Creator Owned Book = Exempt from Criticism?

Earlier this week, writer B. Clay Moore, posted a blog entry regarding internet comic reviewers, which I suppose is what I am. Read his piece, and then come back here, and we’ll discuss. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Okay, welcome back. It seem to me that the basic premise in this post is that creator owned books shouldn’t be negatively reviewed, especially by those who give positive reviews to mainstream (I assume Marvel/DC) superhero books. Now, before we get started, let me say that I’m a Moore supporter. I’ve met Clay, and he’s a fine guy, who does quality work.

But at the end of the day, I just can’t agree with this assertion at all. It’s almost like a kind of critical affirmative action plan for comics. As far as I’m concerned, a comic book is a comic book is a comic book, and categorizing creator owned books differently, or treating them differently from Marvel/DC books only serves to keep the market segregated going forward.

Moore writes: Hawaiian Dick is a book that is beyond negative criticism. Why? Because it accomplishes exactly what we set out to accomplish, and if that’s not your cup of tea, it’s not because we failed you, it’s because…it’s not your cup of tea. It’s a fun genre comic book, and we don’t half-ass the effort, which is all you can ask of us. So if I read a negative review of the book from a guy who praises by the numbers photorealistic cape melodrama, I just get depressed that someone sold him the book in the first place.

As far as I’m concerned, nothing is beyond negative criticism. There are methods and skills and crafts involved in storytelling. I have no doubt that there is skill and love baked into each issue of Hawaiian Dick, and in my opinion, it is a good book, and all of those things are true. But if someone doesn’t like it, they certainly have the right to say so, as long as it is backed by reasoned arguments. The fact that it’s a creator owned book shouldn’t exempt it from critical review, and to me, the writer really can’t objectively say that the book just is good, and others will either like it or not. Quite frankly, the writer is biased, and he can be satisfied with the work he’s done, but once it’s out in the world, the world should be analyzing it, and thinking about it, and picking at it to see what does or does not work. It’s up the reader of said review to decide if the viewer is off his rocker or not. All reviewers come with a context. Most of the people who’ve been listening to and reading stuff from myself, Ron, and Conor know where we stand in a general sense on our tastes. But we all love superhero books (provided they’re good), yet not without some scrutiny. Just as an example, our own Ron Richards may be more forgiving of an X-Men book than some, but he’s got every right to look for and find fault in any other book out there. The people listening, and his history and credibility will decide whether that review is valid. There are certainly bad reviewers, but if a reader is going to be swayed by bad reviews, there’s nothing you can do. There are good reviews of bad books, and the sword swings both ways, and you just can’t have one without the other. You also can’t set rules because some reviewers are shitty at what they do, or you just don’t agree with what they have to say. Since there’s no way to filter good from bad, other than your judgment, we’ll just have to take the good with the bad.

He also writes: I think anyone who pisses on creator-owned books in reviews should be smacked in the head with a mallet. Somebody saw something in the book, and someone sacrificed to make it happen. Someone will probably enjoy it, and the book sniping a smidgen of sales from the latest Mark Millar/Popular Artist juggernaut isn’t going to kill anyone. To have failed writers with a limited comprehension of the medium trash the work simply to assuage their own superior egos is maddening.

There’s something to learn from literary criticism, for the author, the readers, and even for the reviewer. It’s peering into what exactly it is about a story that makes it tick. No matter the publisher of the story, or the subject matter, when that story is out there, it’s up for grabs. At the end of the day, the work will resonate or not. There’s no use getting upset that some guy out there didn’t like your book. The only way to fight that is to keep making fantastic work, and hoping it catches. Of course, the other part of the equation is being a tireless marketer of your stories. I think it was Brian Bendis who really taught me how much work is left for an indie creator after the book is printed up. You’ve got to go to conventions, get to know retailers, do podcasts, do social networking, and whatever else you can think of. If you want people to recommend your book, you have to also be prepared that some will not recommend the book. More often than not, comic book reviewers will ignore work they don’t like, and promote work they do, but it’s not something you can control, or even get mad about.

