Robot 6

Quote of the day | Dan DiDio on recap pages and accessibility

“Somebody asked me if we’re going to use recap pages. I said, ‘I don’t know, if we’re just on issue one, if we need a recap page we’ve probably screwed up our mission.’ My goal is never to have recap pages, but I understand the people’s desire. I always call the recap page lazy writing, because I always felt that it always gave someone an easy way to do an essay about what’s going on in the book, rather than what’s going on in the storytelling. So I think we’d rather try to find a way to make our stories as dramatic as possible, so we don’t have to rely on things like that. That being said, if it does make sense for the particular time, if you’re building to something major, then we’ll use every tool at our disposal to make these books as accessible as possible.”

– DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, discussing the approach to characters and storytelling
in the company’s heavily promoted line-wide relaunch

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Comments

18 Comments

The problem is that most readers will pick up more than one comic book, so between one issue and the other, they will have read many other things (and that’s without counting TV, games, books), so it is very easy to forget what happened previously. I admit that I do skip a lot of recap pages, but every now and then, when I forgot what happened previously, they are life savers.

Okay…So he is saying they’re lazy but he’ll do it if he needs to? Thanks for the article guys…awesome.

Always liked the bugle girl recap in spiderman, wasn’t a straight up recap and written like a news story.

So…they are going to do one?

I really, really despise non-answers.

I’m gonna go for the obvious joke here and say that maybe if dc used them to begin with continuity wouldn’t be an issue and the dcnu would never need happen – that bit over with I am really looking forward to the launch (controversial I know eek) and as far as the recap pages go I have the ‘so what’ opinion, i dont see it as being lazy, the idea that EVERY issue must be accessible is a bit too much to ask and can at times be a hindrance to the story telling process.

Add em don’t add em I really don’t think people care that much, I’m more bothered about content

The problem with DC Comics is that Dan DiDio still works there…

so um the main problem is that he gets to frak with the Kirby legacy with OMAC. He killed the outsiders book and now he’s still allowed to write?

Doi, they need them for FUTURE issues, not first issues!! The recap page at best, should follow the model introduced in the recent volume of Ultimate Spider-Man: you have a short snippet of the character’s origin at the top, followed by a picture showing a scene from the previous issue, and then the recap. It works!

I think he’s saying that he personally doesn’t like them, and thinks the writers should include enough information in the story that they aren’t necessary, but he’s now conceding that if it turns out they will help the books, he’s willing to go with them.

I’ve always felt they were really handy and I think they should definitely be used. Let’s use that space in the real story to move it forward, rather than wasting space (theoretically) recapping.

They also would provide a handy item to keep available for writers who come in later so that they can quickly get up to speed without necessarily having to actually read all of the back issues.

I have to agree with Didio on this one (and it pains me), I really don’t like recap pages.

Recap pages aren’t lazy; they’re practical. Every comics writer knows that most of his audience is reading consecutive chapters a month apart, and almost all of them choose to bridge the gap between issues with exposition. I would much rather lose a single page to prose summary than sit through 20 panels of characters expositing to bring the forgetful reader up to speed.

In a way (a way which would be turned into company policy if I had my druthers), recap pages force the writer to create 20 pages of original content, rather than the usual 15 or 16 with the rest set aside for reminding the reader of what happened last time. Also, if you don’t like recap pages, how hard is it to skip them?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 30, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I’m with Didio on this one.
I hate opening Marvel books to a page of text – that first page should be sucking me in, not killing the reality of the storyline by having smooshed down into lines of text.
Comic’s are a visual medium – why open a story with a page of text?

Recap pages aren’t lazy; they’re practical. Every comics writer knows that most of his audience is reading consecutive chapters a month apart, and almost all of them choose to bridge the gap between issues with exposition.

And yet for 65 years, Comics were fine without them.

As for taking twenty panels to recap?
If the stories are released a month apart, the story should be written so it doesn’t take that long to recap.
I can’t think of many comics where I’ve seen that happen, and I think that’s as much a sign of lazy writing as needing a recap page.

I’m all for a recap page in every issue, definitely in the print version. Anything to make it more new reader friendly. It scares me that he would even think otherwise, having dumped all this time and effort into the relaunch. It’d be cool to leave the overview on the preview part before buying the download. One suggestion for both companies, when sending preview pages to comic sites like CBR, leave the preview page out. I lose my buzz when I check it out and one of the 5 pages is a freakin’ recap page. I’d scrap the recap page in the preview pages and put that in the summary copy.

Modern television isn’t afraid to open with a 30-second “previously on”, to get you up to speed if you haven’t seen the previous week. I know that it’s a point of some contention, but it seems to work pretty well over there. You can’t always – can’t ever – assume that this isn’t someone’s first issue, and sometimes it just isn’t practical for every comic to have the necessary exposition.

But doing a reboot/relaunch so convoluted you need to have online FAQs and entire convention panels spent explaining what stories still happened and which stories didn’t, that’s OK!

Captain Librarian

August 31, 2011 at 7:54 am

I loved recap pages from Greg Pak and DeLente’s Incredible Herc run.

But other than that I’m inclined to skip over it, even in comics if it’s a new comic, unless I’m totally lost.

I don’t see what the downside to recap pages could possibly be.

First issues obviously shouldn’t need a recap page, that’s correct. But issue two needs a recap page because either:
A) a continuing reader is reminded of what’s happening before reading the new content;
B) a continuing reader ignores the recap and goes straight to the new content; or
C) a new reader learns what’s happening before reading the new content.

Option A helps the existing reader, Option B has no effect on the existing reader and Option C helps the new reader.

A&C are positives and B has no effect but there are no negatives.

But there’s no reason to dwell on Options A&B, the only one that matters is Option C. You want to turn new readers into continuing readers so why not do everything you can to help them?

Let’s say I hear great things about Aquaman #1 and want to read the comic. I find a comic book shop that has #2 but is out of #1. Speaking for myself, I’ll get #2 and read it and the recap page. If I like it I’ll try to find #1 and be waiting for #3. But if I needed to read #1 in order to enjoy #2, I probably won’t be waiting for #3 if I’m spending all my time trying to find #1.

DC has gone to a lot of trouble to get new/lapsed readers/fans with this relaunch, but they won’t bother to do recap pages?

No one has ever disliked a comic because it had a recap page.

If you’re a good enough writer, you should be able to bring readers up to speed in story, not through a recap page.

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