Monday, June 4, 2007

Mostly Newsarama-related

-Oh, awesome, Matt Brady (Newsarama version) has again expressed his disdain for critics of tentacle-enhanced covers.* How long before Brady starts addressing Quesada as "my liege" or "your worship?" (Similar thoughts, only more diplomatic, here.)

Not-so-quick question: Do you think the ever-growing comics blogosphere countervails Newsarama, or is there just too much noise for the average reader? Or are Newsarama readers just not interested in blogs? I do think Newsarama is an improvement over Wizard, but I fully mean that as faint praise. When Matt Brady (NV) asks "tough" questions, they usually reflect fanboy concerns above all else--ie, how does this fit into established continuity? There's not nearly enough concern with aesthetics, let alone the ugly intrusion of the "real world," where it doesn't take a hardcore otaku to recognize a tentacle as a phallic object. ** (Quick, what's the most persistent, seemingly non-solipsistic controversy to rage on Joe Fridays? My guess would be Quesada's ban on smoking in Marvel comics, which is controversial only to the extent to which fanboys consider the cigar a mandatory accessory for Nick Fury, the Thing, and Wolverine.) On the other hand, many blogs either wallow in nostalgia (in both ironic and non-ironic flavors) or share the same fanboyish concerns as Brady's readers. Others (including this one) are openly antagonistic to superhero fans, thus discouraging these prospective readers.

What I'm asking, basically, is (a) if we need an alternative to Newsarama, and (b) if such a thing would have any hope of succeeding without the stream of exclusive news and interviews that have made Newsarama (and to a lesser extent CBR) such a juggernaut in the comics-related internet. Not that I'm looking to start such a thing--you should all know that I'm too modest (read: lazy) to even consider it--but I'd definitely support an undertaking of this sort. But when I imagine this hypothetical news site, it basically looks like a consolidated, less schizophrenic version of the blogosphere. So would there be a point to such a site?

*That would be a good gimmick cover--die-cut tentacles that pop out. Or take it a step further and produce a pop-up book, one that allows the reader to control the boob-caressing motions of the tentacles. I will have to ask for a percentage of any profits from this deal, Mr. Quesada.

**I mean, holy fuck people, just because the average American is (thankfully) not familiar with this sub-sub-genre doesn't excuse the cover. Let's not substitute willful obtuseness for cleverness, please. Also, is the specter of Team Comics returning to the online comics discourse? I wasn't reading too many comics and even fewer comics-related websites when this was a prominent issue--I think I bought the first issue of Atlas and maybe a Magic Whistle during the period from 2001 to 2003--but it always seemed like a really fucking annoying concept.

-Couldn't figure out how to fit it into the above, so I'll do it as a separate item: I don't want to overstate the notion that Newsarama is a complete corporate shill. The Blogoramists seem to have a good deal of autonomy, and some of them (most notably Lisa Fortuner) are quite critical of Marvel/DC. And Brian Hibbs' columns are always a welcome sight. The diversity of opinion at Newsarama is comforting, but the recent trend towards naked toadying is rather worrying.

-Chris Mautner (who, BTW, is probably the best reason to read Blogarama right now) rips at some length on the "where are the comics for children?" crowd. It's a must-read piece, and one that hopefully will change the current discourse on this issue. I especially like the entry because Mautner addresses the issue going through my mind the entire time: how will this affect Marvel and DC, whose attempts to draw in a young readership are half-assed at best? One of the comments left at Blogorama suggests that maybe DC should try to get some "big guns" drawing these books. This would probably help from a sales perspective, but I wonder if the same effect might not be reached by incorporating art by lesser names drawing in the same style as the "big guns." This would help eliminate the "kiddie" image apparently haunting these books. On the other hand, I can't imagine parents being comfortable with buying their kids comics featuring Michael Turner-esque women.

-The first post I think I've made re: Nymphet: I think I agree with this, basically.


Anonymous said...

I've long felt that Heidi, Spurge and Dirk represent the "middle-ground" between Newsarama/Wizard and TCJ.

I'd love to see three consecutive weeks of Joe Friday (or whatever it's called) where each of them gets to ask the questions.

So, yeah... I think the blogosphere fills the gap between the two extremes. But acting as a "countervail"? I don't know... you'd need a superhero-oriented site that interviewed creators without fear of losing any "exclusive" content from the Big Two. I don't think the industry's big enough for that. Yet.

Newsarama has gotten better (especially with the addition of the Blog@) of covering more diverse topics, but the interviewing style still leaves a bit to be desired.


Anonymous said...

