily News Weighs In. Comics Guy expresses some reservations. Justified or not?

Huh. I'm a long-time Angel fan, and I didn't have that much trouble following it. There were a few "Wait a second! What?" moments, but I thought that was generally a good thing.

And I thought that the artwork was appropriately dark, not too dark.
Now I don't feel so stupid. I've never read comics before the 'Serenity' and 'Buffy' comics, but I didn't have any problems figuring out how to read them and enjoyed them right off. However, with this first issue of 'Angel,' I was bewildered and just didn't get half of what was going on. I couldn't figure out what order some captions were to be read it and I had to stare long and hard at frames to try and figure out what was going on in the action. I couldn't figure out who recurring characters were at first, and I will sheepishly admit that I didn't understand that it was Gunn at the end until I read it in a discussion and had to go back and stare and still didn't get who was saying what.

I was really disappointed with it and I LOVE 'Angel' and have seen every episode several times. The way people were raving about how some thought this was better than the 'Buffy' comic, I was starting to think I was an idiot. Maybe I am, but at least there's one other person who had issues with it.

I get him, I'd never bought a funny book until Buffy came along, that was cool, hilarious, same characters i loved from the show now awesomer and more grown up some newer ones too. I was excited about Angel. My sticking point with After the Fall is the art too dark, characters barely recognizable, actually too many characters a few I was okay with being dead. I love Gwen and I love Nina, strong women. I liked how they were in AtS, but here reduced to just T&A! in a book associated with Whedon! writer of such strong women. Bloody hell it's hell and they are wearing boob tubes. I just thought there were too many unnecessary bikinis is all (maybe it's how things are in funnybookland). The story lost me a few times too,
Anyhow i'll stick because it's only been one issue so surely Mr Lynch was setting up for better. For now colour me unmoved.
I'm off to pick #9 on thursday though, that excites me.
Well, everyone has an opinion. Comics Guy has struck me in being fair-minded in most reviews, so this won't put me in a twist. Guess we know which character he's referring to that he found disturbing, keep it to yourself. No sense spoiling everyone else.

I kinda' disagree with the comment towards Brian Lynch though, I think he's doing a great job. Again, this is all a matter of opinion. I say tomatoe, you say tomato. Which is why we're disscussing our very differiences within this room:)
But, you know, madhatter, whenever someone says that "everyone has an opinion," the subtext is, "but I don't agree with yours." So no reason to state it at all; we get it that some will like the book and some will not. I am one that does not, at least yet, but I am always willing to wait and see a bit more.
I've always wondered why Joss doesn't seem to be as involved with Angel as with Buffy. I know a lot of people from Mutant Enemy had always been quick to stress that he was always guiding Angel and heavily involved with the show, but I think that the actual number of episodes written or directed by Joss it seems like he was a lot more hands on with Buffy once Angel got off the ground, and I think at times the show might have suffered from that.

I did really like Angel season four but I know many people were unhappy with particular plots or characters. Compare some of the weaker episodes with something like "Orpehus", the only episode Joss wrote that season, and how brilliantly it is written, and advances the season arc quite significantly for an episode which breaks away so decisively into a sort of comedic break.

So I have to say I'm very disappointed that Joss isn't having as much hands on involvement with the season 6 continuation of Angel, considering his involvement with Buffy season 8. I know obviously the man has a lot of work on his plate and it would be difficult to write for both comics simultaneously whilst balancing his TV and film career, but it would be nice if he could have even written the first issue or occasional issues in between other work, and when he's not writing for Buffy.
i think with the first few pages it was a little difficult to follow, it wasn't as easy and immediately accessible as btvs s8. i also think that once i slowed down in reading it and approached it as simply the first episode of an entire season, it worked quite well and the overall feel was very much like some of the darker, more introspective angel episodes. as for some of the events and characters not being explained, that happened quite frequently in the show, and was usually resolved during the arc of the season. it's only the first of (hopefully) many more to come, so while comicsguy brings up some really good points, i am still reserving judgment for now.
I had no issue with the plotting in the new Angel book but I have to agree on the art: it was not that great. I read a ton of comics and appreciate a wide variety of styles, but the art in the new Angel felt drab and unstylistically 2 dimensional and, perhaps, a bit uninspired as well. I'm actually hoping for once for a cycling of artists (usually something that cohesive books try to avoid but which, I think, worked well for a few long term projects such as Sandman.)
I agree completely with Comic Guy about the artwork. It's muddy and indistinct. This is not me needing bright colors or simple lines. I love dark stuff. But with this, I feel as if I'm trying to see through dark shades into the recesses of a smoky, dimly lit nightclub. Not working for me. Is this a problem with Urru or the colorist, though? Some Urru pencil sketches (or were they inks) posted in another thread recently looked really good to me. That said, I don't love all the T&A women and that must be an Urru thing. They go against all things Jossian (see his introduction to "Fray.") I really, really don't like them. I hope that goes away.

As for the other issues Comic Guy raises, I suspect Angel fans will stick with this series. From an unscientific standpoint, most of what I've read online has been very positive. Kudos to Lynch on that. Me, I'm very curious about the weird world that Lynch and Joss have introduced and I'm committed to following the course of it to the bitter end. I think all that seems confusing now will eventually be explained.
And I always thought I was being open minded. Shame on me! Will try better next time.
I did really like Angel season four but I know many people were unhappy with particular plots or characters. Compare some of the weaker episodes with something like "Orpehus", the only episode Joss wrote that season, and how brilliantly it is written, and advances the season arc quite significantly for an episode which breaks away so decisively into a sort of comedic break.

Wasn't the Joss-penned "Spin the Bottle" in S4? Er, that was Joss-penned, right?

