Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hotspot #18:And This Is Why I Review.

If I have a fault, it is I try to do too much and end up doing too little at the same time.

In the same way, I try to get learn too many things and end up not mastering any of them. Or at least that is how it feels to me. It's only been recently when I finally resolved to pick a select few skills I wanted to really really hone, and stick with them. Right now they are sort of limited to comics, writing, scuba-diving and poi. And maybe cooking/baking, but that's a necessity ;).

Anyway, I write this blog for reasons of my own. Sure, I enjoy discovering new comics, but if it was just left at that, I wouldn't have bothered spending hours taking notes and typing out reviews, would I? Of course Ping Teo has a secondary objective for exploring new comics. No it's not the noble reason of giving lesser-known comics exposure, although it has inadvertently served that purpose in the past. I have mentioned this before, my reasons for writing this blog aren't that altruistic.

Writing this blog is good practice for honing my writing skills. It also ties in to my other hobby:writing and creating better comics. I've gone through a lot of comics. (At least 50 by my rough estimate). Some were excellent. Some were mediocre. Some made me want to claw my eyes out and smash my laptop.

But all of them had one thing in common. I learned things from them. When I had to write and analyze them, stopped reading comics and starting studying them.

From the good ones I learned what makes inspiring comics, how small touches make memorable moments. How the hardest part of making a comic is having the courage to deviate from the norm, the originality to come up with new ideas, and the acumen to balance the strange and the familiar. How each truly good comic has to have a soul made from the little bit of the author that has been breathed into it.

From the mediocre ones I learned how creating something that can be a pleasant read can only take you so far.  How it's worst to be mediocre and forgettable than either bad or good. And how every single mediocre comic still had something for special me to discover; even the mediocre ones had areas that they excelled at that I could learn from.

And lastly, the bad ones taught me what to watch out for.  They made the mistakes that I myself might have made on my behalf. The danger of trying to imitate what you like instead of being honest about what you know. I learnt to see what went wrong and how it could be avoided. Or even amended.. And I try my best to remember it and not do it myself. 

All this learning has to go somewhere. I believe creativity comes in cycles. You learn, you get inspired, you create. Then you get feedback and from that you start feeling you can get better. And that drives you to learn more from feedback or exploration until the urge to try out what you learnt overwhelms you again.

I haven't reviewed much this month. I'm not going to apologize for that. I don't believe in posting reviews for the sake of reviews. Reviews to me aren't just about prattling my opinion off on a comic so others can ooh and aaah over them. They aren't shameless plugs to drive up traffic to the comics in question. So if any of you are thinking of asking me a review because you want the exposure, please forget it. I don't do things that way.

These reviews are my studies.

Right now I'm in a craze to create. Ideas are flooding in, I need to trot them out before I can continue with the reviews. There's no point learning if you don't practice.

Don't worry, I've still got that list of comics to review, and once I test out my theories and tips I'll be back searching for more.

One thing is for sure, as long as I look at my old work and cringe at how horrible it is, I'll know I am on the right track. It's a good sign.

If I ever look back at my old stuff and wistfully wish I could still draw like that and write that well... now THEN I would worry.

8 comments:

  1. well said, thats a nice reason to review comics! I have read a few review websites where the writer seems to just be an arse who wants to feel like they are right all the time :S Some people do it because they are passionate about the comic medium...Ive reviewed some comics before, I think I do it because of that reason too, I kind of write reviews more like a discussion point rather then what is good/bad about the comic.
    I can sort of tell from the personal/informal way you write your reviews that you do it in a more creative way, the reviews have a touch of 'you' in them!
    You should post up links to your comics, would be nice to see what you do! Have you done any inspired by your scuba diving adventures? :D

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  2. Hi Theorah :)

    Cool! It would be interesting to read some of your reviews. Do you have a link?

    Thanks for the compliments *blush* I don't subscribe to the judgmental kind of comic reviewing myself, although I don't flinch from giving the occasional negative review. Reviewers should be honest. But everyone to his/her own style, and I do feel it's important one sticks to what comes naturally to them.

    I have links to my projects on the sidebar (Under Ping's projects). I don't advertise them very much at the moment however, since I consider myself "still learning" and at the present only my experimental one is active.

    Here's the list:

    The Longest Sojourn (http://longestsojourn.comicgenesis.com) - Satirical Epic Fantasy. My longest ongoing comic, started when I was a teen and it shows. It's sort of my learning comic, I try to have fun and experiment a lot on it. Aiming to complete it by next year.

    The Jaded (http://thejaded.co.uk)- This used to be my "serious" comic, it was part of the Graphic Smash lineup until I put it on hiatus due to real life circumstances. Aim to continue it after I complete The Longest Sojourn.

    The rest are joint projects and stuff I do for fun. :D

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  3. Oh and I haven't quite come up with a scuba diving comic yet, since I only took up scuba diving comparatively recently (compared to comics, which borders on 10 years ago).

    I have thought of one though, but it's being saved for another time after I complete my existing projects.

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  4. Yay! Love to hear that ideas are flooding in! Can't wait to see what's coming up as usual. And contrary to what you said about not reviewing so much lately, I beg to differ. It seems that you have churned out quite a few!
    Remember to pace yourself and don't bite off more that you can chew (hahaha, so says the idiot over the other side of the world... you can throw that advice back into my face if you like.)

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  5. Yay! Love to hear that ideas are flooding in! Can't wait to see what's coming up as usual. And contrary to what you said about not reviewing so much lately, I beg to differ. It seems that you have churned out quite a few!
    Remember to pace yourself and don't bite off more that you can chew (hahaha, so says the idiot over the other side of the world... you can throw that advice back into my face if you like.)

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  6. You may have put your finger on why many people take a stab at reviewing and quit, because it is rather thankless work.

    Almost any serious blogger gets a lot better over their first year. Something is being learned.

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  7. Always great to hear anything you have to share, Ping! Your reviews are so detailed and thoughtful it makes it worth any wait. Good to hear you're getting into the scuba too, it's always a nice to have something to do that doesn't involve a drawing board or computer.

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  8. @ Mos: Muahaha! I'm going diving again next fortnight! It's a live-on-boat to boot! Crossing my fingers for a manta or whale shark sighting. I've drawn TLS pages in record time, and for once the story flows faster than I can draw it. Sure beats being stuck with the empty panel wondering where I'm going next.

    It doesn't help that half of my good ideas are for future comic projects though :( Must... have... discipline not to start a new project before I finish my current ones... but it's sooooo hard.

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