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Jive

Hi, happy Friday. Looks like we’ve fixed the problem with this site. If you’re still having trouble please let us know. Hopefully you’re not, and so you’ll be excited that Paul Tumey is here with a piece on the Seattle comic book scene.

Seattle has a new underground comics scene. One is tempted to say “again,” recalling the boom of the 1990s with Peter Bagge, Jim Woodring, and the like. More accurately, the scene has endured. For a while now, participation in the Seattle comics scene has not been dependent on being a published cartoonist. Rather, it’s something one does, at one’s own level and the hell with commercial or social restraints. This attitude has nurtured a vibrant sub-culture that is only just now emerging. What we are seeing in the last year or so is the latest natural engorgement of talent and effort coalescing and expanding, like a pustule that could someday pop in goopy glory (goop is a quality that frequently occurs in the work of a cluster of the emerging new Seattle cartoonists who seem to delight in grossness and disfigurement, perhaps inspired by the twisted, organic forms found in the comics of  Bagge, Woodring, and Co.).

Elsewhere:

Ralph Steadman profiled at the AV Club.

Leon Sadler continues to be the best young cartoonist in England. When will people catch up with Leon? Hard to say. I hope soon. Beats the shit out of anything else, short of James Jarvis (speaking of new books) and Will Sweeney.

New comic from Lala Albert.

Sophie Yanow, interviewed.

Stefano Raffaele interviewed by Alex Dueben.

I think Sean Collins is involved in this Tumblr? It’s interesting.

My first thought when I got this press release (below) in my inbox was “are these people retarded”? They know there was an actual sculptor named David Smith, right? Was that before or after the New York Times mentioned it? It’s like naming your protagonist Franz Kline and then pretending it’s a coincidence. And there’s PR and then there’s lying: Scott McCloud’s first fiction graphic novel was published in 1998. It’s here.

My favorite part of the release is the transparent pandering of the plot. He can do anything, but what will he do? OMG! And there’s a GIRL involved? Booooonnnnnneeeerrr! A deal with DEATH? Wasn’t that the plot of Bill & Ted’s part 2? Or some Swedish shit? I’m surprised McCloud didn’t squeeze in a zombie to complete the marketing potential. And gee, that palette sure seems familiar. Oh man, comics is such a fucked up medium right now, one in which artists who are supposed to be “smart” construct incredibly dumb books to appeal to some invisible marketing demographic. Well, I’m sure this’ll make a great TED talk. So, without (much) further ado, here in all its glory is the stupidest press release of 2014. Have a good weekend. Try to forget about this part of comics (y’know, where it’s become really safe and dumb). Order an actual good comic book from 2014 instead.

FIRST SECOND WILL BE PUBLISHING SCOTT MCCLOUD’S FIRST FICTION GRAPHIC NOVEL THE SCULPTOR IN FEBRUARY 2015

 The New York Times has the official announcement and a piece of excerpt artwork:

The Sculptor will be on sale on February 3rd, 2015.

“I’ve wanted to tell the story of The Sculptor since before writing Understanding Comics, and the book’s creation has turned into an incredible learning experience for me and, I hope, an exciting READING experience for comics-lovers. It took me five years to write and draw, and I promise I used every single minute to make it the best book I can,” says Scott McCloud.

In The Sculptor, David Smith is giving his life for his art—literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding what to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn’t making it any easier!

This is a story of desire taken to the edge of reason and beyond; of the frantic, clumsy dance steps of young love; and a gorgeous, street-level portrait of the world’s greatest city. It’s about the small, warm, human moments of everyday life…and the great surging forces that lie just under the surface. Scott McCloud wrote the book on how comics work; now he vaults into great fiction with a breathtaking, funny, and unforgettable new work.

“To work with Scott McCloud on any project of his choosing was a long held hope of mine. But to join him as he sheds the theorist and embraces ambitious, adult fiction—that’s a dream come true. Scott is one of the hardest working authors I know, and he has tasked himself with a very tall order on The Sculptor. The result soars beyond my shamelessly high expectations,” says McCloud’s editor, First Second Editorial Director Mark Siegel.

Scott McCloud is the award-winning author of Understanding Comics, Making Comics, Zot!, and many other fiction and non-fiction comics spanning 30 years. An internationally-recognized authority on comics and visual communication, technology, and the power of storytelling, McCloud has lectured at Google, Pixar, Sony, and the Smithsonian Institution. His online thoughts, stories, and inventions can be found at scottmccloud.com.

