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Friday, October 04, 2019

Diversity & Comics reviews Alt-Hero Volume One

It's a fair and detailed review of the six issues collected. I disagree, of course, with the idea that comics must be relentless BIF! - SOCK! - POW! action, as I see no problem with what is described here as "the talking head problem", or as we novelists refer to it, dialogue and character development. And while I understand that not everyone is interested in current events, I am, and it would be very strange indeed if a fictional battle between globalists and nationalists did not bear some resemblances to the real-world version.

Indeed, as some have noted, the events taking place in the Alt-Hero world have even been observed to have anticipated events taking place in the real one. I also found it interesting that D&C so strongly preferred the US-based story to the Europe-based one, as it's been my vague impression that a majority of AH fans tend to prefer the latter.

But regardless, I appreciate the review, which is one of the first to look at the entire volume one omnibus.

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49 Comments:

Blogger Weak October 04, 2019 11:30 AM  

I'd be interested in an Alt Hero movie. But Pedowood is surely as disinterested in Alt Hero as Vox et al are as disinterested in working with them.

Blogger Martin Marprelate October 04, 2019 11:38 AM  

He is making a movie right now. So I would just give it time. You don’t need pedowood for making movies.

Blogger Newscaper312 October 04, 2019 11:50 AM  

Any idea why Chrome is telling me this site is not fully secure, even through the https:// url?
And google (owning blogspot) has been one pushing for https to become the standard type of connection.

Blogger Blume October 04, 2019 11:56 AM  

I would like to confirm your vague impression. I definitely prefer Dynamique and the Europe stuff. Avalon is the best so far but Rainbow and the modeling magazine was hilarious.

Blogger Starboard October 04, 2019 12:10 PM  

The soft cover omnibus arrived Wednesday. Looks great! My husband read through the story for the first time and enjoyed it. Thank you to you and the crew for pulling it all together and making it beautiful. I look forward to more.

Blogger S1AL October 04, 2019 12:23 PM  

Action scenes were a bit brief - I still have no idea what virtually any of the characters can do. I grew up on Tintin, so "talking head syndrome" is a joke by my standards. Europe story was much more heavily and overtly political, so not really a surprise he'd like it less.

Blogger Lovekraft October 04, 2019 12:27 PM  

I've read the 6-issue omnibus and will go back to it at some future point. Well-paced and dynamic that brings relevance to modern times that is lacking elsewhere. Much further to go in terms of art quality and natural character development. Good foundation.

Blogger nyan October 04, 2019 12:40 PM  

@3 There are images somewhere on the site not being served by https. The security impact of this is minimal. Your browser is just being autistic about security.

Blogger Norse Fan October 04, 2019 12:58 PM  

I enjoyed this, and am looking forward to the next installments.

Blogger tantonj October 04, 2019 1:47 PM  

I also preferred the American based issues. But I look at them all as pieces of a bigger picture, which shifts closer into perspective by issue 6.

I assume my preference is due to me never going to or having any interest in Europe.

Blogger Student in Blue October 04, 2019 1:51 PM  

I think part of the talking head problem is not just that it's dialogue and not action, but also that the dialogue being given is in the form of just cuts of the head.

Contrast that with other comics where instead of four panels of heads saying stuff to each other, you have one larger panel of a person or people doing something like cooking breakfast, tinkering with their suit, some action that relates to their personality, meanwhile the same number of dialogue bubbles as in the talking heads pop up around the panel.

Blogger Student in Blue October 04, 2019 1:57 PM  

To add to that, it doesn't necessarily need to be a person or people doing stuff, but also more panels of the location, the scenery, the crowds, etc. I recall that's one of the things that Jon praised about the art of the European front, so some more of those would be good.

Blogger Dexter October 04, 2019 2:39 PM  

Off topic, but if you want to see why the US Navy has been involved in a lot of collisions recently, and will surely lose the next war, check out this photo:

https://twitter.com/USNavyEurope/status/1180154382534488066

But yay women, and diversity, and diverse women!

