Archive for October, 2009

Dr. Jacques’ Six Year Check-Up

Jeph Jacques is offering some thoughts on how webcomics have changed in the last 6 years in his State of the Webcomics Union.

One particularly astute point:

“The idea of critical analysis of webcomics has largely died out. Sure, people still blog about webcomics and “review” them and stuff, but it’s become a tiny, tiny niche sector. I think this is mainly because there’s not a whole lot of point to reviewing something anybody can go look at for free and make up their own mind about! Is this a good thing? I have no idea.”

It’s a good read overall. Check in to read the post and the many comments.

Random Thought

Forgive me if somebody has already said something like this, but is it possible that the Web has made it harder for others to lie to us and easier for us to lie to ourselves?

I’m thinking of how, on the one hand, governments and corporations are having trouble suppressing all kinds of unflattering info (yes, even in China), while fringe groups with extreme beliefs are able to erect comfy feedback-loop houses for others of their kind to dwell in and congratulate each other for being right.

In other news, anyone who disagrees with yesterday’s post about being open to criticism is just jealous of my shoes.

On Criticism

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the role of criticism, specifically negative reviews of comics and how they tend to be received by the creative individuals involved.

For myself, I always consider reviews useful—even the hatchet jobs. It makes my heart sink a little when I hear other artists dismiss all reviews as irrelevant to their process. A common claim is that reviews tell us “only about the reviewer” and tell us “nothing about the work,” but I disagree. Yes, reviewers have biases. Yes, they miss the point sometimes. But there’s always some kind of information embedded in any reaction to any creative effort.

Take an extreme example:

Suppose you’re a cartoonist, and ten years ago you made a casual remark about some political issue in an interview or on a panel. A stranger decides they don’t like you, based entirely on this one remark.

Ten years later, you’ve just published your first graphic novel. You’ve poured your heart into it. It’s a thousand pages long, it’s everything you wanted it to be. And an online review site hires that same stranger to review the book.

Still upset about the political remark you made a decade earlier, the stranger-turned-critic savages your magnum opus, tears it to shreds, all the while clearly referencing a perceived political position which has nothing to do with the book, and is nowhere in the book. All negatives. No positives. All based on that one remark from ten years ago.

If you were that cartoonist, you could easily dismiss such a review. You could easily say that a bitter, biased, petty review like that is a classic example of a completely useless review, that it told you “only about the reviewer” and told you “nothing about the work.”

But you’d be wrong.

Because even in that extreme example there was a vital piece of information about your work that was worth paying attention to: The simple fact that your art and/or story were insufficiently powerful to overcome a grudge.

And that’s information worth having.

Drawing with Light and Time

Warren Ellis points us to a real gem this morning. An elaborate new mutation of the old idea of “drawing with light.”

From the Light Art Performance Photography site description: “LAPP originates on a real-time basis directly in front of the camera. Created between opening and closing the shutter. The pictures shown here are in each case one single photo, not a result of working on the computer…”

A very different kind of “temporal map” to explore.

Google Map Comics?

Reader Sylvain Poitras emailed recently to suggest that the new ways people are using Google Maps to create online portfolios and game maps could also be applied to expanded canvas comics. It’s a cool idea. Anyone want to give it a try?

(And no, I have no idea why the last three blog post titles all ended in question marks.)

Comics Without Pictures?

Every once in a while someone gives it a try. Here’s the latest, courtesy of Tim Hall and Jen Ferguson at act-i-vate.

Can there be comics without pictures? Does manipulated, positioned text like this qualify as pictures on some level? Fun questions to ask once in a while.

[Update: Check comments for links to other interesting wordless comics.]

Landing on a Dime?

I honestly have no idea if this will fly or not, knee-deep as I am in the graphic novel, but iCents is at least offering a novel approach in some respects and if anyone out there wants to give it a closer look and offer your thoughts, I’d be curious to hear them.

Still having the tar and feathers from last time removed, so I’ll stay on the sideline regarding the more general debate about micropayments that’s been flairing up again recently (at least for now).

More importantly, the whole world is still busy sorting out whether there will even be intellectual property in a decade or two, so the question of what kinds of new industries it might generate could be on a lot of peoples’ back burners a while longer.

[Update: Marc Glasberg from iCents has hopped onto the comments section and has some illuminating answers for those interested in learning more about the system.]

Fair is FAIR

I don’t know why, but this one really made my blood boil.

I know that, all things considered, this is a relatively low rung in the great ladder of corporate abuses, but it hits close enough to home that I needed to give a cheer for Cory and Xeni and I hope you’ll do the same.

Fair use has been under steady attack from legal weasels long enough. A flamboyant gesture or two may be what it takes to finally hit the nightly news and embarrass the hell out of these jerks. Shame is a powerful disinfectant.

Abstraction Hunter

Artist and scholar Andrei Molotiu takes a look at the abstract side of Understanding Comics and Zot!

Might be fun to see how many other comics might be similarly mined.

[Update: Andrei has more here.]

Bloomington, Indiana – Tonight!

I’ll be there. Hope you will be too.