What Makes a Review Matter?


Last week, my eyes were scanning my Twitter feed when I saw famed comics writer Brian Michael Bendis post the following:

 

it seems the more one sees the word 'I' in a review… the less that review matters.

 

I imagine this was just another offhanded tweet, prompted by reading some of the snark passing as criticism that one sees in almost every corner of the web. Nonetheless, I saw this over a week ago and it is still under my skin. I have been self-conscious about every pronoun I’ve typed since I read it. A bigger fan of Bendis’ you will not find, but where this issue is concerned I really could not disagree with him more.

For one thing, consider the alternative. Remove the personal and the subjective from your approach as a reviewer, and “this book didn’t resonate with me” tends to become “this book is objectively bad.” “I wasn’t able to follow the story” becomes “Grant Morrison writes incomprehensible gibberish.” The end result has played itself out in threads on this site many tedious times. I would argue, in fact, that removing the “I” from reviews is far more likely to result in the snarky, from-on-high pronouncements and dismissals that hurt the medium. It is far more likely to leave you with under-educated armchair geniuses spouting off as objective authorities.

Even after reading comics on and off for decades, I still don’t consider myself an authority. I have passed up the chance to write many reviews at iFanboy precisely because I am cowed by the thought, “Who the hell am I to say this artist is no good? I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler.” All I can bring to the table is my own subjective experience and tastes, hoping that iFanboy visitors will get a sense of who I am and how my tastes coincide with theirs. I cannot stand fairies and elves and dragons and that faux-medieval swordplay hogwash, but I loved Skullkickers. Doesn’t that tell you more than ten paragraphs of me bloviating about craft?

In the end, that is how I define whether or not a review “matters”: does it help the reader decide which book to buy/borrow/stand there reading in the store, blocking the New Books shelf like some sort of passive-aggressive transient? I read reviews subjectively in an attempt to determine whether I’d like the book, so I write them in the same spirit.

Have I been too pragmatic in my approach, lying in the gutter when I could be reaching for the stars? What makes a good review?
 

Comments

  1. The I is a diffcult word in any type of critical writing. I’ve been told in university that I is good and that I is bad. I’ve been told it is redunent because said essay is your point of view or personal thought(one could argue against this). even in a writing criticism class I was told to use I. Ultimately what i have found out is that there are reson to use and not use I. One would all depend on the audience who is reading your work, another on the actual amount you use I. if you write ti think this and i think that and i think whenever, then your writing can become bogged down by your own view then by real critiquing (which i have found, like jim, is really hard).

  2. I read a review because I want to know what the author thinks of the book.  If I assume that everything he/she writes is his/her opinion, then I can probably survive without the pronouns, but the review is likely to sound like the author is conveying the public’s general opinion of the book rather than his/her own thoughts.

    A review without pronouns is like Van Halen without David Lee Roth.  It’s just noise. 

  3. I like to think that voice matters. I hope it does. I hope our readers find added value in a mixture of subjective and objective analysis. 

  4. I read reviews for several reasons. Like you, I like to see if a reviewers taste coincide with my own. Maybe their review may get me to buy/drop a book. Also I like to see if maybe they caught something I didn’t. It’s good to get different perspectives over the comics I read. I might not get the same things out of a comic that some of the opposite sex or someone signifcantly older/younger might see.  People have opinions if you don’t like them stay away from the interent. What makes a review matter. For me, if I get something out of it, it matters.

  5. Is it even possible to review comics objectively? This isn’t consumer reports. You aren’t testing the effectiveness of a microwave. You’re talking about writing and art. I guess you could say this person can’t color between the lines or this person can’t spell.

  6. I think the more a comic book’s characters all sound like 13 year old mallrats, the more likely it is to have a review with the word "I" in it.

