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

May 18, 2006

Wolk, Groth Talk Comics Criticism

Gary Groth on the Early Comics Journal Days

image"There were a lot of working professionals who were just sort of appalled at our attitude and probably at our punkish disrespect for mainstream, predominantly superhero, comics in general. They didn't think it was legitimate to criticize comics in that sort of high-toned way. Mainstream creators took a certain degree of pride in their work, but it was pride in them from the perspective of hard-core fans, and they weren't really imposing standards on them, other than craft standards, which had devolved from the history of comics -- and the history of comics is mostly just a history of crap. So when we came in and applied these 'exalted' standards to comics, creators were, frankly, pissed off."

Douglas Wolk on Tricks of the Trade

image"The trick to writing comics criticism meant for an audience beyond the cult, I think -- and, really, if the criticism is good enough and is in any kind of a general-interest venue, the audience will come -- is subtle exposition: I try to write for a general audience, and give them everything they need to know, without making it look like I'm explaining something esoteric. In a lot of ways, the long comics reviews I write are just book reviews; I figure out a hook or some kind of engaging way of addressing the subject, I assess the thing in question, and I don't make a big deal out of the fact that it's a comic, any more than [longtime New Yorker film critic Pauline] Kael would hem and haw over the fact that what she was reviewing was a motion picture."
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