Anyway, I completely agree with eth3er's comments about the women. That was very bothersome. Plotwise, I'm unsold and will wait to see what happens, but there wasn't any of the exhilaration from Buffy issue #1.
Personally I thought this first issue of Angle: After the Fall was amazing, and I like Urru's drawing of the characters (although I am looking forward to seeing what the new colorist does, I'm hoping for more dramatic contrast).
As I recall a large number of people had complaints about the first Buffy Season 8 issue too; I seem to recall people not recognizing Amy, Buffy, or others, and feeling that 'she [Buffy] would never say that' (even though that was penned directly by Joss). In my opinion all comics take a while to get used to, and I think I 'got' this one more quickly because I had been reading Brian Lynch's Spike: Asylum and Spike: Shadow Puppets, so I had less of an adjustment to make in Lynch's writing and Urru's drawing styles.
I'm politely disagreeing with the reviewer as well. I loved both the artwork and the story. Do the reasons for all the various character's presences have to be revealed in the first issue ? I wouldn't have thought so.
embers - I think that that is a good point.
I like the artwork quite a bit, but otherwise I agree with the reviewer -- I had a ton of trouble figuring out what was going on.
Well, everyone has an opinion. But I don't agree with his. ;-).

Art can't really be dark (in the sense he means), colours are dark (or I guess the artist can over-ink but that wasn't the case here). I've said already that not all the colours worked that well for me, granted it's presumably meant to be muted, they're in "Hell" after all and the Sun's on its uppers but it ended up looking a bit drab and occasionally indistinct. The colourist is changing though so maybe that will too.

Didn't have any trouble following it either (except going from WR&H to the stadium owing to the aforementioned colour sameyness) and I recognised everyone except Nina (though admittedly I only knew it was Gwen because of her outfit and hair) even vampire Gunn (to me he just looked like the drawing of Gunn, only with bumps, teeth and a new diet ;). The simple rule of thumb with comics is, top to bottom and left to right except where speech/narration boxes go across panels, then follow those instead and if panels spread across pages, also follow them. As far as I can tell, issue 1 didn't deviate from that. Maybe people are expecting comics to be easy and require less effort to read just because they're comics ? We're used to concentrating to get the most from an episode of Buffy or Angel ("active viewing" i've seen it called), this is no different.

Thought the voices were pretty much spot on, like the direction it's going in. Obviously there was a fair bit of set-up but that's to be expected. And yeah, i'll keep reading even if there's the odd duff issue, just like i'd keep watching even if there was a slightly below par episode. Lynch and certainly Joss have earned that. If that makes me rabid, so be it.

(I agree that the gratuitous t&a quotient was pretty high though)
This reviewer stole my kitten!
Brian, I hope the reviewer gives you your kitten back. Mean old reviewer.

I forgot to say earlier that the voices in AtF were also really spot on for me. That was true in Shadow Puppets and Asylum, too. Brian Lynch, you have that nailed. That's quite a feat to pull off.

Back to the artwork: it doesn't bother me if the drawn characters in the comics don't much resemble their TV counterparts. I thought it would, but it really hasn't mattered to me in either Buffy S8 or with Urru's drawings for After the Fall #1. As long as there's a gestalt resemblance, that's good enough for me. (Still not liking the colors in After the Fall, though. But I think I've said enough about that.) More important for me is the dialogue being true to the characters as we've known them.
Wiseblood, are you ignoring me or do you need to update your profile email? Either is cool.
'Tupid reviewer.

I loved it. The book, not the review, which was wrong.

I read a lot of comic books, even ones without Buffy or Spike or the broody guy in them. This one was waaaay up there for me.
dreamlogic, so not ignoring you. Something flummoxy about my account, apparently. Check your inbox.
I agree with the reviewer about the artwork/coloring, but disagree with him about Brian Lynch. I really did find the voices very well done and just think it is way too early to know how much we will like the plot.

I did not have a problem following the order of things, I just could not tell what was happening in many of the pictures that involved fighting and/or multiple characters. I also had a hard time with some of the visual transitions, which is what caused me to not recognize Gunn at the end.

Madhatter, I found nothing wrong with your phrasing.
Wisebood, I got your email, but apparently my email thinks there's a security problem, and won't let me reply. Could you get on fans4writers?
I didn't like the art, and the whole thing was confusing. Not good confusing, bad confusing, as in, Huh?

The fish is stupid, methinks.

Nina was very un-Ninaish...guess she didn't take the flight out of LA, though.

I guess I wanted more immediate explication of what happened after Angel said "Let's go to work" and not getting any of it, really, is, for me, obnoxious, especially when one has to wait a full month for then next issue. Hell, a week was long enough back in the halcyon days of live action television.

And, the unexpected appearance of an unexpected character is not, for now, at least, to my liking.

There's a heap of backstory we need, and I do hope it's valid and good.

Didn't love the first Buffy comic, but liked it a lot--a whole lot--more than this one, which is truly frustrating, because I NEEDED more Angel after Not Fade Away far more than I needed more Buffy after Chosen.
The fish was STUPID???? A telepathic fish is STUPID? On what planet?

I'm actually interested in why you think he's dumb. Is it just because he was a fish? Or was his dialog stupid? Or his place in that issue? I'm curious. Maybe I will change him into a handsome gent via a transmogrifier.

Oh man, THIS guy stole my kitten.
So I'll agree about the artwork. Not to my liking.

But if the dude thought the story was confusing, maybe he should read it again.
Brian Lynch, From everything I know about Chris inVirginia he rarely steals kittens outright. He is a passionate sort, though, and he may have...borrowed...your kitten for a little while. He'll treat it well, though, and probably give it back to you, healthy and happy after some back story soothes his frustration. I had similar problems with the end of the first BtVS arc and was a bit vocal about it.
Oh, he can keep the kitten. That kitten was a jerk.

Backstory is absolutely coming. Hope you guys like!
Kittens...don't they become, ummm...cats? Where's the fun with that.

In point of fact, have 2 wonderful cats, my wife and I do, and 2 wonderful dogs, too.

But that just seemed a silly, silly thing.

That it was a fish, I mean.

It just seemed, well, not correct. Not consonant with the whole Angelverse, which, admittedly, is now rather, well, different.

Okay, we had the big fast food guy directing Wesley to steal Connor, but...I dunno, it just seemed silly.

Okay, looking, avidly, for the backstory.

