Front Page

Content

Authors

Game Index

Forums

Site Tools

Submissions

About

MB
Michael Barnes
August 18, 2022
427 0

Godtear Beats the Odds - Review

Board Game Reviews
T
thegiantbrain
August 18, 2022
172 0
T
thegiantbrain
August 11, 2022
370 0
W
WadeMonnig
August 10, 2022
596 1
O
oliverkinne
August 09, 2022
670 0
T
thegiantbrain
August 04, 2022
547 0
O
oliverkinne
August 01, 2022
848 0

Scout Board Game Review

Board Game Reviews
O
oliverkinne
July 29, 2022
856 0
T
thegiantbrain
July 28, 2022
618 0
W
WadeMonnig
July 27, 2022
905 1
O
oliverkinne
July 26, 2022
1019 0
T
thegiantbrain
July 25, 2022
742 0

The Split - Review

Board Game Reviews
T
thegiantbrain
July 21, 2022
822 0
×
Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

Recent Topics paging, uploading images and preview bugs require a patch which has not yet been released.

Our own Jason Lutes makes Top 50 -

More
09 May 2014 18:12 #177789 by OldHippy

dragonstout wrote: But Snyder covered the misunderstandings pretty extensively, even the "tentacle monster? How unrealistic! I'll replace it with something more realistic", which is probably the change made by the movie that gets the most praise from the book's fans, and that praise convinces me that the book's fans are mostly clueless.


That's the change that has received the most criticism from what I've seen. A lot of people really hate that change, for one, it kind of ruins John's character and it changes the ending in other ways too. For one, the tentacle monster wasn't what did it... not alone anyway. That did not create peace. The tentacle monster needed the assistance of psychics and a whole island of experts to have the effect it did. The tentacle monster alone was assumed to have some effect but not enough, not without all the baggage the other experts on the island added to it. Humanity was seen in that negative a light, the facts alone would not help.

But I miss the Island itself, the mini comic and the Comedian's arrival and drunken mumbling after having visited said island.

Now people who defend the movie but don't really care for the comic certainly seem to talk about it being a positive change, obviously I guess. But my experiences are entirely anecdotal, this is just the basics of what people I have talked to personally say. I know that I hated the movie, in fact I fell asleep twice during the film while in a theatre... that is hard to do. It felt like a Coles Notes version written by someone who never really understood the comic.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 May 2014 09:50 #177836 by Legomancer

JonJacob wrote: The proof to me that I'm right about this is that he's created literally nothing else. He is the Harper Lee of comics and that book is a fluke with mediocre writing and a topic that screams "give me literary prizes".


Then you are wrong, because that is wrong. Maus may be Spiegelman's best known work, but it is not his only work. He's got a long list of work stretching from the 60s. Whether or not Maus is overwrought and overrated, Spiegelman himself is a huge presence in comics.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 May 2014 12:19 - 10 May 2014 12:30 #177848 by OldHippy
So I'm told, that's what Andy says too. Funny how we never seem to talk about them, pages and pages of "what comics are you reading" and he never seems to come up.

Even Maus is rarely discussed. Is it one of those Twain classics? You know; "a classic is a book people praise and don't read."

In any case my right to dislike that book remains in tact.

Do people think I haven't Wikipedia'd him before now? That I'm unaware that he's produced several books we don't discuss?
Last edit: 10 May 2014 12:30 by OldHippy.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
11 May 2014 14:36 - 11 May 2014 14:37 #177886 by Jason Lutes
JonJacob, the current emphasis on writing in comics is a long-delayed and necessary reaction to 100+ years of a overemphasis on the drawing. It's been a long time coming, and its a necessary part of the medium's development. The best comics for me are the ones that hold the various elements of the medium—page layout, panel composition, words, pictures, etc.—in balance, but it's still hard for people to engage with comics at that level. The discussion is usually about words vs. pictures, instead of how to two interact, which is a pretty reductive approach to a pretty rich medium.

