Sunday, September 01, 2013

Concept Without an Audience? 'Final 9' Poker-themed Comic Book Announced

From the Bad Ideas Dept. comes the tale of a... tale -- that being the introduction of a poker-themed comic book, "Final 9," by Room 110 Publishing.  "Final 9" is the graphically-told story of a fictitious poker tournament, with concept and story told by Anish Patel and artwork by Calvin Innes.

You can't make this stuff up.  Patel recently did an interview for PN in which he described being inspired by the 2008 WSOP, and this is the result.  That's the Issue #1 cover at right.  As Patel told PN, "This is Twelve Angry Men at a poker table. It’s a courtroom drama. It’s a twisting, winding mix of personal stories, brought together around the intense lights and drama of a tournament poker table.... You get a brief impression of what the players might be like, but you never really know about their lives or what brought them to the table. Final 9 explores the whole world around poker. It’s the players, the lifestyle, the different characters involved. It’s the how and they why of tournament poker — as well as the action of course.

Of course, it's all fiction, too.  This won't come anywhere close to being the worst-ever poker-entertainment concept foisted upon the public; the Phil Hellmuth-funded "All In: The Poker Musical" retains that title without serious challenge.  Yet is there a ready audience for Final 9?

Writing something is easy; finding someone who wants to read it is always the tougher challenge.  Good entertainment has to have a reason for existing as well as being entertaining, and while Twelve Angry Men might be a classic psychological study on film, it's hard to imagine lots of people paying to see that same story retold within the framing device of a poker tourney.  After all, poker already has one crappy comic book in its past.  (We're looking at you, Calvin Ayre.)

So, well, I had to peek for myself, so I downloaded the Final 9 preview edition to take a look, which is Chapter 1 of the tale, "Ten Becomes Nine", which features a hand between "rock star" Richie Kelson and poker veteran Bob Hootman.  One of the two loses.  The story is pretty awful, with horrid dialogue and level-one and level-two poker thoughts.  "I need a ten to come on the river!" screams one of the players at a key moment.  Ahh, idiot lecture in comic-book form.

Since I won't detail the story beyond that, I'll describe the setting.  The whole comic is the bubble of the final table at a fictional "WPC" tourney, and depicts a poker table about six miles long, with as much space between the players as is occupied by the players themselves.  (Obviously, Patel overlooked the concept of the psychological warfare possibly being played by some stinkball type who doesn't wash himself for days with the thought of gagging out his opponents, but he's gone for more obvious poker stereotypes in his comic.)

I'd like this to be good, but it just isn't.  People who know poker will find the happenings trite, and those who don't know poker aren't likely to want to read Final 9 in the first place.  And that leaves no audience.

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