Gina Gagliano

First Second Books


62 Responses to Jive

  1. McCloud’s book actually mentions having the same name as a famous sculptor. It’s part of the plot.

  2. Dan Nadel says:

    I’m only interested in the press release. The book is secondary. Everyone knows that by now, right?

  3. Hey buddy, you’re on your own here!

  4. lauren weinstein says:

    I love it when you get all worked up about stuff!!!!

  5. “are these people retarded”?
    really? fuck you Nadel. is it still OK to refer to disabled people that way because they don’t read your little website?

  6. lauren weinstein says:

    You guys should have a new column reviewing press releases!

  7. Caleb says:

    The press release was lame, but I think we need people like Scott McCloud to help ease non-comic readers or shit-comic readers into the real guts of comics. Not everyone can look at something like Krazy Kat or Yummy Fur right away and say, “Gee, this is genius.”

    The plot of The Sculptor may not sound like the most revolutionary comic ever, but maybe it can be the stepping stone that leads the non-comic/shit-comic reader to Bone. Then Uncle Scrooge. Then Tintin. Then The Airtight Garage. Then Multiple Warheads. Then Lose. Then Pompeii.

    Who knows, but I don’t think his marketing demographic is invisible. The mini comic and zine scene is not always the most hospitable place for people who have only read John Green and J.K. Rowling. Zot! got me out of Marvel Prison and opened up the world of manga. Understanding Comics and Making Comics helped me create a list of classics artists to check out like Winsor McCay, George Herriman, and Walt Kelly. And now I go to tcj.com to learn. And see Dan Nadel rant occasionally.

  8. Dan Nadel says:

    I know where you’re coming from, but I sort of disagree. I don’t like the “gateway drug” logic as applied to the arts. We never “need” shitty art. Bone is good art that eases kids into good comics. Tintin is good art that eases people… I could go on and on. McCloud is a good hustler who eases people into shitty comics. FirstSecond is a publisher of shitty comics that eases people into more shitty comics. It’s like this machine I once saw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdlLBWymnUA

  9. Dan Nadel says:

    It’s such a good word, though. Are you sure?

  10. Dan Nadel says:

    Sometimes I just can’t help it. I guess meditating would help, but what if it takes away my special powers?

  11. Adam Szym says:

    I really don’t see Scott McCloud constructing ” incredibly dumb books to appeal to some invisible marketing demographic.” It seems much more likely to me that, despite the fact that you may feel it’s banal, it was made because the artist was genuinely passionate about it.

    The plot synopsis didn’t exactly set my world on fire either, but assuming that it was designed for marketability in some way would never even pop into my head, especially from an artist like McCloud who could literally make a book about nearly ANYTHING and get it published.

    Also, complaining about the palette of the book being similar to Asterios Polyp is quite a stretch.

    The part of this that I DO agree with though is that Lale Westvind’s comics are, indeed, wonderful.

  12. Adam Szym says:

    In fact, let me just add that Westvind’s TITUS AND THE CYBER SUN is one of my favorite comics of the last few years.

    http://lalewestvind.storenvy.com/products/1778222-titus-and-the-cyber-sun

  13. Jed Alexander says:

    You’re boring.

  14. Very sure that is not a good word. I can’t believe that’s something I have to type in 2014.

  15. Dan Nadel says:

    I’m an old Grandpa baby man!

  16. Dan Nadel says:

    I just checked with Bababooey and it’s definitely OK.

  17. Yeah, I am sure smartass. You wouldn’t even consider using an equivalent word to compare someone negatively to another subgroup of society. You’re picking on a group of people who can’t participate in the dialog because of their disability. There are a million other ways you could have made your point. I don’t give a shit if the press release makes you cranky. I get it, that’s your schtick. However, as the father of a young girl born with Downs Syndrome on her behalf I say “fuck you”.

  18. Dan Nadel says:

    I think the best part of comics in 2014 is the refreshing humorlessness of all involved.

  19. Tim Hodler says:

    Getting started early on the TGIF, Dan?

  20. Dan Nadel says:

    I wish! This is my normal state of being. But you’re right, I need to get back to work.

  21. Caleb says:

    It’s hard to argue against shit machines, but sometimes raisins come out as grapes when you shit. I think some Eddie Campbell and Gipi stuff from First Second is worth reading. Although I agree that most First Second stuff is shit.

