Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hotspot #12: Breaking Your Arm Patting Your Back

My latest column is up over at Comixpedia. It deals mainly with typical mystery tricks, and just for kicks I inserted some webcomic personalities and mascots in the comic. I may be a limited artist in some aspects, but I do flatter myself that I can ape art styles somewhat.

However, I have to say the recent theme, Mystery comics, gave me a bit of a twinge, because even more so than fantasy or sci-fi, Mystery has always been my favourite genre. I like stories that make readers think. I like the mystique of the unsolved. Most of all I like the concept of someone being able to see further than anyone else just because he/she observes and reasons accordingly.

So why does this give me a twinge? Well, one shortcoming of being in the Comixpedia staff is that I always feel I shouldn't ask or suggest that my own mystery comic, The Jaded be reviewed because it wouldn't be good journalism. There's no point writing/drawing a webzine if everyone who wrote for it just used it as a platform to talk about their own works. It'd be patting yourself on the back. Even worse, it just wouldn't have been fair, me misusing my influence that way.

And so, as a sucker who is very much at the mercy of her conscience, I held my tongue. And now that Mystery month is over, and despite the twinges, I'm very glad I resisted the temptation.

Ironically when I first started doing The Jaded a couple of years ago, to me, there was nothing I wanted so much, or considered a greater honour than having a Comixpedia review of the said comic. I suppose it sounds silly, and it's probably a sign of progress that I no longer feel so badly about it and even dare to admit it as I am doing now. It's not that I think a Comixpedia review is any less of an honour. It's not that I care any less for my comic. (Granted, it's on hiatus now, but that's because I'm too busy and I care too much for it to churn out a half-assed job. I'd rather put it on hold and do it properly when I have time.)

It's just because I want them to do it of their own accord, with no prompting from me. I want people to review my comic because they see something in it, not because they want me to write about theirs or link to them and it's a way of catching my attention. I want to be sure the comic is reviewed on its own merit. so only then I can be sure that it was picked because it's a comic of quality [x] about topic [y], and not because author [z] makes it.

I want all this because I know that more than anything else, it'd be a true test of whether it is good. And yes... I know that at this, many people will jump up and down and protest and declare that a review isn't proof that a comic is good.

On its own that point stands true.

But to me, if someone takes the time to analyse and write about something you created for the sake of the thing itself that you created, with no strings attached, no favours expected, and without knowing you...

No matter what anyone else says, in my not-so-humble opinion, that is the greatest compliment of all.

I rarely write and inform the comics featured on Webcomic Finds that they have been reviewed. I only do it for those cases where there's something on the site itself that leads me to believe that they are looking for feedback and would appreciate it greatly.

Why? Simply because that how I would want it myself.


  1. Why not allow yourself a peer review like Savage Disassembly then?

  2. ... of course, someone may have written a review... they just haven't told you! ;)

    i think that reviews are a dangerous beast - they are inevitably influenced by the writer's own likes and dislikes no matter how unbiased they might present themselves as. but even so i guess there can be some words of worth in them, even with the most biased of reviews.

    getting really good constructive feedback can be hard but it is so very valuable if we are to grow as cartoonists (and by that i mean as both artists and writers). reviews can give you that, but possibly the most useful ones would actually come from outside the webcomics community as there is often a tendency not to want to tread on toes (not always!) within the fairly small circle of webcomicdom.

    but i take your point that if someone has taken the initiative and time to write about a body of work it does indicate that the work is significant enough to them to want to spend the time writing about it (although not all reviews are good reviews!).

    when they are doing reviews, which isn't that often of late, the guys at Digital Strips are great because they often don't see eye to eye on the comics they are talking about and can come up with some good insights.

    as you know, Ping, I passed along some feedback to you a little while back - there was certainly enough there to start to fashion a review from but I guess our friendship would make it way too difficult
    for me to do something like that... if you know what i mean!

    (BTW, loved that mystery strip you did for Comixpedia!)

  3. they are inevitably influenced by the writer's own likes and dislikes no matter how unbiased they might present themselves as.

    Last I checked, reviews ARE opinions, and opinions are subjective things. This isn't a big secret so it always annoys me when it gets used as a dismissal.

    Maybe it's time to put it away since it's utterly pointless? Like complaining about water because it's wet.

  4. Interestingly enough, I never heard of Savage Disassembly before you mentioned it here.

    I have no doubt being Savagely Disassembled would be great, but in the end it's still asking for critique. Critiques are good, and when I feel I need advice I ask for them, but it's in the asking that doing so misses the point.

    I guess what I'm trying to say that regardless of the actual review, whether it's a 5-minute scribble or a 5000-word essay (*coughericburnscough*), being reviewed is something of a litmus test to whether your work is noticable enough. Not necessarily good or bad mind you, but noticable enough to stand out from the masses and be picked for analysis.

    As usual, in my long-winded manner I didn't quite get the point across the first time.

    And yes, reviews are opinions. Let not that detract them. In fact, that's why I treasure them.

    I'll do my comic regardless of whether someone reads it or not, but I'd like to know what they think of it from time to time.

    ps: I enjoyed doing the comixpedia strip. I snickered a lot while doing it. The only concern was that Scott Kurtz might be offended at being cast in the place of Dr. Black, seeing that he bites it. Not everyone takes being depicted as a dead body very well, so I wondered if I was being offensive or not.

    ps again: I have a whole backlog of Digital Strips shows on my ipod I have to catch up with. I love listening to them on the go, though. Wish I could do that with a lot of my webcomics, but not yet...

  5. i guess Kurtz can't get too snakey about it since he's ultimately not dead (OMG! SPOILERZ!).

  6. Ping, could you check your gmail asap, I still am in need of your postal address...

    Alan ;-D

  7. I love mysteries and the comic was great. Of course, that was just a Agatha Christie classic cozy mystery. Me, I like 'em hard boiled. Like Jaded.

  8. Hi!
    My website Nelshael is a fantasy webcomic. how can I add it on your list?

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. is this blog dead? sad... i just discovered it...

  11. I was waiting since like May to post "One year..." on November 22 2006, and i forgot!

  12. My webcomic is at www.piratepike.com. I'd love it if you'd review it.