Monday, May 26, 2008

Internet comic reviewers...

A note: HAWAIIAN DICK #4 came out last week, and Griffin, operating on the advice of Tony Moore, figured out how to adjust the color levels to a degree that made him happy. I haven't seen the issue yet, but Steven says the color ("colour") looks great. So check it out:







So, Griffin sent me this "Mondo" review, and it made me happy.

Not because the guy liked the book, but because he clearly approached the book with genuine enthusiasm...as if he picked it up hoping to enjoy it, and then just let himself get into it:

http://www.mondomagazine.net/?p=1124

Hawaiian Dick is a book that is beyond negative criticism. Why? Because it accomplishes exactly what we set out to accomplish, and if that's not your cup of tea, it's not because we failed you, it's because...it's not your cup of tea. It's a fun genre comic book, and we don't half-ass the effort, which is all you can ask of us. So if I read a negative review of the book from a guy who praises by the numbers photorealistic cape melodrama, I just get depressed that someone sold him the book in the first place. It's like listening to Poison fans review Barry Manilow albums. Or Teletubbies fanatics reviewing a Maysles documentary.

On reflection, "Beyond criticism" is probably the wrong way to put it.

But making a negative judgment call on something because it's not up your alley is the problem for me. Hawaiian Dick is a good example, because some people may not respond to the art. And if that's the case, fine. What I can't tolerate is someone making a qualitative judgement on the art because they don't personally connect to it.

I think anyone who pisses on creator-owned books in reviews should be smacked in the head with a mallet. Somebody saw something in the book, and someone sacrificed to make it happen. Someone will probably enjoy it, and the book sniping a smidgen of sales from the latest Mark Millar/Popular Artist juggernaut isn't going to kill anyone. To have failed writers with a limited comprehension of the medium trash the work simply to assuage their own superior egos is maddening.

Someone once wrote a bitchy letter to CMJ magazine, asking why they featured so many glowing CD reviews. The response was along the lines of, "A lot of stuff comes out each month, and we only have so much space. Instead of dumping on an artist, we try to guide people to music they might enjoy." As someone who bought the magazine looking for recommendations, I greatly appreciated that. What I didn't need were 200 pages telling me what NOT to buy.

Sure, I'd like intelligent analysis of things, and I don't need to read reviews from a guy who loves everything without applying any filter, but I get so fucking sick of the snarky condescension.

Addendum: I just read a THIRTEEN PARAGRAPH review of IRON FIST, which was, you know...a fun mainstream comic book. (look! I summed it up in four words!)

Addendum to the addendum: Okay, that was a cheap shot. There's nothing wrong with analyzing a book you find interesting, and thirteen paragraphs isn't unduly excessive, but it is very easy to lose sight of what you're reviewing (a mainstream superhero comic) when you take it that far.

6 comments:

DivaLea said...

I once had a review that compared Clockwork Angels to another manga-influenced work, and concluded the other book was manga and mine wasn't because I drew backgrounds.

Buh?

Good rant.

MONDO said...

Thanks for the link back to the review.

We started our Random Comics of the Week section because I wanted to have reviews on the site but knew that people would get bored reading the same 20 comics I tend to buy every month. And I'd get tired writing about them. Also, it's fun to review serial stories without necessarily knowing anything about them.

So, we came up with the idea of using a random number generator and then counting down the release list for that week until the team each had a comic.

We've been doing it for almost a year and it's been a great time. I bought a lot of crap over the year, but there have been more than enough pleasant surprises to make them all worth it, like Hawaiian Dick and Darwyn Cooke's The Sprit.

Every week I go in hoping that I'll like what I've randomly bought. This week, I was very happy the fates sent me to your book.

--Miles

B. Clay Moore said...

Thanks for dropping by, Miles. I'll be sure to make your site a regular stop.

Sorry about using your review as the centerpiece to one of my occasional rants. Bad week.

-BCM

JMRinguet said...

Sorry to see that HD is not selling as well as it should. I see your point and your frustration.
Good luck.

bean6344 said...

I just posted a comment on ifanboy about how much I enjoyed your talk with Josh. I have to disagree with your thoughts on negative reviews though. Poorly written negative reviews that have no understanding of the limits (or lack there of) of the medium are a waste of time for both the reader and author, but thoughtful, smartly written negative reviews help guide my spending. As stated on ifanboy, I often make comparisons between music and comics. I wish I would have read a couple of negative reviews of "Cut The Crap" by The Clash before I plunked down my $8.00 back in 1985.
Bean

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