Thursday, 26 November 2009

They Ripped His Trousers. Now Denim is his Plaid.

Sean Collins on random music references in comic book criticism:

"Just a week or two before I wrote that piece [comparing The Dark Knight Strikes Again to glo-fi pop music], I was complaining to someone about the pieces you'll read here and there along the lines of "This issue of Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers: Klarion the Witch-Boy is exactly like my favorite Sleater-Kinney album!!!" Now, art is not made in a vacuum, and even when direct influences aren't in play, resonances can be--people can tap into similar ideas or make similar decisions. It's as valuable for critics to be aware of what's going on in multiple disciplines as it is for artists themselves, and I think making connections you can make between disciplines is a perfectly valid approach. That said, making connections between anything and everything is as useless, critically, as making no connections at all."

Hey, I resemble that statement! This is the second time I've read one of Sean's offhand disses and felt my eye twitching, but I'm not taking it personally since I'd have to be a paranoid bastard to assume it was all about me. Plus Sean was cool about me tweaking his nipples at the start of my Inglourious Basterds post, so there's no reason for me to be a dick here.

Sean makes the above comments to defend his DKSA piece against criticisms that the musical references he used were completely arbitrary, and he's quite right to do so. Still, I find myself wanting to argue with Sean here, so maybe I am feeling a little touchy on this one! So, for example: The Filth doesn't look like Beyonce, and Beyonce sure as shit doesn't sound like The Filth, but I do listen to Beyonce when I'm trying to get away from the feelings The Filth generates, and in writing about them both together I can get at why.

Sometimes this technique is a big load of juvenile nonsense, and sometimes it's a useful way to write something more interesting than "I liked it because it was good/it was good because I liked it." The same good to bad ratio exists for the sort of clear line criticism that Collins deals in -- writers like Sean and Douglas can make it work, but how many of the eight thousand comics reviews that hit the Internet every week are worth reading?

In other words, to echo a refrain Sean made good use of in that interview, it all depends on the piece!

[EDITED TO ADD: If I wasn't such a self-involved prick, I would have also taken issue with the part of the interview where Chris Allen asks Sean how he feels about snarky critics like Tucker Stone and Abhay Khosla.

Sean says that he feels "suspicious" of the validity of this kind of criticism because "the harshness quickly becomes an end in itself." In the abstract that might be a fair enough point, and Sean does qualify it by saying that "It depends on the piece," but when those two writers have been specifically mentioned? Well, then it's time to call bullshit. I mean sure, those guys take the piss A LOT, but in both cases you get the same sense that you get from TV critic Charlie Brooker, i.e. that the hatred comes from an awareness of how good this shit can be.

Also, the snark is only one part of Abhay's writing -- no one else has written anything that gets at the heart of Scott Pilgrim like this piece does, for example. And Tucker? Well, he's no one trick pony either, and it's not like he's shy about praising comics when he likes them. Only last week he gave the latest volume of Naoki Urasawa's Pluto a full on crotch rub while giving Flash: Rebirth a quick kick to the dick, and if that's not the key to cosmic balance then I'll eat my own power ring.

Still, Tucker and Abhay are big boys, and neither of them needs to hide behind my peely-wally Scottish arse. In fact, I've just got to the end of this edit, and I see that Tucker has (deliberately or otherwise) defended his style way better than I ever could. Just check out this priceless bit from the end of his latest Blackest Night review:
It's about exactly what it says it's about, which is that a whole bunch of various colored and various emotion themed magic ring wielding teams are going to team up and combine the colors of their various wishing rings to construct another, more powerful and more pure color so that they can stop the physical embodiment of death, which is a bipedal humanoid character who speaks English that used to fight Captain Atom. The best part of the entire thing so far was in an issue of Green Lantern Corps, when a big black thing tried to steal Queen Coleman from the Smurf planet, but then he was stopped by a Mexican suicide bomber.

And honestly? You can pretty much add exclamation points to those last two sentences right there, and you can add the word "Awesome!", and you'll have produced a rough approximation of every positive review that this piece of shit is ever going to get. That's how easy it is to write about a positive comic book review. Make a fucking note.

