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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Monday, July 12, 2010

JEET CANNA DOIT

Specifically, what Jeet (Heer) canna do is to conflate interviews with comics-figures with comics criticism.

From his short essay, "Why We Need Criticism," 7-5-10:

If you click here you’ll find a podcast of a lively discussion of Ben Schwartz’s Best American Comics Criticism. Panelists include Schwartz himself as well as R. Fiore, Brian Doherty, Sammy Harkham and Joe Matt. Lots of contentious ideas are put forward (and some Comics Comics regulars are insulted) but I want to focus in particular on Matt’s statement that he doesn’t need to read criticism because he can decide for himself what’s good or not. That’s not an uncommon opinion and I think the proper response to this contention depends on what we mean by “criticism.” If we define criticism narrowly as analytical essays on an art form or particular works of art, then it’s true that criticism is a minority interest. But if we define criticism more broadly as any discussion of art or works of art, including conversations and the response of artists themselves to earlier art, then criticism is as unavoidable and essential as art itself. To be more concrete, some of the best comics criticism has come in the form of interviews done by artists like Gil Kane, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, etc. As Joe Matt mentions elsewhere in the discussion, he turns to interviews in The Comics Journal before anything else. Without these interviews, our entire sense of comics would be very different.


First of all, I'm at a disadvantage here because I can't currently listen to the podcast, but given the remarks of another poster on Jeet's blog, it can be a little hard to know who said what at times. So I can only go on what Jeet said Joe Matt said in these two instances:

Matt’s statement that he doesn’t need to read criticism because he can decide for himself what’s good or not.


and later:

As Joe Matt mentions elsewhere in the discussion, he turns to interviews in The Comics Journal before anything else.


The bulk of Jeet's argument goes something like, "Joe Matt says he doesn't like criticism, but he's actually reading one of the best sources of comics criticism whenever he turns to these JOURNAL interviews."

However, as readers can't tell at a glance exactly what Matt said and in what context, it may be jumping the gun to claim that Matt's reading the interviews for the kind of critically-oriented "conversations" which Jeet counts as part of the critical tradition. After all, the reason interviews are traditionally NOT considered parts of criticism is because they can include many things irrelevant to criticism as such.

Maybe Joe Matt does read, say, a humongous Gil Kane interview because he wants to read the response of that particular artist "to earlier art."

On the other hand, Matt's interests may be entirely instrumental. Since Joe Matt is a penciller himself, perhaps he reads the Kane interview to see Kane discourse not on other artists' exemplary works but on the specific tools he Kane uses in his own work-- types of pens or brushes, et al.

Or maybe Matt is simply interested in industry dirt. Who dun Kane wrong in the olden daze? What did Gil Kane think of Stan Lee? It's quite conceivable that any reader-- not necessarily Joe Matt in particular-- could skim through said Kane interview, ignoring Kane's Scorcese-like summation of the comics-industry and only watching to see Kane praise or blame other industry figures.

But even putting aside the other possible motivations of a reader, the motives of the interviewed have to be addressed as a way of determining whether or not "interviews" are "criticism:"

Put bluntly, with the exception of those interviews given by retired artists:

All
Other
Interviews
Are...



HYPE.

More later.

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