The process of generating the Question Of The Day is unpredictable, and often, I struggle for a good topic.  That’s why I was so happy when Major Spoilers’ own Zach hit me with today’s query out of the blue, like Rocky Rococo’s brown paper bag full of pickle.  In the latest issue of Mudman, creator Paul Grist opined that putting the title of a comic book at the END of the story completely undermined the point of having a title, while Zach reports that the title of the first issue of the revived ‘Legends Of The Dark Knight‘ gave up a little too much of the game in advance.

Zach’s MS-QOTD (prounounced “kuh-pow-skee”) wonders where Jessie and Slater went, asking:
Do you prefer your title at the beginning, at the end, or no title at all?  And how much is too much when it comes to spoilers?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. June 10, 2012 at 11:37 am — Reply

    I think it depends on the flow and content of the narrative. Sometimes the opening title is the perfect way to kick off a story, and sometimes it’s a great way to end a story – but I don’t think there’s one set way to do it. As for spoilers, I don’t think it makes much of a difference either. How many titles actually give the ending away? “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” is one of the few where what it says on the tin ACTUALLY HAPPENS.

  2. June 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm — Reply

    The title should be at the beginning and it should be vague enough that it doesn’t spoil anything big.

    The exception, of course, is one of theme or style. For example Venture Bros. puts the title at the very end of the episode as the lead-in to the credits. That’s a stylistic choice. If marvel came down and said, “all X-titles will have the title and credit sheet as the last page” I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

    • June 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm — Reply

      Pretty much summed up my thoughts there as well.

  3. June 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm — Reply

    I honestly think it depends on the title. For something as spoiler filled and major as the Spider-Man example above I think the end is the perfect choice. If it doesn’t take away from what you are about to read or is vague I’d say right at the beginning…

  4. Rome
    June 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm — Reply

    What really bothers me is the odd occasions when the title and credits are in the middle of the book. I know some authors design a ‘lead-in’ of sorts, that explodes in a big splash page with title and credits… DC used this fairly formulaic approach with underwhelming results for a few years preceding the relaunch.

    But there have been a few titles recently that inexplicably give us a whole bunch of story, and then midway through the issues, POW, title. Defenders (maybe issue 2 or 3) did this, and I found it so frustrating when trying to see who was writing/drawing the book I went to both front and back with nothing. It was in the middle. And that makes absolutely no sense. It seems like poorly planned execution and offers nothing to the experience. I don’t mind the title at the end, because sometimes a witty title that offers an insight as to what we just read can be done with great effect. Peter David does this regularly with X-Factor, and it works.

    That said, put the title in the front, or dare I say, on the cover!

    • June 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm — Reply

      TV Shows, and especially sitcoms can be really guilty of this. Where the cold open lasts 8 minutes and suddenly the open comes on. It’s always very disconcerting.

  5. Oldcomicfan
    June 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm — Reply

    One of the most interesting movies I ever saw was a Western that started off showing random events of violence that made no sense, intercut with trains, the massacre of a family of redheads, the kidnapping and rape of a blonde woman, the hanging of a sheep herder and Charles Bronson playing a harmonic badly. And then, after over two hours of confusion, the whole story came together in the last ten minutes and everything suddenly made sense! The movie then ended by showing the title – Once Upon A Time In The West. This was one of the few times I’ve seen a title at the end actually work to artistic affect, and it was masterfully done, but it only paid off if you were willing to sit through several hours of confusing plot points to get to the payoff. Now, the one title I always cringe to see, whether it comes at the beginning or the end, is “Trapped in a world he never made!” which makes no sense! It didn’t work when Stan Lee applied it to Spidey, or Jim Starlin to Adam Warlock, or however the sadistic bastard was who inflicted Howard the Duck on an unsuspecting world was when they used it on his books. In 99 cases out of a hundred, hiding the titles at the end of the book are merely an affectation meant to disguise poor writing. Nuff said.

    • June 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm — Reply

      Howard The Duck is awesome, and I will fistfight anyone who says different. :)

  6. Raistlin Majere
    June 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm — Reply

    This is an excellent question. Others have answered that it depends on the content. I agree with this but hate the idea of credits in the middle. Personally can’t think of a way that it would be enjoyable. I kinda dig not seeing the title at all till you look at the show notes (Netflix, etc) then you can choose ;P

  7. June 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm — Reply

    Depends. If the writers came up with a really good title, but it would otherwise spoil the issue’s contents, it should go at the end. If not, I’d prefer it at the beginning, since such things also usually come with the technical information about the issue (like all the people who worked on it, not just the artist and writer) and whether it’s a certain installment in a story arc.

  8. KevinPBreen
    June 10, 2012 at 7:41 pm — Reply

    I have no opinion because you started me thinking about Jessie Spano (sigh)

  9. zebsdead
    June 11, 2012 at 7:06 am — Reply

    Rodrigo summed up everything i wanted to say, so i will take this opportunity to pledge my callused, scarred fists to Matthew’s cause (and tell him he did a masterful job at douche-defusing on the Before Watchmen review). Titles should enhance or illuminate, sometimes working best from the end position, flavoring what has come before. Spoilers in titles are clumsy, barring exceptions in the name of vague simplicity. I’ll be the skinny one in the “Torqletones do it with a +2” t-shirt, Mr. Peterson. The Howard Haters will be sure to rue “The Day Matt and I Taught Several Philistines How to Stop Worrying and Love the Duck.”

  10. June 13, 2012 at 9:19 am — Reply

    Unless there’s a shock element, as with Gwen, I like my title and credits within the first three pages – otherwise I can’t settle into the book, as I’m wondering when they’ll show up. It’s like when TV shows such as Alias (in an extreme example I timed) take 19 minutes to get to the credits.

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