I will grant that I no longer like to say a book is just bad. I will very often say a book is just not for me, and then enumerate the reasons why it didn’t work. That certainly isn’t to say that someone else might not like a given book, but this is why I didn’t like it. If you’ve agreed with things I’ve said in the past, then the chances are good that you and I will be on the same page. But what I won’t do is give a book a pass because it’s creator owned.

Take Terry Moore’s Echo. There are three issues out there. I’m a huge fan of Strangers in Paradise, and while I enjoyed the first issue, I did feel that there wasn’t quite enough there to make me feel satisfied. It felt shorter than it should have been to introduce me to that world. Overall, I thought it showed promise (and has since) but I couldn’t give it a full on thumbs up, because I didn’t love it. I needed more. Now, should my affinity for Terry Moore and his work have stopped me from commenting? Hell no. My credibility as a critic (a position I don’t remember signing up for) hinges on my willingness to read, observe, make some judgments, and tell others. I can’t prioritize based on who’s publishing what. That’s not fair to anyone. It also intimates that the work being put into Marvel and DC work isn’t as valid, but honestly, when I look at the work Geoff Johns is doing over at DC, I see a guy who is putting in just as much passion as anyone doing creator owned stuff. Why should I segregate? In the same way that people suggested that I shouldn’t apply the same harsh criticism to World War Hulk, because it’s “just supposed to be fun,” all work should have the same critical eye applied to it. One of my least favorite stories of all time is Mark Millar’s Wanted, which was a creator owned book, which is, as you probably know, about to be released as a big ass motion picture. Scott Pilgrim is getting made into a big movie, and both Bryan Lee O’Malley and Mark Millar are going to be cashing in on creator owned books. Moore knows this, because his work has been optioned for films as well. Obviously a movie adaptation doesn’t necessarily mean a comic book is good, but it’s not bad in the validation department, or for the wallet. Do the work, get it published, and run with the big dogs. The rewards are there for the people who do the work and have the luck, and in the end, a story is a story, and it doesn’t matter who put it out.

At the end, Moore adds: Addendum: I just read a THIRTEEN PARAGRAPH review of IRON FIST, which was, you know…a fun mainstream comic book. (Look! I summed it up in four words!)

Addendum to the addendum: Okay, that was a cheap shot. There’s nothing wrong with analyzing a book you find interesting, and thirteen paragraphs isn’t unduly excessive, but it is very easy to lose sight of what you’re reviewing (a mainstream superhero comic) when you take it that far.

It was a cheap shot. It was also an unnecessary shot at the validity of superhero comics, from a guy who’s currently putting out a Superman book from DC Comics. Again, a good story is just that. You can put just as much passion or meaning into a cape book as any other, and to dismiss something outright, or to say that 13 paragraphs is excessive for a mainstream superhero book is just an unhealthy bias. I know this, as I’ve been guilty of this bias in the past. It’s a view from inside comics. But outside comics, it’s just as easy to pre-judge an adventure story based in Hawaii in the 50’s. That sort of general classification doesn’t do anyone any good. To most of the world, comics are comics, and diversity is good for all of us. Diversity doesn’t mean separating from mainstream superhero comics. I agree that they should have a smaller piece of the whole pie, but I don’t want to do away with them, or dismiss them as irrelevant.

All that being said, please get out there and read Hawaiian Dick. It’s a really fun ride, and the art and coloring are stupendous. Even if you only read superhero comics, especially if you do, just take a look and give it a chance.


  1. Down in the letters section, Moore admits to having a bad week.  Maybe that explains the shaking-fist-at-the-heavens tone.  When I read the article, it just seemed that he was complaining about bad reviews.  Not ‘your comic stinks" reviews but "your comic is bad because Hawaiian Dick doesn’t have super powers."

    You make great points about comic criticism, Josh.  With prices climbing, good criticism like that found in all the permutations of iFanboy is all the more important to the comic fan. 