I can see why you might think that Dan Clowes and Art Spiegelman can't draw, but a cartoonist is a cartoonist, not an artist or a writer. A great cartoonist brings the various aspects of the medium together into a cohesive whole wherein each piece interlocks with and relies upon the other pieces. Separating out the drawing is fine when you want to draw attention to how well or badly a particular thing is drawn, but the idea that a good cartoonist needs to draw well in the traditional, naturalist (or even, as in the case of Mller, expressionist) sense is hogwash. Chris Ware, who you would place in the #1 and #2 slots, does not even draw his comics at all. They're assemblages of icons and symbols. He can draw—as anyone who has looked at his sketchbooks can tell you—but his drawing ability is hardly even noticeable in his narrative work. In my opinion, to be a great cartoonist you don't have to draw well; you have to draw well enough. Well enough to get people to look at your work in the first place, and well enough to get across whatever your trying to depict with clarity and concision.

I get that, and believe me that since I read it so long ago I've heard this a thousand times from it's defenders. But that can't save bad writing. The proof to me that I'm right about this is that he's created literally nothing else. He is the Harper Lee of comics and that book is a fluke with mediocre writing and a topic that screams "give me literary prizes". I may go back and give it a another chance, it has been a long time but I did find it too obvious and poorly written. If too obvious is part of the point... perhaps the writing should be better.

The idea that someone's level of creative output is somehow a barometer of how good or bad they are as a writer is just, I don't know, fucking absurd. Come on, man, did you even think that through? So Harper Lee is a bad writer because she published one book? I think you need to work on your analogies a bit, and come up with a better theory to support your idea that Spiegelman is a bad writer. I'm willing to buy the argument, but you've gotta have a better premise.

To that point, I'm curious as to why you have the assumption that someone who wears his heart on his sleeve as automatically a bad writer. If someone wants to express their honest and direct feelings about a given subject, would you prefer they cloak it in obscurity and cynicism?

Since you say you've encountered your share of defenders of Spiegelman, I won't try to sway your opinion as to the content of Maus. But I will point out a bigger reason for that book to be on this, or any list, about comics. With Maus, Spiegelman almost single-handedly changed the national dialogue about comics as an art form. It had been a long time coming, and the way had been paved by others before him, but that book more than any other opened up the eyes of the reading public and broadened perception as to what comics could accomplish. Without Maus, and Spiegelman's selfless, unflagging efforts behind the scenes to promote the medium and its practitioners, Rolling Stone wouldn't even have a list of the 50 Best Non-Superhero Graphic Novels. When you look at it (and I have), the ripple effect of that book on the perception, practice, and growth of medium is staggering.

Maus can be legitimately criticized on any number of counts, but it was a landmark achievement and watershed moment for the medium. For that reason alone, regardless of its content, it deserves a place on every top X comics list from now until the end of time. As someone who has been working in the field for 20+ years now, I can tell you that it was a game-changer.
Last edit: 11 May 2014 14:37 by Jason Lutes.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Shellhead, OldHippy

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
11 May 2014 17:05 - 11 May 2014 17:36 #177891 by OldHippy
You make a lot of great points, I'll try to answer them the best I can.

I'm not big on pendulum effects. So if an emphasis on writing is preceding interest in drawing I think that's too bad, especially if it's a reactionary move. Comics are strongest when the drawing is done to suit the story, and if a very similar style is used in all of a writers work... that usually means it's just all they can draw and that visuals aren't being considered in quite the way I'd like to see personally.

In the 20th century are there comic artists more successful that George Herriman, Walt Kelly, or Bill Watterson? They can write and draw. There is a history of it, we don't need to be this reactionary.

As for Ware assembling his pieces, I didn't know that, I saw a gallery showing of his drawings and they were brilliant. In any case the most important thing is that the end product looks good, whether it's hand drawn or not, so I'm not judging someone specifically for being able to or not able to draw well (although I guess it's a bonus) the important part is that it looks good, original, striking... Same with an album, I don't care if the musicians plug the notes in one at a time, I just want it to sound good. I want comics to look good... for the story, the pencils should be in service of the story.

Now for the heart on your sleeve idea, yes, I think better writers are more obscure in their meaning, I believe they have mystery in their style. Read Demons from Dostoyevsky for example. There are several points of view all written very convincingly and very well. Even Alan Moore can do it. Rorschach is popular because Moore represented that viewpoint very well.

