Comics and Basic Intentions

When I published the previous entry entitled “Podcasting and the Value of Intent” just over a month ago, I felt a sort of gut catharsis that I got enough of my thoughts on the matter to be coherent enough to actually make sense.  But later on I realized that I had only tackled half of the matter, making this thematic “sequel” necessary.  And by necessary I don’t mean all will be right in the universe once I hit ‘post’, it just means my OC-ness can take a breather or two.  So… onward with the talking very  seriously about very silly things.

When Reading Comics (!), sure it’s all well and good to be mindful of the creator’s intent when you’re reading his product, but the other more important half of the equation is what you yourself intend to get out of it.  What are your intentions every time you pick up a comic book to read it?  Simply put, what do you expect to get out of the experience?

To backtrack a little bit, the idea of this blog post was actually sparked when I saw a comic fan absolutely panning a graphic novel on his website, almost to the point that you thought it was personal.  If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that whoever made that book had snuck into that gentleman’s house in the dead of night and farted in his pillow while he was asleep.  And nobody likes that (I checked).  But the point in its totality clarified itself to me when this vitriolic pedant did nothing but sing high praises for the likes of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.  Now that is all well and good, and I agree that those two are quite talented, but (and spoiler alert) not everyone can be Moore and Morrison.

 

And that brings me back to asking you what you expect to get from a comic.  Coz look… if you buy a stack every week, sit down on your comfiest chair and sip on your loveliest beverage, and expect to read Watchmen every time you open a book, you’re going to be disappointed every. single. time.

Are you after closure? Maybe you shouldn’t be reading Spider-Man then.  Are you after realism?  Are you after grit?  Understand that a comic can tell you a story along that line the best way it knows how, but also understand that a comic book may also not necessarily be the best place to decisively deal with something like hunger in Africa.

Set your expectations.  Or better yet, learn not to have any and just let the comic do its job and tell you a story.  Do not, and this is something I myself am guilty of sometimes, try to think ahead of the story.  That can be fun and engaging, but depending on what kind of person you are it affects its own set of annoyances and grievances I’d rather not get into in this post.

To know what you want is to know your place.  Enjoy the Ride and Quit being a bitch.

All told.

 

Podcasting and the Value of Intent

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.