  2. Great article josh. I couldn’t agree with you more.

  3. As a (very) amateur internet reviewer myself, I feel that it’s ridiculous to say that certain books shouldn’t be given poor reviews. Poor reviews are not a death sentence to something, nor are they an attempt by the reviewer to protect things that they do enjoy from losing an audience. In fact, when I’m deciding whether or not to go see a movie in theaters, I usually skip the glowing reviews and go straight to the bad reviews, because everything has faults, and I want to see whether or not those faults are going to bother me as an audience member. A lot of times I say, "yeah, I can see how that would bother some, but I don’t think I’m going to have a problem with it."

    That said, it is up to reviewers to be as clear as possible, and for reviewers to ultimately make their own judgments. When we’re reviewing books, my friend Sean and I often say, "well, this did/didn’t work for me because of… but if I was a new reader I might…" In my opinion, a reviews ultimate goal is to give the audience a better idea of what the thing being reviewed is about before they commit themselves to it. As long as the reviewer is meeting that need, it doesn’t matter whether the reviews are glowing or not, the audience can ultimately make the decisions for themselves.

    Lastly, what are the reviewers supposed to do if they don’t like the book then? I doubt anyone would say that they suck it up and give it a positive review regardless. Are they just not supposed to talk about it then? Wouldn’t that be a worse outcome if no one heard about it?

  4. i’m just echoing TimmyWood but this was a great article! Really enjoyed reading it.

  5. I think I had a mild seizure reading that blog post.

    The suggestion that anyone who would enjoy "by-the-numbers mainstream" comics could not have the critical faculties or breadth of taste to even approach such a genre masterpiece as Hawaiian Dick, of all things, is beyond condescending. It sounds like he feels the creator-owned book’s only obligation is to please the creator, and clearly here the mission is accomplished. How could negative criticism even impact someone so self-satisfied? What dent could I possibly make? Why, it did what he set out for it to do; what difference does it make if the readers get it? What do comics critics know? They read comic books.

  6. On a "comics are comics" side note, it is my fondest, dearest wish to never hear the phrase "mainstream comics" again as long as I live. A runaway, blockbuster smash for Marvel or DC moves about 100,000 copies, which I think makes it about as mainstream as stamp collecting. If you’re bitter about your sales and your reviews, set your sites on those manga peddlers over at Borders. You wanna talk about critic-proof…? Compared to Naruto, New Avengers is as indie as you are. Let’s all get over ourselves and start acting like we’re all in this together, whaddya say?

  7. if i wrote and drew a [self-published] comic, it should be given a bad review if the reviewer doesn’t like it

    if i wrote and drew a [big two] comic, it should be given a bad review if the reviewer doesn’t like it

    …now everybody’s gonna send b.c.m. their self-published work for review!


  8. @Jimski

    "Compared to Naruto, New Avengers is as indie as you are. Let’s all get over ourselves and start acting like we’re all in this together, whaddya say?"

    well said 

  9. wow, moore comes off badly in that blog post.

    the only way any artist is exempt from criticism is if he keeps his work to himself. if you don’t want anyone bashing your books, don’t hand them out – write them for yourself, to please yoruself, and then you can enjoy them and accomplish what you want.

    but if you distribute them, and distribute them professionally no less, then you’re going to be evaluated. when you’re asking for money to experience your own work, you’ve removed yourself from the "i accomplished my goals, so this is a successful work" paradigm. 

  10. I haven’t read any of Moore’s work, but he comes off like the Uwe Boll of comics in that blog.

    I expect him to challenge his critics to a boxing match soon. 

  11. Josh, is there anywhere where you’ve written down your thoughts about Wanted? I’d like to hear why you dislike it so much, partially because I’ve read it just a few weeks ago (in lieu of the movie). Now I’m horribly conflicted about the whole thing. I don’t know whether I loved it or hated it and it seems like I’ve come to the table so late in the game all viable dialog about the book has already been concluded years ago.

  12. There will definitely be material on Wanted in the not so distant future.

    Me, I’ve got to re-read it just for that reason.  I’m not looking forward to it.

  13. Sounds like Mr. Moore is an idiot on this one.

     I pretty much agree with you wholeheartedly.

    Anything can be criticized. Criticsim is both about refining technical ponts as well as citing personal bias. To further the statement, criticism is necessary. It helps improve art and science in all their forms.

  14. For as much as Josh and I dislike each other – sometimes we actually agree on things.  For example – the points he makes in this article.  However, I’m still going to chime in.