    I agree with you that we don’t “need” shitty art. I don’t think that Scott McCloud makes shitty art. He has a wide audience that is not exactly comics literate. ( I assume because of his TED Talk and Google thing and college lectures and workshops). And I think his stuff is a good bridge between comics literacy and illiteracy. It’s like how I feel about Persepolis. I don’t think it’s shit. But it’s pretty basic as far as the comic book language goes. It’s not Building Stories, but the story is interesting and it opened a door to a large amount of people who have never read comics. I feel like statements like that are overused, but I think it’s true.

  22. Chris Duffy says:

    Oh, man! Dan doesn’t like someone, you guys!

  23. Scott McCloud says:

    Can’t blame Dan for thinking the premise sounds stupid. It kinda DOES sound stupid. It’s not Gina’s or First Second’s fault, it’s just a really hard book to describe, that’s all.

    The basic plot goes way way back to something I dreamed up in my early twenties and you can tell from the sound of it. But I always liked the way the story played out, so decades later, I came back to it. Working with Mark S., we found something ten times more interesting that I’d like to think we went the distance with.

    I like what we made—a lot—but describing it?: Oy. It’s like Hey! Phil Collins is getting Genesis back together to do a rock opera about the life story of Leonardo Da Vinci! Exactly the kind of fat, bloated, humorless, middlebrow pap you’d expect from someone my age. I don’t think that’s the book we made at all (it’s actually pretty funny, for example—the very next panel after those two pages in the NYTimes is a joke) but I can understand how someone might assume it.

    Oh, and the “David Smith” thing; yeah, it’s a plot point in the story that he has the same name as the famous American sculptor, but if you’ve only got a paragraph or two to describe the book, it’s not always going to make the cut.

    (Fun fact: Asterios Polyp was CMY; three colors. Mine is black and a Pantone spot. Palette overlap exactly 0%)

  24. Tim Hodler says:

    I’m not the world’s biggest fan of some of Scott McCloud’s work, but I think that it is far too easy for people to take Understanding Comics for granted. Yes, it is flawed, but it also a genuine achievement, very helpful for explaining the potential for comics to people who might not otherwise get it, and it laid a lot of important theoretical groundwork. I think it unquestionably changed the overall climate of comics for the better.

  25. lauren weinstein says:

    Dan! You are listening to too much Stern, for better or worse! He meditates….

  26. Oliver says:

    The Comics Journal is like Urthlo the android from Adventure Comics #300:

    HATE SCOTT McCLOUD
    HATE UNDERSTANDING COMICS
    HATE HATE HATE

  27. Ian Harker says:

    OM-peace-peace-peace

  28. Bravo dan!!!!!!!!! Please write more stuff like this!

  29. Glad someone is putting their neck out there and saying ‘hey, why apologize for garbage…why not support actual vital work like lale westvind?’ People that complain about this post miss its intent: it’s more concerned with the well being of comics then the people at 01, who do not give a shit.

  30. Briany Najar says:

    the pallette remark is well scattershot.
    probably phatic or something.

  31. Yeah, come on, man. Fuck First Second, fuck McCloud, whatever, but using “retarded” as a term of abuse is uncool. Take a breath, count to ten, and consider the possibility that in the midst of venting you used a word in a way you shouldn’t.

  32. Joe Decie says:

    I really like Leon’s comics. His strip for Mould Maps was probably my favourite in the book.

  33. Mike Hunter says:

    ——————–
    Dan Nadel says:

    My first thought when I got this press release (below) in my inbox was “are these people retarded”?
    ———————-

    Might all the people getting so hot under the collar consider the possibility that Dan Nadel wasn’t saying they were clinically retarded, but just dumb? That it never occurred to him to slight, much less malign, the former group?

    Why, I recall over at Hooded Utilitarian, none other than the exceedingly PC-conscious host getting irately raked over the coals for saying an argument was “lame,” and thus supposedly “denying the humanity of handicapped people.”

    Never mind that “lame” has a host of meanings…

    ———————
    Full Definition of LAME
    1a : having a body part and especially a limb so disabled as to impair freedom of movement
    b : marked by stiffness and soreness
    2: lacking needful or desirable substance : weak, ineffectual

    3 slang : not being in the know : square
    4a : inferior

    b : contemptible, nasty
    ——————-

    …because those attacked must always be assumed to be using the most insulting, offensive, objectionable meaning of a word.

