Home Comics Process When they came for Keith Champagne I said nothing

When they came for Keith Champagne I said nothing

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Frank Santoro in the comments section of the Comics Comics Cage Match on Paul Pope’s Heavy Liquid:

Oh, and I do want to mention that I’m getting a few emails from friends (and professionals in the, um, industry) who are too pussy to post a comment here but all more or less say “PP rules, Dan doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” What is it about comics artists who can’t,won’t, write about their likes and dislikes in a forum like this? Yet privately they’ll say “Oh, no, I don’t like so and so’s work.” Or even have super positive interesting things but feel like they can’t because they don’t want to “upset” people. Or their peers. Maybe thats it. I’m mostly talking about comics creators afraid to tell each other what they really feel about each other’s work.

  1. I get the impression that it is not wise to criticize another creator’s work in public. Maybe because some creators get assignments based on recommendations and word of mouth of peers. It doens’t mean they have no opinions, just none to voice publicly.

  2. I get the impression that it is not wise to criticize another creator’s work in public. Maybe because some creators get assignments based on recommendations and word of mouth of peers. It doesn’t mean they have no opinions, just none to voice publicly.

  3. Sorry for the double post. I saw a typo in a word, at the last second, and tried to stop it, guess I just ended up sending two posts after all. Now, three, ha ha.

  4. Unless you get paid to critique, suggestions and criticisms are best done in private. Or over drinks, where you can take it outside and settle any debate with fisticuffs.

  5. Many people confuse “criticism” with “insult”, both those doing it and those taking it. They also assume that “criticism” is always negative. Real critique is not ad hominem insults and empty comments devoid of any supporting argument (“lame”, “sucks”, etc). Real critical discourse is valuable and should be encouraged throughout the community, not just among those paid to do it, but few people know how to, even among those paid to do it.

  6. Torsten is spot on, I think. “[T]oo pussy to post a comment here” and “comics creators afraid to tell each other what they really feel about each other’s work” are very different things. To the former, why would I ever want to slag the work of a friend, or even just a colleague, on a message board? As for the latter, who says they/we are afraid?

    I prefer to talk about what I didn’t like — or what was bad, which is sometimes different — face-to-face with people, and then only if it’s part of a conversation. Otherwise it’s the equivalent of leaning out the window of a moving car and commenting on the fashion sense of the people you pass. Rude, in other words.

  7. I should add to my examples of useless empty comments: “rules”, “nice”, etc.

    I want to know the details of the observations that led to the subjective conclusions, otherwise it’s just like listening to Brick Tamland looking at things in the office and saying that he loves them.

  8. I should also add that I’ve certainly commented on message boards about how “awesome!” I have found a book to be.

    But I like to see larger discussions that go into more depth than that.

    Jim: certainly you’re not going to “slag” someone publicly and it would be decent of you if you didn’t do it privately either. But I think it’s valid to write things like “The colouring in the second panel on this page confuses the action. I wasn’t clear on who was being stabbed, so I it took me several reads to understand who had died on the next page.” That’s something that any artist, friend or not, can take as a cue to work on their colouring for next time. I don’t think it matters how public or private that comment is since it’s not an insult. It’s not rude. It IS rude to say “Dude, your colouring sucks”.

    In the fine art world many artists also write about art. It’s a small world, so they’re often writing about people that they know. If that kind of discourse is suppressed in comics it’s not doing anyone any favours.

  9. maija: We agree, and “slag” was a poor choice of words on my part.

    Your examples of what are good and useful comments are…well, good and useful. I’m all for that kind of discourse, but when framed with a phrase like “too pussy to post a comment” I question whether it’s really a call for discourse at all. That makes it sound more like a call for a drive-by.

    So, to your point, here’s my criticism of Frank’s query: I think he chose his words poorly. An ad hominem attack on those who don’t participate in public forums won’t attract thoughtful professionals and critics to those forums.

  10. Jim: Agreed. As well, if truly all they have to bring to the discussion is “PP rules, Dan doesn’t know what he’s talking about” that isn’t really useful either.

  11. You know I can see lots and lots of reasons for not publicly slagging people. But why not publicly PRAISE people? That’s a little odd.

  12. Frank Santoro doesn’t write that people merely want to praise Paul Pope. He writes that they “more or less say ‘PP rules, Dan doesn’t know what he’s talking about.'” Perhaps it’s not that they don’t want to publicly praise Paul Pope; they don’t want to publicly slag Dan Nadel.

    That’s my guess at any rate.

    Either that or they don’t want to have to go to the trouble of explaining their position.

  13. Maijia I think has it right- in this discussion praising Pope’s work might mean “slagging” someone else or at least “taking sides.” Also, given the intellectual nature of some of the discussions at Comics Comics, I can see some artists who aren’t as comfortable talking about art feeling a little insecure in going toe to toe with Dan or Frank.

    I do think this gets to a larger point that with comics being such a small world and with so many promising young artists with their face pressed against the glass and looking to get in, it’s far too easy to think any tiny thing can cost you work and thus find it better to not say anything. I have found myself censoring my own message board posts for fear that (as often happens) someone takes something the wrong way and it hurts me down the road. I’ve even read of a few people (one was a Brian Wood interview just a little while ago) talking about regretting certain things they’ve said on-line. It’s too easy in the digital age for a few poor word choices to alienate fans, potential customers, editors, etc.

    I for one with more artists in comics were willing to listen to criticism, it’s the adoration that often leads to inflated egos that cause someone to stagnate and then they turn into a bitter old crank scolding everyone on their message board as the industry leaves them behind. On the other hand, I also wish people who offer criticism understand that they need to know what they’re talking about and shouldn’t find ridiculously minor points to justify their opinion that something is “teh sux.”

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