Yeah, that sums it up just nicely, I think. Saying the word "AWESOME!" 'til your mouth bleeds is easy. Making genuine entertainment out of a week's worth of shitty comics? That's pretty close to modern day alchemy.]


David Golding said...

Any technique can be used weakly. But I think your multimedia hypertext essays are exemplary, so keep up the juxtaposition!

Duncan said...

I'm really quite cross about that bit of what was imnsho quite a self-congratulatory and irksome interview. (The DK2 write-up was excellent though, so.)

The thing is, David A, it's not as if you don't use your lengthy digressions to (often, thrillingly) illuminate your primary topic - I'm absolutely guilty of this, but that's largely because I spend as little time as possible shitting out my pieces, a terrible habit I developed at university.

David said...

Thanks guys!

I don't think it was a deliberate dig, but the Grant Morrison/Sleater-Kinney thing felt pretty specific. The only combinations that would have been more on the nose would have been Jack Kirby/Marnie Stern or David Foster Wallace/Eddie Campbell/Mogwai, you know?

Heh -- I could actually write both of those essays, plus I'm sure I could put together something comparing Klarion the Witch Boy #1 with Sleater-Kiney's 'Dead Air', so...

Yeah, I am that guy, but that's okay, because I make it work.

But Duncan -- seriously mate, I love your digressive essays! They're just a wee bit looser and less self-important than my efforts, and I think that's a good thing. Your latest post, with all the bits about the metal club, was fucking great, and the only reason I've not commented on it yet is because I feel it requires a suitably drunken response.

David said...

David: See, what you've done at the end there is confuse the idea of writing a positive review of a comic book with being a supporting character on Chuck.

Evil Dave: What?

David: You know the one I mean! That captain awesome guy? He's what the American's call "a bit of a bro", you know?

Evil Dave: Fuck off Dave. You know I don't watch tedious American TV shows like this "Chuck", if it even exists.

Which I highly suspect it doesn't.

Also, no American has ever used the term "a bit of a bro". Ever.

David: Yes they have, but-- Hey! It's only you who likes to be called Dave, remember?

Evil Dave: Aaaaah!

David: What?

Evil Dave: Aaaaaaah!

David: I don't really know that this is an "Aaaaah!" situation .

Evil Dave: Aaaaah! Don't you see? I'm Evil Dave, so of course I know that you don't like being called Dave.

David: Fuck off!

Evil Dave: That's what I called you Dave, you Gonk! Because I'm EEEEEEVVVVIIILLLL!!!!

David: How many people are going to get the Fist of Fun pastiche we're doing here Evil Dave?

Evil Dave: Hopefully no one will, because you see, what we've done here is mistake the use of a couple of fifteen-year-old catchphrases for a competent impersonation of a well conceived double act.

David: Ah, I see. You’re right.

Evil Dave: Of course I’m right! I’m not an arse-backwards mouth breather like you! I wasn’t born and raised on the mean streets of East Kilbride, so I notice things that don’t have to do with roundabouts and random stabbings.

David: Actually, I was born in Rutherglen, Dave, and--

Evil Dave: Oh shut up will you!

I’m from Glasgow, so I’ve got a better ear for this sort of thing. Which is why I’m telling you that we’ve messed this up.

David: How?

Evil Dave: Well, for starters, which one of us is doing the Stewart Lee voice and which one of us is being Richard Herring?

David: Ah, I see. You’re right again, actually. You started off being Stewart Lee, but it all went a bit Herring in the middle.

Evil Dave: Yes it did.

David: So, have we got anything else to say or should we just bugger off now and write something useful?

Evil Dave: You do what you want Dave. I’ll be there. Just waiting for another opportunity to make you look like a vain, hypersensitive prat.

David: Ummm… thanks for that.

Well, that’s it for now. I’m just glad that we didn’t say anything rude about Comic Book Galaxy like you wanted to.

Evil Dave: Yeah. Me too.

Sean T. Collins said...

