For of all sad words of tongue and pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!”
Whether it's a webcomic, graphic novel, book, TV Show or movie, there is generally a “promise” made to the audience on some level. Maybe it starts with a thumbnail image and a pop-up blurb like we have here on The Duck, or it's a preview or commercial, or a cover image and description on the back page and maybe a snippet in the front pages from later in the story. For big productions targeted to broad audiences we have talk show appearances, multiple trailers, interviews, and panels at places like Comic-Con.
The promises being made have to do with story, of course, but there are more subtle parts at play, too. Things like tone and genre.
Tone is the emotional territory of a story. How it feels and how it's supposed to make the audience feel. Is it a creepy story? Horrific? Funny? Exciting? Romantic? Is it a Tragedy? Suspense? Stories can have bits of all these types of scenes and explore all kinds of different emotions, but the promise suggests what it's going to MOSTLY be.
Genre has to do with story elements and conflict. A horror movie with people running from monsters? A romantic comedy where misunderstandings and character flaws are going to be the main problems to deal with? A mystery where the Protagonist bumps into secrets and lies? Science Fiction that has to do with advanced technology or Fantasy that involves the magical and non-magical at odds with each other?
The “promises” made in a certain big screen sequel/soft reboot of a Space Opera I once knew had to do with adventure, drama, and fun. Heroic journeys and character arcs, generations of family and mentor/student relationships. And the strong suggestion (as seen in the picture above), that a classic trio of friends were going to appear.
Which they did…technically…
But not together. Not really. And the picture above says to me that the marketing machine KNEW that's what many people wanted to see. Otherwise why sell it that way? Why bring them together on the promotional stage but not deliver the goods in the actual story?
Huge mistake. They may keep raking in the money, but I believe selling the sizzle and not backing it up has consequences. It's a bad scene to play with people's expectations. It CAN work, but it's a bit of a tightrope.
What does your comic “promise” in your opinion? Have you delivered sometimes and missed the mark other times? That's what I've done, I think.
Have a sizzlin' Thursday!
Banes at 12:00AM, May 10, 2018
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