    The first thing that I would love to clear up is the difference between a reviewer and a critic.  I understand that modern society has made the words synonymous with each other but in fact they are quite different.  When somebody is a critic and therefore doing a critique/analysis of something – the idea is that they are not just looking at the work and deciding if they like it or not.  Rather they are looking at the work in the context of the world in which it was written, the world in which it is being presented, what else is being presented around it, its relevance to these things, departures from the norm, etc. etc.  In theory there is a lot of research and context put around everything.  Within the context a critic can comment on the successes and failures – but these are not personal opinions – rather they are educated and informed statements.

    A reviewer/review, on the other hand, is what we are accustomed to in everyday life.  It’s basically somebody that we trust sharing their opinion.  We trust them, as Josh mentioned, because they have similar tastes and or have steered us in the right direction in the past.  Reviews are somewhat informal and meant to be “in the now” – not something that stodgy historians will read and comment on in 100 years.

    In my life I have been reviewed many times.  I learned very early that it makes little sense to read the reviews, good or bad – if you actually believe in what you are doing.  If you read a review and try to change you to accommodate, then you are compromising your artistic integrity and credibility – and ultimately somebody else is bound to dislike it.  Catering your work to a review is like a school teacher teaching to the test – nobody gets anything out of it.  So – if B. Clay Moore thinks he has a good product that he can stand by, then he should do just that.  I personally like the book as well, I am, however, disappointed with some of his comments (I agree with some, too).  

    The simple fact is – so much of our world is run reviews, opinions, or other subjective ideas.  It’s not a bad thing, necessarily, it’s just the way it is.  So – if you are going to enter into that world you have to be willing to play the game.  For some that means catering to the reviews, for some it means spreading the word about your product to the right audience – make you face be known, and for some…well – they just skip the game and we don’t ever see the work.  The thing that rarely works is trying to fight the system.  Not that we have to be passive or agree with the system – but to come out against something that so many people idly follow can leave readers and sellers with a bad taste in their mouths.  It has to be the public that fights the system – not the creators.

    Ultimately we are all individuals with our own individual opinions, but nobody is writing books for individuals, they are writing for a greater public audience – an audience that speaks through reviews and sales numbers.  And those numbers, as Jimski pointed out, are on par with stamp collecting.  If the work is good – and people like it – great.  If it sucks – great.

    Anyway – thanks for the article and the discussion, Josh.  

  15. Moore posts  "Hawaiian Dick is a book that is beyond negative criticism. Why? Because it accomplishes exactly what we set out to accomplish, and if that’s not your cup of tea, it’s not because we failed you, it’s because…it’s not your cup of tea."

    Couldn’t the same be said about the negative reviews. It accomplishes exactly what it set out to accomplish, and if it isn’t Moore’s cup of tea, it’s not because the reviewer failed, it’s just not Moore’s cup of tea.

    Seems to me it either works both ways or not at all. You can’t say your opinion/work cannot be criticized while at the same time criticizing others opinions/work.

  16. "I think anyone who pisses on creator-owned books in reviews should be smacked in the head with a mallet." Wow. And I know it is hyperbole, but come on. I cut him some slack because it is the internet and people tend to go overboard on the internet and the guy had a bad week. BUT, in my job I have to get up once a week for 30-40 minutes and give a verbal presentation of sorts–45 out of 52 weeks at a minimum. For better or worse, people have opinions and sometimes they express them to me or my wife. Some are positive and some negative–some are overly positive and some are overly negative. There is usually some truth in both the compliments and the criticisms, and I need to hear them both if I want to truly serve my audience and get better at what I do. The moment I forbid feedback, I’m only doing it for myself, and I need to be fired. Josh, you said it well. I just couldn’t resist commenting.

