I’ve been hosting and editing most of the episodes of a little something called the Tres Komikeros podcast since late 2008 — cutting out stutters, non-PC comments, and the occasional five minutes of nonsensical rambling. It’s a tough job. It’s an often thankless job, but looking at how far the show has come and the friends we’ve made, I can honestly say it’s all been well worth it.
Last month, TK hit a noteworthy 100 episodes. Over the span of four years, we’ve grown from a small crew of just me, a kind and bright-eyed artist from Cebu; Alex Cipriano, a relentless comics and gaming fan and one of my closest friends, and EJ Afzelius; a writer/model double-agent based in Manila — to a man-sized serving that includes Miguel Santos, a hotel manager from Davao; and finally Nick Santos (no relation), a film school graduate also based in Cebu. We are by no means the only comics-related podcast in the Philippines, but I can say with a stout heart that we are certainly the most prolific (for the lowest price consistent with quality). From reviews to interviews to topic discussions and the like, the podcast has come a long way and, surprisingly, taught me a lot about art. Specifically, the appreciation of it.
See… when you’re reviewing stacks of comics every week, the temptation to just compare them to each other or to something that came before is certainly present. And while that can sometimes count as a valid review, it isn’t always a fair one. All art is subjective after all, and are products of unique individuals with unique weaknesses and strengths. Thus the act of compare and contrast to “review” their work is in itself a flawed practice. Doing so not only opens you up to bias, because we all have our favorites, but it also has the potential to hurt feelings. That may sound like a non-issue to most, but when you’re lucky enough (as we on the show are) to know some of these creators personally, the ice on Critic’s Creek can get surprisingly thin.
So the solution, though it may not come naturally to most, is to critique a piece of work according to what you feel the artist intended to do. The focus on intent helps get you to the heart of the matter. What is this story trying to tell you? Are the characters, setting, dialogue and other elements contributing to a perceived tone? Does the art do its job? Does the story get communicated? Is there even a story there, or is the artist just intending to have fun? And the line of questioning goes on, because suddenly you’re judging a book on its sole merits rather than the cavalcade of books that came before.
Being mindful of intent helps one grow as both a reviewer and a creator. And I find it’s helping me focus on the task at hand, which at the end of the day, is attempting to show people something they’ve never seen before. Less historians, more pioneers.
Let’s all go read some comics.