    As the good folks in the online Merriam-Webster also reveal, even saying “are these people idiots?” could have wrought the wrath of the language police, because “idiot” was originally a clinical term:

    ———————

    Full Definition of IDIOT
    1 usually offensive : a person affected with extreme mental retardation
    2: a foolish or stupid person

    ——————–

    So (though using “retarded” was indeed ill-advised), people might:

    1. Consider the source. Is Dan Nadel a “shock jock” type, sneering at those who are biologically less well-off?

    2. Look at the context. “These people” managed to write a press release; obviously Dan wasn’t referring to those with the condition described here: http://www.healthline.com/symptom/mental-retardation .

  34. Nick Mullins says:

    Dan is just conforming to The Comics Journal party line: attack Scott McCloud! Remember when Gary Groth had that 2-part “review” of Reinventing Comics? That was sad.

  35. Tim Hodler says:

    Sometimes a defense like this is worse than an attack, Mike. Dan made a bonehead move, and he shouldn’t have doubled down on the most indefensible part of his post. If you want to win an argument, it doesn’t make any sense to throw in something like that which at best will alienate potential allies and give everyone else a legitimate reason to ignore you completely.

    As I told Dan on Friday, if we’re going to edit The Comics Journal, it comes with the territory that we’re going to be hated, but it would be nice to be hated for the right reasons.

  36. Pingback: Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 4/27/14: People said things, did things — The Beat

  37. Kenny Cather says:

    Hey Lauren! Best teacher about comics alive right there.

    I may not be the brightest guy in the world, but at least I’m not retar….dumb enough to use that word and then double down on why it’s ok. I had a very traumatic brain injury that allowed me to spend a lot of time with mentally handicapped people and no, sorry, it’s just not ok to use that word in print. I mean, we all grew up using that word to jokingly describe people who did something dumb, and I’m big enough to say it still slips my lips once in a while, but I immediately regret when it does.

    The problem with comics isn’t people making boring books, it’s people deciding they’re the gatekeepers to comics and telling the rest of us what’s real art and what isn’t.

    I like McCloud’s work quite a bit. I still re-read the goofy Lincoln comic every year because I think it’s pretty cool. I love how McCloud doesn’t go around telling us what’s good and what’s bad even though he literally wrote the book on it. I also like a lot of First Second’s output. Am I a fake comic fan because I like books you think are bad?

    I’m tired of hearing a comic sucks and I’m an idiot for buying it. If you think I had bad taste because I want to read a Scott McCloud comic, good for you. Comics isn’t awful because people are making bad comics, it’s awful because we have places like the Journal telling us what we can and can’t read under the guise of “protecting comics” or whatever self-righteous terminology you want to use to excuse being a jerk.

  38. JRC says:

    This ill thought out attack on First Second and Scott McCloud is stupid, reactionary, elitist, and without merit.

  39. Dan Nadel says:

    I think you can answer a lot of these questions yourself via quiet contemplation. Me, I obviously. think most art needs writers/curators/shouters to say what they think about various things, even if it’s a rant with words you don’t appreciate. All art is stronger for having debate, and, yes, “gatekeepers.” There are many lands, and many gates nowadays. I have aesthetic territories I am interested in cultivating, and other aesthetic areas I think are garbage. No one is saying what you can’t read. If you are inferring that, or you think you’re dumb, that has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with your own self-esteem and self-perception. I can’t believe I have to explain this.

  40. Dan Nadel says:

    It may be stupid, but I don’t think it’s elitist. Everyone loves to shout “elitist” when someone doesn’t like the things they like. It’s not elitism. It’s a different set of priorities with regard to an art form. Obviously I had a fun five-minute rant. Don’t worry, no one is suffering because of it. First Second is going to be just fine. So will Scott McCloud.

  41. Dan Nadel says:

    When I woke up this morning Gary rolled over and said “Son, you’ve finally come of age. You’re one of us now.” It was the sweetest feeling I’ve ever had.

  42. “The problem with comics isn’t people making boring books, it’s people deciding they’re the gatekeepers to comics and telling the rest of us what’s real art and what isn’t.”

    No, you had it right the first time. God, “You think you’re better than me?!?!” is the worst emotion.

  43. That party line can be a real pain to toe! I once gave Locas a terrible review in The Comics Journal. I was expelled from the party and had to undergo a series of show trials before I was back in Big Groth’s good graces. Comicsjournalia is at war with McCloudia, TCJ has always been at war with McCloudia

  44. Kenny Cather says:

    You don’t have to explain anything. I think you made your position pretty clearly over the years with things you’ve said on-line. I just happen to disagree with you, your website, and your circle of peers because, in my opinion, your thoughts on comics are more concerned with shaming people than curating comics.