  17. i’m not sure i buy your distinction of critic/reviewer, gordon. just because one has more knowledge to draw upon, this doesn’t necessarily lend his opinion more credence. it seems like there can be both talented and inept critics and inept reviewers, as both will be subjective – one will just be able to draw on more diverse arguments to make his case.

    as for playing to the reviewers, this isn’t necessarily a bad decision. every artist has to understand who his audience is, and there is plenty of artwork directed at the "reviewer" crowd, designed to be understood by anybody and instantly gratifying. this isn’t a compromise of artistic integrity if your goal is to create a work that pleases this crowd

    moore obviously has some issues with the superhero/fanboy crowd, and doesn’t feel like hawaiian dick is "for" them, which is fine – then he doesn’t need to worry about their critiques. but for him to say that he only needs to satisfy himself seems somewhat dishonest to me; there is certainly some sort of audience for whom he’s creating this work. art is not produced in a vacuum, as much as an artist wishes it was…

  18. Hmmm, interesting blog post and article by Josh.  I  *think* I know where Moore is coming from but he articulated it incorrectly.  I believe he SHOULD have phrased it as all comics should be able to be criticized but not all comics can be compared to one another.  Even in the world of prose novels, book reviewers are categorized as genre specialists.  The same person who reviewed Harry Potter probably isn’t asked to review the latest Robert Ludlum novel or Obama’s Audacity of Hope.  Does that make sense or am I speculating on Moore’s comments too much?

     Here’s another reason I came to that conclusion…


     I recently sat in on a podcast that was an Eisner Nomination round up.  Personally I had not heard of half of the nominees that were up for the award (or I heard of them but didn’t read them) so I dropped $150 and did a mass reading in prep work.  Some things were not my cup of tea, some works were friggin amazing.  But in the end I could appreciate why all of these nominees deserved the recognition.

     I was jazzed and prepped for the podcast.  In the end, instead of spending time praising these magnificent creations, I felt like I spent a good majority of my time explaining why the Eisners were about ALL OF COMICDOM.  In the end I don’t feel like I convinced anyone of my point, but it did make me realize one thing… Comics are so beautifully diverse today (compared to years past) that there is DEFINATELY something out there for everyone.  🙂


    the Tiki 

  19. Great, great essay. To the "exempt from criticism because we accomplished what we set out to accomplish" point: I’d take Josh’s "all reviewers come with a context" point one step further. All readers come with a context. There’s this essay by Roland Barthes called ‘Death of the Author’ that makes the point that the reader’s experience is much much more important than the author’s intent. There’s only one author and lots and lots and lots of readers. I think it was Jimski who said how great it was that the Indiana Jones discussion was a discussion about the viewers emotional reaction to the movie. It’s more fun to speculate about Lost than it is to watch Lost. 

     also, to the Iron Fist doesn’t deserve 13 paragraphs point: I’m sorry, but I love Casablanca more than any Jean Luc Godard movie. And I love a lot of Godard. But this elitist-holier-than-thou-that-band-sucked-after-their-first-7inch attitued only serves to alienate people, and more importantly, to invalidate their feelings. And that’s the reason we read this stuff, right? To get an awesome feeling. Those are hard to come by.

  20. Great article. I totally believe in needing to keep reviews equal for all types of publishing. The Moore article however possibly unfortunately  reminds me of an interview I saw with Uwe Boll, who talked about how people can not compare his films and more low budget films with high budget studio films. This idea i agree is untrue yes i think that there are things that you can not achieve with a lower budget but if something is truely good then it will be enjoyed regardless.

  21. This is one of the best blog threads in a good while. Nicely done, Josh. Gordon made some excellent points as did the Tiki.

     @Gordon: I think that the distinction between reviewer and critic is valid. A critic is someone who has some knowledge or credibility in his or her field. Tom Colicchio has a discerning pallet, honed by a classical culinary education. Consequently, he is an apt food critic. Similarly, Tina Fey can judge whether my standup/comedy sketches are good because she has acquired n tangible knowledge of the workings of such things. 

    @ The Tiki: I think the spirit of your comments rings true. Moore does seem frustrated by the comparative element of reviews. There are certain fundamentals’ of comic storytelling, pacing, comprehensible layout, character development etc that should be present in every comic, but the expression of these fundamentals differ according to genre. One should not expect a summer blockbuster feel from a slice of life work like Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise. So, it is the role of the critic to evaluate the merits of a work according to the standards of genre and a sensibility which recognizes the context in which the art is created.. This is not to say that the conventions of good comic making should not be observed in every genre. A good comic is a good comic. Even within genre, considerations should be made regarding individual expression. Brubaker’s  crime work has a different flavor than Rucka’s. Each should be judged on its own merit.