Writing to me is best that way, I actually think To Kill a Mockingbird is an example of bad writing.. not a fluke at all. I believe it was only popular because it made a necessary political point. There's no mystery in that book, you know who the winners and losers are immediately. It's not vague or mysterious, it's obvious. My favourite writers can write from many points of view well, because they aren't journalists, they aren't diary writers (Maus 2 is diary writing for sure) they write because they like to explore more than they know. When you're in the hands of a good writer you find yourself feeling sympathy for decidedly unsympathetic characters.

They don't reach for what they can grasp, they reach beyond it (why else would you write) they don't write what they know (and all the attendant cliches) they reach for what they do not know and you can feel the learning in the writing process.

Thing is, I shit on Maus and everyone freak out, but people can shit on Sin City and no one bats an eye, I honestly believe that is strictly because Miller got too popular. The hipster stance is to hate on Miller and defend Maus. I get that... but the thread is infinitely more interesting if someone defends drawing and makes a case for a different view than the article gives us. Your arguments for Maus... many of those work for Sin City too.

But the stance I've taken is less popular, and now the guy the thread is dedicated to is shitting on me too, I definitely got my back against the wall here and no one is going to like what I have to say at this point.

But really??

I mean Jeb's arguments (God love him, Jeb you're great) against Sin City was that it was "shitty shit" but my argument against Maus is "absurd" to you. I guess I should have just said shitty shit, no one would have batted an eye.

In other words, take what I'm saying with a grain of salt AND try to accept that I mean it as well.
Last edit: 11 May 2014 17:36 by OldHippy.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Almalik

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
12 May 2014 00:12 #177896 by jeb
I said it was "shitty garbage." I hadn't read the thread since Friday after posting this and I actually thought about how that was a terrible comment. Standard Internet opinionated baloney with no argument. I apologize for that.

I like Frank Miller--a lot. I loved his DAREDEVIL run (with the Kingpin's daughter in the sewers? Holy shit), and THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS is an all-time great. I liked the way he drew WOLVERINE too, even if that story was bad. That's what gets me about Frank Miller--when his writing is bad, it is just terrible. I think SIN CITY started awesome--Marv was the bomb, and it looked great. But I read the whole thing as a trade, so I saw it go from this stark noir homage to just crazy bad exploitive garbage in one go. If you had to read SIN CITY backwards, you wouldn't make it past the first ten pages. I feel like he got in, was lauded, and then just kept going even though he was done. I felt like he was wasting my time and that is not tolerated. Despite his ...interesting take on history, he was back in form for 300 and the visuals there are spectacular.

MAUS is a milestone. I admire JonJacob's assessment of it as an individual work, but that's the equivalent of saying, "Jackie Robinson was a really good outfielder, but why does everyone pay so much attention to him?" I actually have a copy of HELLO I AM A DOG signed by Art and his family, and my kids loved the LITTLE LIT series. Doesn't he mostly focus on illustration, i.e. NEW YORKER covers and stuff?

I dabble in comics. I was diehard as a youngin', but they got too pricy. Now I mostly check them out of the library or read them at Barnes & Noble. You guys are much more learned on this topic. I will back away and let you guys have at.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
12 May 2014 00:51 - 12 May 2014 00:57 #177899 by Jason Lutes

JonJacob wrote: As for Ware assembling his pieces, I didn't know that, I saw a gallery showing of his drawings and they were brilliant. In any case the most important thing is that the end product looks good, whether it's hand drawn or not, so I'm not judging someone specifically for being able to or not able to draw well (although I guess it's a bonus) the important part is that it looks good, original, striking... Same with an album, I don't care if the musicians plug the notes in one at a time, I just want it to sound good. I want comics to look good... for the story, the pencils should be in service of the story.

To be clear, Chris draws his pages with pen and ink and brush, but what he draws are icons and symbols. I thought you were saying that Clowes and Spiegelman couldn't draw in the naturalist-representational sense, so I was trying to point out that Ware doesn't draw that way. I see what you mean now that you expressed it another way. But I think Clowes and Spiegelman do make comics that are visually "good, original, striking," so that part's just a matter of taste.