Blogger Noah B. October 04, 2019 2:50 PM  

On the upside, most of those sailors won't have any trouble floating.

Blogger Noah B. October 04, 2019 2:56 PM  

Action-centric plots that are sparse on dialogue and character development end up just being boring. For example, the John Wick movies.

Blogger Korbin Ransley October 04, 2019 4:11 PM  

It was interesting to hear the reviewers perspective. I really enjoyed the dialogue. The story is great. One of those wonderful "Careful or you might learn something" productions 8^)

He actually pointed on a page in an issue where I would have enjoyed more dialogue. There was a point of contention about the use of force that was interesting and provided more insight and more reason to admire a character i already thought was cool and heroic.

I like the art in the European arc. The art in the American arc is great too. I'm glad he liked issue #4 aswell. That one really stood out from a great set. Glad to see this enjoyable review.

Blogger matveidaniilovich October 04, 2019 4:37 PM  

I dont get the “talking heads” criticism either. I think the people who have a problem with it mainly read superhero comics. Sort of like action films having tons of exposition & character development when you really just want to see crap blow up.

Blogger matveidaniilovich October 04, 2019 4:38 PM  

Im from more of an indy comics background. I dont mind talking heads & Cliff Cosmic is my favorite artist in the stable. Just different tasted.

Blogger Dave October 04, 2019 5:16 PM  

*cough, cough, hack, cough*

Vox deserves a lot of credit for sticking with Cliff Cosmic. I appreciate his loyalty to Cliff who's been there from the birth of Alt Hero. I hope to see Cliff working for Arkhaven for many more years.

Blogger tuberman October 04, 2019 5:34 PM  

Good stories are so much more than "action," even in comics. And, as someone here already said, action by itself is boring.

Besides action and character development there is mystery. Both small nearly hidden background mysteries, and large obvious ones move us forward, as we want to find the answers.

Action, mystery, character development, and plot movement are all important, and the mysteries need to be resolved in a manner consistent with the world as it is presented. Too often characters or the world is altered to cheaply resolve conflicts.

Blogger Dave October 04, 2019 5:35 PM  

I would've expected Diversity & Comics to be much more sympathetic towards the frog comic. He should've went for the chromium version. Then he'd have a completely different outlook I'm sure.

Blogger Jim October 04, 2019 6:32 PM  

"as I see no problem with what is described here as "the talking head problem", or as we novelists refer to it, dialogue and character development"

I think that's the problem: you are approaching this from a novelist's perspective by ignoring the visual aspect of the comic. The head is a placeholder waiting for an idea--any idea--to replace it. That can be the characters doing something while talking; it can be the showing the actual subject they are talking about; it could be a metaphorical scene adding further context. It's not the dialog or the character development that is the issue. It's the presentation.

Blogger James Dixon October 04, 2019 6:36 PM  

> I also found it interesting that D&C so strongly preferred the US-based story to the Europe-based one, as it's been my vague impression that a majority of AH fans tend to prefer the latter.

I'd be hard pressed to choose between the two. Both have their positive and negative points.

Blogger Dave Dave October 04, 2019 6:40 PM  

Noah, the first John Wick was a great movie. It has the opposite approach to Alt Hero where it's maximum action and minimal everything else. It works so well and it's one of the best movies this decade.

Blogger Fuzzums Wuzzums October 04, 2019 6:43 PM  

People like Jon will always complain about the art, the high complexity of the story, and the comic relief. Like most Americans, he's used to the DC and Marvel stuff which have a very distinct look copied issue by issue. Their stories boil down to "villain = bad, hero = good, villain gets punched by hero, YAY!". And with the little comic relief there is it almost always gets subverted into something dark. That is what your typical DC and Marvel comics consumer is used to.

