Not enough time this week for anything more than a link round-up. Still, there’s been plenty of interesting discussions and postings going on over the past few weeks. Here’s just a few of them.
* I didn’t get his email in time for the last column, but Tom Spurgeon had an excellent pick for best critical piece of 2007.
* Speaking of Spurgeon, he recently took part in a fascinating round-table talk with Dan Nadel and Jeet Heer for the radio InkStuds program about comics and art. That exchange led Tom to wonder about his own critical facilties:
I wonder sometimes if I have a sharp enough, fully-realized enough view of the art form to be as specific and discerning as I need to be when it comes to fashioning an initial take on the comics I’m confronting. In short, I think I may like too many comics. This was an advantage ten years ago when liking a lot of comics allowed one to string together the best works from a lot of places into the most positive face for a struggling art form. It was easier to make those individual distinctions back then because good comics were so much more rare and thus stood out with greater clarity against the heaving background of awfulness that was the art form.
* Along similar lines, Greg Burgas tries to explain why he does what he does:
What I try to do with the weekly reviews is simply tell people who read this blog what’s out there, give a basic summary (if it’s something that is new or somewhat obscure) and give my basic impressions of the issue. The reason I do that is to let people know if there’s something out there that they might enjoy but haven’t heard of yet. It’s surprising to me, when I talk to some people at my comics shoppe, how few of them even dare try something outside of Big Two Superhero Books.
* I have mentioned Thought Balloonists haven’t I?
* Over at Comixology, Kristy Valenti provides part one of a two-part profile of comic strip scholar, archivist and author Bill Blackbeard:
Although he continued to collect comic strips, he also had other pursuits in early adulthood: according to Nicholson Baker in his book Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, Blackbeard served in World War II and wrote for Weird Tales. But in 1967, Blackbeard’s archival efforts began in earnest when he discovered that, in their switch to microfilm, libraries were getting rid of the hard copies of the materials: even such institutions as the Library of Congress were doing so. In a personal interview, Blackbeard said “I thought the obvious solution is to become a university, or at least the equivalent of one: a non-profit organization. In the case of most universities, they could not dispose of any of their reference material, being a non-profit organization: any of their reference material from books to recordings to paintings to magazines to newspapers. All they could do is pass it on to another institution. So I became that other institution.
* Help pick the next cage match over at Comics Comics.
* Bookninja reports on a recent study of ethics in book reviewing:
68.5 percent of book reviewers think anyone mentioned in a book’s acknowledgements should be barred from reviewing it.
64.9 percent think anyone who has written an unpaid blurb for a book should also be banned from writing a fuller review.
76.5 percent think it’s never ethical to review a book without reading the whole thing.
* Andrew Hickey explains rather compellingly why Dave Sim matters:
So while Sim doesn’t appear to understand how other people think, he’s a keen observer of how those people behave. While the motives he gives in interviews for Jaka’s behaviour make no sense when compared to real human beings, at the same time you know that the character as portrayed thus far would show her ringless hand when reaching Sand Hill Creek. And while Sim appears to regard Bear in Guys as a largely admirable figure, while I think of him as a revolting boor, both of us would, I think, agree on how the character would behave in a given situation, because he’s drawn accurately. I may not like it that many groups of men, placed together in a bar without women, would behave like the men in Guys, but I don’t deny that that is the way many men do behave.
* A number of people have been impressed with this review, including me.
* A fellow who only wishes to be known as “Indie Comics Fan” has started a review blog.
* Lastly, and just in case you’re under the impression that comics have made it in the mainstream media, I point you to this incredibly snide and condescending review of Frederik Peeters’ Blue Pills:
Generally speaking, I prefer my art on canvas and my prose in paragraphs. Therefore, with a fear and loathing of the Thompsonian variety, I picked up Blue Pills for my first experience with a graphic memoir. We now live in a post-literate society, and I must regrettably acknowledge that the graphic novel format is likely to be with us for a very long time.
We’ve come so far.