    The shame, to me, is you love comics. You’re clearly very knowledgeable and passionate about them. The same goes for everyone on this website and really, anyone who’s ever put ink to the page to make comics. I don’t get the vitrol to comics you guys think suck, but I do think the vitrol is more rooted in insulting people than it is about the comics themselves.

    I dunno…maybe it’s apples and oranges. I will never understand dropping terms like “retarded” on my established peers because it’s hateful and very rude to a segment of the society and it’s an ad hominem attack. I don’t work that way.

    Anyway, if you’re that put out you have to read my opinion, don’t allow comments, I guess? I dunno, I just think it’s a bit bold to use a hateful, ignorant term and then be all, “I can’t believe I have to explain this,” when someone points out you’re being elitist.

  45. Dan Nadel says:

    Well, this could go round and round, but insulting or shaming people is not an objective, or even the outcome (except last week, when it was too funny not to). A cursory glance at what I’ve written over the last 15 years would bear that out, but everyone is entitled to their opinion.

  46. It’s ahistorical madness to say that the person who shepherded Art Out of Time into the world, who founded PictureBox and published all the comics from traditions around the world associated with it, who co-created the best and most art-focused American comics convention, who co-founded Comics Comics and basically created the more thoughtful and evenhanded approach to genre comics that’s now the norm among critics far afield from the every-Wednesday world, is more interested in shaming people than curating comics.

  47. Kristine says:

    There was a ZOT collection a million years ago. Was that not fiction?

    Here’s the IMPORTANT thing to argue about:
    DESTROY! ALL! COMICS! – graphic novel or comic?
    Fight hard, people! Elbows out, and hitting below the belt encouraged. Bonus points for mentioning Superman vs. Muhammed Ali.

  48. Oliver East says:

    You’ve all missed the most obvious point in that Dan clearly needs schooling in young English cartoonists.

  49. Dan Nadel says:

    Nope, no schooling needed. I’ve scoured it pretty thoroughly. For the under-30 crowd Breakdown Press is publishing amazing work (Joe Kessler especially), but there is no one better under the age of 30 in England than Leon Sadler. He is the standard for wit, drawing chops, and depth of vision. Also great: Stefan Sadler and Jon Chandler. I also like the Decadence work a lot. After that you have to go to James Jarvis (probably the best active living English cartoonist, unless we’re counting Ralph Steadman or, even further afield, Adam Dant) and Will Sweeney. Yes, I’m leaving out a large presence in English comics publishing. Yes, I’m aware of that.

  50. Oliver East says:

    Fair dos. My “clearly” wasn’t entirely serious but maybe my ceiling for “young” is a little higher than 30.

    Breakdown Press are indeed the shit. Kessler fan #1 right here.

    As you were

  51. Nick Mullins says:

    Cool-aid is so sweet.

    But that image of you and Gary is bed together is better than any comeback I can think of…

  52. Mike Hunter says:

    Nobody here seems interested in defending the poor advertising copywriters who came up with that press release, so if I may…

    Consider the field and what’s expected of those who toil therein. As an analogy, see http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gallery/2009/sep/22/food-advertising-v-reality

    One can also get a painfully clear idea of the intended audience for the book (spoiler Alert: not adult, comics-savvy aesthetes) from the breathlessly excited prose deployed; that “young man making a deal with Death and effortlessly acquiring ‘talent powers,’ and finding love” is treated as an awesomely exciting plot rather than tiresomely predictable pandering; that it was taken for granted nobody but a few old, irrelevant fuddy-duddies would even know McCloud had earlier created other “fiction graphic novel[s].”

    ——————————
    Dan Nadel says:

    And there’s a GIRL involved? Booooonnnnnneeeerrr!
    ——————————

    Which, probably would be the reaction of at least half the “intended audience” for the book when reading that part of the press release.

    Interestingly — and understandably — the various sites where I’ve found mention of the press release rephrased it in a more intelligent fashion, only quoting excerpts, routinely mentioned McCloud’s earlier graphic novels.