    @John42 (whose critique of All-Star Superman number 10 wonderfully exemplifies an appreciation for the potency and context of Morrison’s work within comics and art) Well said. The author merely provides the catalysts for the actions which occur in the mind of the reader


    That’s all from me. 


  22. A review of a blog about reviews.  Whoa.  Next "Post-Modern" show you guys do, Josh’s column should be included.

  23. Hmm…definitely an interesting post.  I enjoy your critique of critiques.  I think you definitely bring up valid points here Josh.  I kind of feel like B. Clay Moore was responding a review that he read that was written by some person that was overly harsh on his book while praising something like The Flash.  As the Tiki pointed out, this was probably supposed to talk more about comparing books together than expressing an opinion about a book.  Of course creator owned works are open to criticism, and as a creator, why wouldn’t you want that?  It can help guide your craft and also guide readers to your work.  Anything I write will be awesome pwnage to me, but probably not to everyone else.  Critiques would help me find that middle ground.

  24. I haven’t commented in awhile and think I will now so that my presence might be felt again. I am disheartened by your post. For as you requested that I read Moore’s post, I did only to find out that all of the points I felt discussing were already brought up by you. In that I totally agree with the points you have made. I feel that all works should be critiqued equally and that no reviewer can be completely objective when reviewing a work. If a reviewer doesn’t like a book because it isn’t his/her cup of tea, then the review is no less valid.

  25. This was a fantastic article, really good work Josh (see what I did there? I just reviewed it lol!).

    All I know is, whether it’s an indie book, creator-owned or Batman, I’m still paying £3 for it. So I appreciate anyone who can tell me whether it’s a worthwhile investment or if I’m wasting my money.

  26. I agree nothing is off limits to review or constructive analysis. But I see his point in that to be a critic is the easiest thing in the world, it is no personal sacrifice to go criticize someone else. You don’t have to be trained to be a critic; all you need is a keyboard and an Internet connection.

    But to pour your heart and soul into something and get it out into the world against the odds and have it be even moderately successful is a real accomplishment. It does not insulate the book from criticism, but for me anyway I feel it does impact my feelings on a book. Bone is much more of and accomplishment to me than Civil War or Secret Invasion. 

  27. Apropos of nothing, the day after I read this I encountered Roger Ebert’s review of the Sex and the City movie:

    "I am not the person to review this movie. Perhaps you will enjoy a review from someone who disqualifies himself at the outset, doesn’t much like most of the characters and is bored by their bubble-brained conversations."

    So, was it just not his cup of tea? Does that first paragraph matter? 

  28. @Jimski- I think Ebert does a fine assessment of the film.  From the outright, you know that his criticisms come with a slight bias.  And then he objectively looks at the film as a whole, including the characters and moments in the movie.  If a reviewer is reviewing something, it sometimes helps to see where they’re coming from.  There are people that will completely ignore his criticism becausee of his first paragraph, which I think is the idea.  Those are the people that love the series. 

    If someone hated Batman, and told me the The Dark Knight sucks, well, then, I wouldn’t really believe them.  But if Conor commits hari kari at how amazing it is, then I know I’m in for a good time.

  29. I think the trade-off is that if you want your book exempt from criticism, then you’re book just won’t get the press.  Lots of books, Moore’s included, have been highlighted on review shows/blogs like iFanboy and found readers they never would have because of positive reviews.  With positive reviews though will come negative ones.

    Without the potential for negative reviews what creators are asking for is free advertising.   

  30. If a book sucks a book sucks.  Exempt from critism?  If a creator owned book sucks no one talks about it… like Spawn.

  31. Great article.  I don’t get where Moore is coming from at all but what he’s done is gotten me to think more about Hawaiian Dick than I had previously.  (Hmm, that’s an odd-sounding sentence.)   I don’t know if Hawaiian Dick is any good (Pun is unintended byproduct I promise), but now I know who the creator is and he didn’t even have to fork out the money for a Previews ad.

