Monday, February 09, 2004

While I did refrain from blogging during my recent vacation of sorts, I didn't give up all my vices: I still continued to buy comic books. And strangely enough, I continued to have opinions.

I'd like to try to get some of my thoughts down on writing about comics in general, and how it applies to me. One of the reasons, not the only one but one reason, for my recent sabbatical was my disappointment and self-doubt about my ability to write in an efficacious manner about four-color funnybooks. I was not an English major, nor was I a Journalism major. I haven't really studied form and structure of writing, other than the required classes for my Graphic Design degree program. I have not studied criticism, nor have I been published in a legitimate outlet for same. So I am less than a definitive authority when it comes to writing serious criticism of any sort, and I'm insecure about that, especially since I use this blog as a forum for my wannabe critical pretensions, right out there for anyone and everyone to see. When I miss something as obvious and as glaring as what Jim Henley wrote about in his critique of New Frontier, (which, in all fairness, creator Darwyn Cooke has gone on to explain, and Jim has retreated a bit from his original I'm thinking I'll give Cooke the benefit of the doubt) my initial reaction is to smack my forehead and say "Of course. Why didn't I notice that?"...but then that little fella in my head that always makes me see things in a realistic light tells me "If you miss something that obvious, then what makes you think that you should keep trying? What else have you missed? What more will you overlook?" And as I do far too often, I listen to this little Grima Wormtongue type fella, and that creates a sort of writer's block, more like a palsy I suppose and inaction is a result. It's frigging intimidating, that's what it is, having all that fine criticism and writing out there, and trying, if not to compete, to have a place in the metaphorical group portrait. But what I have come to realize is that even though I'll never in a million years be able to focus enough or recognize all the myriad particulars and be able to reference a thousand and one literary precedents and examples like Eve Tushnet, Sean Collins, Bill Sherman, Dave Fiore, Henley and others, and especially not be able to write such deep essays on the likes of Watchmen and so on, I still look at comics and sequential fiction in a way that many of my fellow full-and-semi-comics bloggers don't: I'm all about the art. For example, while I have the utmost admiration for Eve, Jim, Sean, & Dave's dissection of Watchmen, I noticed that not one of them remarked on Dave Gibbon's exacting sense of symmetry and detail in his deceptively excellent illustration work on that title. While I'm not really an admirer of Gibbons' style (he draws the homliest women this side of Guy Davis), I have always been extremely impressed by the skill and craft he brought to Moore's story. I dare say that in the hands of a lesser artist, or at least one without such a clever and effective vision for the script, Watchmen might not have had half the resonance it had, and still has, some 18 years on. All my esteemed colleagues seem to focus on all the various ramifications of the scripts for almost everything they choose to comment on, and hardly ever does the art enter into the equation...

And I figure as long as I have that going for me, then perhaps I can slide by on the rest. Not that I'm always gonna focus on art at the expense of story, but I think that it at least gives me a mental hook to hang my hat on, and that will keep me inflicting myself on you, my wonderful readers, for some time to come. Aren't you lucky.

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