Sunday, May 21, 2006

Comic Book Dictionary - Formatitis

Formatitis is when a comic book story suffers from being forced to commit to a specific format.

Notable examples of Formatitis include:

A. Stories written for serialized anthologies (the short length and constant need to recap can rob the story of some impact)

B. Stories written for "the trade" (when a 3-part story has to be stretched to 6 issues. A notable example is the Geoff Johns issue of Avengers that was rejected, as Johns was told to split the story into two issues - both issues seemed a bit sparse).

C. Stories written for longer story pages without deserving the longer story pages (leads to a lot of padding)

D. Stories written for short story length that deserve more (story ends up feeling as though an opportunity was missed).

Any other examples of formatitis that you folks can think of?

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21 Comments:

Anonymous Oliver Townshend said...

Non Formatitis

I was reading my old Fantastic Four reprints yesterday, the one where we wrap up meeting the Inhumans and go straight into the Silver Surfer, which carries on into the next issue and then half way through the next. Talking about not fitting even into comic format!

5/22/2006 05:05:00 AM  
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5/22/2006 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Spam is fun!

Does forcing "hot" guest stars into books count? Remember the early '90s when Ghost Rider showed up everywhere, whether or not the story made any sense? That seems like a prime example.

5/22/2006 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger David C said...

Or maybe a book like Brave and Bold, Marvel Two-In-One or the old-school Marvel Team-Up would be a better example of what Greg's talking about.

The team-up is actually part of the format, not a random editorial mandate or sales-driven stunt. Even if there's no particularly good or logical reason for, say, Batman to meet Scalphunter, it shall be done....

There's also the frequent additional "formatitis" element of Trademark Protection Theatre, where you need to guest-star some third or fourth stringer whose logo hasn't appeared on the cover of a comic book in a long time.

5/22/2006 02:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Moose N Squirrel said...

Does forcing "hot" guest stars into books count?

I think that's more like what Brian calls "outside writing."

5/22/2006 02:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Omar Karindu said...

Arguably the worst form of "formatitis" is the too-short story length. It's why Annual backups are almost never good, and why Marvel's Unlimited titles are so generally unremarkable.

Will Eisner could tell a good 7=page story. Almost no one working on a brand-name superhero can, for all sorts of reasons.

5/22/2006 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger RAB said...

I'd nominate both Infinite Crisis and House of M as cases of formatitis -- a subcategory for company-wide crossover events where characters from a wide variety of books need to be worked into the storyline, the actual story of the book consists of hitting one predetermined plot point after another with mechanical efficiency, and the end result isn't a proper story but a succession of events happening. Why did this happen? Was that big scene even necessary? No time for that, we're on to the next thing...

5/22/2006 02:58:00 PM  
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