Hey fellas--

David, I didn't have any specific post in mind, though in retrospect I'm sure your Sleater-Kinney posts are what popped that band into my head as a reference. (Morrison was going to be the comics end of that example regardless. I mean, duh.) But I could have just as easily said any other band--actually, I briefly contemplated mentioning an old comparison I remember Warren Ellis making between Howard Chaykin and Frank Miller's '80s satires and Phil Spector, but decided against it because even though I think the comparison falls apart upon close examination, I could at least see where the Wall of Sound idea made sense on a surface level.

I understand where you're coming from with your Beyonce/Filth example, but I suppose what I'm trying to say is that at a certain point, connections of that nature are of value primarily to the person making that connection. For example, I recently got to the point where I compare anything and everything to Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, because of how much Tim and Eric I've been watching and how very, very impressed I am by it, but I also know that outside the vacuum of my head, there's not really a connective tissue I could point to for other people to appreciate and understand. You had to be there. I think with many of Vibrational Match's longer cross-disciplinary essays, I come away feeling like "Well, I guess you had to be there." Obviously it works for plenty of people, but it doesn't always work for me.

I'm sure i'm "guilty" of this myself from time to time of course. Like that Inglourious Basterds post. I think that thing is about ME ME ME at least as much as it's about Quentin Tarantino, Trent Reznor, or Ian Kershaw. I dunno.

Anyway, I also wanna say that I was responding to Chris going after the notion of comparing comics to music at all--I felt he was writing it off as all completely arbitrary. So I tried to draw a line, and in doing so I drew it through other ways of talking about comics and music with which I was familiar. Although I guess that doesn't explain my preexisting complaint. Shrug?

As for Tucker and Abhay, in my defense, Chris brought them up, not me. I deliberately avoided saying "The thing about Tucker is" or "My problem with Abhay is" in order to avoid giving the impression that I was calling them out individually. Also in my defense, I certainly wouldn't (and didn't) say either of them is "a one trick pony," so that's a bit of a strawman. But am I suspicious when I read one of Abhay's posts, or one of Tucker's weekly round-ups, that I'm getting primarily a performance rather than an interaction with the work? Yes I am. I realize that sounds horrible--accusing someone of bad faith in their criticism always really, really bothers me when people do it to me, it's as bad as just out and out getting called names. But I don't actually think either of those guys IS reviewing in bad faith--I think they say what they mean and mean what they say. What I'm trying to say is that...I think the schtick interferes. I'd love for Tucker to spend as much time talking about Fantagraphics and PictureBox--or even just superhero comics that aren't obviously terrible!--as he does about the Comics of the Weak. I'd love for Abhay to write a review that wasn't also a stand-up comedy routine. I'm definitely not attacking the notion of negative reviews, just a certain brand of ostentatious negativity that for me gets in the way of what I want to know about the comic in question and what the writer thought of it.

David said...

Hey Sean, thanks for the long and courteous response!

Now, while Evil Dave was trying to cause a little bit of mischief here, I trust that it’s clear that I’m not harbouring any ill feeling about this whole thing. It’s true that I read your interview at exactly the wrong moment and ended up venting a little bit on the blog, but I hope that I managed to emphasise the skewed perspectives involved throughout.

(And yeah, Morrison is probably as close to a universal subject as we have on the ever-more-fractured comics Internet. Like I said in an earlier comment, I didn’t take your comment as a deliberate diss – I just saw myself in it, which I think is pretty understandable given the S-K thing.)

If my post and its subsequent comments have came across as being genuinely pissy then hey, that’s my fault for not expressing myself more clearly – feel free to call me on it!

With regards to my long-form essays, with their various screwy tangents, I can appreciate how they wouldn’t work for you, and I am very aware of the potential ”you had to be there” factor. However, to take it back to the previous paragraph, I’m always trying to do more than simply express myself. Because if all I wanted to do was “express myself” (my words, not yours!), I could go outside and ring a bell or shout at some strangers or something.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the techniques I use here necessarily work – obviously, they don’t always work for you, though I think you’ve enjoyed at least a few of my weirder posts, and I’m genuinely thankful for the various times you’ve linked to this blog over the past couple of years.
Still, when I read that bit of your interview, I did feel the need to try to stand up for the kind of writing that you were dismissing. After thinking about it a bit more, I’m still going to come out swinging for the kind of performative criticism you were gently kicking about.
So: your (excellent) DKSA post was built to do one thing, and my (also pretty excellent!) Jack Kirby/Sleater-Kinney post was built to do something else entirely.

