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

June 28, 2006

PWCW Roundtable On Comics New Era

I know and like most of the people involved in this PWCW roundtable on comics' new era, including the moderator, but I have to be honest: the resulting article wasn't very good at all. It feels like Internet filler rather than the kind of focused, editorially accomplished article that should come from an institution backed by Publishers Weekly.

I've done my fair share of lazy roundtables, where the quotes are all collected under the same question put to people individually rather than people sitting down for a give and take and the building upon ideas that makes a roundtable worth doing in the first place. This one feels particularly disconnected and unfocused. The questions are too broad, while some of the answers are vague to the point of evasion and are never supported with the kind of facts or stringent example for which such strong assertions beg. The only perspective new to me at all is that of Gerry Donaghy at Powell's, and he provides most of the stretches of analysis I took away from the piece partly because they're novel. Everyone else, save for one nice bit by ADV's Chris Oarr, seems to be working from their core material, although Eric Reynolds' matter-of-fact responses end up being kind of funny in their terseness.

The introduction starts things out poorly. There's no reason on earth any introduction from a magazine of record on an entire era in the art form they cover should ever be that vague, date-light and fact-free; I think it over-simplifies a long and complicated period of economic malaise and makes this most recent period of mainstream press coverage sound like an older phenomenon than it is. I even disagree strongly with one of the introduction's few, specific examples. I admire and respect Neil Gaiman, but he's so not a good example of a creator whose new comics works have been emblematic of the marketplace rising out of the previous period, as Sandman ended in 1996, and his thimbleful of new comic works in the decade since have come from that legacy or from his take on Jack Kirby's.

This would not have been a good article for a random web site. I expect more of PWCW, mostly in that a lot of what was really low-quality about this piece could have been taken care of by editorial guidance early on and stricter editorial standards applied to the result. Typos are one thing, but no article that is seen by a paid employee other than the original writer should fail in the basic fact-checking department on a proper name (or, as I think takes place in another article, the right publisher). There are very few journalistic bodies in comics with the pull to assemble a roundtable worth our attention, but if the execution isn't going to be there on multiple levels, why bother?
posted 1:27 am PST | Permalink

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