  7. You know, I think it’s perfectly reasonable that a creator is going to be more interested in a review that focuses on the work than a review that focuses on the reviewer. But, to be blunt, reviews are not for the creators.  They are not report cards; they are not raw material for jacket blurbs.  Whatever else they might be, review are a conversation between the reviewer and the reviewer’s audience.   In some cases, and audience is going to be intensely interested in taking a text apart; in some cases, the subject of the review is just an excuse to be amused (or enlightened, or inspired, or called to action) by the voice of the reviewer.  The reviewer’s deal is with the audience; it’s not with the person whose work s/he is reviewing.  There are as many good ways to review, then, as there are good ways to create.   Some reviews matter to critics, some to the review-readers, and some only to the person who writes them, and all of these things are okay.

  8. (My comment would totally work better if I could spell simple words.  Also, for what it’s worth, I am *way* more at ease with a review that uses ‘I’ than one that uses ‘you’, because my response to the latter is likely to be, "Sez who?")

  9. Neeseman nailed it hilariously.

  10. Agreed.  The main reason I recall teachers and professors arguing against the use of "I" in writing was that the omission of personal pronouns makes writing come across as more confident and authoritative.  As you point out, that’s exactly why such language is generally best left out of critical reviews: a reviewer can only convey their own experience with a book, and, aside from broad details (this book has 32 pages, it is in black and white, etc.) cannot make objective, authoritative statements. Subjective language helps create a productive discussion while minimizing petty internet feuds.  I can like something that you can dislike, and we can both describe that without calling the other wrong and starting a flame war.

    However, I think there could be room for interesting critical discussion that takes a more definitive stance on the objective merits one comic versus another.  Certainly there are respected film or music critics who want to engage in a highbrow debate about the merits of art and what is truly worthwhile and what is not.  But, frankly, in the world of online comics reviews, 99 times out of 100 objective statements about a comic are of the "this totally sucks and you’re an idiot if you like it" variety rather than seeking to make some broader statement about the nature of art.  As with pretty much anything, I wouldn’t say the subjective approach is the only approach to take, but I would agree that it’s generally the more productive approach, and not, as Bendis suggested, an indication of a bad review.

  11. Just to put this in context, I review comics for Weekly Comic Book Review (not a plug….just putting in context)……

    What bothered me about Bendis’ twitter feed was that I think he did exactly what is bothering him about blogging reviewers.  Namely it annoys him (and annoys me too) when we see reviews that are nothing but drive by shootings that don’t say "why" something was good or not.  So, how has he responded?  By giving a similar "drive by shooting" of the blogging reviewer.  It’s just not productive.  

    I honestly wish Bendis would take 30 minutes and write up a short piece about how he thinks online reviewers could improve their craft.  I’d read it.

  12. Also, does Bendis see any irony in his blanket rejection of comics blogs and reviewers as being unsophisticated and not worth reading coming so soon after his own complaints about Alan Moore’s statements that modern mainstream comics are unsophisticated and not worth reading?  Hearing people whose work I like lazily trash work done by other people I like always makes me sad.

  13. Would anyone be interested in posting what they think a review should look like?  Perhaps one that doesn’t use "I", but still conveys the reviewer’s opinion (which is the only reason I read a review).  I’ve never actually paid attention to pronoun use when reading a review.

    I enjoy reviews like Conor’s POTW article this week and Paul’s Wizard of Oz review.  They both use "I" extensively and tell me what I want to know (which is why I keep coming back to this site). 

  14. I prefer an objective review, but a personal touch is always good.

  15. The internet and blogs have definitely changed critical writing in general. At first I agreed with Bendis….most reviews are too personal, but the reason I keep coming back and trusting the reviews on sites like this is because its from a real person who I trust as a bigger fan than i. I don’t think i’d trust an academic critical review of a comic book…it would be chock full of references to obscure golden age and independent comics and make every attempt to talk down to me. I like the conversational tone of the reviews that i read on a site like this….its a lot like asking someone at my LCS what they thought. 

