Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Soaps and the Comic Fan or vice versa

So, I've moved into a new place (no more 1 hour and fifteen minute drive each way to work!) and I'm enjoying it!

I've also, regretfully, started re-watching a certain soap opera (If you're curious, General Hospital. I'm the only person I know who likes the crap-ass ridiculous mob stuff. It's hilarious to me, and I'd much rather see pretty men try to kill each other stupidly than yet more hospital soap shenanigans. If I want that I'll watch Grey's Anatomy. Whereas I can't think of another soap-type show that does the mafia so entertainingly awful. So there you go.) It's a masochistic thing really, that I doubt I'll have the attention span to maintain, but it is much more entertaining than god-awful reality shows.

It's reminded me of my assertion that if superhero comics really want female readers, Minx and other type comics were the wrong idea. Those MIGHT get some of the manga crowd, but then the manga crowd is usually spending their money on actual manga.

But if you want an audience who really appreciates boggled down continuity, needing a vague knowledge of three or four decades of plot to know what's going on, rampant retcons, deaths that mean nothing, love triangles between assholes, the sudden re-emergence of characters that sane writers would have left forgotten back in 1988, and so on, you really should aim for soap fans.

And it's not even that the powers or spandex would throw them off. Not when there (were) soaps like Passions (with the witches, dolls, and so on), Port Charles (Lucy the Vampire Hunter!!!) or even more serious ones like Days of Our Lives (Satan possesses Marlena) or General Hospital (The Ice Princess Storyline?.)

Hell, paranormal romances are big in the romance novel world right now after all (and Marjorie Liu's is writng X-13's comic right now. She's not to my taste, but there we go.

Allow me to illustrate what I mean by describing a few situations:

1) A billionnaire with world domination intentions builds a machine to control the weather, murders a few minor characters, and then is thwarted by our adventuring heroes.

Is it a comic book plot? Probably. But it's also the Ice Princess story from General Hospital!

2) The nicest, most self-effacing guy in the cast gets brain damage, becomes a thug and eventually develops a knack for firearms and healing what ought to be mortal wounds in a shorter than normal period of time.

Am I talking about Guy Gardner? Or am I talking about Jason Morgan? (Who got, I kid you not, crushed by a building, shot in point blank range twice, and a WEEK later was fine and having shirtless sex scenes with no bullet wounds or anything. And given how weirdly time passes, he was still wearing the same clothes he got shot in! Before he took them off anyway! It's HILARIOUS.)

3) The son of a hero appears to die in an explosion, but is in fact captured and imprisoned by his father's archenemy who spends that time brainwashing him to kill his father. Which of course he then tries to do.

I'm just saying, I think Lucky Spencer ought to go out drinking with Bucky Barnes sometime. They even both seem to be dating feisty redheads at the moment.

4) Twenty years after an arch-villain originally died, attacking a hero and heroine, it's revealed that his mother had been keeping his body in cryogenic stasis only to be revived, looking much younger than he ought, and inclined to commit mass mayhem.

Do I really need to go on?

The key is in advertising. All the elements that would draw this audience in to comic books are there already. You just need to re-spin how you market it.

"Jean Grey was dead. But now she's back, to find her husband sleeping with his old mistress. Will she fight for him? Or will she go elsewhere to find love? And how will HE react when the woman he thought lost forever comes back in his life (again)?"

"Erik Lensherr is planning to take over Scott Summers's organization, while he fights his growing attraction to one of the members, known only as Rogue. Will he succeed? Or will he be distracted from his ultimate goal?"

"Susan Storm has long felt neglected by her husband, Reed Richards. What happens when she must work with a very attentive ex-suitor, Prince Namor? Will sparks fly, or will Sue remain true to her marriage?"

"Kyle Rayner has found love with his co-worker Doctor Soranik Natu, but what will happen when he discovers she's the long-lost daughter of his archenemy, Sinestro? More importantly, what will Sinestro do when he learns about the relationship?"

You try! Feel free to use an existing plot or make up your own! (It's not like any of the ones I've suggested are terribly unlikely after all.)

Really, modern comics are pretty soapy anyway. But there's nothing that says that among the umpteen X-Men or Batman spinoffs there can't be one that focuses more on the emotional ramifications of what goes on, either. I mean, if they can devote HOW many issues of X-Men Legacy to an amnesiac Charles Xavier learning just how much of a dick he really is (I loved that storyline, I'm not gonna lie) then it seems like a spinoff that plays up the soap aspect and downplays the action (but not too much! Soaps are surprisingly violent!) isn't too far out of the question.

And trust me. Non-sensical heavy continuity is not going to scare most of these women off.

