Thursday, November 01, 2007

To Critique or Not To Critique: Who The Hell Cares Commentary

Occassionally I find myself trying to define exactly why I started this blog, and realized very quickly that the mission statement was a fuzzy one. I realized that I had been writing this blog in my head for twenty years, and was happy that there was now a forum to get the words out of my head and into the world. But had I crossed the line into being a critic? Was I still an artist while I was commenting on other people's art? What were the criteria for being able to be a critic, or a commentator anyway?

Do we have a novel length answer here? How about a short version. The blogs and the internet have given many of us, who had never thought to write critically professionally for the comics industry a voice. Sometimes a measured voice, some times (many times unfortunately) a shrill one, some times an authoratative one. In An Interview with Tom Spurgeon I ran across this comment and it made me stop and think:
Q: I think with the Internet, and God knows I’m guilty of it, there’s a tendency to write quickly and get it out fast and you don’t read back what you’ve written.

A: Yeah, I think there’s a tendency, but that’d be like me calling someone hefty. I can’t throw that knife because I write really quickly and all of my Internet writing has probably been a lot quicker. It kind of demands a certain productivity that doesn’t flatter it in terms of going back considering things.

I think that’s true. I think there aren’t always considered arguments. But we talked about having an honest reaction to something and building on that, more than trying to craft a impenetrable little diamond of a review. If a quick review that’s sloppily written has an insight into a work then it’s infinitely more valuable to me than something that’s well written and constructed and entertaining on those levels.

and I had to agree on the second paragraph, as my own poor typing skills have accounted for many a typo that has snuck out of the blog, but the thinking and the opinion I'm expressing remains valid, even if the grammar (or spelling) is somewhat suspect.

But on the first point, I do think that the work has to stand up as long as the print work does. In fact, even longer, as there are more than a few issues of the comics Journal that I can't get to read these days: the newsprint has long since gone south, but there are servers all over the world cacheing odd pages just waiting to be pulled out on a google search. Your opinions will be out there for years to come, so you had better be willing to stand up to them. My rule of thumb: I don't write anything that I wouldn't say to someone's face at a convention. Because they might show up the next Wonder Con or San Diego Con and do just that.

The audience these days will decide who they like and who they don't. And if I get 3 readers a day I'll still write and hope that I can entertain and inform the 3 people who show up. Fortunately I get more than that, so I can feel good about hitting "post" on an entry and have it matter just a little more, but I sure as hell don't get the hits that Valerie D'Orazio gets on her blog, but then she's a ten times better writer than me so she deserves those hits. I guess that I don't feel the need to generate a particular CV to justify my critiques: You'll either get my point from the review and respect it (or enjoy my snark) or not.


plok said...

Just to say: I'm reading.

Haven't commented much lately, but that may change.

I'm of the camp that says this fast spit-out diaristic format is great, and great fun too: you don't have to cite, you don't have to be all that careful, you can amend what you wrote if you don't like it on re-reading, or even delete it altogether. It's as near as can be gotten to a consequence-free writing environment, and that's what I like about it.

I like the new headers, too.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

thanks for the note. I kept waiting for someone to actually bite on this topic, since I think that it's pretty relevant to most online communication.

The problem is, as I see it, is that any opinions that I express out at a convention bar will disappear in the ether, whereas, should I completely slag off series X, and call writer Y an idiot, then it will be archived on a server forever to be downloaded and used against me forever more. I'd like to be careful about theese things....