  16. I think a review matters because for a couple of reasons:

    1) It gets our opinions across. Instead of just doing a quick response we can eloquently state what worked and what didn’t work in a medium.

    2) It gives the person who created that medium to see what their audience liked and didn’t like. So that way, if there is more in the future, maybe they can look at their work and see how to improve it.

    When I do reviews I just try and blurt out what I felt about. Obviously I am not the best when it comes to show how to do the best review. Instead of being serious I tend to be a bit too emotional when something is good or bad. But look at reviewers like akamuu, Tork, Neb, and others; you’ll see just how amazing reviews can be. 

  17. I have to go with Bendis on this one. I get what Jim is saying, but having the "I think" present in the review (or essay or whatever) is just like words like "really," "probably," "seems," etc. They add nothing, and don’t have the intended effect.

    Qualifying everything in a review with "I think" just makes the reviewer sound uncertain, not like they’re being subjective. Be confident!

  18. @TNC

    The fact that the comic brought out an emotional response from you is something of a review in and of itself.

    As much as I love Bendis for the most part, can he PLEASE stop writing Hawkeye like a whiny bitch? 

  19. "I liked this book, or I didn’t like this book. This is what I liked or disliked about it, and this is why."

    Isn’t that why we read reviews?

  20. @JohnV: To be honest the emotional response is usually anger….:)

  21. I went to Bendis’s board and found a more complete version of the quote:

    "I tell you what I don’t like in reviews. not just comic book reviews but reviews in general…I don’t like the reviewer has to tell you their own back story or their own personal relationship with the characters… that has nothing to do with what your job is. the more times I see the words ‘I’ for ‘me’ in a review the quicker I tune it out. that’s not a review that’s a plea for help."

    /quote

    I’m. . .not sure if all the "I"s here are meant to be ironic or not.  But.  This just confirms my thought, that he isn’t interested in reading the kind of review that focuses on the reviewer’s history with the material.  I think that’s perfectly valid.  That doesn’t mean that a single other person has to feel the same way, or that anybody should be apologizing for (or on the defensive about) the criticism that they write or that they like to read.  

  22. @ChrisNeseman

    Exaclty. 

  23. @ChrisNeseman 

     

    A little off topic, but I’ve heard you make this remark before on various podcasts. I can’t disagree more. Sure, in Ultimate Spider Man he writes in that matter, but in other books even though the tone of the dialog is rapid back and forth – I’d hardly say it sounds like 13 year old girls talking. You can’t exchange the dialog in Powers for New Avengers and Scarlet. They all read completely different. Full disclosure, I own damn near

    everything the man has written so I am biased.

  24. @flakbait: The "I" I’m talking about isn’t the difference between "this book is bad" and "I think this book is bad." What I have in mind is something more like this recent review I did for Brain Camp. The idea was to say, "This is where I was coming from when I read it; I liked it for these reasons."

  25. Criticism as a profession is useless. Judge for yourself or take a like-minded friend’s recommendation. Don’t let a stranger tell you what to buy or not buy. 

  26. @SChambers

    It’s probably just Bendis burnout with me. After 856 hours of Bendis Tapes, I got to the point that all of his characters had his voice when I heard them in my own head. And he kind of sounds like a 13 year old mallrat…

     

    Back on point. Bendis didn’t say the review was about his work, and I hope it wasn’t. I think it’s a bad idea for creators to read reviews. The writer and artist know better than anyone what the quality of the work is before it’s even released. Looking for the opinions of internet reviewers for any sort of validation is not good.

  27. @fnord

    But isn’t that what we do every week with iFanboy? I’m assuming that you value at least one of the guy’s opinions.

  28. Some people enjoy reviews that tend to stay objective, some like them with a bit of personal touch. You honestly can’t win when it comes to something like that. 

  29. @Neseman: Value? Opinions? Like?

    This is unknown territory for us! 🙂 

  30. @TNC

    These are all paths to the Darkside.