Now for the heart on your sleeve idea, yes, I think better writers are more obscure in their meaning, I believe they have mystery in their style. Read Demons from Dostoyevsky for example. There are several points of view all written very convincingly and very well. Even Alan Moore can do it. Rorschach is popular because Moore represented that viewpoint very well.

Sure, most good writers can do that, but it's only worth doing if it serves the specific story you're trying to tell. Maus is a memoir, and the point of a memoir (usually) is to recount personal history with as much accuracy and honesty as possible. Not to assume other points of view and veil facts in mystery. Spiegelman laid bare his father's experience as a survivor, his relationship to his father, and his feelings about all of that with brutal honesty. That's what a good memoirist is supposed to do -- tell the truth even when it makes him look like an asshole.

Writing to me is best that way, I actually think To Kill a Mockingbird is an example of bad writing.. not a fluke at all. I believe it was only popular because it made a necessary political point. There's no mystery in that book, you know who the winners and losers are immediately. It's not vague or mysterious, it's obvious. My favourite writers can write from many points of view well, because they aren't journalists, they aren't diary writers (Maus 2 is diary writing for sure) they write because they like to explore more than they know. When you're in the hands of a good writer you find yourself feeling sympathy for decidedly unsympathetic characters.

They don't reach for what they can grasp, they reach beyond it (why else would you write) they don't write what they know (and all the attendant cliches) they reach for what they do not know and you can feel the learning in the writing process.


I totally get that and I share your appreciation for exactly that kind of writing, but the notion that all good writing must abide by that principle is a pretty limiting. Does a good story by definition need to be inhabited entirely by fully-realized characters? If the book is written from the perspective a woman remembering events from her childhood, should she describe the unique perspectives and motivations of the people she remembers, or should she recall the world as a six year old? More to your point, does writing a book in part to make a political point somehow invalidate the book? Most books can be interpreted as trying to make one sort of political point or another.

But your original point was that one novel = bad writer. I just don't get the logic. If someone is a good writer, they write more? I guess J.D. Salinger, Sylvia Plath, John Kennedy Toole, Boris Pasternak, etc. are all bad writers?

Thing is, I shit on Maus and everyone freak out, but people can shit on Sin City and no one bats an eye, I honestly believe that is strictly because Miller got too popular. The hipster stance is to hate on Miller and defend Maus. I get that... but the thread is infinitely more interesting if someone defends drawing and makes a case for a different view than the article gives us. Your arguments for Maus... many of those work for Sin City too.


Sure it does. But don't use the hipster defense, that's weak. Criticize the actual work, not the perceived reaction to your criticism. That's not about the work, that's about you feeling persecuted. Hundreds of thousands of people love Sin City and are totally on your side. Hundreds of thousands of people love Maus and are going to defend it if they feel like it's been criticized unfairly. Do you want them to just roll over? Maus can be criticized for lots of valid reasons, I just disagree with the specific criticisms you've leveled at it, and I've tried to articulate why.

Maybe "No one bats an eye" when Sin City gets criticized because most of the people you discuss it with don't think it's that great?

But the stance I've taken is less popular, and now the guy the thread is dedicated to is shitting on me too, I definitely got my back against the wall here and no one is going to like what I have to say at this point.


Not true! No one's backing you against a wall, and I'm interested in what you have to say. I totally understand if you have no desire to offer a counter-argument, though. I'm not trying to shit on you, and I apologize if it feels that way. I have a lot of opinions about comics, and I'm not shy about voicing them. I'm nothing special, though. 2/3rds of my book about Berlin is #48 on a list of the "50 Best Non-Superhero Graphic Novels." What the fuck kind of a list is that?

In other words, take what I'm saying with a grain of salt AND try to accept that I mean it as well.


I think that's what I'm doing! Back at ya.
Last edit: 12 May 2014 00:57 by Jason Lutes.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Black Barney

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
12 May 2014 01:39 - 12 May 2014 01:44 #177900 by OldHippy
I think we're actually getting somewhere here. I'm going to try and deal with what's been said and see if we can't find something to agree on ... cleanly.