A passionate sort, but I ain't stealing anybody's anything, and especially not a kitten!
Don't worry purple Brian, the fish was probably one of my favourite parts of the issue.
Ah, I knew the fish were behind it, explains everything!
Yes, kittens become cats...and then they eat cool telepathic fish (aka my dearly loved Betta-George)! So clearly the kitten was is or will be a jerk. Chris, I think the only reason Joss hadn't put Betta-George on Angel was because of his budget, and the whole not thinking of it himself (did you see the weirdo demons running around tame on BtVS? And they were way lamer because they were just actors in rubber masks ).
Oh gosh, embers, we should warn everyone. What if the fish discover the rubber mask betrayal of the actors? Quick, I take 'A-to-L', you take 'M-to-Z'. We must warn these poor people!
Did you read Spike Asylum? It's really good, and Betta George is in it. I'm thinking maybe if you know him better, he'll grow on you.
So this guy actually reads comics regularly as part of his job? That's strange. I could see "dark artwork" as a problem for someone whose only exposure to comics is Family Circus. But a professional comic reviewer? Come on. It's no darker than DKR, Swamp Thing, a lot of Sandman, anything by Matt Wagner... plenty of classic stuff.

And characters appearing without explanation? Hello? It's an ages-old technique to start a story in the middle and reveal things gradually as time goes by, "in medias res". Crafting a good story is much, much more than simply giving rabid fans exactly what they want immediately.

This really sounds like the opinion of some total layman who only watches reality TV.

[ edited by dingoes8 on 2007-12-05 03:44 ]
Well as someone who adored Shadow Puppets and Asylum, but gave up on Buffy Season eight after the first few issues I have to admit that I had a difficult time with After the Fall.

Im not really sure why. Same writer, same artist, but I had a hard time following the story, figuring out which panel to read next, understanding the action.

I still thought the dialogue was great. But I thought Asylum and Shadow Puppets were fantastic. All the characters were great, Spike was perfectly Spikish, and it was funny as hell. There was a lot going on, but I had no trouble following the story at all.

This one, I did. I don't know why. But I enjoyed the other two series so much that I definitely will keep reading and buying.

And I love the fish! Happy to see the characters I saw. I know a lot of Spike fans are concerned about Spike possibly being portrayed as evil in the next issue, but from what I have seen previously Brian Lynch gets Spike, and I am not worried.
Chris, you dissin' Beta George? Dem's fighting words.

Love my big telepathic fish.

I had no problem following the story thus far (which is very early days, btw).

Raise your hands, Brian Lynch fangirls.

Me! Me!
I like the fish. I'm not sure why anyone would have a problem with a sentient, telepathic fish at this point in our journey. But you never know.
Betta George is my main fish.
Well, as someone who has read comics most of his life, I sorta agree with the reviewer. I think his points are kinda valid.

But I will stick around, cause Brian has sorta proven himself to me with Asylum and Shadow Puppets. Betta George was kinda the best part of the issue. :D
I was sceptical beforehand but that was completely blown away by this issue. I absolutely loved it, especially Angel's dragon, Wesley becoming the new Lilah, the jokes about Angel's good looks, and the blue skeleton villain and his mind controlling fish. It was all really awesome and I very much liked the art, especially the coloring. The atmosphere fit perfectly. The only thing that was kind of predictable was Gunn, but I have good hope that they will do something original with that in the next issues. I missed the Fang Gang so much (much more than the Scoobies), but I didn't actually realized until I read this issue. Fantastic job Brian!
The story was, at points, confusing, but I'm pretty much getting the same feeling from AtF as I did from the first issue of Buffy, season 8. Which is that the first issue is great, but because it's a first issue, it has to spend a lot of time making sure we're not completely lost... anyway, I'm guessing I will start enjoying Angel more--and I'm already enjoying it, so even if I'm wrong, meh--once we get past the first issue or two and we're back in... something. When we're in the middle of a clearly defined plot. I suck at talking tonight.
Much as NickSeng, I too have been reading comics most of my life (getting dangerously close to four decades now). And I more or less agree with the reviewer as well. I don't think he meant the art was dark as in emotionally dark, but dark as in hard to make out. And though there could hardly be a more rabid fan of Neil Gaiman's Sandman than me, I'm the first to admit that some of the artwork, particularly early in the series, was iffy enough to turn off many potential readers. Those that push past it though are TREMENDOUSLY rewarded, so here's hoping the same proves true of AtF.
I enjoyed the first AtF issue. I do try to keep my preconcieved notions to a minimum and avoided possible spoilers like the plague, so I enjoy all the surprises. No disappointment here.

I was confused with that whole section, but after Brian addressed the issue in a previous thread here, I had a "Doh" moment and realized I would have caught it if I'd paid more attention. Operator Error.

Didn't catch the T&A stuff, but then I was more interested in the Who's and the What's than in the wardrobe. If it's a big deal, just throw some fancy scarves on the ladies' cleavage (and arty glasses, make it a political statement) and get on with the story. lol.

My hands are itchy for #2 -- C'mon, end of December!
If I had to voice one criticism of AtF #1, it would be the X-Men 3 problem on a smaller scale: Too many characters, all of whom are loved by a bunch of people (except for Connor, whom no one at all likes... ;-) ), and almost none of which got nearly enough "screen time." But then, leave one out, and there's hell to pay with those fans, so I understand the tradeoff.

It took me a second reading to confirm whose voiceover was at the end, to catch the fact that Gunn was after some object of power, and that Gunn really was eating the women. Oh, and Wesley wasn't immediately recognizable as Wesley.

Overall, I'm finding that reading a comic book is HARD. I routinely read lots of text for information, which is a very different skill than reading a comic book, when perhaps 50% or more of the information is NOT in the text...

