Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mad Men.


Mad Men and great storytelling. They belong in the same sentence. Like early December football and a slightly-too-spicy bowl of chili.

The more you study storytelling, the more you realize how closely related all the different mediums are. Film, television, novels, music (in some forms, anyway), and obviously, our biz, comics. Sure, there are certain things you can get away with in one medium that you can't in another, and some tricks work less or even not at all in some. But its all tied together by the same, invisible driving force: the storytelling. Its what separates the quality work, regardless of the medium, from the Twilight's of the world (zing!).

I'd love to say that I've studied film and television my whole life as a way to better my own storytelling, but that would be a lie. But now I dissect it voraciously, looking for better ways to make a narrative work, be it in subtext, imagery, dialog or simply in things the average reader would never consciously notice. Those, by the way, are mostly for me.

One of the best, most quizzically obvious (and at the very same time, subtle) examples is AMC's Mad Men. I watched the first Season - Season and a half of this show religiously before I dropped it for a good long time. Not for lack of brilliance mind you, but I needed no extra soul-crushing at the time, and Mad Men was certainly that. As the middle of Season 3 rolled on I got sucked back into once more, seeing a bit more hope in it, and started to tear apart the meat of the story. All the layers. All the subtext and nuance. If there is any show that says more without ever saying anything, I don't know it. Its certainly not for the casual viewer, but any reasonably intelligent human being would realize that 9 out of 10 things they found out over the course of 3 seasons weren't ever actually said out loud! But when something needs to be said, whether for exposition or to figuratively drag the emotion out of the audience, it gets said! I call that a win. And, to be fair, who couldn't look at Christina Hendricks all day? So I thought.

Regardless, I'm looking forward eagerly to dissecting yet another season, pilfering bits and pieces to make myself better at what I do. I suppose the reason it dawned on me to write this down, instead of continuing to simply think about it, is that sometimes saying what you're looking for out loud makes you look harder for it, instead of simply pretending you ar

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