    ——————————
    Caleb says:

    The plot of The Sculptor may not sound like the most revolutionary comic ever, but maybe it can be the stepping stone that leads the non-comic/shit-comic reader to Bone.
    ——————————-

    On the other hand, couldn’t some abysmally bad work (which “The Sculptor” does not appear to be; I’d reserve that slot for the head-explodingly atrocious “The New Adventures of Abraham Lincoln”) be a NON-gateway drug, tainting comics in their minds, forever driving people away from the art form?

  53. BJ DuVall says:

    Wow. I used to read the journal. I also used to have respect for Dan Nadel, despite not knowing much more about him than that he founded Picture Box. I am not sure how I feel about all this, except that I feel this rant was really not needed, ill advised, mean, and generally damaging to Nadel and TCJ. I also think that McCloud ‘s response was classy as hell. I think Nadel should be embarrassed for the way he acted, especially considering the fact that McCloud kept his composure so well, and didn’t take the bait. I think the Journal has a big responsibility to comics, and seeing things like this makes me think that they don’t take that responsibility seriously enough.

  54. mateor says:

    Pretty nice response, all things considered.

  55. Mike Hunter says:

    Pfft. You “used to read” The Comics Journal, and you’re surprised when some harsh bit of vituperation issues from one of its current higher-ups?

    Why, Dan’s being mild-mannered in comparison from some past “greatest hits”…

    Which somehow (as much as it might have raised hackles and made enemies) didn’t prevent the magazine from being the towering force in pushing the acceptance of “comics as art.” I guess you can only “take your responsibility seriously enough” if you’re genteel and inoffensive.

  56. BJ DuVall says:

    I agree with your sentiment: ‘being the towering force in pushing the acceptance of “comics as art.”’ Which is why I think they have a responsibility to be fair and balanced, not elitist and predatory.

    Scott McCloud is a well respected creator, and one who has done some stellar work. I don’t care if Dan Nadel does or doesn’t like McCloud’s work, I care that he has respect for a creator that has more than proven himself. Scratch that… I care that he has respect for all creators. If it were a bad review of the book, I wouldn’t be offended, because that is the nature of a review. This, on the other hand was pure spite, and not even witty or intelligent. ie “retard” “Booooonnnnnneeeerrr!” It was just vitriol aimed at a press release (for fuck’s sake)

    Comments like that make me not feel bad at all that I don’t throw money at them anymore, and make me feel bad for thinking of them as a “towering force”

    I also did not imply that things need to be genteel and inoffensive. I do however think that someone should consider the implications of what they are saying before going off on some ill conceived rant. Scott admits to spending 5 years on the book. Dan admits to spending 5 minutes on his rant. Do the math.

    One last thing… calling anyone a retard does absolutely nothing to ‘(push) the acceptance of “comics as art.”’.

  57. Mike Hunter says:

    ———————-
    BJ DuVall says:

    I agree with your sentiment: ‘being the towering force in pushing the acceptance of “comics as art.”’ Which is why I think they have a responsibility to be fair and balanced, not elitist and predatory.
    ———————-

    I personally think “The Comics Journal” would have had an easier going through the years had there not been so much harshness, unfairly attacking many mainstream creators as “hacks,” etc.

    However, the magazine throughout its impressive history did have that, and it still managed to fulfill its mission. The war, indeed, has been pretty much won. We don’t get many stories these days with a “Bang! Pow! Comics Aren’t Just for Kids Anymore!” headline. (I’m old enough to remember when those damn things were all over the place.)

    Now, if TCJ during its most important years, when the outcome was far from certain, had been “fair and balanced,” wouldn’t that have weakened its messianic zeal, watered down its message and goals?

    Why, particularly back then, 99% of comics were superhero fare, therefore it would have been “fair and balanced” for “The Comics Journal” to have devoted 99% of its coverage to superhero comics, instead of alternative or experimental work.

    Its reviews and editorials then parsing the relative degrees of awesomeness of the latest version of Batman, the Green Lantern, and so forth, with no suggestions that comics would make greater creative strides by focusing on something other than catering to adolescent power-fantasies.

    Which — from the point of view of Messrs. Groth and Thompson — would have made as much sense as a gardener carefully apportioning fertilizer and watering the prevalent weeds in a garden they were trying to establish, rather than aiming care upon those plants which they wanted to nurture.

