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Timeliness vs Timelessness

Banes at 12:00AM, Nov. 24, 2016

Rogue from the X-Men encounters President Ronald Reagan!

Timeliness vs Timelessness

Some comics are very much “of the moment”, while others are more timeless.

Connecting to the events of the moment can be a worthy endeavor. The political satire of Jesus 2016 comes to mind. Webcomics are well suited to this kind of approach, too, with our ability to create and instantly distribute our pages. South Park manages to do animated shows very quickly, delivering commentary on current events.

On the other end of the spectrum would be comics or series that make no mention of current events, and do not seem to exist at any specific point in time (or exist in a time outside of the contemporary, like a fantasy world or a futuristic scifi setting). The Godstrain is a timeless tale.

In my own comic, the characters live in a slightly dated world that still has Movie Rental stores…or at least one. Despite the movie-geek nature of some of the heroes, I make an effort not to stick any brand new movie references in there. It's not an issue lately, with the long stretches between updates.

The parody films by Seltzer and Hamburg (or whatever their names are) are sort of famous for the lame pop-culture references/jokes that are just a little bit too old to be relevant.

On the other hand, when i've watched old Daily Show or Colbert Report episodes, they often hold up. The self importance and hypocrisy of the powerful and the insincerity of politicians is eternal.

Then there's the problem of technology - things are moving so damn fast; the long-running tropes we always see in movies, shows and comics have got to change to relate to modern audiences.

It can be distracting to revisit old comics or series and catch old pop culture references or dated technology. They usually take me out of the story. Anything that was cool or meaningful about shallow references is now completely meaningless, and exposes the true holes in the thing.

Unless it's a GREAT story, that is. Chris Claremont's X-Men is always great, no matter how “dated” some parts of the stories are. Ditto PSYCHO.

A great story that doesn't use its place in time as a crutch is timely AND timeless.

Or maybe I just made that up. I like the sound of it, though…

Alright, I'm out of time, here!

Are your stories timely, timeless, or somewhere in between?



EssayBee at 10:42AM, Nov. 28, 2016

This is something that worries me with Fusion more than Dude in Distress, but thankfully Savunn's pop-culture references are to things that (hopefully) will be relevant to geeks for decades. It's also a reason I black out the year of publication from the magazine interviews I've posted (something readers have asked about)--I don't want to give "solid" ages to things as the years in our world pass (opposed to the comic's world).

usedbooks at 5:12PM, Nov. 24, 2016

One reason I still enjoy I Love Lucy is because the comedy was timeless. I also enjoy the little things that remind me of the era (like when they got TV sets). There's a place in history for Murphy Brown too, but those reruns can't gain new audiences quite as easily as Lucy.

bravo1102 at 4:42PM, Nov. 24, 2016

And when the Mets won the series... 1986. So do all the obvious Reagan references date Miller's The Dark Knight Returns? I was watching Monty Python and it's full of topical pop British references so a lot of one liners have always been lost on me. But the comedy is timeless.

jerrie at 1:13PM, Nov. 24, 2016

OMG I'm old...I remember when Reagan was president

KimLuster at 10:29AM, Nov. 24, 2016

Great stuff! It's something we have to be mindful of but not constrained by... Most comics (web or normal...) the 'story time' is much shorter than 'real time'. Example: my story, the Godstrain: only a few months of story-time have transpired, but it's taken me nearly Five Years to tell it. Long running series (like Anita Blake) we the audience just have to nod and understand that all her many adventures just occur over a few years, despite the decades of real-time they've gone on... I like it - it feels like walled-off universes...

usedbooks at 8:41AM, Nov. 24, 2016

I love a series that can stay modern and still continue a story set in less time. Detective Conan (manga and anime) started in the mid-90s. The series had to come up with clever communication devices like a portable fax machine, and the police used the modern technology of the time. Having been running for 20 years without having the plot advance a single year, everyone carries cell phones and take photos and videos and it plays into more recent cases and stories. They even incorporate modern technology into flashacks. No one bats an eye. The world changes without time advancing, and the franchise marches on. (Tricky for a story with canon, not so much for a comic/cartoon where no one ever ages and plots stay self-contained.) That said, I like a story with a defined setting, especially one in recent history. I once played a game that was set in an apocalyptic world but it was as if the world ended in the 80s with boomboxes and payphones and all that 80s culture -- crumbling.

fallopiancrusader at 6:55AM, Nov. 24, 2016

When I drew GirlsquadX (in 1992) I deliberately wanted it to be as profoundly and severely "timely" as possible. If all had gone to plan, people should have been rolling their eyes at its datedness a few months after publication. It was all about the relentless planned obsolescence of the art industry. Does anyone alive today give two craps about Michael Graves or Ashley Bickerton? I should hope not!

Genejoke at 1:25AM, Nov. 24, 2016

I had this in mind when I started Blood and water, if I went with setting it in present day then over he course of years that I make it things would change and I may not notice inconsistencies. I also wanted to avoid things like facebook and smart phones, so the late 90's became the setting.

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