  31. @Jimski I would suggest that there’s no functional difference. By making a review personal in any way, you’re implying that it’s an experience only you will have with the work, and other people may or may not have a similar experience. So what good is the review? But making that first paragraph, in particular, more general, suggesting that many kids go through a comparable experience – which isn’t unfair, given that clearly the creators of Brain Camp crafted something that spoke to you – would get across the same info and entertainment value but not limit it to yourself.

    Hopefully that makes sense.

    I would say the Brain Camp review is on the line between review and blog entry (which is the general format here at iFanboy and is popular with the fanbase, so I don’t have a problem with it). By no means is that bad writing or anything, I’m not trying to offend, I’m just saying that’s what the average college Expository Writing  professor would tell you, and what Bendis is getting at, I think.

  32. In general – in my experiences both graduate and undergraduate – there’s been a move to get away from these clinically dispassionate papers that place the writer as some sort of ethereal other. Think of the ontological nightmare that is a person writing "The author chooses to believe so" in a paper. They’re the writer! They’re referring to themselves in third person in a paper meant to reflect their personal findings – scientific method or no there has to be some part of the process that they took an initiative on that is unique to their own self. I always found it kind of silly to pull the I out of papers, and was quite happy that it has since fallen out of favor. Granted, academic journals and such have standards about that, but I’ll tell you it’s popping up more and more there as well. One of the positives of the rise of blogging is that there certainly are more avenues to express one self. Now I am coming at this from an academic field that is centered in first person accounts, so perhaps it’s just colored that way for me.

    To be honest, the full quote Caroline provided seems to point less to Bendis having a grammatical/"proper writing" (Hint: They’re both culturally subjective!) bias against these reviews, but points more to Bendis not liking reviews in which the author reviews one thing in context of another previous story personally. To that, I say, tough tuggies, Buddy. In any modern media where all you need is a trek down to the store or simply checking a Wikipedia page to cross compare, it’s tough for a SERIALIZED story to be pulled out of its larger context to provide some Platonically perfect, dispassionate review. And honestly, who wants to read a review that just checks off boxes as to whether the writer and artists are competent and could convey a message. You want the reviewer to care (in some way) about what they’re reading. You want honesty, you want comparison from a good review. Now granted, BMB can certainly say what he likes and read the reviews he wants. But on some level this smacks to me of Bendis saying "I’m tired of hearing about how I don’t write Thor or Iron Man or Wolverine the way some guy did back in the 80s or 90s."  

  33. @Jimski: Please, please, please write a review of Skullkickers!  I read Skullkickers, so I know what I think about it.  More importantly, I want to know what YOU like about it.  

    See, I think that’s largely the point of reviews.  You read reviews not just to find out which comics are worth your money/time/attention.  You also read reviews because you want to know what a specific reviewer thinks about a specific book.  

    Reading one review is interesting, but as you build an awareness of each reviewer’s likes/dislikes (presumably from reading several of their reviews), it becomes even more powerful.  There are several reviewers on this site, whom I have never met, whose opinions I value greatly.  That said, I don’t take their opinions as gospel because I know their enjoyment might differ from mine.  My awareness of their tastes helps me to know when (and how much) to discount what they say.

    The reviewer/reader relationship makes a review worthwhile. 

  34. PraxJarvin makes an excellent point, about the increasingly blurry lines between academic/professional writing and the more informal material that has become the standard online.

    That’s either the evolution of communication or the dumbing down of our civilization, depending on how you look at it. 🙂

  35. @drakedangerz  I think you CAN win as long as you define ‘winning’ as ‘reaching an audience that appreciates what you’re doing’ rather than ‘making every person in the blogosphere happy.’  Decide what you want to accomplish, accomplish that, and ignore everybody who doesn’t get it.  (Ironically, Bendis’s comments on his own board go on to complain about critics who critique a work without considering what the work was trying to accomplish; reviewers deserve the same respect, no?)