    As for its being “elitist,” a word loaded with all manner of negative associations:

    ————————–
    e·lit·ism or é·lit·ism
    n.
    1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.
    2.
    a. The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class.
    b. Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class.
    —————————-

    The “Journal” was and is (aside from its considerable journalistic [now mostly defunct due to the Web] and historical coverage), rather, focused on praising and encouraging work with higher goals than mere entertainment (Gary Groth fulminated against the pernicious effects of “entertainment” being considered a sole, worthy goal for creative endeavors), approaches other than replications of commercial formula.

    When Groth and Thompson decided to expand into publishing the kind of work TCJ wanted to encourage, they were instrumental in creating title after title that would become famous, the creators they published to be famed as a Who’s Who of art-comics talent.

    Along this vein, an earlier exchange over at Hooded Utilitarian:

    ========================

    —————————–
    Ayo says:

    It’s not “team comics.” It’s just lying if [The Comics Journal] claims to cover a medium and be the important voice of that medium if it ignores…you know, the culturally larger aspects of that medium (superhero comics, syndicated comics, manga, webcomics).
    ——————————

    ——————————
    Robert Stanley Martin says:

    I don’t think the New York Review of Books should be covering the entirety of the Harlequin romance line, but I do think they should run reviews of the latest Dan Brown or J. K. Rowling books when they come out…
    ——————————

    Good frickin’ lord, what a horrible idea. Do you think their resources are infinite, that they have an unlimited budget, can make each issue phone-book thick?

    …I greatly enjoy Dan Brown’s page-turners, and the Harry Potter books. However, critiques of these highly popular authors are hugely widespread. I’d far rather the NYRB — or TCJ — focus its limited resources on material that they consider more worthy of attention, that every other critic isn’t covering…

    =========================

    —————————–
    BJ DuVall says:

    I don’t care if Dan Nadel does or doesn’t like McCloud’s work, I care that he has respect for a creator that has more than proven himself. Scratch that… I care that he has respect for all creators.
    ——————————

    So, an utter no-talent or a cynic cranking out noxious trash should be automatically accorded “respect”?

    And thus, the weeds win

  58. Paul Slade says:

    The Journal’s never set out to be fair and balanced, and nor should it do so now.

    It’s always been the home of advocacy journalism in comics: make your argument as strongly as you can, and let others feel free to fight back. I think R. Fiore once summed up this approach as “pick a side and start swinging”. Look at the magazine’s track record over the years, and it’s pretty clear it picks the right side most of the time.

    Personally, I very much enjoyed Understanding Comics, but having a mental argument with the Journal’s more skeptical view is always a highly enjoyable and stimulating process. At it’s 1970s peak, the British music weekly NME thrived on a similarly combative attitude, and – like the Journal itself – was all the better for it.

  59. BJ DuVall says:

    I see what you are saying on some of these. I don’t really want to go point by point, because I think you are skewing the discussion a bit. I don’t think “fair and balanced” means that they have to allocate their resources according to the market, and focus on mainstream more. What I mean, is that if they are going to discuss a book by mccloud (or anyone) they should behave appropriately. In fact I think calling out this press release was just a waste of time and mean and spiteful. He hasn’t (as far as I know and as indicated by the thread) read a review copy… He is just pissing and moaning about the PR. It might seem like a harmless rant, but my point about taking responsibility is that his little 5 minute tirade could impact the sales, which would be very unfortunate. They are truly uninformed complaints, and the book could possibly be a very well done work.

    As far as treating an “utter no talent” with respect, yes I think they should. Respect doesn’t mean giving them a good review or more press, it means if you decide to talk about that person, keep it above the belt. By all means do a bad review, or better yet if the person is a no talent, just don’t mention them at all, use your resources to talk about the talents that you do think deserve praise. If this press release was so painful to read then throw it in the trash and don’t bother to post anything about it. That is my essential point. TCJ is important. TCJ has done many many great things for comics. TCJ “should” be above this type of behavior.

    Btw, “cynic cranking out noxious trash” I think is a very good description of Dan Nadel in this case.

  60. Robert Boyd says:

    During one of my stints as emergency replacement Comics Journal editor (I got to do this every time a full-time editor quit in a huff mid-issue), I commissioned a review of Understanding Comics. It was written by Ryder Windham and was quite positive. I realize that this was 40,000 years ago, but the thing is that TCJ is not a monolith where everyone is required to have the same opinions about Scott McCloud.

  61. Caleb says:

    Probably not unless they are stranded in a buried coffin with nothing but a flashlight and The New Adventures of Abraham Lincoln to keep them company. In any other situation they can thumb through the rest of the comics on the same shelf. Or heck, the shelf below that.

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