Sunday, November 4, 2012

Crossed Pushes Boundaries But Then Too Far

By Kevin Winter
[Note added 10.05.2012: Warning: This title is for Mature Readers and contains graphic content of an extreme nature. Before purchasing, we recommend you flip through the book, so that you can make a well-informed decision.]

As a reader of independent comics, I am used to comic books that push the boundaries.

Independent Comic Books Push Boundaries 
Independent comics generally push the line in ways that more mainstream comics will not, and at times, cannot. Were mainstream comics to push the envelope like independents, then the mainstream books would lose readers. The independents have the freedom to push the line, to bring us closer and closer to the edge. They are not afraid of losing readers, since they start off with so few to begin with. They are allowed that artistic and creative freedom that are denied the writers and artists at DC and Marvel.

Jacen Burrow's Crossed Volume 1 Cover

The Original Crossed Comic Book Pushes BoundariesStill, at what point does a comic book go over the line? Does a comic become something so over the top that it pushes the line too far? In a way, Yes and No.

In terms of Yes, let us take a look at the series called Crossed [Editor's Note: The first 10 issues of the original series was written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Jacen Burrows. Published by Avatar Press]. This series is considered one of the most disturbing comic books of the modern era. It is about a society that has totally collapsed, a society in which people become “crossed” and start acting like maniacs, killing each other, and doing things that I can't mention in this post. It is also a story about survival and the people who did not become the “crossed”, but who must make the tough decisions about who will survive and who will not.
At times Crossed pushes the limits. It challenges our sensibilities. It takes us down a path we do not want to walk down. It shows us images that are disturbing to our core, begging the question, “Are we really like that underneath it all?”

Recent Versions of Crossed Go Too Far
After the original run, a new set of writers and artists took on this world and brought us their versions of Crossed - and here is where I feel we have crossed that invisible boundary.
While the original series was well-written and executed, the follow-up issues have been nothing short of torture porn. The focus has changed to “What can we do to make this even more gross and sensational?” and it focuses less on the story and characters.
The violence becomes more grotesque, and the characters just disappear into the violence. A similar example is the Saw movie series. The original movie was brilliant, but the follow-up movies have been trying to one up themselves with violence. That is what is hurting Crossed, with its increase in the violence and its failure in storytelling.
What was once a great series is losing its small group of readers, but is also threatening to create a backlash for future series. By pushing - and crossing - this boundary, they will make it harder in the future for creative authors to make works that push the boundary.

About The Author
Kevin Winter (pictured below) is someone with an opinion about almost anything. If you find him around town, you can ask for an opinion and he will give you an honest one.  A graduate of Sacramento State, he spends his time telling people they are wrong, writing letters to his national leaders, and generally being a pain in the ass.  A comic fan, not for life, but for several years, he can be seen around Empire's Comics Vault on Wednesday's during the day, and generally spouting an opinion (if anyone wants to hear it or not)...  also trying not to get on Ben's bad side.
From Kevin: If you disagree with me, agree with me, or just want to leave a comment; please leave one. I will be sure to ignore them all. 


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