(Oh, and the only costuming that seemed too skimpy to me was Nina's, BTW. Gwen always dressed that way, and the slave women were pretty much spoils of war, looked like. Nina we've always seen be a reasonable, down to earth person before, although there's a pretty easy "out" in the text to explain her change)
Err, Kr'ph's (UNchained up ;) "groupies" were in bikinis / linguerie, bit revealing, no ? Even the lassie that Angel saves was wearing a crop toppish thing. And Nina too obviously, not just in a crop top but also what appear to be cycling shorts i.e. about as tight as clothing can get without being painted on (Gwen was also in revealing attire but that's just her costume so kind of a freebie ;). In the Connor line-up, one of the (apparent) women is wearing a bra/boob-tube, seemingly for no other reason than "cos". So I can understand the charges of gratuitousness (even if this particular reviewer doesn't mention it). It's a hazard of comics to some extent though.

I don't think he meant the art was dark as in emotionally dark, but dark as in hard to make out.

I agree Haunt but as I say, art can't be dark in that sense in comics (colours are) so he shouldn't even have mentioned Franco Urru's name in the same sentence (and you'd think a comics reviewer would know the difference between pencils/inks and colours).

And characters appear without explanation ? Err, did he actually watch either Buffy or Angel ? Like with Dawn ? I guess if not having every element of a story spelled out in strict chronological order is a storytelling deficiency then AtF 1 is guilty. Seems like we have the same thing we had with Buffy "S8" - people want answers NOW. Though they were presumably happy enough to wait and be teased during the shows' runs, after such a long gap they just want it all laid out. Well, it's a story folks, it'd be hella dull if that actually happened.
I'm assuming that we will get backstory to make sense of some of the things yet to be explained, but to be honest, I largely agreed with that review, although I will be sticking with the comic, at least for a while. I'm not keen on the artwork at all, and I'm sorry, but I'm also one of those who doesn't feel that the telepathic fish fits into the Angelverse. Maybe if I'd read the previous (non-canon) Angel comics which introduced it, it might have made more sense. But just popping up in a part of the Jossverse, it felt out of place.

Still, where the story takes us next, and the explanations to come of how we got from the alley at the end of S5 to where we are now, and how the various characters ended up where they are now, may lead me to change my mind. Although I still can't see myself loving the artwork.
I don't get it, this need for the full backstory? We had to wait one and a half seasons before the "Father will kill the son"-thing became clear, Sahjahn's motivation as the big bad for the first half of season 3 didn't really make sense 'til two seasons later, it took half a season of Buffy before we got to know anything major on Angel's past, five seasons of Angel before Wes' dad-issues were really delved into, etc, etc, etc. It took a lot of season 5 before we got that Ben was Glory or what the heck Dawn was doing there. We didn't get the full significance of Cordelia's kiss in "You're Welcome" 'til half a season later when the show ended. There's heaps of examples of things being put out there and explained retroactively. If everything is told in a linear fashion, things can become somewhat predictable.

But suddenly, just 'cause of the long wait, people assumed that the first issue of a comic book, which holds way less amounts of story than a full episode of the show would, were to explain everything?

If, when "Angel: After the Fall" in its entirety is done, there is still no full backstory, then I'll be annoyed about this too. After one issue I just don't see how I reasonably can be.

Of course, I loved the story we got and quite liked the art, too, so...
Oh much do I disagree with this guy lol:)

Of course everyones entitled to their opinion, but I adored the first issue. Everything I could have hoped for. I think *aspects* of the art could be better, but I think the change in colourist might help that. The writing was nigh on perfect. Cant wait for issue two!
Brian, you did wonderful work on this story, don't you dare allow a bit of negative press drag you down. In fact, I'm looking forward to your next line as I'm sure others as well.

Hey, just a thought, but why don't you give them the finger and tell them to shut their pieholes!
jclemens, I disagree about Connor. My wife and I both love him (as the understandably obnoxious teenager and as the hopefully more well-adjusted young man). But I DO agree about the gratuitousness of the clothing. For one thing it annoys me that practically EVERYONE is complaining about it when I just don't think it's that extreme. Secondly, they ARE in Hell for crying out loud. Does no one think the evil overlords of a hell dimension (especially a Los Angeles hell dimension) might impose some less-than-politically-correct dress codes?

And lastly, could we possibly cut back on the blanket condemnation of comics as a medium being an excuse for gratuity? Not all novels follow the same cliches, and neither do comics.
Are you saying there aren't a lot of gratuitously buxom women in tight/skimpy clothing in comics Haunt ? Cos I think that's self-evidently wrong and has long been mooted as one of the things that turn girls/women off them. Not all comics obviously, if that's your point, but a disproportionate number.

Or are you saying the fact that it's comics shouldn't be used as an excuse ? Cos that I kind of agree with (despite sort of doing it myself upthread ;).

(and sure it's not that big a deal, but it's a small deal that happens a lot and i'm not surprised that in this verse in particular, people are noting it disfavourably)
Haunt, I was kidding. Sorry if the wink inside the parentheses was too subtle there. :-)
My objection to the silly clothing and silly all-around drawings of the women characters in AtF isn't based on political correctness. It's an aesthetic objection. They all look like identically designed pornbots to me. I'm not a prude, so please hold fire on that score. Far from it. Gwen dressed all sexily in the TV show. That's great. Nina did not. That's also great. So why do they all look the same in these books? I'm including the ex-lawyer/now-looter. Where's the variety? It's too one-note to me. Hell dimension or no hell dimension, that's Urru's style, it seems. Check out his other books.

I do agree with Haunt that it's not good to blame everything on comics as a genre. Comics can be magnificent. The genre is no more inherently wretched than any other. That said, what Joss said in his intro to Fray (or was it his afterward?) kind of sums it up for me. He was annoyed with what he perceived to be a recent trend in comics towards too much of the skeezy one-note bosomy depictions. I'm with him on that.
Women have breasts. When you portray women in comics, you sorta have to draw their breasts. Otherwise they look like men with long hair.

There are just as many scantily clad men in the arena, with exaggerated physiques. Why does this bother no one? Saying the female form needs to be covered up but the male form doesn't is hefting a lot of shame onto women, and it's extremely anti-feminist.
There people go again assuming it's a feminist thing rather than an artistic thing. It's not a no-breasts/all-breasts kind of thing. Who said there was anything wrong with breasts? It's artistic variety that I would like to see. It's not an only/or. I give up. Read what Joss had to say in Fray. What he said.
There are just as many scantily clad men in the arena, with exaggerated physiques.

