The Bricktosser

A place for me to rant, ramble and rave about all things comics related.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

But is it art?

[This is inspired by a conversation I had over at So So Silver Age,which is a great blog and you should read it. Conversation here]

This is going to piss people off, I think.

Not all comics are Art. They are all art-- with a little "a." I don't see the point in making a distinction that says "this is art and this is not"-- but not all comics are worthy of the kind of attention that capital-A Art deserves.

That distinction is what I think pisses off people. But distinctions exist for a reason. I don't think that the Great Gatsby and a Doc Savage novel are in the same league. They don't merit the same type of discussion. I'm not going to get a lot of miliage thinking of how Doc represents a divide in America based on class, or illustrates the desire in 20th century America for a reclamation of innocence. It may have a killer villian, though.

I think things need to earn their way into the Art category. From my point of view, a comic doesn't have to be fantastic, incredible, and terribly rare to be Art. It doesn't have to be something that nobody else could do, or be terribly difficult to achieve. It just has to offer the reader something (anything, really) beyond entertainment.

Nothing wrong with entertainement, mind you.

As I posted here, I am somewhat broad in terms of what I read. I don't think that if a comic isn't Art, it's crap. No sir. I like all sorts of comics. I also like action movies, but I don't imagine that they should be Cannes award winners.

One of my favorite movie reviewers is The Regular Guy. He does a 5-minute radio review. Why do I like him? Becuase he reviews movies for what they're trying to be, not what he thinks they ought to be. If he reviews a horror movie, he'll review it for how well it delivers the suspense, thrills, gore. If he reviews a crime thriller, he'll review the plot, the twists, the payoff. If he reviews a straight-up drama, he'll review it on the acting, how much it moved it, what it meant to him. And he'll review anything.

I aspire to the same. When I criticized Infinite Crisis, it wasn't becuase the characters weren't as fleshed out as the characters in Love and Rockets, or becuase the storytelling is rather pedestrian in terms of using the comics medium to its highest potential. Who cares, it's Infinite Crisis! Guys in tights, you know! Explosions! Parallel universes! My critcisms were in comparison to what it was trying to be, not what comics can be.

I do think that capital-A Art comics are better. They offer more to me. And superhero comics can be capital-A Art. I think Alan Moore settled that, although I can think of plenty of examples from the mainstream from this year, to any decade comics were produced. But it bugs me no end when a superhero fan wants to obliterate all distinctions becuase they're favorite comic is nothing more than entertainment. I'm sorry, but the average issue of Spider-Man has more in common with an episode of Days of Our Lives than it does with Heart of Darkness, Guernica, or Citizen Kane. I'm no snob, I read and enjoy it all-- but some comics are worth more thought and attention than others.


Blogger Tim Leong said...


Hey, can you drop me a line? I want to talk to you about some new projects I'm working on.

- Tim @ Comic Foundry dot com

3:51 PM  
Blogger Ken S. said...

I see your blogs but not an email address....


Email away!

11:06 PM  
Blogger Striker said...

Hm, I can't say I disagree. Most comics are...well, pop art.

10:54 AM  

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