And while I enjoyed watching you build a new context for Frank Miller’s work, I also think that what I was doing was valid and not really at all like your Tim and Eric comparison.

(Continued in the next comment)

David said...

The chain of events goes something like this: Tim O’Neil writes an amazing post on Sleater-Kinney that uses images from Jack Kirby’s Fourth World comics to emphasise his point. There’s no “connective tissue” there, but who cares? On the level of immediate impression, his post communicates far more effectively because of the juxtaposition of those images with those thoughts. On a deeper level, well, how far you want to take that juxtaposition is up to you!

While admiring the evocative nature of O’Neil’s post, I found myself having a minor disagreement with his reading of Sleater-Kinney’s last album, and I decided to investigate this by replacing his chosen Jack Kirby samples with a few of my own. Now, this may not have worked for you, and it might not have worked for a lot of other people, but I honestly think that this was the neatest, most exciting way I could write about that Sleater-Kinney album. There was a point to that essay beyond “I love Sleater-Kinney, and I love Jack Kirby, and these things get mushed together in my head”. It was a genuine attempt to make an argument about the power of overtly depressing art to inspire a sort of positive rage, and in yoking together two disparate ideas I hoped to make the case for hope in a new and exciting way.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I am to blogging as John Donne was to renaissance poetry!

(Only joking! Well, mostly...)

At the risk of over-explaining myself and making look like even more of a pompous ass than I usually do, here’s another example:

By writing about The Filth and Beyonce, I wasn’t just trying to convey my experience of how two things that don’t connect can end up connecting in your head, though that was where the post started. What I was trying to do was to create a new way of reflecting on one the primary themes of my Filth essays – the idea that escapism is always tainted by the very things it’s supposed to help you escape from. So while there’s none of that aforementioned “connective tissue” between Morrison’s comic and Beyonce’s performance, I do think that the mania involved in Beyonce’s ostensibly huge and triumphant pop noise is a useful illustration of the fractured escapism that permeates The Filth. And I think that this comparison works precisely because it’s jarring and it’s wrong and the contexts don’t match.

Which is why that Tim and Eric comment is sticking in my craw a little. Because I get what you’re saying, but that analogy would only hold true if I wasn’t aware of the disjunction between my subjects. Like most everyone I know, I live way too deeply within my own skull, and of course I end up creating connections that aren’t there between all sorts of things. I spent a good month unable to think about Pixar’s Ratatouille without thinking about Eddie Campbell’s Alec books, for example. And hey, I once toyed with the idea of writing a piece which discussed All Star Superman #8 through a series of references to Beckett’s drama, but I threw that idea in the bin when I realised that it didn’t say anything more than “I went to Glasgow Uni but I’m still a geek, d’ye ken?

Like I said, I know that you were using that Tim and Eric anecdote to empathise with the sort of obscure comparisons I indulge in, and to suggest that this method might be slightly counterproductive, but I can’t help but feel that the comparison makes my blog sound like a load of badly thought out, un-reflective nonsense, when it’s actually got the opposite problem! Far too much thought goes into deciding what juxtapositions to use, and I’m aware that my whole style can come across as affected and overbearing.

(Continued in the next comment)

David said...

The fourth comment on this thread? That’s total geeky indulgence, the clear by-product of me re-watching Fist of Fun and just letting that leak out onto the keyboard like so much yummy semen. It’s the kind of thing I’d come out with to amuse/alienate my friends, though... actually, given the masturbatory imagery I’ve been playing with, that might make it sound like I'm a slightly worrying character!

The posts that make it onto the blog? The ones I spend far too much time writing and rewriting?

They’re something entirely different – a genuine, if occasionally clumsy, attempt to break out of my own head communicate with people who I’ve never met. They’re also very earnest attempts to interact with the art that excites me the most, and if they fail in this regard it’s a result of my limitations as a writer rather than my over-attachment to my own feeble worldview.