Really dingoes8 ? Maybe you should take another look because the copy I have has several men, at least two of which are in very good shape and at least two of which are normal shapes with quite pronounced bellies and even "man boobs". Perhaps you can point me to the fat women ? None you say ? OK, how about just the normally proportioned ones then ? Hell, even Gwen went up a cup size from real life to bring her in line with the mainstream comics norm.

Drawing women to always conform to some (largely male determined) ideal shape and size is what's actually anti-feminist. You don't need to be a bra burning, card carrying feminist (or even a woman ;) to see that comics' representations of the female form aren't always healthy.

(though, fair play, after re-reading jclemens post i'm happy to back-peddle a bit on the gratuitousness scale - the "groupies" being scantily clad does make perfect sense for the story though of course them being there at all is obviously also a debatable choice)
Otherwise they look like men with long hair.

Some women have short hair.
hayes62: Hee. Good one.

Apropos *not* of bosoms, women, bosomy women, men with long hair and women with short hair, does anyone know whether AtF is already in its third printing? That's what my comic store guy told me today. If so, wow. I had thought it was still in the second printing.

My comic store still doesn't have AtF #1, by the way, and won't until next week. Demand at the store was that high and replenishment copies have been that slow in the coming. Crazy. Wonderful for Brian Lynch, Joss and IDW.
Yep, it's already gone into its third printing. Selling like the proverbial hot-cakes it would seem (probably cos of all the T&A ;).
While I agree that the bosom-sizes maybe are a little bit exaggerated (doesn't really bother me, but I see that it could bother you if you're sensitive to that sort of thing), the clothing thing I don't see how you can logically complain about.

Nina is scantily dressed, yes. Why? Well apparently, the moon and sun-thing is doing stuff to her, making her very... weird, with heavy sexual undertones from what we've seen. It would make sense that this is reflected in the way she chooses to dress, and the changes in her seems to be a plot-point that will be delved into later.

Then there's the groupies - they're the groupies of a demon lord. There's nothing anti-feminist about portraying hell and its inhabitants as, among other things, demeaning of female slaves. If anything, it's the opposite. Now I admit that they could carry this too far and exploit the reasoning, etc. But after one issue? Really not a problem.

Other than that, I really didn't see any of this stuff there's so much talking about. It's been one issue. If there's tons of half-naked women in issues 2 through 5 as well, and they don't really seem to be logically half-naked in their respective situations, then sure, I'll see the point. But this is Hell. It's hardly offensive to women to portray the dimension supposed to be the incarnate of all things bad as abusive of them. You should note that the men in professions where violence might be required are forced to kill each other for the same demon as forced the women to dress like that - is that offensive to policemen?
And bouncers, don't forget the bouncer ;).

I don't really get the point you're making there Loki ? The men are depicted with a range of body shapes and sizes, the women on the other hand are the usual buxom swimsuit models that appeal to the stereotypical mainstream comic demographic. Even granted that they were necessary at all (the way you put it implies that the characters just end up that way, instead of being written and drawn by conscious human beings - albeit missing their kittens in some cases ;), doesn't that seem a bit problematic to you ?

Is it a huge issue ? Not really, despite the misleading weight of my comments being "in print" and perhaps the mis-perception that i'm angry or outraged (takes a bit more than that to do it - talking in the cinema for instance ;) but I can understand people's concerns and share them to some extent (and FWIW, I don't consider myself "sensitive" to these things though I do notice them, in part because of things Joss his own self has said about "t&a books", in part because i'm almost pathological about "having my buttons pressed" and in part because of the obvious shortage of women both as "mainstream" comics readers and working within the industry itself - gotta be a reason right ?).
The thing is that the Evil Demon Lord (I can't rememberh how to spell his name...) forced policemen (and bouncers! never forget the bouncers) and such to fight to the death for his own amusement, just as he forced conventionally beautiful women to be half naked for the same reason. Both would in his twisted demon-mind probably cause him some form of entertainment as well as, probably more importantly, make his status clear to those around him. In this scenario, it would not make sense for him to surround himself with non-conventionally pretty women. It's a matter of image (which seemed really important to that guy), a matter of looking like he's a hot shot.

The only incidence of "unnecessarily buxom swimsuit models" being drawn in my opinion was the lawyer-woman. And that's one character. If every new female character introduced in consequent issues look like that, then yeah, problem. (Though they cast almost exclusively pretty women in the show, too - how many random women on the street look like Amy Acker, Charisma Carpenter or Gina Torres? Yeah, the bust-size-thing is a problem if overdone, but why is that the only female feature that causes complaints when it's stereotyped into a (male) ideal? Nobody really screams out like this about, say, the average waist-size of the women cast on the show itself.) But one character, and in reasonably modest clothing? It's not enough for me to react negatively. Some women look like that. Most? No. (Though as my obscenely long parantheses tried to point out, on TV, not just in comics, the standards for what's normal are different.) So far, only one random woman has looked like that, which is not enough to bother me. Nina's clothes seem to have a valid character-driven reason, and the point I tried to make is that the half-naked demon-groupies make sense with the story. A demon wanting to look important and successful who forces men in professions knowing how to behave violently to perform violence for his pleasure would also, probably, force women looking like swimsuit models to be half naked around him. It's both a case of a demon wanting to exercise his superiority in the basic two power-categories, violence and sexuality, and of picking the people he finds would do this best. Just as he doesn't have rose-gardeners and math-teachers fighting, he doesn't have normal-looking women attending him.

I might be wrong, of course, and there might be tons of this stuff in the upcoming issues (the next one with the Spike-image would indicate at least one more with this), but so far, there's been nothing that to me didn't seem natural within the context of the story.

Sorry that it takes me so long to make a point, my ability to put reasonings into short and understandable sentences sucks...

