Everyone’s A Critic: A round-up of comic book reviews and thinkpieces
• We’ll start off by linking to Scott McCloud’s recent article on how creators would be wise to pay more attention to criticism, even horribly, dismissively negative criticism of their work:
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.
I tend to agree with Mark-Oliver Frisch’s comment that most criticism is intended for the reader, not the artist, but still, that’s a really healthy attitude to have.
• Matthew Brady on Masayuki Ishikawa’s Moyasimon, volume 1: “Not only is it actually quirkily charming, the torrents of educational facts actually turn out to be pretty informative.” He’s also got a nice review of Ken Dahl’s Monsters.
• Anyone interested in issues of comics criticism should check out this interview with columnist and TCJ assistant editor Kristy Valenti, where she offers nuggets like this:
You can use academic and critical tools to critique comics, such as close readings, theory, and thorough research. I think, though, that there’s a lot of what I dub “bad academia” going on: people who don’t bother to learn the material and technological history behind how comics were produced (fortunately, there are now excellent sources such as Men of Tomorrow and The Ten Cent Plague for that), so they don’t put comics in the proper context—theory for theory’s sake, divorced from the actual comic; bad comparisons based on lack of breadth of knowledge (Johnny Ryan is like Chris Ware, because they’re both alternative); people who feel guilty or ashamed for liking comics, and so use their academic credentials and training to justify it, or people who have a pet area of study and use comics to justify it (Blackest Night is like Paradise Lost); etc.
• Brian Heater calls the latest issue of the Mome anthology “the best addition to the quarterly series in recent memory.”
• Sandy Bilus does the sort of thing I wish more online critics would do — pull a forgotten artist out of the haystack and offer up a thoughtful essay on why they shouldn’t be forgotten. In this case. it’s Aron Wiesenfeld.
• In reviewing the latest Aya book, Rob Clough says the book owes more to Jane Austen than modern soap operas. He may have something there.
• Domingos Isabelinho writes about a eurocomic I like quite a bit, Yvan Alagbe’s Negres Jaunes.
• Becky Ferreira reviews Jason’s Low Moon: “Each line and frame could mean nothing or could mean everything in this quiet, gripping book.”
• Greg McElhatton says Neptune by Aron Nels Steinke is “the sort of book whose cover promises exactly what it delivers on the inside.”
• David Welsh looks at recent work by Jiro Taniguchi.
• Has Geoff Klock written the definitive review of Planetary #27? You decide.
• David Brothers reads the first volume of Inio Asano’s What A Wonderful World and calls it “engaging and uplifting in a way that I respect, and honestly don’t see often enough.”
• It’s a bit old, but I did want to point out Tim O’Neil’s review of the most recent issues of Outsiders and Woverine: Origins.
• I keep forgetting to link to this: The Things From Another World store has started posting comic book reviews every Wednesday.
• Jeff Lester and Graeme McMillan offer some more podcast craziness.
• And the Mindless Ones review a whole bunch of wacky pamphlet goodness.