First, I don't think Sin City is that great. That wasn't the point (even in Miller's "good writing" he still writes like a B version of Chandler in my mind). My point was that it is not worth dismissing, my point was that the art is so incredible that we should be considering that as well. The root of my point is that art should be as important as writing in a good comic and that the two should be melded together in some way. They should compliment each other and I want to feel like I'm in the hands of someone who really knows what they're doing.

Sin City is a great looking comic. I don't read them, but I gladly flip through them. They look stunning in places and yes, there are times when his writing seems like total shit to me (I won't even qualify that statement and I bet no one will care... I will have to qualify what I say about Spiegleman though... you know what I mean?). I can always pick up That Yellow Bastard and flip through it, I can show people a page and say: "isn't that awesome" and they will instantly get it. That is an important quality. What do you want to bet that people are going into comic shops and picking up Maus because Miller is so popular he helped them work their way there? Miller has done a lot for comics and from way back in they days when he wrote Ronin, he's been doing a lot for non-super hero comics too and respectability for the genre. All points that apparently help you get on lists like this.

I don't think I ever said "1 book = bad writer", I'm not going to go back to check but I'd bet money that that's just a convenient reduction of what I said to make a point. I know that technique well. What I said was close though, and clearly that was stupid.

But it's a point I will work with and despite my inability to believe in it 100% I will try to defend it anyway. Because there is something in there that I kind of believe in and I want to explore that.

I think that everyone has one good book in them. Good writer or not, everyone can get one good book, or damn close to everyone. But a writer, a true writer that feels words in their soul and was born to be a bard does much, much more than that. They don't have just one good book, they bleed amazing poetic prose, they twist you around in circles.

If your making a list of best songwriters of all time (and all lists are arbitrary garbage anyway, but I learn a lot through these processes sometimes) then at some point quantity will play a small role. Bob Dylan is partly loved by critics for being so fucking prolific. It is an assessment we use, many people will, all other things being equal, side with the person who has more to offer. It's not absurd. Take a look at how they award the Nobel Prize for literature (remember we're arguing about inclusion on a fucking magazine list, so this is appropriate), it is understood as a lifetime achievement, have you read Alice Monroe's newest collection... it's good, it's not why she won.

I like to see a bit of versatility in a writer, a tough thing to ask for when there is only one work to look at. So for that I need some time. I can buy that Maus belongs on this list... I never said it didn't. What I can't buy is the way we will dismiss things that are a little too popular and not written as well, when the drawing alone is something worth considering.

Does that make more sense?

Last example. I like Hockey, Patrick Roy is commonly considered the best Goalie of all time. I think that the year Jean Sebastien Giguere dragged his shitty team to the cup finals was the best goaltending I've ever seen. But he couldn't repeat it, that was it, one play off run and he was done. Patrick Roy won the most cups... and the analysts decided that he's the all time best. It's not just me. People make arguments for others, but we want to believe this person, this work, this art... isn't just a fluke, we, as humans, like a little more proof that that. Like the scientific principle, we want to see it repeated.

Maus isn't awful, I think I even said that I thought it was equal with Sin City (and then flippantly changed my mind) and I kind of do. Except Sin City's art seems a little higher in quality than Maus's writing... call that personal taste if you like. That's ok.

Just sub out hipster for popular. I didn't mean to drop that word, it was ... cheap of me.

Glamourpuss blew my mind recently. That is some virtuoso drawing (and tracing, I know) and some very interesting writing. I would argue for it's inclusion. My list, obviously, would look very different. I like Clowes, I like the list, I even said so in my first post. I'm just playing around with an idea.



EDIT: I forgot to address this:

Sure, most good writers can do that, but it's only worth doing if it serves the specific story you're trying to tell. Maus is a memoir, and the point of a memoir (usually) is to recount personal history with as much accuracy and honesty as possible. Not to assume other points of view and veil facts in mystery. Spiegelman laid bare his father's experience as a survivor, his relationship to his father, and his feelings about all of that with brutal honesty. That's what a good memoirist is supposed to do -- tell the truth even when it makes him look like an asshole.