(Continued in the next comment, unless my fingers fail me, which they just might!)

David said...

And... I'll pick this up later.

Karen has arrived, and remarkable as it might seem, there are limits to my stupidity!

Sean T. Collins said...


HAHA JK LOL I couldn't resist!

Seriously, no harm no foul, so please stop apologizing for gingerly disagreeing with me on this or that! I am happy you're a part of the blogosphere and was super-glad of your comeback. I've had harsher disagreements than this with my wife over the laundry for pete's sake. I'm glad to hear you feel the same way in the opposite direction.

I get your point about the inadequacy of the Tim and Eric analogy. What I would say in response is that I could probably coax a connection out if I wanted to--and now I wish I could remember a specific thing (other than the DKSA post) where I thought of a T&E comparison but I can't--but I end up not wanting to. I don't doubt that you're putting a lot of time and thought and effort into what you write and I don't mean to imply that it's tossed off or unconsidered.

David said...

Ah, good old "tl;dr" -- how I hate it!

Which is to say: No, I won't stop apologising, because I MUST BE THE NICEST!!

And if Duncan found the interview that kicked this whole discussion off “self-congratulatory and irksome”, I can only imagine what he’ll make of my comments here! How my dandyish egotism has went unchecked in Glasgow for so long, I don’t honestly know....

Anyway, I won't bother writing any further justifications of my own style, except to say that while I try to write me, I try not to write about me.

This blog is only a partial success at best, but if I don't always achieve everything I set out to, I'm near it.

With regards to the bit of your interview where you discussed snarky comic book criticism, I know that Chris brought Tucker and Abhay up, and I feel kinda bad for making this about specific people since you obviously didn't want to do that. And yeah, you put your "It depends on the piece" bit in, but still -- those two guys had been specifically mentioned, and it seems to me that if you're not going to mention them in your response, it's going to look like your whole response is applicable to their work.

So I get why you feel I'm attacking a straw man with my "no one trick pony" defences, but again -- those two guys had been named. If it was me, I'd feel the responsibility to make sure my answer addressed how I felt about those two writers, even if it was only by qualifying my comments to note that they don’t always apply to their work.

Then again, like I said, I MUST BE THE NICEST!!

(Continued in the next comment)

David said...

Anyway, I think your thoughts on Tucker and Abhay’s work are kinda connected to your feelings aabout this blog (but then again, I would, wouldn’t I?).

Like, when you say that you'd “love for Abhay to write a review that wasn't also a stand-up comedy routine”, I just can’t understand why! What you see as “shtick” I see as a really smart, funny way to write about comics. Same with Tucker’s work.

I don’t write like either of those guys, but all three of us put on a bit of a performance, a bit of a song and dance, and the difference between you and me is that I’m not on fire.

No, wait, that's not quite right.

Ah, yes: the difference between me and you is that I think it works.

David Golding said...

"I'm near it!"

Zom said...

And then there's the Poodle.

The thing is, if you asked Amy I strongly suspect he would say that what he does shouldn't strictly be considered reviewing, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find a smart reader who didn't understand that simple fact. Yes, he makes observations about form and content, and some of those observations look like the kind of observations that Sean or Douglas might make, but there's a lot else going on there besides: performance (oh yes!), intellectual playfulness (see his "review" Batman & Robin #3's cover), and perhaps most prominently *play* fullstop (rogue's reviews are a case in point).

This weird, mixed approach sometimes falls flat on its face, and is almost always flawed, but there's no denying the fact that people like it, and I remain convinced that it's not just because they find it merely amusing. Amy, I would contend, is very good at articulating his perpective, making the reader feel what he feels. Yeah, that's not criticism in the sense that Sean would understand it, but being put in someone else's shoes does force the engaged reader to ask hard questions about their reactions to the work in question, and in some instances it might well colour their future experiences.

Then there's also the fact that Amy's ends are much of the time clearly not the ends of a critic. I mentioned play above, and by that I mean tapping into the ways in which we supergenre fans enjoy playing with the objects of our genre obsessions in out heads, just as we played with action figures when we were kids. Rogue's reviews and some of his annocommentation observations are designed to encourage the reader to engage in that kind of activity.

