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Understanding Comics NOW!

This again. Tom Brevoort laments the lack of quality comic reviewers. Here's what i said about that last time. And this still comes across as "Oh, no one out there understands the great works of art we're producing!" to me. But let me try to get a little more constructive this time. Brevoort complains that reviews don't bring any "critical faculties or technical knowledge or analytical thinking" to their reviews. And this is where i wish that he still had his more long form blog instead of the tumblr page (and to be clear, i really do appreciate that Brevoort continues to put himself out there and interact with fans despite the fact that so many of the questions he gets are just awful). Because i'd like to see how Brevoort thinks people should be thinking about today's comics.

Jim Shooter has on his also-defunct blog a multi-part lecture on comics that was eye opening for me, using a random Kirby issue of Human Torch Strange Tales as an example. But so much of what Shooter takes as lessons from that book, from character introductions to panel framing to sequential action, has all gone out the window. Part of the problem is that a single issue can't really be judged on its own anymore (if you look at the question Brevoort was asked this time around, i initially thought it was going to be if there was a point to reviewing a single issue at all given the decompressed nature of modern comics), and part is (charitably) due to evolving art and writing styles. So the Kirby lens is no longer applicable, and from what i remember of Scott McCloud's seminal Understanding Comics, that's really out of date by modern standards too. So i'd really love - no snark - if Brevoort or someone else could take the time to really deconstruct a few issues and show how to apply the "technical knowledge" that he thinks reviewers should be bringing. Alternatively he could point to a reviewer that he does think does a good job, but the impression i get is that there aren't any.

For my part, obviously my Timeline reviews are more functional and mostly about how things fit into continuity, which we know isn't something Brevoort cares about. And my opinions there and especially my Speed Reviews here are exactly what Brevoort complains about, just me vomiting up my immediate impressions ("Here's what i think about this comic. BLAAAARGH!"). And i know Brevoort isn't talking about people on random blog sites; in fact his complaint is that the reviews on Newsarama and CBR read like random blog posts. But i have put Understanding Comics back in the bathroom for a refresher read. And i would really love if there was some sort of lesson for modern comics that might change my opinion that the attention to craft that the old school artists and writers had isn't lost, just changed.

By fnord12 | August 29, 2014, 1:23 PM | Comics


I think Brevoort once said that Tom Spurgeon (Comics Reporter)and Colin Smith (Too Busy Thinking About My Comics) were reviewers he enjoyed.

But the first doesn't really do superheroes and the latter is, well, long-winded. I really like some of Colin's pieces, but if I'm not super interested in the subject TLDR syndrome kicks in.

For what it's worth, I don't think either of them reminds me of a mainstream site film reviewer at all.

Thanks, entzauberung. It looks like Colin Smith's blog is defunct, and Spurgeon's main page is a tumblr-like collection of convention promos and Happy Birthdays, which would make putting it on my RSS feed to catch his reviews unwieldy, but i will poke through their sites and see what they do. A quick look at Spurgeon's Amanda Waller #1 review doesn't seem too different than the types of reviews i've seen elsewhere.