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Subj: Omar Karindu is O. K. ...
Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 01:04:01 am EDT (Viewed 2 times)
Reply Subj: Re: ROD, TOD, AND HOMER theory of fandom
Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 at 09:15:27 pm EDT (Viewed 1 times)
Hahaha... and I was worried I was talking over the heads of the people I wanted to reach.... very nice post, Omar, as usual.
To clarify, you should not have received an impression that I think that ALL comics are good, or that ALL comics creators are good at what they do. There are many comics that I myself find to be dismal, and many writers and artists as well. My hall of shame list, however, would be beside the point, as well as being a pretty long list.
My issue here is that so many yapping fans are judging various comics and creators as bad on an uninformed or poorly considered basis. The afore-mentioned good friend of mine will bray and almost scream with rage at the thought of Judd Winick, but cannot describe what it was specifically he didn't like about Winick's run on GREEN LANTERN. But guess what? He CAN say that it "sucked"!
Certainly there are terrible efforts on the stands; always have been, always will be. The question is, what makes a comic a bad read? Is it bad because it is poorly written, or drawn, or without substance? That is valid criticism. On the other hand, is it bad because the reader doesn't like the general direction of the book as they perceive it, regardless of how well the story or art may be executed, to which they will not pay enough attention to consider?
I am sad to say that in most of what I read or hear from fans, their complaints follow the latter train, and are as well poorly articulated, and full of false assumptions about the creators. Their dislike is rooted merely in a comparison of what the story WAS, as opposed to their Rod Flanders notion of what it should have been. John Byrne once admonished fans not to criticize his stories for no reason other than that they were not the stories the fans would have written themselves. He was right; no writer can turn out good stories under such restrictive guidelines. There would be no creative process involved.
A comic may be terrible. A reader may post a gripe about it. Still, if that reader's gripe consists of nothing more than some complaints and insults leveled at the writer and the editor in chief, and end in a glum and silly declaration that they've ruined the books' protagonist... in that case, they've said and proved nothing at all. Without considering the story's elements, or the plot, or its underlying themes, valid criticism cannot be given. And in most of these gripes, it is not.
A very new reader who christens himself an expert, as the fans so often do, cannot see a story in the context of the many stories that have gone before. They might think a new story should have portrayed a character in a certain way, because they do not (or even though they DO) know that there are countless stories that portray that character that same way, and that it has been run into the ground. The new story they don't like may be a fresh and much needed new perspective on that character.
Consider the Grey Hulk, or the Merged Hulk. How many new readers casually familiar with the Savage Hulk may have bellowed, "The Hulk should only be the Savage Hulk!!!" This reader, of whom there were countless, has the problem of being entirely unaware that there were 30 years of savage Hulk stories already, and that the creators were ready for a change, and that at least some longtime readers were bored with that, and very excited at these new possibilities.
It may seem that I am saying, "until you now what you're talking about, shut the hell up." I am, but I'm saying a little more than that. Hostility toward comics creators, which abounds, right here on these boards and all over fandom, is so wrongheaded and smallminded. I am tird of hearing it. I am tired of seeing these boards, which should be such interesting places, reduced to mindless attacks and heteful screeds against Joe Quesada, or Brian Michael Bendis, or Mark Millar, leveled by sub-par intellects who are just excited to have a voice. These people barely crasp the greator's intentions, let alone the realities of the creative process.
PS: Omar, I think you know better than to use quotations around statements that no one actually said.
PPS: Even awful comics have their fans, I imagine even Friedrich's S.H.I.E.L.D. stories, ... having just survived reading his work in ESSENTIAL GHOST RIDER #1 and commenting about how dreadful I found it, I was met with many staunch defenders of his work (coincidentally, on the DEFENDERS message board!) Rob Liefeld didn't make and blow a zillion dollars by NOT having fans. They may not admit to it today, but we know they're out there.....
> Everything you say is correct about mere judgments of aesthetic quality -- Kant famously remarked that judgments of taste are subjective, but that each person states their judgment as if it were a universal. He meant that we cannot but state our critiques of the aesthetic, in nature and artifice, without at least inadvertantly implying that all others share or should share our judgements. (It's those nasty "to be" verbs, really; even when you carefully avoid them, they are still lurking in "I think" and "I believe" -- after all, who of us would believe or think a thing that we knew or believed was untrue? It's a contradiction in terms.)
> But critique can and should go beyond simply saying something is good or bad, and can instead talk about what levels its operating on, what method it chooses, and can attempt to reason out estimations of a work's failure or success...but yes, always by the terms of the critique. It's the way in which the terms of the critique are argued for or against that matters, and this is what makes informed reviews possible.
> The blandishment that everything is rich and wonderful and good if only we'd TRY a little harder misses that -- everyone has a reading process, a method of aesthetic judgement. There is, in short, a context, are multiple contexts, of reading: the world in which the comic is published, the comics around it (before it and after it also), what the reader is looking for, and so on.
> Some of those methods are going to be, yes, sorry, richer than others. The question of which is the richer is what's at stake in arguments about the quality of a writer or a comic, even arguments that seem unaware of themselves in that way. They tend to be passionate arguments, of course, because comics affect us emotionally. And arguing someone out of their feelings doesn't work; ask a marriage counselor or a divorce lawyer. THe best that can be done is to try and put the discussion at a level on which even disagreement is at least interesting. Saying "sucks" and "rules" doesn't do that, but neither does "everything works in its way." All of those responses are efforts to abolish debate and thought, not to enrich them.
> If someone is not looking for the things that a Brian Bendis Avengers comic is providing, or if they see and can articulate flaws or faults in his method from their critical frame, they deserve to be taken seriously -- not agreed with, but at least they deserve a generous hearing out. Then we may feel free to respond, to reject their ideas, even to acknowledge their points and turn to some other quality or movement in the work from our own critical frame that works. But we cannot ever reasonably expect that we will win as if you are right on some imagined Platonic level, where we and we alone are the arbiter of taste.
> As a postscript, I'd argue that while quality is an eternal subject of debate, there are things awful enough that they have no reasonable, honest defenders. You don't, for example, find too many unironic fans of the Friedrich issues of S.H.I.E.L.D. from the early 70s, nor many allies of some of the truly awful comics published at flash-in-the-pan superhero houses (Chip Goodman's Atlas imprint, Harvey's ill-fated superhero line during the "Batman" TV craze) in the 60s and 70s.
> These are definitionally works in which basic technical skills, not just subtleties of craft or interpretation, are absent; that is to say, work so poor that it doesn't rise to the level of a style or method that one can critique positively or negatively in the first place. That's not really what we're talking about here -- generally, for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, or Image to publish something in the current market, it has to be at least technically proficient in some manner. But it does happen all the same; a quick flip through that behemoth catalogue, Previews, will turn up loads of comics that bad.