[ edited by Loki on 2007-12-05 23:49 ]

[ edited by Loki on 2007-12-05 23:51 ]
OK, I get you. I'm still not 100% convinced by it as an argument (e.g. the demon woman wearing a bra in Connor's gang, was she like an ex-"groupie" or something ? ;) at least partly because it doesn't feel at all out of place in mainstream comics (which i'm a fan of BTW) just in the Buffyverse.

But I do completely agree that this "episode" may just be top-heavy ... ahem, so to speak ;) and that it'll quickly become a non-issue if a) the physical types of women depicted in future tend towards the normal/have at least some mixing of body shapes or b) if all buxom swim-suit models depicted are so good-looking/scantily clad for a valid, organic story reason (and don't just feel like "one for the boys").

It's not spoiling my enjoyment of the comic and it certainly won't stop me reading it so no harm, no foul in that sense.
Yup. I think I basically agree with you. This was not a problem for me at all, and it wouldn't become one if the next couple of issues were just as "bad" either. However, when the series have been going for a while, if there's still a definite trend in this direction, yeah, I'd feel somewhat let down. But this comic is (so far) way too good to let something like that even hint at bothering me after a single issue. Honestly I didn't even notice any of this 'til so many started pointing it out online, so to me, really not a big deal yet.
Oh, hell... just make 'em all naked.

Spike's in the next issue, right? *drool*
Really dingoes8 ? Maybe you should take another look because the copy I have has several men, at least two of which are in very good shape and at least two of which are normal shapes with quite pronounced bellies and even "man boobs".

Like I said, exaggerated. The big fat guys are exaggerated, too, so that when you look at them, you think "warrior." There aren't any normal or scrawny men, because that wouldn't really convey what the artist wanted. We don't see the characters' personalities, so they have to just look like archetypes that our brain can neatly file as "warrior" or "concubine".

Personally, I started reading normal, "rampantly sexualized" comics at a young age, and even caught glimpses of Hustler and the like before I was a teenager. I turned out extremely liberal and a feminist. So it leads me to believe that whatever the X-factor is that causes people and society to discriminate against women, comic books aren't it.
Ah, anecdotal evidence, can't beat it ;). My favourite example is "My Granny smoked about 20 cigarettes a day from the age of 14 and lived into her 80s so they can't be bad for you" (which is actually true BTW - of my Granny ;).

Or maybe it's the X-factor but there's also A,B,C,D ... etc. factors too ? Not saying (and never said) that mainstream comics are the sole, or even a large, cause of the way women are viewed but do I think it's possible they contribute ? Betcha. Oh and me too & me too BTW ('cept it was "Mayfair" ;).

When you see good looking women in crop/vest tops and shorts do you think "lawyer" ? How about women wearing a bra/boob tube indoors ? Does that scream "possible demon woman" ? Cos I have to say, when I look at those guys and imagine them in normal clothes I don't think "warrior" I think "normal guy, well built but kinda fat".

It's purely down to personal lines though, ours are in different places s'all.
Personally, I started reading normal, "rampantly sexualized" comics at a young age, and even caught glimpses of Hustler and the like before I was a teenager. I turned out extremely liberal and a feminist. So it leads me to believe that whatever the X-factor is that causes people and society to discriminate against women, comic books aren't it.

Amen, brother. It's a stereotype that comic books feature gratuitous T&A. Some do, indeed. But so do some television shows, and some films, and some books. Not all television shows are dismissively labeled as being gratuitous, nor all films or books. Yet it's cool to continue buying in to the stereotype about comics?

There used to be this group of fairly rabid fans for this old show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer... ever heard of it? Well anyway, these fans used to feel the need to defend their beloved show against the "uneducated" people that either had never seen it or had only seen small, not-very-representative samples of it, like say "Bad Eggs" or "Beer Bad", and thus were dismissive and contemptuous of it. The fans quite rightly felt it their duty to spread the word that the show was so much more than just a goofy name or bad praying mantis monster special effects or on-the-nose alcohol metaphors. To the non-fans the rabid efforts at defending the "silly TV show" was juvenile and geeky and just further proved that their dismissive assumptions about Buffy were right all along.

Well... some of us comics fans find ourselves in a similar position. I occasionally feel the need to "defend" comics from blanket generalizations such as "comics are about gratuitous T&A". Comic books are a medium, not a genre, and thus contain within them any and all kinds of stories that anyone can imagine telling. The fact that the most public face of the comics medium has typically been the "capes and tights" crowd of superheroes in no way means that superheroes are the only (or even the majority) stories available.

And even if they were... even if long underwear and oversized breasts comprised the majority of comic books, it's annoying for us loyal fans to hear the medium painted with so wide a brush. Imagine being a passionate fan of something truly amazing that just happens to be buried within a medium dominated by childish writing and gratuitous T&A and feeling like you have to defend your beloved story every time someone dismisses the medium as a whole. Sure it may not be necessary to say something every time... but I'll bet there are one or two Whedon fans running around that can't help but speak up about how television isn't ALL bad because there used to be this incredible show about a vampire slayer that was pretty good...
Hah, now i'm a bad fan ? Disloyal ? This is that peer pressure stuff people keep going on about isn't it ? ;-)

Are you making the point (again) that not all comics have gratuitous t&a Haunt ? Cos I completely agree. Not all people are murderers either, i'm still against it ;). Is there a need for any gratuitous t&a (in any medium) ? Cos if there is I think I missed the memo about the definition of "gratuitous" changing.

And I hope/think you've read enough of my posts to know i'm very much not dismissing the medium as a whole so i'm just gonna assume you're talking about someone else, on some other thread when you talk about "buying into stereotypes" or "dismissive labelling" ;).

(anyone still reading knows what i'm talking about when I say "mainstream comics")

It's sort of like the "torture porn" debate or debates about use of language. Everyone's line is in a different place but I think most people agree that there is a line (some women might be offended if their gender is referred to as "girls", most will be if I make a habit of calling all women "birds" or "chicks" or "bitches"). You might well be unchanged by any depiction of women (or men), does that make any depiction acceptable ? Does it mean everyone will be unchanged by it ?
dingoes8: "Women have breasts. When you portray women in comics, you sorta have to draw their breasts."