  36. I have to agree with the full quote – I usually skip the mini-autobiography that precedes some reviews of current media.

  37. Paul, you da man. And your reviews are some of the best around.

     In terms of personal/objecticve: I come here in large part for the reviews of the people that write here. I can form my own "objective" opinions myself, thankyouverymuch.

  38.  

    @ChrisNeseman  totally understandable. I’m glad I have not replaced spider man’s voice with Bendis’s, because that would be the end for me.

  39. I think we’ve all been at the Q & A panel where someone stands up to ostensibly ask a question but instead begins to recite his memoirs as they pertain to the Avengers or whatever. I get it.

    There’s a line to be walked, though. Take our old friend Roger Ebert, the critical gold standard for many. When he reviews the Scooby Doo movie, he says, "I don’t really watch TV. I’ve never seen this show. I have no idea what the appeal of it is supposed to be." I think that is information you need in order to get anything out of the review.

  40. @Jimski  Exactly.  I think the subtext for a lot of conversations about what writers/critics should never do is, "I’ve read several people in a row doing this and they all sucked."  Writers who don’t suck are probably not the target.

  41. @Thursday – I genuinely appreciate your saying that. That said, the credit for this one goes to my boy Jimski. He wrote this one! 

  42. Looking at the quote in context, there is a lot there I agree with. I think everyone has read reviews that were ultimately the reviewer’s plea for attention. I don’t mind learning something about the reviewer along the way, but I prefer reviews that ultimately point to the work itself, not the individual’s experience with it. I suppose you could label the two approaches "blogging" and "critiquing." The problem, as I see it, is that there is an overabundance of one and a shortage of the other. It’s nice to connect with someone’s experiences through a blog, but a good critical analysis forces me to engage with the work on levels deeper than matters of personal taste. Don’t get me wrong, blogging is fine. That being said, I don’t think that kind of writing will help comics gain the level of appreciation we know they deserve.

  43. you should be banned from using green . . .  

    use yellow instead  ;-P   

     

    if you are trying to avoid internet forum scandal debate and from things getting personal the use of "I" is a good tool. but if it was in a magazine or journal of some kind, then "I" might be considered too inconsequential to be used. but it’s a review, it’s an opinion, if expressed properly it doesn’t have to be abrassive even without "I"  

    Grant Morrison writes incomprehensible gibberish.  = Grant Morrison’s writing style makes the reader connect dots without fully explainging their connection.  or something.   I’m sure the word "gibberish" has its place, I’m not sure it’s with Grant Morrison though, but it’d be totally fine to say, I think Grant Morrison’s writing is gibberish.

    also on the internet things are so immediate and self editted (sp) that it’s almost always a personal thing, becasue there is feedback, it makes it more relatable as opposed to the static delivery system of "old media"  so people take stuff way too personally

    I want to thank Conor and the other moderators here that watch for that and keep it from esculating into uncivilized gibberish   <– found it 

  44. Very interesting discussion Jimski. In addition to my time as a comics nerd and my real world role as a portfolio manager, I am a writer for a popular fantasy football site. Its our job to provide analysis and recommendations, for example, whether the Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo will be a star this year. To that end, with almost 40 staff writers, we stress to them all to avoid the first person.

    So instead of saying, “I think Tony Romo will be an elite passer this year.” they are to instead to say something like, “Tony Romo is an elite passer and will have a top 5 fantasy season.”

    We often edit out personal declarations and remind writers of the tendency to over personalize things.

    Not saying that’s analogous to a comic review, but I do see Bendis’ point that by using the “its just my personal opinion” shield it unfortunately opens up the concept of review to much lazier and sometimes indefensible statements.

    You don’t see Owen Gleiberman say “I” in his EW movie reviews very much, and you don’t read “I” when the NY Times reviews a new restaurant.

  45. @Paul Wow, what a brain fart! That’s what I get for trying to squeeze in another comment before leaving work for the weekend! I did mean it about Jim, but I easily would say the same about you. 