("Why's that guy going to jail?" "It's part of a deal to protect the kid." "I thought the kid's parents were the scheming woman and the guy who does nothing but stare out the window." "Well, yes. The brooding guy's his adoptive father." " this guy's his real father?" "No, he's his uncle. He pretended to be his real father though when the kid was born because the kid's mom didn't know whether he was the son of her husband - who she stole from her long lost mom - or her one-night stand with his drunk brother." "..." "The truth eventually came out, and she married the drunk brother, but then planned to divorce him and go back to that guy, but then had hate-sex at the same time that that guy was shot and ended up marrying the staring guy, who is this guy's boss, and ended up adopting the kid." "Wait. This guy's like thirty-five. That kid's eighteen." " get used to that.")


("Why is Rick Springfield on this show and why does he look like a corpse?" "Um, well, he used to be on the show back in the seventies where he dated that one nurse who's the mother of the mob boss's ex-wife. The girl doctor, who's parents were those secret agents during the 80s, brought him to save the mob henchman's life because of complications from a drug taken to jog his memory. Anyway, his hotshot son is now married to the girl doctor." "So...WHY does he look like a corpse?" "...because he's Rick Springfield?")

I'm just saying, General Hospital started the same year as the X-Men. And where the X-Men only ever had to deal with a handful of issues a month, for continuity? Soap Operas? Air one-hour long episodes, five days a week. And that's not even going into crossovers.

Soap opera fans laugh at your "non-newbie friendly continuity". I'm just saying.

I'm not saying all soap fans would enjoy comics or that all comic readers would enjoy soap operas, but I definitely think there's an untapped market crossover potential that if *I* were a comic exec, I'd try to exploit.

Besides, anything that could potentially end up with a meeting and team up between Erica Kane and Bruce Wayne (might not be my soap, but I'd watch/read it) would be awesome. :-P


  • At December 08, 2010 1:28 AM, Blogger kiragecko said…

    I have wanted a soap opera X-Men comic ever since I got into comics. 80% incredibly complicated family trees and relationships, 20% people getting hurt. We badly need everyone to have as complicated a family tree as the Summers:)

    Also, though Liu isn't a great writer (and I vaguely remember, was she kind of a jerk? Or was that someone else?), she had a web site dedicated to awesome Wolvie/Jubes fic and is possibly the reason I had to read comics. And wrote a book that had Jubilee in it. How often is THAT going to happen? So I have a certain fondness.

    Only tangentially related, does ER count as a soap? Is it rediculous enough?


  • At December 08, 2010 1:45 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I know nothing about her as a person. I do know my mom loves her books. Her writing's just not to my taste. (I think I blogged about one of her X-Men novels at one point. Interesting ideas, but I disagreed with certain character interpretations and didn't quite care for her execution.)

    I think it was more of a soapy procedural than a true soap. Like House. They have ridiculous moments, but the focus is more on the cases than in say, Grey's Anatomy, IMO.

    But I admit, the definition is often a tad fluid. :-)

  • At December 08, 2010 6:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Every girl who loves comics and grew up with family members and babysitters who watched soap operas knows how closely related the two are.

    Erica Kane and Batman? HECK YEAH. Bruce can be her, like, seven hundredth husband.

    Recently, my bff was in LA and he and his girlfriend saw La Lucci out walking with her husband and he immediately sent me a text message to let me know, because even though I haven't watched a soap in 13 years, those loyalties run deep--or maybe it's just the depth of nostalgia and how far it can take us.

    Seriously, nothing pleased me more than them casting one of my favorite GH guys as Green Arrow in the DCAU. I was like, "SQUEE! Scotty!"

  • At December 08, 2010 8:13 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Heh, I had a very similar reaction when I saw Advent Children and thought "Why the hell does Cloud Strife sound so familiar?"

    Then I looked it up and laughed my ass off. Because really, if I had to cast anyone as a partially amnesiac, monotonic, spiky blond guy? Yeah.

  • At December 08, 2010 4:36 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    You slap some spandex on the Soap Opera people, and no one will ever be able to tell the difference.

  • At December 09, 2010 3:51 AM, Blogger Your Obedient Serpent said…

    The Ice Princess story aired one summer when I was in high school. My grandmother watched General Hospital every day, and I started catching bits and pieces of John Colicos chewing the scenery just like he'd done a year or two before on the original Battlestar Galactica.

    Pretty soon, to my dismay, I was hooked.

    I hadn't realized that the Ice Princess arc was still well-known amongst people who ... were you even born in '81?

  • At December 09, 2010 9:15 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Nope! Thank YouTube!

    (Besides, the Cassadines were big in the '90s which was the height of my addictive phase.)

  • At December 13, 2010 3:42 AM, Anonymous ejne7 said…

    Just got linked to this from the new Dispatches From The Fridge blog, which I got linked to in turn from Comics Worth Reading, and wanted to say "hee". I'm a big ol' JLI fan and always thought it was EXACTLY like a soap. (I actually think pro sports have the same daily-saga soap opera quality).

  • At December 16, 2010 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Love soaps and comics... best/worst storyline though is Days of Our Lives Clone storyline. A "spaceship" lands during the 4th of Jury and out pop 2 near nekkid bro-sis pair. Everybody wonders if they are aliens but they aren't they're clones.... who look nothing like the ppl they were cloned from...



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