Thursday, April 6, 2006

Robert Kirkman

Or: "Brainless Zombie Cap: Representing Marvel Since 2006"

I had an interesting thought while idly flipping through the "Marvel Zombies" miniseries; Robert Kirkman is popular because he's simple, and - unlike most of his peers - he actually means to be that way.

It's easy to forget that while complexity is often considered a good literary quality for most types of stories to have, not every writer can get there; Marvel, specifically, has an overwhelming majority that aims for deep but either misses the mark entirely (Millar, Bendis, Hudlin) or hit overkill (Ellis, Straczynski).

Kirkman, in this specific context, is a godsend; he's very plain, but he knows he's plain. There's none of the usual pretentiousness where he claims he's applying some byzantine metatextual commentary we all know he can't pull off. "Marvel Zombies" does what it says on the tin: a bunch of Marvel zombies eating people. It's boring as hell to anyone who sets their standards higher than "color-by-numbers", but a fairly large percentage of the readership are just looking for something nice and easy. And Kirkman provides that without making them feel ashamed of wanting it.

I still don't find his writing interesting in the very least, but at least I feel I've solved the enigma of why he's so successful: it's not the quality of the writing itself, but the fact that said quality isn't presented as being anything more than it is.