"Clear line" criticism is a valuable thing, It keeps us sane by keeping the discussion within popularly recognized, rational bounds. The fuzzy thing that Tucker, Abhay and Amy do would be much more problematic were they political bloggers, for example - that way lies the Rush Limbaughs of this world. *But* they're not political bloggers, they're blogging about comics mostly to savvy readers. There is no principle to protect here.

David said...

Ah, so that's how you state your case without sounding hyped up and needy -- thanks Zom!

Your last point is particularly well made, I think. I'm all for keeping your eye on the important details, but when it comes to writing about fiction, a little creativity can go a long way.

I love this weird little corner of the Internet, and if it wasn't for the fact that I was trying to stick to talking about people who had already been mentioned (plus myself, obviously!!) I would definitely have brought Amy into it. Plok too, probably, because that man scares me!

David said...

I've been trying to work out what to make of this, but... is it worth getting cross over?

I mean, sure, Marc Sobel invokes me as a linkless ghost, the loudest voice in a chorus of ethereal dullards who were too blinded by porn to appreciate "obscure" references to Patti Smith and Willhelm Reich, but it's not worth throwing another strop about that, is it?

Even though my post was kind've all about how Birdland acknowledges the limits of unfettered sexual play as a route to transcendance, which is Sobel's subject too?

Even though the comments Sobel uses to show how the faceless masses dismissed the book were actually used to make the points he goes on to make?

Even though no one really needs to be told that Reich's ideas can be pretty fucking tedious and stupid?

I mean, don't get me wrong: I've quite enjoyed Sobel's close reading of the book, though I think my post is truer to the gooey essence of Birdland itself.

And I know that my excessive use of hyperbole, allusion and speculative fantasy can be quite distracting for some readers, but still -- if you're going to quote someone directly, it's kind've dishonest not to link to the source.

Zom said...

I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it, David. The sheer volume of content on the internet means that you’ll always come across people who don’t like and/or have misunderstood what you do. That’s a given, especially when you take into account the fact that the structures of traditional publishing that historically would have helped to segregate crit from creation from whatever else no longer apply, and that consequently there’s a lot of room for confusion about what people are actually trying to do. The thing is, today’s self publishing tech allows for lots of critical experimentation that simply wouldn’t have been viable (i.e. affordable) under the old publishing models, and people are still in the very early stages of figuring out what works. This means that confusion around the blurring of different modes of discourse isn’t just an issue for readers, but also for content creators – the folk at the sharp end, as it’s pretty easy to get lost when you’re playing out there on the edges of what’s acceptable.

Shit happens, that's for sure - I've produced my fair share of it - and quality does need to be protected, but we also perhaps need to keep our minds open.

There are of course bigger philosophical issues here. Questions about the nature of criticism and the concept of the text. Your approach would I imagine look much more acceptable to someone who is keen on deconstruction than to someone with more traditional philosophical leanings.

Sean T. Collins said...

David: Like, when you say that you'd “love for Abhay to write a review that wasn't also a stand-up comedy routine”, I just can’t understand why! What you see as “shtick” I see as a really smart, funny way to write about comics. Same with Tucker’s work.

Well, in Abhay's case, I actually don't find it funny. Even when I disagree with it, which is often, I like his actual critical content so much more than I like the ostensibly comedic stuff. Moreover I've seen the latter obscure the former for readers I respect. Tucker is very funny--good old fashioned curbstomping of dumb shit by a guy who really knows how to write rarely fails me--but I feel like there have to be better ways for him to spend his time than by ending reviews of Supergirl or whatever it was with the sentence "Suck this cock." And indeed, his kick-ass decade-in-review piece from yesterday is a terrific case in point.

Zom: I mentioned play above, and by that I mean tapping into the ways in which we supergenre fans enjoy playing with the objects of our genre obsessions in out heads, just as we played with action figures when we were kids.

Hmm. That's very interesting (though there's an obvious pejorative read to it that not even a skeptic like me would actually intend).

Zom said...

Wrote that in a hurry.

