Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Sean Collins, who's been giving me a lot of linky goodness lately, and I'm thankful 'n' thoughtful for it, has commented on something he noticed in my review of the latest Demo. I think he's misunderstood me a little, and so I'm gonna try to clarify my position.

Just because I said I found it a bit bothersome that there wasn't some sort of connecting thread doesn't necessarily mean that I want there to be. Believe you me, as I said when I wrote about the first five issues, the very last thing I'd want to see is for all these characters we've encountered so far to meet up at the end and dedicate their life to fighting evil, or some such crap like that. I'm not necessarily looking for some sort of father figure, some sort of wizard or kindly professor or anything like that to come along and explain things to these people either. That's the sort of thing, and pay attention now 'cause I won't say it again, that I have become BORED TO DEATH with in mainstream popular fiction. BUT. For me, the very lack of some sort of reason or purpose to these singular events blunts the impact for me as a reader...renders them trivial and inconsequential somehow. There's no lasting significance, nothing I carry away from these stories. It's like looking at random black & white pictures of objects. Shoes. Or Rocks. Or anything like that. The pictures may be well shot, and may suggest some sort of idea to my mind or give me some sort of impression that I'd carry with me for a while...but in the end they're just random snapshots of objects, no more, no less, and as such are easily forgotten and lacking any sort of context whatsoever. And that's kinda what Demo's been like for me so far. Very nicely illustrated, and the stories in and out of themselves are well written, with great dialogue and some genuinely shocking or surprising moments. But without some sort of big picture or rhyme or reason, the impact is mitigated with me. They're stories easily shrugged off, even though (and this is certainly the case with #6) the imagery may be memorably horrifying. So what if Ken massacred his neighborhood? Who cares? We'll never see him again! I may have learned my lesson about rage, but hell, I knew that one already!

Far more disturbing to me with Demo 6 was what was left unexplained, like what happened to Ken after the climactic events of this issue? His parents slammed the door in his face in fear! Did they leave him out there in the yard until the police came? Did they somehow disown him? Did they get over their fear and raise him anyway? He certainly appeared to be prosperous, successful and happy when we first see him- how did he get this way? Just stating obliquely that he's "lucky" doesn't cut it...

Anyway, I hope that clarifies my position. I LIKE DEMO. I don't LOVE it, though, and I just want everyone to know that I get the point with this series...but the point itself is my problem!

Furthermore...(thoughts on the drive home from work) I suppose that it's just that I don't do ambiguity well. Which is not to say that it's not a valid tool for a writer when creating stories, but simply on a personal level it often (not always) comes across to me as a cop-out of sorts; if the author can't be bothered to give us some sort of resolution, leaving it up to us instead, then he absolves any sort of responsibility for whatever conclusions we, the reader, might draw...and that usually always bugs me. It's either that, or the writer is unwilling or unable to come up with an adequate continuation or resolution himself, and that can't be good either. Sure, Wood gave us a resolution for this particular incident in the Ken character's life, but I'm left with so many questions that it becomes frustrating to me, and I have just never had a very high frustration tolerance level. Did this ever happen again to him? What was the aftermath of this massacre? Did the police blame a roving band of Huns? Pirates? Were there no reprocussions when several families in a neighborhood are slaughtered? Did Scully and Mulder investigate? Did Ken ever reach that level of rage, fear, or, well, frustration again? Since this particular issue of Demo will never, ever be followed up, then we'll never know. And in that, by leaving me with this unfulfilled desire to get the rest of the story, Wood has both succeeded and failed in what he set out to do. He crafted a story and a character that I'd love to know more about- heck, all of these characters just beg to have the rest of their stories expanded upon...but it ain't gonna happen. Nope, forget it. Not to be. Can't be! That would invalidate the very premise of Demo in the first place, and that frustrates me. And as the reader, I feel cheated somehow. It's like hearing one chorus of a song, or a backing track without vocals.

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