SW10/HCC: Superhuman World 2011: The Element of Surprise

Adrian J. McClure mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Thu Feb 23 13:52:43 PST 2012

Mystical infighting is fun! I think I'm starting to sort of understand
what's going on in this world now. :) I like the editorial footnotes
as links to past stories. That said, I never actually felt the need to
use them, as the past bits of this story were well-explained enough.
The council meeting was a good way to work in exposition organically.

I notice your writing doesn't tend to include any description, and I
have no idea what any of these people or things look like, but I think
it works for the kind of story you're telling, which is very idea-
centric. It reminds me of "Golden Age" SF stories.

The subject of description is on my mind becuase Andrew noted, when he
edited Ultimate Mercenary #6, that my work tends to have an unusually
profuse amount of description. He thought he wasn't as good, although
he came up with a great visual for the Headhunters--"enormous
zombified shrunken heads, with all these tubes and stuff running off
them, shrouded in dark shadows and stuff. This is how they look in my
head now, though I'm still deliberately keeping them indescribable in
story if I ever use one again.

Incidentally, Flame Wars VI, the crossover event the Headhunters came
from was co-written by Martin Phipps and Jesse Willey (who left a long
time ago for reasons best left unremembered). They're both known for
having almost nothing in the way of description (one of the reasons
their attempt at co-writing an epic cosmic even story wound up being a
bit of an incomprehensible mess, though they both brought some
excellent ideas to the table), so I never had a sense of what the
Headhunters were supposed to look like. I wound up deciding they were
indescribable, in a Lovecraftian sort of way; I described the effects
they had on people who encountered them but not the Headhunters

Anyway, I sometimes wonder if there's too much description in my
stories. RACC issues are meant to be rather short and quickly read,
often equivalent to an average comic book issue. (Though there are
exceptions--Legion of Occult Heroes, an altogether excellent series
that everyone should read, was unusually long, and on the other end of
the spectrum there are the short-short pieces which seem to have
become prevalent on RACC in these busy times.) Of course, Bronze Age
comics (of which I'm a huge fan) had enormously wordy captions, but
the storytelling momentum of the art carried them along. (And
incidentally, today's superhero comics artists tend to be very weak on
storytelling skills, but that's neither here nor there.) I think one
can achieve a similar effect if you have strong enough storytelling
momentum. With the cascade issues, I've been writing in a relatively
more stripped-down style. Especially the end of #12, which was written
in a Silver Age Superman mode where I was focusing on a few striking
details. (The upcoming System Corruptors issue with the Crossover
Queen is similar, though it exists in a quite different genre. Though
perhaps not so different.) Whereas in Classic LNH Ultimate Mercenary,
I find myself expending a lot of effort putting readers into my
characters' heads; that seems to be a central part of my goal for that
series. (And whatever series its supporting cast will wind up being
part of.)

AJM (also liked the irony of having "^&%! the Challenge" in an HCC

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