  32. Perhaps he’s a marketing genius…I hadn’t discounted that possibility.

  33. Josh – simply a great response, not only for being well-reasoned but for not stooping to the same name-calling and insinuation that Mr. Moore (probably regretfully at this point) did in his post.  As someone who currently reviews other media (films/novels/music) and is only just beginning to re-acquaint myself with comics again (how your show/podcast/site factored into this decision is an entirely different story for another time), my biggest hurdle has been with those people who lash out with cries of "You just don’t GET IT!" when responding to a less-than-positive review of something.  Even worse is the "who are YOU to criticize or comment on THIS THING I LOVE?!"

    The simple answer to the above question is "I’m not YOU" and that’s the whole point. I suspect that Mr. Moore was more than a little emotional when writing his post, because it seems a complete contradiction to cry "foul" at negative criticism on creator-owned books and then take swipes at Millar (who I believe has a number of creator-owned comics, as you observed), DC/Marvel writers and the readers who enjoy them.

    Or, as they say, "Pot.  Meet Kettle." 

    Anyway, the thing is that regardless whether or not you’re writing for hire (DC/Marvel) or you’re writing for yourself, once the product’s out there it becomes public domain for discussion and criticism, both positive and negative.  That’s the deal with creating – as noted above, unless you’re not sharing it, you’re opening yourself up to feedback of all kinds.

    And now excuse me for MY rant, when all I wanted to say was great post!

  34. As for Gordans critic/reviewer distinction, I think he is absolutely right and I want to clear up one fact: I isnt the extent of knowledge that divides the reviewer from the critic, it is the ATTITUDE towards the work being judge.

    Being a critic isnt about saying "I liked so-so because yada-yada wasITs exciting and engaging". Its about observing and discerning the project of a piece of literature and maybe deciding on how effective it accomplishes said project. Whether one "enjoyed" is is hardly ever a factor because the critic always enjoys working with a novel/film/whatever whether the narrative was fulfulling or not. 

     I can totally feel Moore’s position, even if at face value his exasperations seem ridiculous. He’s more or less venting about comic book reviewers who impose really arbitrary standards and trash books that they dont enjoy because of arbitrary reason. Some books (and comic books evn) aren’t written to cater what someone will undoubtedly enjoy, and operate on different standards. Those kinds of books are treated truly unfairly by the Newsarama’s and CBR’s on the internet that prop of people who call themselves critics simply because they write about things to an audience.

  35. I will make this as simple as I can. Nothing, and I mean nothing is exempt from criticism. 

  36. Given how fickle the industry (and it’s readers) can be, I can certainly appreciate the sentiments of soft-touch reviews. I have to admit, though, when my comic was reviewed around the place, I was of two minds about the positivity for something I’ve been able to intimately pick apart.

    I don’t know about Moore, but I guess at the end of the day, it’s nice to feel some support, especially when you’re very isolated as a "creator." I guess I’m thinking about a much smaller scale where the significance of negative response can completely crush already minimal sales, but those stakes aren’t alien to Moore’s level.

    I think we’re at a point in the growth of a very connected (online) community, and it’s going to take the two extreme camps a while to reach a happy medium. I think we sometimes see in commentators (iFanboy included) a similar response to negative commentary that plays the soft touch as shallow as the worst ‘trolls’ bitching.

    I’d like to think Moore’s responding more to the extremes and confusions of people whose palettes don’t have great perspective. He might just be falling into that OTHER extreme, of asking for all hands to stay off.

    The community – fans, reviewers, critics, and creators – really are as interesting to talk about as the fiction itself. I think it’s all indicative of the gestation period we’re in for the modern era.

    Also, buy my comic… and tell your friends! 😀

  37. Josh-

    I’d be glad to discuss this on the show sometime. The discussion has been spun in so many directions in so many places that it’s pointless to drag it out here.

    A few points, though:

    Uninformed criticism is completely useless.

    Criticism should have a purpose.

    Criticism is strictly opinion-based, and should be presented as such, particularly in comics, which has never been able to establish anything resembling consensus on what constitutes "quality."