     

    @Jim, you are the man, and both you and Paul’s reviews (not to mention the other staffers) are consistently worth reading. And they often force me to open my wallet! 

  46. You have to critique comics for the craft itself, not making it personal. 

  47. Your so angry all the time.

  48. @ Wood, comics though, unlike football, is a subjective mediium with few statistics to back up or form arguments behind. and with the online forum medium thing, again, it is more personal so yes you might be hiding behind an "I" but because this is a conversation, it’s different than an "old media" approach like the NY Times or EW.

  49. Very interesting article and topic.  I think it’s a matter of tone.  Or, it is a matter of tone.  I’ve been told both things in my schooling. Either do or don’t include pronouns in critical writing.  It is a matter of how authoritative the writer wants to sound.  Sure, it’s typically established that a person writing something critical is already expressing their opinion, making personal pronouns redundant.  But does that person want to sound like everything they’re saying is fact?

    Perhaps my tendency to use personal pronouns when I type is a flaw but I sort of don’t care.  I tend to take a Socratic view of knowledge, in that I realize I don’t know anything for certain.  So qualifying certain statements as being my own opinion or perception is important as I don’t want to always come across as though every statement I make is fact.  Of course, if you want to make a strong statement, you make it without any qualifiers.  It’s all about the desired tone.

  50. "@ Wood, comics though, unlike football, is a subjective mediium with few statistics to back up or form arguments behind"

    I don’t think you could be farther from the true.  There are metrics for the criticism of comics.  It’s a long established medium with a huge back catalog of "statistical" goodness.  

     And thank you Neseman for summing up Bendis’s style.  Something always kind of bothered me about his dialogue.  It’s like he’s trying to make them more like the reader, more accessible maybe? "Thirteen year old mallrat" sums it up perfectly.  I’ve just never understood the facisnation with Bendis.  I’m reading Scarlett and digging the story but the whole talking to the reader thing was distracting and gimmicky.  Stuff like that almost never works.  It tends to go down the road of flashbacks and dream sequences, nothing but crutches for writers. Perhaps the fact that he seems to be a really nice guy endears him to the fans?

  51. @mudd All that matters is that what is meant to be conveyed is understood. Judging the book b anything else is a subjective reaction to the perceived quality of writing, art, panel/page/book construction.

  52. "This morning I woke up to discover that my copy of The Absolute New Frontier had toppled my entire trade paperback shelf, and had to spend an hour and a half reinforcing the shelf, and then reorganizing the trades (apart from Absolute New Frontier which I threw out my bedroom window.  Unfortunately, my landlord had shown up to mow the back lawn, and was just about to turn the mower on when he was hit in the head with said Absolute.  An ambulance arrived on scene pretty quickly, but because I live on a narrow street with sharp turns they were forced to leave the sirens on which was no good for my stress headache or my landlord’s concussion.

     

    The whole thing made me ten minutes late for work, where an irate Mark Millar fan screamed at me about how long he’d been anticipating picking up his copy of Nemesis #3, and how my being ten minutes late to open the store had ruined his month.  This was exacerbated when I informed him that we were sold out of the issue.

     

    I had nearly calmed him down when my Nazi landlord called to let me know he was serving me with a Notice To Evict.  It has not been a good day.  But I was looking forward to reading today’s new comics.

     

    The first title I picked up was DC’s Weird War Tales #1.  The first story in the collection is by noted homophobe Darwyn Cooke, who, surprise surprise, writes a violent pro-Hitler story.  I don’t know how this guy keeps getting work.  Sure his art is ok, but his hateful analogues to The Oscar Wilde laws are, at best, insulting, at worst Hate Speech.

     

    Story: 1/5, Art 2/5"

     

    I think the statements in that review are random-adverbally important.  We now have context for the negative review.  We can dismiss the reviewer as a solatic (a person affected with periodic insanity in accordance with the sun), or else identify with h(im)(er).  I mean, who amongst us hasn’t had a day like that?