I don't like memoir writing... well, I don't mind it, but I generally find it boring and... I think pedantic might be the word I'm looking for here. So that makes me extremely biased right out of the gate (apparently I'm ok with cliches though, in my writing anyway). Let's keep that in mind. I find it... limited. To me a good writer can pull off memoir style prose when needed, but it's just one weapon in their arsenal. If it's the only weapon they have... they fall short of being a good writer and sit right there at only being a decent memoir-ist. If such a thing exists. But really, do we write more than one memoir? I don't know, not being a fan of the genre.
Last edit: 12 May 2014 01:44 by OldHippy.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
12 May 2014 02:00 #177901 by OldHippy
I was defensive in some of these posts (not that last one though) and I think I just figured out why.

A lot of people have asserted a lot of different thing in this thread. I, specifically have been called out again and again for my assertions. I felt a little persecuted for that... like, 'can't you make your point without quoting me'?

and that was very dumb of me. I should feel complimented that you all thought that what I said was engaging enough that you took the time to write things to me specifically.

Sorry about that.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
12 May 2014 02:33 - 12 May 2014 02:52 #177902 by dragonstout

JonJacob wrote: A lot of people have asserted a lot of different thing in this thread. I, specifically have been called out again and again for my assertions. I felt a little persecuted for that... like, 'can't you make your point without quoting me'?

We were quoting you and arguing with you specifically because you were actually saying something and presenting arguments, rather than just saying "X sucks" or "X is awesome". That's a good thing :-)

BTW, as for Miller-bashing being "hip" or whatever: the tide of opinion has been turning against Miller for a long time; I don't think it's really that he's gotten "too popular" or whatever. The most recent thing was his Occupy-Wall-Street-bashing...but before that there was The Spirit movie...and before that there was All-Star Batman and Robin (with the Goddamn Batman)...and before that there was Dark Knight Strikes Again...each of these things lost him a lot of fans. Even before that, Sin City and its ueber-machismo lost him a lot of fans. You talk about his art: but as you've noted, a lot of fans don't give much of a shit about art, and in particular, his work in the 80s made a lot of fans of Frank Miller the WRITER, with stuff he didn't even draw, like Batman Year One, Daredevil Born Again, Elektra Assassin, Martha Washington, and Hard Boiled. The fans those books made may have rebelled against stuff like 300, with its incredible drawing and barely-there story. Also, while stuff like Dark Knight Returns, Give Me Liberty, and Elektra Assassin demonstrated Miller as a satirist, Year One and Born Again didn't, and the satire in DKR was missed by a lot of readers...so his hard turn as a writer towards satire in the last decade (with DKSR, ASBAR) also turned earlier fans off. Not to mention that it's more and more unclear what's satire and what he actually believes in.

All this is just to say that the anti-Miller crowd has been around for a long time and just gotten bigger and bigger. I sold off some Sin City trades recently, because I tried to read Big Fat Kill and just could not get past the first few pages...but then looked through That Yellow Bastard and thought "HELL no I'm not selling that". So I get both sides.

Check out this 1983 review of Ronin by Kim Thompson; lots of Miller hate in the comments:
www.tcj.com/run-of-the-miller/

I really need to read Ronin. I love that Moebius x Kojima style.
Last edit: 12 May 2014 02:52 by dragonstout.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
12 May 2014 09:19 #177904 by Black Barney
I'm glad that we all agree that graphic novels are basically just for children.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
12 May 2014 10:10 #177905 by jeb

Black Barney wrote: I'm glad that we all agree that graphic novels are basically just for children.

I know, right? Who ever heard of a hardcover MARMADUKE? Kids are so dumb these days.

Now we got this topic back on track!
The following user(s) said Thank You: Black Barney

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
12 May 2014 10:24 #177906 by Jason Lutes

JonJacob wrote: First, I don't think Sin City is that great. That wasn't the point (even in Miller's "good writing" he still writes like a B version of Chandler in my mind). My point was that it is not worth dismissing, my point was that the art is so incredible that we should be considering that as well. The root of my point is that art should be as important as writing in a good comic and that the two should be melded together in some way. They should compliment each other and I want to feel like I'm in the hands of someone who really knows what they're doing.