Why Marvel movies are making so much money and are universally liked is that they figured out they shouldn't cater to their comics base but to everyone. This is why the stories are more intertwined, the villains more complex, and why there's so much comic relief. Compare this to the DC movies which went for the same grim-dark "aesthetic" found in their comics.

Jon's on our side but it's ironic to hear him say that the issues of Alt*Hero which are closer to something made by DC or Marvel are better. Stop using the enemy's metrics! Marvel & DC should be compared to Arkhaven and not the other way around.

Blogger Dave Dave October 04, 2019 6:44 PM  

The talking head problem is avoided in a myriad of creative ways in manga series, which at this point are far more advanced that western comics, by putting dialogue boxes on pages that either show what is being talked about, or something vaguely related without having too much going on visually. It would be interesting to see Alt Hero get creative with it's paneling, but I understand that a lot of people aren't comfortable with that.

Blogger Matrick October 04, 2019 6:52 PM  

I don't always like your style (and I often have to hold back the latent gamma that rests within me, and remember that a reader is a guest) but this site is always the first bookmark I click, and you, Vox, are really doing something here. Getting out there and achieving things. I'm not into comics, but I appreciate all of the effort you put into creating an alternative media and entertainment source. One day, major Hollywood players will be begging to be a part of it (and will most likely be rejected by you).

Blogger Dave October 04, 2019 6:53 PM  

Good to see Jon doing a review of Alt Hero. Hopefully he's not waiting for the omnibus of Chuck Dixon's Avalon to review it. I'd be interested in his comparative take on the action vs exposition.

Obviously personal preference plays a large factor, however, is Jon's point that more action in the storytelling lends itself to more interesting and engaging art? Should that be the primary focus due to the medium?

Jon, can you suggest comics with your preferred level of action vs exposition? Or for that matter, anybody that might have suggestions of what they consider relentless action.

Blogger xavier October 04, 2019 7:01 PM  

I too a look at Amazon Canada and the Omnibus doesn't seem to be available.
Where can I buy it?

Thanks!

Blogger Dave October 04, 2019 7:01 PM  

Jon's on our side but it's ironic to hear him say that the issues of Alt*Hero which are closer to something made by DC or Marvel are better

I took that only in the context of the art, which is to be expected for an indie startup when compared to the other's top of the line comics. And I believe in the case of Richard Bonk he said it wasn't that far off.

Blogger VD October 04, 2019 7:11 PM  

I think that's the problem: you are approaching this from a novelist's perspective by ignoring the visual aspect of the comic. The head is a placeholder waiting for an idea--any idea--to replace it. That can be the characters doing something while talking; it can be the showing the actual subject they are talking about; it could be a metaphorical scene adding further context. It's not the dialog or the character development that is the issue. It's the presentation.

It's not, at least, not from D&C's perspective. He specifically wants more action and less talking. That will almost never happen in any comic I write, because there is no possible way to communicate more sophisticated concepts and depth of character relationships that is as effective as talking.

The "show, don't tell" precept only permits the communication of simpler and cruder concepts and feelings. This is the point that I feel industry professionals like EvS and D&C simply don't grasp; why would we want to follow the rules of a failing industry?

Look at how much talking head communication there is in the average Marvel movie. That's a much better guide, from my admittedly inexperienced and amateur perspective.

Blogger Jim October 04, 2019 7:53 PM  

"It's not, at least, not from D&C's perspective. He specifically wants more action and less talking."

Very well. But the "talking head" issue is a very specific critique and it's something that can be remedied without sacrificing dialog at all. You have pages that might as well not have any art on them because the heads serve no purpose.

As for movies, they have the benefit of actors that can take a white room with nothing but a table and two chairs and mediocre script and turn it into something compelling. Consider the terrible "I see dead people" line from 6th Sense. And even then, the headshots were telling you something beyond who was talking. As Haley Joel Osment says "They don't know they're dead," the camera is zooming in on Bruce Willis, subtly telling the audience that Osment is referring to him. You don't have motion in a comic, but you can do similar things with composition and high/low angles.

