So I finally got the TPB of Batman: The Black Glove today, and on the cover it proclaims "The Prequel to Batman: RIP!" And that got me pondering a semantic point...

It's always seemed to me that a prequel is a later-told story that precedes the events of another story — that that flip-flopped chronology was an implicit part of the definition of the word. So The Phantom Menace is a prequel to The Empire Strikes Back, but Empire isn't a prequel to Return of the Jedi. It's just always seemed to me that the -quel suffix denotes the story in question's relationship to a previously-existing story.

But maybe that was just a faulty presumption on my part. Does anyone else share my perception of prequel-ness? Or is that just a bit of linguistic pedantry on my part that I'd best be served by just letting go? (Or, I suppose...both.)

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That's always been my understanding, too. Temple of Doom is a prequel to Raiders, but neither of them is a prequel to Last Crusade.

Godfather II, on the other hand, is a prequel and a sequel. Neat trick.
I agree with you, Alan, but then again I also think a "zero" issue should be comprised of material which not only predates issue #1, but also the release of the series itself. IOW, (I start counting at one, not zero.) Furthermore, I believe 1/2 should occur midway between zero and one.

The first time I ever recall hearing the word "prequel" was in description of Butch & Sundance: The Early Years.
Jeff of Earth-J said:

The first time I ever recall hearing the word "prequel" was in description of Butch & Sundance: The Early Years.

Same here! I'll bet even that early example actually contradicted the first movie too!

prequel [ˈpriːkwəl]
n
(Performing Arts) a film or book about an earlier stage of a story or a character's life, released because the later part of it has already been successful
[from pre- + (se)quel]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
pre·quel (prkwl)
n.
A literary, dramatic, or cinematic work whose narrative takes place before that of a preexisting work or a sequel.

[pre- + (se)quel.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

These two fine dictionaries insist that the prequel has to be released after the original pre-existing work. I'm happy with that. The idea that this is a special kind of precursor is a worthwhile semantic point.

I know that dictionaries have to follow general usage, but we'd lose a finely graded meaning if people started using Prequel to mean any story that precedes a related story chronologically within the narrative.

It'd be a sad day for English! Photobucket
Figs pretty much nails it.

A prequel is a story that takes place before a certain established story (the Star Wars Episodes I-III take place before Episodes IV-VI), but is considered part of the story's overall continuity. In the Indiana Jones movies, Temple of Doom is technically a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, but not a sequel to Last Crusade and Crystal Skull.

Also, there is an inserted story or story-line that takes place between two established "chapters" of a overall storyline. This is called an "interquel". Star Wars-Shadows of the Empire takes place between
(see The Clone Wars TV series on Cartoon Network, which officially takes place between Star Wars Episode II and III; and also the video game Star Wars-The Force Unleashed, which is established being set between Episodes III and IV).

A sequel is the follow-up story to the previous establishing story (Star Wars: The Empire Strike Back is the sequel to Star Wars: A New Hope, and Return of the Jedi is a sequel to Empire).

An update or revamp is a story or movie that takes the established story's continuity and brings it into the 'modern' era or gives it a new look without rewriting it; the Lost In Space movie starring William Hurt can be considered an update to the original Lost In Space TV series.

A remake takes a previously established movie and retells the story, but making it seem new and modern. Compare John Carpenter's Halloween with Rob Zombie's Halloween.

see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interquel and scroll up or down.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
I agree with you, Alan, but then again I also think a "zero" issue should be comprised of material which not only predates issue #1, but also the release of the series itself. IOW, (I start counting at one, not zero.) Furthermore, I believe 1/2 should occur midway between zero and one.

The first time I ever recall hearing the word "prequel" was in description of Butch & Sundance: The Early Years.

As far as I know, the term "prequel" was coined specifically because of that movie, because nobody knew what else to call it.

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