Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

Home > Letters to CR

James Vance on Ingmar Bergman, Star Wars and Douglas Wolk
posted August 24, 2007

Since the gremlins are currently eating my blog again, I'll just say it here:

Ben Schwartz makes some fairly inarguable points -- including the ones about Ditko and the Cassavetes wannabes -- but he doesn't address the point which Eddie Campbell (or, more precisely, designer Mick Evans, who Eddie was quoting) made about Bergman having to justify the existence of Star Wars.

It isn't a matter of art vs. mainstream. It's a matter of good vs. crap. I don't believe that Eddie begrudges the popularity of any comic that's actually well done, whether it's a superhero comic or anything else. But I can't blame him for resisting the idea of being lumped into a generic notion of the form that includes poorly realized or immature work.

The difference between Star Wars and the best work of Keaton, Ford etc. is that Star Wars, for all its popularity and influence, isn't a very good movie. C3PO has Tom Joad beaten all to hell in action figure sales, but that doesn't make Lucas' movie any less clunky or juvenile. There's a reason that, as Schwartz puts it, "Bergman and his generation of world class filmmakers had no problem praising the work of Ford, Hawks, Keaton, and other crowd pleasing filmmakers who were also world class talents." It's the same reason that Bergman wasn't asked to justify the existence of Star Wars.

This is about as far from the original subject of Doug Wolk's book as I'd care to stray, but I do think Eddie and Mick make a legitimate point.

But all this, from Campbell and Schwartz and now me, is just hairsplitting about rumors. I'd be interested to hear if anyone who's actually read Wolk's book was disturbed by the same issue.