    Name-calling? If a reviewer is going to dismiss the blood, sweat and tears of creators with snarky, smart-assed comments, then he’s fair game. Critics shouldn’t operate in a protective bubble. The fact is that a HUGE majority of people who call themselves online critics do their job poorly, since there’s no one holding them to standards of accountability. It’s only fair to pull back the curtain on some of these folks.

    My little rant had nothing to do with reviews of HAWAIIAN DICK, which is usually well received. I was using that as an example, because if the creators of a creator-owned book accomplish what they set out to do, qualitative assessments by readers don’t serve much purpose. "I didn’t care for this book because…." is fine, of course. But, no…the new DICK has been better received than I expected, considering the shift in art style might have been jarring to some readers.

    The rant was spurred by a snarky, useless review of a Steve Niles book that I haven’t even read, although one of Hannibal Tatu’s inane little summations pused me along.

    If you know me, you know I don’t sugarcoat things or bullshit. Anything I say in public is a massively watered down version of what you’d hear from countless creators on a daily basis if they knew what they were telling you stopped with you.

    My biggest problem with so many reviews is that they just add to the sometimes overwhelming cynicism that seems to pervade online "media." I would LOVE to see Newsarama disable their talkback forums, and see what impact that had on the general mood…


  38. As an aside, if anyone returns to this thread, I’m thoroughly impressed by the level of discourse here, prior to my post.

    Aside from the "Spawn sucks" comments, I find myself surprised by the lack of knee-jerk reactionary criticism, and by the thoughtful consideration of the issue at hand.

    I’ll try to spend more time here in the future. 


  39. *looks up* WHOA!  It’s B. Clay Moore! COOL!  *pauses* Wait… does this mean that Entertainment Weekly guy we’ve been ragging on for the last half a week is going to come by and chew us out now?

  40. I thought this might be a heat induced vision.  But no, it’s real.

    Would folks like to see a special edition podcast on this with Clay in the near future?  Cuz that looks like it’s gonna happen.

  41. I’d love one Josh. Please do. It’s interesting to consider the paradox of media. A creator who operates outside the mainstream is in the position which necessitates some form of self promotion (i.e. an online presence) to sell books. As such, provocative articles like this sometimes happen. Hell it could be simple as  reactionary Tweet.So to interact with media could be biting the hand that feeds or could be a useful way to find an audience.

    Ideally one should have the freedom to craate in a vacuum as the pureest of all pursuits but then nothing would get sold.  I hope you do a podcast with Mr. Moore. If so I’d like to know his feelings on interacting with the media insofar as it affects his creative output Cheers, all.

  42. Yes, interaction is good on topics like this.

  43. I don’t think there is such a thing as a good reviewer or a bad reviewer. To me When i look at reviewers I find someone with similar tastes to me and then try what they recommend. The reviewers job to me is to take a chance on a book so i dont have to and let me know if its something i would like.


    For Example: I tend to only read comics featuring The Flash but sometimes im willing to read books outside that universe. but because i don’t keep up with Indie or Marvel books, im not sure whats good and whats not, thats why i have relied on ron and others that also like The Flash on the site and at the shop to let me know, what i have a beter chance of liking. No one person can tell anyone what is good or what is bad becase tastes are diffrent so you just have to find a reveiewer or person you repect their opinion, that works for you.


    Plus, isn’t determining if a book is good or not all about exceptions. The cover of the book is so post to convey to reader that this book is in their taste and they might like this book and i think where the creator can fail is ether that the cover lies to the reader and doesn’t deliver the story they expected from the cover or the cover doesn’t convey there is a story in there i might like and i miss out on a great story.


    A Good example of this is the Queen and Country series. The Covers showed me that this was a black and white book(So I’m not surprised when i go to read it expecting color) and was about British intelligence, two things I’m fond of. Then when i heard that Ron liked it too it just proved my point that i would like other things that Ron recommends but by all means doesn’t make me follow him blindly the cover has to sell me too. Ron really liked Glamourpuss but I’m sorry im not going to read about fashion models and even if thats not what its about thats what the cover conveyed to me. So i know that book’s not for me.