I've stopped denying that I love TV. Yes, I have a college degree in English (a.k.a. books), but I would sooner burn the diploma than pretend that The O.C. isn't pure small screen magic. I've come to terms with it. Though, there is one guilty pleasure of mine that I still try to deny -- novelizations and fan fiction.
The words are almost punch lines by themselves. Novelizations usually just rehash the stories from movies or episodes in prose form, i.e. minus attractive actors or interesting explosions, and plus a lot of inner monologue. Yawn. Fan fiction usually means wading through endless stories where Mr. Spock's shirt JUST HAPPENS to fall off as the starship engine Kirk is bent over JUST HAPPENS to bust, spilling oil all over his "glistening pecs." You can see why these are not genres most people have a lot of faith in.
But there's a lot to love about the idea of getting to spend more time with your favorite TV characters once the show has ended for the night, or, as is the current case with nearly every network show worth watching, gone on an extended hiatus. But we can all use the break to reorient ourselves with our viewing habits. Admit it, you're over Lost. If you haven't already discovered it, Heroes is the best show of the season, though you've likely heard of it as the "surprise" hit of the season, since it references comics and is about people with superpowers and all. Again with the cultural stigmas.
Sadly,Heroes is on break until January 22nd, at which time Mohinder Suresh, and his incredible hotness, will be back leading the gang of gifted loners through their journey to save the world. What to do until then? The NBC website has a series of thirteen comics full of backstory on existing and new characters. That's right, a (graphic) novelization. Thankfully, Heroes and its creators are all about imagination and exceeding expectations.
Each of these six-page stories is quick and punchy. Twelve of them pick up where their companion episodes left off -- filling in juicy gaps in the stories. For instance, the show only told us that indestructible cheerleader Claire Bennet drove her car into a brick wall to punish her passenger, a sleazy date-rapist. This was a turning point for Claire, as she chose to use her powers to help herself, and to inflict harm. The accompanying comic, Aftermath, gives us more of what happened in that crucial moment. As she crawls out of the twisted car, Claire is satisfied that she's taught the creep a lesson. Then the wreck catches fire, and her revenge has just taken a step towards murder. Claire uses her powers again, this time to dive back into the car and save her victim -- an interesting twist.
Plus, the quality of the art and writing matches the polish of the show. The various artists render passable likenesses for the TV characters, but the cartoons aren't beholden to the actors. This stylistic interpretation helps loosen up the comics and the expressions and gestures (such as FBI agent Audrey Hanson jumping cars on a speeding subway train) add to the comics' charm separate from the show. The drawing is also stylish and complete -- no cut corners for web graphics, these panels would definitely hold up on a page. In fact, all the comics are available as printable PDFs. But the embedded Flash viewer is reliable, speedy, and allows a satisfying zoom into the images.
All in all, these stories are a worthwhile snack until the TV action resumes. But with their great art and revealing side stories, I'll keep checking in for new comics during the season. And if you only have time for one quick read, Control (Issue #7) about Officer Matt Parkman is guaranteed to get your heart pounding and ready for the new episodes.