July 28th, 2011

Shadar Logoth

Musings on a mystery

Oh LJ you're back. You're back and this time you will never leave me, will you? No, you'll be there for me to cuddle and rub against my cheeks at all hours of the day.

Anyway, back to life as usual. Comic Con happened, and astonishingly, I wasn't there. But for me and the rest of the geek world who couldn't go, there are still lots of juicy tidbits and videos that came of it to make us jealous and pensive. Here's an interview with Scott Allie that I bookmarked:

The reason this one caught my interest is that he discusses Christos Gage, the writer they picked for Angel & Faith (around 5:20 if you're curious), and I may be one of the very few who has actually read the man's Area 10. This is thanks to ladydorotea, who generously gifted me a copy to read and analyze. And I did.

Now, everyone's got a genre or five that they just plain don't like. I don't like murder mysteries. They're all plot, and I can't follow those. The characters never seem to get any development, the cliches are usually dripping off the pages, and at the end of the story, even if the murderer is caught the victims are still dead. That's just depressing, and not in the way I enjoy. The crucial thing to remember is that none of this means the genre itself is in any way unworthy; a plotty grim trope-laden tale can be just as good as a character-driven hopeful fresh one. I just won't be personally interested in it.

Area 10 is a murder mystery. The characters are never really developed. It's full of cliches. At the end, the killer is caught (after a twist of course), and his victims stay dead.

This is something of a dilemma for me. Was it a good mystery? Was it a bad mystery? Without a background in the genre, how the hell do I know? Most importantly, was there any quality within the writing that could conceivably be transferred to the kind of story that I want to see in Angel & Faith?

I can say, albeit reluctantly, that I enjoyed the book even though I wouldn't have chosen it myself. This once, I actually could follow the plot fairly easily, but I don't know if that's a sign that it was handled skillfully, or if it was just simplistic. There's also the art to consider; I strongly believe that it affects the story on multiple levels, one of which is making the action clear and the characters easy to differentiate. (The art in Area 10 was impressive and very appropriate to the subject, and even managed to work in B&W. Is it a testament to the editor's intuition when the writer and artist make a good match, or can a writer who knows his stuff work with any artist who knows her stuff?)

But for the sake of the argument, let's say this is a good mystery comic. It still didn't give me an overwhelming urge to read mystery comics, even if they were to star two of my favorite Buffyverse characters. Should I worry about this? It wouldn't be fair to read this one thing by Christos Gage and assume that it's the only style he can write in, but the thing is, the editor said this is the book that caught their attention. This is the one that's supposed to have what they were looking for in Angel & Faith. And I don't really know why, and I wish I did.

Still gonna be there, still gonna read the series unless and until it takes a turn that disgusts or enrages me (or bores me long-term, but I don't let go easy). But if anyone reading this likes a good mystery once in a while, I'd love to hear from you, because I want to know what I'm looking for.