The ideal is to make the panels themselves interesting, otherwise why are they there? But, like all things, we can't always hit the ideal. There are deadlines to meet, and you did say you are disrupting from the bottom. Is it worth it to go back and take out those placeholders as I called them, or do you spend that time on the next chapter? That's your business sense, and there you might be absolutely correct.

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Blogger Fuzzums Wuzzums October 04, 2019 8:13 PM  

Dave wrote:I took that only in the context of the art

Me too. As an artist myself some of the panels Cliff Comics produced in his last comic were top tier. But because the style he's going for does not conform to what is expect by the DC & Marvel lot they will always consider them to be low tier.

Jon specifically applauded his skill on drawing scenery in his second issue. What he didn't know is that the artist just did what most artists do: trace a photograph (probably from google-maps). Again, because DC and Marvel does it too it is seen as a plus.


VD wrote:Look at how much talking head communication there is in the average Marvel movie.

"Show don't tell" is a false dichotomy, no rule against doing both at the same time.

Blogger Up from the pond October 04, 2019 8:42 PM  

Great review. Critics have to find some flaw to maintain cred. A technical niggle means a home run.

Fuzzums Wuzzums wrote:"Show don't tell" is a false dichotomy, no rule against doing both at the same time.

100%. For example, dialogue counterpointing visuals is a standard technique in movies. Orson Welles pointed out that comic panels developed from movie set-ups, not vice-versa.

Speaking of film, some of the greatest filmmakers, such as Welles himself, were criticized for having "too many words" in their movies. Welles retorted, "That's why they're called TALKIES." Mozart got the "you have too many notes" note. It's just something for people to say.

Blogger Lambert October 04, 2019 9:09 PM  

Received the hard bound copy recently. I enjoyed it thoroughly. The artwork was good or OK, depending on the story, but the story lines were strong and engaging. I look forward to more.

Blogger Fuzzums Wuzzums October 04, 2019 10:08 PM  

Up from the pond wrote:Speaking of film, some of the greatest filmmakers, such as Welles himself, were criticized for having "too many words" in their movies. Welles retorted, "That's why they're called TALKIES." Mozart got the "you have too many notes" note. It's just something for people to say.

Even in games there are two camps: story or gameplay.

A lot of the "stylistic choice" is due to the limitations of the medium itself. For example Western comics have an artist, and inker, and a colorist. This is because of the printing presses of old. The inks were there because the press couldn't pick up the gray pencil and the colors had to be done by a separate machine. In Japanese comics the writer, artist, and inker are all the same person because the initial creators didn't know that they should be different.

Blogger Rough Carrigan October 04, 2019 10:44 PM  

#24. I walked out of the first John Wick movie about an hour in. I didn't care who killed whom at that point. I don't care about gore but dumb gore isn't interesting. Ludicrously unlikely constant winning by the protagonist gets boring. There is a point where the action over story balance tips too far toward action.

Blogger Scott October 04, 2019 10:46 PM  

I like VD’s dialogue, and the density of information he coveys. As an artist, who formerly worked in comics, I agree with the previous posters, that a progression of head shots gets visually dull. Look up Wally Wood’s “twenty ( something) panels that work. He was specifically addressing dialogue in comics and I took those lessons to heart within my sty, long ago.

Blogger doctrev October 04, 2019 11:03 PM  

I like the Avalon storyline the best. Ace and Fazer are awesome, and you want both of them to win at life while completely understanding if one (or both) are destroyed by their flaws. It's from the Legend, so it's something everyone can understand, even if it lacks the broader implications and truth of Vox's work.

I love how Del Arroz correctly points out that there is so much MORE of Alt-Hero, even down to the quality of the physical material. It's a very fair review overall, but there are some items that are just nitpicking. Like complaining about the way the stories are structured: the Alt-Hero war is global, and can't be expected to have a solely American focus. He may not understand what this series is trying to do, or not think it's commercially viable (I suspect profit is well down the list of motives for Alt-Hero). I actually agree with the concept of making the American issue first, but that's just down to my own preferences, and obviously not what a European would probably want. The story is awesome, and Del Arroz correctly notes the very fair perspective offered to both nationalists AND globalists.