I totally agree.

Sin City is a great looking comic. I don't read them, but I gladly flip through them. They look stunning in places and yes, there are times when his writing seems like total shit to me (I won't even qualify that statement and I bet no one will care... I will have to qualify what I say about Spiegleman though... you know what I mean?). I can always pick up That Yellow Bastard and flip through it, I can show people a page and say: "isn't that awesome" and they will instantly get it. That is an important quality. What do you want to bet that people are going into comic shops and picking up Maus because Miller is so popular he helped them work their way there? Miller has done a lot for comics and from way back in they days when he wrote Ronin, he's been doing a lot for non-super hero comics too and respectability for the genre. All points that apparently help you get on lists like this.

I agree -- Miller did a lot to push the medium forward. The Dark Knight had an enormous impact (not least on me, when I read it in high school), the effects of which are still being seen, for instance, in every superhero movie to come down the pike. Batman: Year One is my favorite superhero comic of all time, and for the most part it's pretty well-written.

I don't think I ever said "1 book = bad writer", I'm not going to go back to check but I'd bet money that that's just a convenient reduction of what I said to make a point. I know that technique well. What I said was close though, and clearly that was stupid.

But it's a point I will work with and despite my inability to believe in it 100% I will try to defend it anyway. Because there is something in there that I kind of believe in and I want to explore that.

I think that everyone has one good book in them. Good writer or not, everyone can get one good book, or damn close to everyone. But a writer, a true writer that feels words in their soul and was born to be a bard does much, much more than that. They don't have just one good book, they bleed amazing poetic prose, they twist you around in circles.

If your making a list of best songwriters of all time (and all lists are arbitrary garbage anyway, but I learn a lot through these processes sometimes) then at some point quantity will play a small role. Bob Dylan is partly loved by critics for being so fucking prolific. It is an assessment we use, many people will, all other things being equal, side with the person who has more to offer. It's not absurd. Take a look at how they award the Nobel Prize for literature (remember we're arguing about inclusion on a fucking magazine list, so this is appropriate), it is understood as a lifetime achievement, have you read Alice Monroe's newest collection... it's good, it's not why she won.

I like to see a bit of versatility in a writer, a tough thing to ask for when there is only one work to look at. So for that I need some time. I can buy that Maus belongs on this list... I never said it didn't. What I can't buy is the way we will dismiss things that are a little too popular and not written as well, when the drawing alone is something worth considering.

Does that make more sense?

Yes, it does make more sense, and I agree with some of it. I understand and agree with the point that greater output usually equates to greater presence in the culture. But I disagree with the idea that volume of output is a necessary indicator of someone being a great writer. Some great writers produce lots of work, some great writers don't. Some shitty writers produce lots of work, some don't. I could just as easily argue the opposite: that the greater writer is the one who has the self-discipline and high standards to only publish their very best work.

Last example. I like Hockey, Patrick Roy is commonly considered the best Goalie of all time. I think that the year Jean Sebastien Giguere dragged his shitty team to the cup finals was the best goaltending I've ever seen. But he couldn't repeat it, that was it, one play off run and he was done. Patrick Roy won the most cups... and the analysts decided that he's the all time best. It's not just me. People make arguments for others, but we want to believe this person, this work, this art... isn't just a fluke, we, as humans, like a little more proof that that. Like the scientific principle, we want to see it repeated.

The fact that the rest of us want to see something great repeated, and that we diminish the great accomplishments of others because they fail to grant our wish, is not a reflection on the person who did the great thing; it's a reflection on the audience. A beautiful thing is a beautiful thing, end of story. We fuck it up by demanding more. It's a consumer-driven attitude. "Give me more of that great stuff, now, or that great thing you did is meaningless."

Maus isn't awful, I think I even said that I thought it was equal with Sin City (and then flippantly changed my mind) and I kind of do. Except Sin City's art seems a little higher in quality than Maus's writing... call that personal taste if you like. That's ok.