     

    Personally, I prefer context-intense reviews of books, be they comics, fiction, or a collection of essays about Vegan Architects With Armpit Fetishes.  They help understand the joy or vitriol that goes into reviews which, otherwise, are often just dry plot summaries with the occasional dismissive hyperbole.

     

    I would, for instance, love to hear the story of what blogs Bendis was reading, and what kind of day he was having when he made the "it seems the more one sees the word ‘I’ in a review… the less that review matters." I suspect his announcement was mostly tongue in cheek as one can not use the pronoun "one" to describe one’s self so shortly after one attacks the personal pronoun "I".

  53. Rats, somehow the the final phrase was omitted.  That last sentence should read  I suspect his announcement was mostly tongue in cheek as one can not use the pronoun "one" to describe one’s self so shortly after one attacks the personal pronoun "I" without a bit of a wink.

     

    And the review, it should be noted is not to be taken seriously.  (My actual review, which is less hyperbolic, but not any more positive, is here.)

  54. If one does not "read" reviews there is no "I" complex.I have cultivated an interest in listening to certain people talk about stuff n’shit….11’O Clock and Ifanboy do a very good job of replacing, or filling the void of comic talk. I am a bit old school in the fact that i have issue with how much info gets out before i even have a book in my hands. So I guess I may not eve like reviews. What i am greatly appreciative of are tips and direction. I might not be reading Darkwing Duck, Afrodisiac, 28 Days Later or G.I.JOE(RAH).

    I do not need validation, I do appreciate treasure maps.

    Do I give a shit what Bendis thinks about the I..not really because it has no value to me or my comic experience. 

  55. I’m probably going to write reviews exactly like I always have. Stories are personal, and how they affect you can be a very personal thing, and to remove that from the equation makes it harder to accurately relate how the story affected me as a reader.

  56. I think you can write a review using the first person as much as you want. It doesn’t make it less relevant. I think I prefer people who know how to write to write reviews, rather than people who go "Yeah, I liked/hated this. It was awesome/awful" If you suck at writing, it doesn’t matter what POV you write from.

     I also appreciate someone who has a sense of history, or at least someone who can dig into history and pull out a connection between what they’re reviewing currently.

     Finally, there has to be a balance between writing that’s extremely casual and writing that feels like someone reads the dictionary for fun.

  57. As Bendis’ discussion continued, I believe what he was getting at – or at least what his points brought to my mind was this: if we believe comics to be a legitimate art for (and they are), then where are the legitimate, and professional critiques.  It’s the difference between a professional film critic and a movie news blog.  I’m not saying one is better than the other, but it would be good to see both.  But the work has to warrant it.

  58. Is there a lack of legitimate comic book critics? It would be nice to see a Rotten Tomatoes for comic book criticism, so you could see a lot of the big names with "those bloggers."

  59. Giving BMB the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he was making a (not quite clear) distinction between review and critique, which are two different modes of discussion of a topic. A review is very much an evaluation, while a critique is less that and more a method of disciplined, systematic analysis. I can see the heavily subjective play into the former, and not so much the latter.

  60. So would how Brian would feel were no one interested enough to discuss his comics?

    I love to read reviews, other folks’ opinions fascinate me (not as much as my own, but still …). There’s pleasure to be had in having people explain plot points I’ve missed, it’s good when readers agree with my own view and it’s terrific when someone comes out with something I’d not have spotted in a month of Sundays. Given that there are so few lettercols around these days, I value the online reviewing community. 

    Keep it up, folks. The more we review, the better we should get.

  61. When I ‘review’ my comics on my blog, I tend to come at it from a personal point of view, regardless if I liked the issue or not. I try to keep the personal opinion apart from the coverage of the book but really, all reviews are are the personal opinions of the people writing them.