On the whole, worth watching to the end. 4/5.

Blogger Glaivester October 04, 2019 11:37 PM  

The "show, don't tell" precept only permits the communication of simpler and cruder concepts and feelings. This is the point that I feel industry professionals like EvS and D&C simply don't grasp; why would we want to follow the rules of a failing industry?

I think that "show, don't tell" precept is distinct from the "more visual action" idea - "show, don't tell" can be done with dialogue, the primary point being to reveal things through implication and subtext. For example, I don't recall Rainbow ever explicitly saying that he is gay.

Also, in Avalon, how the cop deduces the relationship between Vendetta and the coma patient is not explicitly spelled out, although reading the 4 issues back-to-back and the process becomes quite clear. And you can get some idea of the relative intellect/general knowledge of the federal agents is based on the fact that one immediately gets what "The Yerevani" means whereas the other does not.

Blogger Wazdakka October 05, 2019 1:44 AM  

I recently bought all the Alt hero comics and have enjoyed getting back into comics after a 15 year break.
Was surprised to learn that the war in Paris was written before the yellow vest protests kicked off. Although predicting a riot in Paris is like predicting when winter will arrive.
The art improve throughout the series, but looking back there are some Cliff Cosmic styles I rather enjoyed. His portrayal of dymanique shouting was great.
I have always preferred the twists in the story ark over whack blam, and look forward to discovering where our protagonists end up.
The stories in alt hero Q and Avalon are fantastic. Very glad I didn't wait for an omnibus, as it feels like reading a serialized novel.
I am very impressed with the quantity, and quality of your work.
Thank you.

Blogger Khiatons-Mohawk Writer October 05, 2019 8:07 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Mohawk Writer October 05, 2019 8:19 AM  

Just a note to Xavier as a fellow Canadian that the Alt Hero Volume 1 Omnibus is available from the Chapters.Indigo website. Amazon.ca goes from either not having it to charging $10 more than Chapters charges for it. Its image is blank on the order page but it's available and is where I got my copy.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd October 05, 2019 11:13 AM  

Just got this a few days ago, finally read it yesterday. I like the story, like the art, like the characters. It's good stuff.

I'll never be a fan of comics nor of graphic novels, but this is good stuff, and it's easy to believe that people who like this kind of stuff will really like this.

Blogger Student in Blue October 05, 2019 2:16 PM  

As for movies, they have the benefit of actors that can take a white room with nothing but a table and two chairs and mediocre script and turn it into something compelling.

To continue what Jim is saying, talking heads of actors in a movie is visually stimulating because there is a lot of animation going on there, even if it's subtle. Animated shows even lack that amount since they save on budget by very often only animating the lips.

Much less comics, where it's a static image.

Blogger Fuzzums Wuzzums October 05, 2019 3:56 PM  

Student in Blue wrote:Much less comics, where it's a static image.

There are several tricks comic artists do to compensate. Like splitting the text between 3 panels, and having each panel identical with the exception that it's gradually zoom-ing in or out the shot. Or by having the character move in and out of a static background. Watchmen does this all the time especially during the Rorschach scenes with his long monologues (long by comics standards).

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-no18hsHdBu0/TWDlIG3zI1I/AAAAAAAAFNc/SJCsQ2lXr2E/s1600/tony2.jpg
http://www.comicscube.com/2010/08/wally-woods-22-panels-that-always-work.html

Much like CGI FX in movies, talking heads are a problem only when people notice it.

Blogger Daniele Grech Pereira October 05, 2019 4:13 PM  

Why can't it be both? I remember reading comics where the characters were advancing the plot in between hammer blows.

Blogger Ryu238 October 07, 2019 1:10 AM  

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