I really don't think anyone would argue that women don't have breasts and that they shouldn't be drawn but somebody could argue that they actually come in different sizes and some of those sizes aren't always large.

And, really? "Otherwise they look like men with long hair." Is that really the only physical difference between men and women?
Actually, if we want to get pedantic and all corrective on each other :), in strict terms, comics can be both a genre and a medium. I don't know what comics folks theorize, but strictly speaking, "genre" does not only apply to sub-categories within a larger category, such as "horror genre" within literature. "Genre" is fundamentally category of expression characterized by a particular form, style, or content. "Genre" has been properly applied to literature vs. music, for example. And comics.

"Medium" refers to a mode of expression, a form or manner in which something is expressed.

So, for example, one could say that comics are a genre of storytelling. They are also a medium of artistic expression.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2007-12-06 15:54 ]
Yeah but are they canon though ?

Heh! And do Ben or Glory have anything to do with them?

You know, I think I shall revise my earlier statement. In the academy, I've heard both "genre" and "medium" used for different categories of artistic expression, including to distinguish, for example, between literature vs. music. This may or may not be a corruption of the original meanings, but so it goes with language. What starts out as a corruption becomes the standard. But it's probably better to try to limit the terms, to relegating "genres" within a particular medium. That's clearer, and probably what the whole distinction originally was meant to be. So now I'm getting all pedantic and corrective on myself. I'm backtracking and agreeing with Haunt. Fine, so comics are a medium and within comics you have different genres: horror, superheroes, comedic, whatever.

But that still doesn't answer my question about Ben and Glory. Wait - are they somehow related?
I think Ben once read a comic, apart from that, not really. And obviously Ben and Glory aren't connected in any way, why the very idea is madness ... isn't it ?

(I reckon a lot of everyday words have very specific meanings within a narrow context but outside those contexts, most people accept Haunt's usage of "genre" and "medium")
'Tis true, Saje. All I know is that there is some agonized theorizing out there on the philosophical distinction between the two. I had to read a few papers on this and finally just sort of threw up my hands. But you're right. Haunt had it right, at least as it should be. It's much clearer that way. From now on I shall heed that distinction. Point to Haunt!

Why am I writing about this and not writing my dissertation which has nothing whatsoever to do with genre vs. medium? Oh, right, because going to whedonesque is a lot more fun. There's a great quote on Brian K. Vaughan's website about writer's block: "'Writer's block" is just another way of saying video games." I'd substitute "whedonesque visiting" for "video games." Ain't it the truth.

Back to Angel: After the Fall - I've reread it now a bunch of times and have become increasingly intrigued by what's being set up. It's a nicely complex issue. Good job, Brian Lynch. (Almost typed "David Lynch." Wonder what his take on Angel Season Six would be?!)
Yeah, we're cool Saje. Again I find myself having to sort of pull back from an earlier rant. I was jetlagged and wiped out from my so-called "vacation" when I posted that long ramble above. I was kind of trying to explain why I harp on and on about comics being a medium rather than a genre, which I think I did. (Thanks for getting all pedantic and corrective on yourself phleb, you succinctly said what I'd been trying to say. ;)

I wasn't intending to single out any person. And I definitely wasn't calling anyone a "bad fan". I was drawing comparisons between the need to defend Buffy (or anything else Whedonesque) from people that feel the need to say that there's nothing but poorly written crap on television and my need to defend comics from people that find it comfortable to claim that comics are nothing but adolescent male fantasies of big-breasted chicks in skimpy costumes.

Clearly you've made your point, and I agree: you have never made the gross overexaggeration that ALL comics are gratuitous. But let's imagine you're having a conversation with someone about... oh, let's say classic films. The person you're talking to is making the point that classic film is a superior medium for storytelling, and at some point in the conversation says something along the lines of, "All the classics are classic for a reason. They've got great casting, great directing, intelligent plot, phenomenal writing... I mean c'mon, they're not television for crying out loud." While it's not specifically insulting, and if called on it the person would almost certainly say that they didn't truly mean that there's nothing good that's ever come from the medium of television, I suspect your first instinct would be to say, "Hey now, wait just a minute. 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' was on television and it had some of the best writing EVER, in ANY medium. So let's not dismiss television so cavalierly."

My point? I don't think anyone here has actually come out and said that comics are NOTHING but T&A. But there's a casual, ugly dismissiveness about the way we talk about comics in the "shorthand", as if everyone just "KNOWS" that comics are a young man's medium and as such are really only good for telling stories about chicks in underwear. I tend to have something of a kneejerk reaction to discussions like that... just as many Whedon fans have a kneejerk defensiveness when anyone implies that there's no good writing on television.

So... moving on and letting go. ;)

On the subject of art, as long as we're talking semantics, I'd point out that "dark art" could (and in my case did) include the colorist along with the penciler and inker. My best friend is a comics inker (for 'Buffy' in fact), so I'm well aware that there are in fact three distinct disciplines of art for comics. I've commented before that I don't like the art for this series in particular, and for the most part that specifically refers to Urru's pencils. But in the end I think most people that complain about the art are likely talking about the finished product as seen on the printed page, and that includes all three aspects; pencils, inks and color. So when someone complains that it's too dark I think it's alright for them to say the ART is too dark. In this sense I think "art" refers to the whole package.

Now if they said that Urru's art is too dark, directly singling him out, then that's another matter. Personally, having now seen several examples of Urru's uncolored pencil artwork I'd say that I still don't care for it very much, and would much rather seen a different artist on the title. But I most definitely think that the colorist has played a significant role in my dislike for the finished art in the printed comic. I'm eager to see how much a change of colorists will affect the overall look.
I've actually had similar conversations about TV Haunt. A friend once said "Oh, I don't really watch much television anymore" with that slightly superior tone that suggests anyone that does is clearly wasting their no-doubt deeply meaningless lives. It's kind of annoying but to me, basically a fruitless discussion. I recommend shows I think are excellent (e.g. Buffy) and then move on (it turned out BTW, that he watched a lot of TV shows, just not on TV. Now there's a distinction without a difference if ever there was one ;). Same with comics, if people can't be bothered to seek out the best a medium has to offer that's their problem, they're the only ones losing out.

