Maybe by thinking about what is lost when we extract having-to-wait from a story, we can also appreciate the stories we still wait for.
Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Batman: Dark Victory was published across thirteen issues (fourteen, if you count #0), between December 1999 and October 2000. It is the sequel to Loeb and Sale’s rather more popular Batman: The Long Halloween, which likewise ran from December to October (1996-7). Original readers wanting to discover the identities of Holiday and The Hangman, each book’s respective serial killer, needed to wait nearly a year. Today, thanks to the magic of trade paperback collections, you need only wait a few hours.
I began (and shortly finished) Dark Victory this morning, and it reminded me of that magic: a year of story, finished before my third cup of coffee. As I turned my attention to this week’s ADAMancy, I wanted to discuss the impact of seriality, and especially the odd way that something designed to maintain suspense for months is transformed when it becomes something you can finish in an afternoon.
As I wrote, I realized that I was retreading old ground for myself, and (worse) not doing a terribly good job of it. This subject is the theme of a seminar paper I wrote during my last semester in graduate school, and rather than rehash the paper, I have decided to simply publish it here.
It’s academic, yes, but hopefully not too pedantic. If nothing else, my goal for this week is to get us pondering how we consume media, and how media was designed to be consumed. Maybe by thinking about what is lost when we extract having-to-wait from a story, we can also appreciate the stories we still wait for. Those midseason cliffhangers, the speculative discussions between episodes, the uncertainty as to who will survive (and how)… in many ways, they drive comics, they drive television, and they drive an increasing number of episodic video games.
This is definitely a sandbox to which I intend to return.
Click below to access a PDF of my paper:
Seriality in a Culture of Binging