No, not the comic book kind, although they are a lot of fun. Genre conventions may or may not be a lot of fun. On the positive side, if you understand that the conventions for writing in the high fantasy genre are considerably different than cyberpunk, then genre conventions provide rails for the writing to run on. That’s also the negative side. Ignoring or defying genre conditions can be a make or break issue for a book. Prose comic books derive a lot of conventions from comic books in general, but the question before me as an author is whether or not to break with conventions – at least some of them – or color between the lines so to speak.
Between the lines
I’ve never been particularly proficient in coloring between the lines other than the ones I put there myself. Editing Orchids Ablaze was an educational and interesting experience in many ways. One of the most discussed areas was comic book genre conventions. I grew up surrounded by superhero (and other) comic books, sometimes literally. It was in the ancient days before electronics reduced print nearly to a curiosity, but how those stories played out is engraved on my brain.
Not so the editorial review. Which was a great thing, actually. If I couldn’t coherently articulate why I thought it was a genre convention, then was it really? Did the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak or the Mystic Mists of Munnopor really need to be that alliterative to get the point across? From a literary perspective, most likely not, especially the fifth or sixth time. From my comic book perspective, it absolutely did. Which begs the question, is what I remember from those days a current genre convention?
Probably not. I still remember them, though, without looking them up.
I’ll certainly expand and grow through writing more stories and different types of stories, but for The Jagged Earth… well, at their heart they are superhero comic books. I may bend or even spindle a few conventions along the way, but that’s what makes the stories mine, not a repetition or imitation of the greats whose shoulders I stand upon. At the end of the day there’s still a kid with an overactive imagination and a head full of dreams surrounded by spectacularly suspenseful superheroic stories that are the root of the world and my tales.
It’s the only way I know how to be.