(i've also had a similar thing to your classics discussion but reversed - a guy I knew at uni didn't watch any films from before about 1970 and certainly none that were black and white. After I figured out he wasn't actually kidding I just sat and stared in slack-jawed amazement ;)

That said, I wish comics didn't give them so much ammunition y'know ? 'Runaways' is a fine example of a superhero book that strikes a pretty decent balance between swim-suit models and "normal" looking kids/people. Why shouldn't that be the norm, even for 'underwear perverts' (as Warren Ellis hilariously calls them ;) ?

My best friend is a comics inker (for 'Buffy' in fact) ...

Aha, the juice master, source of the inside scoop ! Kind of a figurative man/woman from Del Monte ;-). Yeah, didn't doubt that you knew the difference, still entertain them about the reviewer though.

Re: the art thing, yeah, thinking about it again, I think that's fair comment, it makes sense to say the art (as a whole) was too dark though I agree it's totally unfair to hang that on Urru (the article specifically says "the art by Franco Urru is so dark it's sometimes hard to read the issue.").
Aha, the juice master, source of the inside scoop ! Kind of a figurative man/woman from Del Monte ;-)

Why whatever do you mean, sir? I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking about... :)
My favourite (by favourite I mean most annoying) complaint is any variation of "the Internet is rubbish". Try substituting that with "books are rubbish"and see how stupid it sounds.

Anyway, all genre (if you excuse the phrase) things suffer from the same generalisations like Haunt mentions regarding comics. So you get statements like Ruth Rendell is a fine writer for a crime novelist or the snooty things people say about science fiction.
Where are all these people who say comic books are just mindless T&A? Maybe they exist, but I've never met them, and they're probably not the type of people I want to interact with. I've talked about comic books at bars, on first dates, in classes, and I've never encountered that respose. People (at least those whose opinions I care about) seem to realize that's not all they are. In fact, the only reason people have ever given me as to why they avoid comics is because they say they can't follow the panels. Or they think they're just for kids.

This seems like a purely intellectual discussion at this point. And while they can be fun, I honestly don't think the portrayl of these girls in an issue of Angel has any impact on the real world. It's a matter of aesthetics, and it's totally within anyone's right to not like the way something looks. It's just frustrating when "I don't like this" turns into "There's something wrong with this and it should not be this way." It implies that anyone who disagrees is embracing some societal disease.

[ edited by dingoes8 on 2007-12-06 19:23 ]
Maybe they exist, but I've never met them, and they're probably not the type of people I want to interact with. (my emphasis)

Maybe that's why you've never met them ? ;-)

(it's a serious point though, we do a lot of subconscious "sifting" and self-selecting of the people we interact with, even casually)

It's just frustrating when "I don't like this" turns into "There's something wrong with this and it should not be this way." It implies that anyone who disagrees is embracing some societal disease.

The thing is though, surely it depends on the reasons for not liking something ? Some things are a "societal disease", not everything is "just" a matter of taste, there's a line. Maybe the portrayals in this particular issue of 'Angel: AtF' hasn't affected the real world at all but is that true of all comics, even in toto ? Makes it hard to make a case for them as significant art surely (or even just significant parts of pop-culture) ? Or is it only the "good" parts that have an effect ? If all black people were either pimps or muggers in comics would that have no effect ? Or all Jews money grubbing ? Or Scots drunkards ? How about if it were in all fiction ?

I guess we are getting into abstractions and so on. Personally I find that more interesting (and worthwhile) than everyone just getting outraged but I do accept that there's the ever-present danger of it turning into a bit of a circle wank (yeah, i'm trying to kid myself it hasn't already - don't mess with the fantasy ;).
This started with me using an anecdotal argument, so I guess it's run its course if it ends on extreme hyperbole. Plus it's gotten extremely OT and off the main page, so it's a pain to get to.

I'll just end my line by saying that I believe art, and the artist, should be untouchable. The second someone starts saying "This piece of fiction is dangerous and needs to be changed" and getting their way, someone else will want something else changed, and pretty soon you've got books being burned. Everyone has opinions on what's good and what's unacceptable, but who decides? The only way to reconcile all these different tastes is pretty simple. Let the artist do their thing, and if you don't like it, don't look at it. Because I'm sure there are people that would have problems with the supernatural elements of the comic and think showing hell and demons on Earth is an abomination. And to a neutral observer, how is their concern any less valid than a concern about the sexuality? They're both projecting sets of values onto the art that the artist clearly does not share.

And if we disagree there, we're coming from two completely different places, and there's probably not much of a middle ground to settle on. ;)
Well, maybe not completely different - i'm also against book burning and a fan of freedom ;) - but kinda.

(cool, we've had anecdotal evidence, hyperbole - on both "sides" ;) - and now false dichotomy, it's like we're trying to hit all the fallacies. Happily no ad hominem though, s'why I hang around this joint ;)

I'm not saying impose standards on people (nowhere have I said "Something should be done about this outrage ! Won't somebody think about the children ?!?" ;), i'm saying that wide-scale unrealistic depiction of the human body (men and women) isn't healthy and that (some) comics contribute to that. For instance, cases of male body dysmorphic disorders are on the rise, I think there's a reason and I think it's partly images of men that are starting to rival the images of women in their unrealistic expectations of body shape and size.

I think the stories we tell ourselves reflect both who we are and who we can be and that we're affected by those stories in all kinds of ways both positive and negative (to me, we don't get to choose to have hope, inspiration and purpose from fiction without also getting whatever negative baggage is there too). And just like we don't have the "Black and White Minstrels" any more, I hope soonish we'll have normal shapes and sizes of women (and men) appearing in our entertainment as a matter of course.

(oh and just click "Recent Comments", it lists the last 50 - ? ish anyway - comments made on the board. If a discussion's still going on, the comments will pop up there, no arduous wandering in the off-front-page hinterlands required ;)

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