There’s a pivotal line in Moore & Gibbons’ ‘Watchmen’ series, wherein antagonist Adrian Veidt remarks he’s not so foolish as to act like a “Republic serial villain”, mocking the cliffhangers and contrivances of old.  Lately, though, many of those once-mocked cliffhangers and contrivances have been given new life, thanks to what TV producers call “arc-driven” storytelling (known in comics as “writing for the trade”).  The practice does have its downsides, especially as regards accessibility to new readers/viewers, but some believe it leads to greater engagement of the audience once they’re “hooked”, which in turn begs today’s  query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) enjoys old-school radio storytelling like you’d see in pulps and radio episodes of Green Hornet, asking:  Given the choice, do you prefer more Serial Storytelling or Done-In-One chapters?


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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.


  1. Daniel Langsdale on


    I like long-form storytelling best when the discreet chapters give me satisfyingly enjoyable discreet chunks. I like how character and story can develop and evolve gradually over a work in ways that they can’t in a one-off. But even as the whole might be greater than the sum of its parts, if the parts are sub-standard, it’s likely the whole is as well.

    If I read an issue of a 20-ish page comic and things move at the pace of a single daily Spider-man newspaper strip (I’m looking at you, Bendis) then my money and time is better spent elsewhere (I’m looking at you, John Allison.)

    Similarly, if the only reason I’m expected to care about what’s going on is what happened in previous issues with no reinforcement in the chapter at hand, my interest quickly wanes. I and my memory are getting older every day, and I consume a lot of comics, tv, etc., and I find it the height of yawn-induced irritation when there is no effort given to even a cursory reminder of who the characters are or what they are doing.

    A creator may be “writing for the trade” (or the binge, in the case of TV) but if they’re putting out discreet units over time with waiting periods between those units, then the trade/binge is not necessarily how people are encountering it, and it is a failure of the creation to not account for that.

    TLDR: I prefer serial storytelling with engaging & discreet chapters and arcing through-lines.

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