I can buy that. Miller is an incredible artist. He's done amazing things with the medium, no question. I think it's just hard for some people (myself included) to see past his more recent cynical cash-ins and full-blown misogyny.

Glamourpuss blew my mind recently. That is some virtuoso drawing (and tracing, I know) and some very interesting writing. I would argue for it's inclusion. My list, obviously, would look very different. I like Clowes, I like the list, I even said so in my first post. I'm just playing around with an idea.

And I appreciate you pushing on that front. We may disagree on the finer points of who ultimately is a better cartoonist, but I get where you're coming from. The only disagreement that doesn't come down to taste is on the point of more productive artists being better artists, and we can agree to disagree on that.

I don't like memoir writing... well, I don't mind it, but I generally find it boring and... I think pedantic might be the word I'm looking for here. So that makes me extremely biased right out of the gate (apparently I'm ok with cliches though, in my writing anyway). Let's keep that in mind. I find it... limited. To me a good writer can pull off memoir style prose when needed, but it's just one weapon in their arsenal. If it's the only weapon they have... they fall short of being a good writer and sit right there at only being a decent memoir-ist. If such a thing exists. But really, do we write more than one memoir? I don't know, not being a fan of the genre.

I personally don't think Spiegelman is a great writer. But he is a great cartoonist, in the sense of someone who can pull together and harmonize the many elements of the medium in service of whatever he's trying to communicate. One thing I realized about him years ago is that he's ultimately a formalist -- someone who is more concerned with exploring the mechanics of the medium than with telling a story that's burning to be told. His subject is comics itself, and his personal relationship to the medium; what makes Maus work at a broader level is the fact that he tells his father's story, and his father's story is compelling.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
12 May 2014 10:46 #177907 by jeb
This is one of the coolest conversations on the medium I have read, fellas. And it points out the problems I have with Miller (his later writing) and the reason it's SUCH a problem for me despite the array of bad writing in comics--because the rest of his work is so good. He's like George Lucas, cashing in again and again on that great idea, except also he hates women and maybe brown people?

Spiegelman is not a great author, but I don't think anyone said that. He made a great comic though. It's like something Crumb would make if he was not raw id (see his Jazz Age portraits for examples of this). And he is honestly committed to folks treating comics as seriously as they treat roman à clefs or portraits. Art is made for art, but it's also made to make a buck. John Singer Sargent didn't work for free. There is no reason comics should be automatically assigned to crass commercial product when there are just as many, if not way more shitty cowboy and romance novels that don't drag down that whole medium as an art form. Comic artists knew this, and comic fans knew this, but Spiegelman helped everyone else realize there was honest interesting work here.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
12 May 2014 11:40 #177911 by san il defanso
I've mostly been a silent observer in this thread, because I've always considered myself to be woefully ill-equipped to participate in conversations about comics. But I was definitely fascinated by that list.

The thing is, without really having the tools or language to comment on things like frame composition or what have you, the only yardstick I have to go on is what stirs me and what doesn't. There are a number of high points on that list that grabbed my hard and absorbed me. I still think that Tintin is the height of the medium to me, because it was foundational in my own life. It's probably the only comic series that I actually "grew up" with.

All that to say, Maus stands out as one of those watershed moments in my slow introduction to comics. I had always known it was about the Holocaust (and it was indeed a sobering expression of it), but what really grabbed me were the father-son dynamics. Comics are unfairly clumped into the realm of the juvenile, but that was something that I don't think I could have appreciated before I became I was really separate from my own father and before I had my own kids. The art sold it to me too, in that rough unfinished way that keeps emotions at the top.

Persepolis was another that affected me deeply, because of its deep sense of family and the childlike approach to the horrors of revolution, as well as things like faith.

Can I also take a moment to say how much I enjoyed my time in Usagi Yojimbo? I read almost all of my comics from our library, and I had to bail on it when there were several volumes in a row unavailable. I had such a great time with it for six or seven volumes though.
The following user(s) said Thank You: jeb, Jason Lutes

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Moderators: Gary Sax
Time to create page: 0.183 seconds