One of the complaints made against continuity in comics by modern writers is that there is so much history that surely the reader can’t follow it all. This history we’re told is too limiting so clearly new readers can’t get on to it. Only by tossing everything out and starting over can the mythical “new audience” be created. That’s a load of hooey to me, as writers who want full control of a cultural icon (he/she who controls the origin has the power) or are too lazy to do any research–or both–make that stuff up. With fan wikis, easy access to back issues and trades, and just some common sense when it comes to how previous characters and events are used and presented it’s easy to keep a sense of continuity, a sense that you care about the stories you work on and this is what brings in new longtime fans just like it did the one ones. I’ve heard someone say that he stopped reading DC because they kept rebooting things in large and minor ways so there is no continuity anymore so the stories only matter in these little bubbles without further signifcance.
Want proof that continuity can work? How about video games?
In tonight’s bonus video posting from Comic Drake he uses the example of video games to show how you can tell a good story with established history.
Catch more Comic Drake on his YouTube channel.
And before someone brings up that the Arkham games and PS4 Spidey games don’t have a long-established continuity, that’s only true in the real world. The characters have established history together. We don’t see the origin of the Joker, he’s been active for so long that he ends up dying at the end of the first game and it’s only the end of a long-running reign of terror in Gotham. Mister Negative and the other villains of New York have a history with Spider-Man in the game and are out to get revenge on him. That means continuity did happen in those worlds, perhaps based on iconic interpretations in various mediums but it happened. Or how about something like this:
The joke is that Buckaroo Banzai: Across The 8th Dimension is the latest in a series of stories, the watermelon resulting from something in a previous adventure…which the audience has not seen. Mostly because it doesn’t exist, but Banzai and his team have had adventures prior to the movie. For another example there were episode of the original He-Man & The Masters Of The Universe that referenced previous adventures and villains outside the toyline seeing revenge on Randor or his father or Man-At-Arms, or even He-Man that we never saw before. Villains like Dark Dream or Evilseed have history on the planet and with the various Heroic Warriors but we never saw it. This should be how you approach writing continuity, giving the audience the info they need for the story and let them seek out the earlier encounter if they so choose through back issues, trades, and reprints. It’s that easy…but today’s writers want that glory for themselves and will ignore the past. It’s vanity and laziness, not because we readers can’t follow along. All we need to know is that it happened.