I probably wouldn't compare what I do in my Rogue's Reviews with what I did as a kid if I were looking to entice a more hostile audience, that's for sure. In fact I'm certain that I could construct a description which would be much more fit for mass consumption. I wouldn't want to put too much work in, however, as I tend to think that the Western world is full of people (grown men and women, many millions of them) who enjoy toying with explicitly fantastical narratives. I'm just being honest about it.

Mind you, just because a lot of people do it doesn't make it a good thing, but that's another conversation entirely.

Hmmm... going off at a tangent it seems to me that Rogue's Reviews and Heroic Hypes have a lot in common with not just fan fic, but with slash fiction.

David said...

Hey, so that whole Birdland thing? I mentioned it over on Marc Sobel's blog, and it turns out that the essay was originally written for print, hence the lack of linkage.

Apparently a planned list of sources was scrapped in the transition from print to screen, which… yeah, that makes sense. So while it would've been nice to be properly credited, Marc was real gentlemanly about the whole thing, and I'm sure he didn't deliberately misrepresent my post. Which mean that I feel like a bit of a cock for my earlier rantings, but so it goes.

Zom, you're right, and I'm normally pretty happy with the fact that it's impossible to be everything to everyone. This post and comments thread haven't really caught me at my best –no one really comes off well when they try to justify their existence, do they?– but there’s been some interesting banter here all the same.

Speaking of which – the deconstructionist perspective!!!

If you look at my previous blog, you can see me struggling to integrate my early, chatty blogging style with four years’ worth of post-structuralist theory and failing badly. Honestly, while Cakes & Money was simply mediocre, I think there’s some straight-up terrible writing on Cakes & Money 2.0. That said, I’m still proud of the fact that some bright young thing called Kieron Gillen was so baffled by my claims that I was starting an online cake business that he emailed me to ask what the fuck was going on. He’s come a long way since then, the bastard!

Anyway, this piece on Kill Your Boyfriend by way of Pink’s ‘Stupid Girls’ is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. It’s maybe the worst thing I’ve ever written, but it was really important in pointing me towards my current style. Could I have got here without taking that stop in shitsville? Well, maybe, but the point I’m trying to make is that my current blogging style is an attempt to move beyond my more academic, deconstructionist leanings without disregarding them entirely.

I’m glad that I’ve got a forum to try to work these things out, and that so many smart people seem to want to come along and talk this shit over with me. If I ever lose site of that, please feel free to throw a bucket of water over my stupid, stupid face.

“Hmmm... going off at a tangent it seems to me that Rogue's Reviews and Heroic Hypes have a lot in common with not just fan fic, but with slash fiction.”

You’re probably right mate, but – importantly! – while they definitely come from the same place as most slash/fan fic, they don’t share many of the same degraded tropes. Didn’t Noah Berlatsky have a wee dig at Marvel and DC comics for being “corporate fan fiction” a while back? Because he wasn’t all wrong, but I’d say that your Rogue and Heroic pieces have more to do with the (rare!) good comics that those companies put out than with the worst excesses of either the industry or the fan community.

(Continued in the next comment)

David said...

Sean C -- if you don’t find Abhay funny then hey, fair enough! The great big wall of different tastes is a hard one to climb, and when humour is involved I think the struggle is even harder. (Heh – that’s some real fortune cookie shit right there! Maybe I should consider a career change…?)

I know that some people find Abhay’s tricks a little distracting, but the funny bits are an essential part of the show, keeping you at arms length from his main argument and then smacking you in the face with it at just the right moment.

And as much as I love watching Tucker strutting his stuff over the course of a long piece, I still enjoy the nippy wee reviews he writes for Comics of the Weak and Advanced Common Sense. Is there a better use of his time? I’m not so sure – there’s a specific sort of bad-weirdness you get with superhero comics, and Tucker’s really good at riffing on it. Like that whole “That’s what being a hero means – sometimes, you’ve got to take a baby out” bit from the most recent Advanced Common Sense... that was absolutely perfect, and Tucker comes out with brilliant little bits like that on an embarrassingly regular basis.

So... ice-cream cake anyone? I used to be famous for it, and I’ll sell it at half price to my American friends.