Newsarama is just under Wizard as a pandering, glorified PR release site, but Newsarama does at least have the Blog as a source of subversion and criticism. However, I'm not really seeing blogs being too much of a substantive alternative to Wizard/Newarama, since it's all pretty much made up of the same uncritical, easily-pleased, swooning fanpeoples. They still buy the comics and can easily be won back, dumping any former critical edge. When the fan advice to bad comics is "don't read it, don't buy it, go away, go away!" you really can't have a viable critical source. Comic fans don't like "negativity." For every one person that takes a hard-hitting, critical look at DC or Marvel, there's dozens more Scipios who gladly eat it all up and fans who write glowing one sentence "reviews."

I don't know if you could pull together a more formal, objective sort of review and interview site. I get the feeling the creators and editors are too pampered from the softball interview style of Newsarama/Wizard, and wouldn't really take it seriously anyway (a la Grant Morrison's dictum that online reactions aren't worth worrying about).

Mark Engblom said...

I think blogs are eliminating the need for a single portal for the more critical analysis Dick and others are looking for.

In fact, Dick alludes to the blogosphere's "something for everyone" flavor in his statement

"But when I imagine this hypothetical news site, it basically looks like a consolidated, less schizophrenic version of the blogosphere. So would there be a point to such a site?"

So is the comics blogosphere "schizophrenic" or a nest of scanner-fueled nostalgia and continuity porn?

It can't be both.

I belive it's the former, as there's something for just about everyone out there in the comics blogosphere. My guess is that eventually like-minded bloggers will coalesce into larger entities, producing exactly (or close to) whatever it is Dick is looking for.

I think it's a big enough place for everyone, superhero and non-superhero fans alike. It's just a matter of bringing about what it is you want to see (however you chose to contribute), rather than just mocking what you don't.

Dick Hyacinth said...

Geez, Mark, that would mean actual work...

Actually, I think this is the advantage of link blogging, and the extended conversations that result from extensive link blogging. It's a bit more organic than what you see on sites like Newsarama. In fact, there might be a discussion about this very issue going on right now, but I haven't had time to check my newsreader.

Speaking of which--the ease of adding blogs to an online newsreader provides casual readers with a very useful tool. I just kind of forget that most people only read blogs they enjoy, rather than reading nearly every blog out there in order to write yet another blog covering the blogosphere. Or in other words, not everyone is as interested in discourse as me, and they probably are happier for it.

Matt Brady said...

Dick, forgive my ignorance, but what exactly is Team Comics. I think I've heard the term before, but I never understood what it meant. I've only been reading/participating in the comics internet since maybe 2004, so I might have missed that movement or whatever.

Oh, and I agree completely with Mautner about the kids' comics thing. A while back I read an interview with Antony Johnston promoting his book Texas Strangers (a kids' fantasy western series from Image) in which he said that there were no comics being published for kids (he qualified a little by adding "outside of manga"), and he wanted to rectify that. I complained about that on my blog , saying many of the same things as Mautner, albeit less eloquently, and Johnston showed up to remind me that he did specify "outside of manga". Whatever. But yeah, it's really annoying whenever I hear that.

Dick Hyacinth said...

This pretty much says it all, Matt. Man, that's a great essay.

Frankly, I thought it was kind of a weird sentiment coming from Simon Jones, and I thought it was even weirder when Johanna Draper Carlson endorsed it.

Matt Brady said...

Okay, I understand this Team Comics thing now. There was a perfect example of it a while back on Comics Should Be Good when Jimmie Robinson, creator of Bomb Queen, wrote an essay about how fans were hurting comics if they didn't spend more money or something like that. It was pretty damn annoying, and he got a lot of flak for it.

But does Simon Jones/Johanna's comments really fit into this category? They seem to be complaining about people complaining for the sake of complaining, rather than saying that fans shouldn't criticize comics lest the medium loses respect.

Dick Hyacinth said...

I think it's related. Carlson quotes a segment suggesting a "can't we all just get along" message, which I find much more childish than any "acrimony" coming from either "side." In Jones' original piece, he uses the specter of censorship of yaoi/other comics with prominent gay themes as an argument against criticizing Nymphet and (I'm inferring) DC/Marvel's more obvious displays of sexism. Jones' argument actually makes a little more sense. Carlson's seems more like "quit disagreeing with me and criticizing my ideas." I think this call for civility is actually kind of shrill and patronizing.

While I'm thinking about it: Another good example of the Team Comics mentality: the way certain kid-friendly books are insulated from criticism because they (maybe) bring in new readers and thus are untouchable. Somebody (I think I remember who, but I'm not sure so I'll omit the suspected name) wrote a letter into Spurgeon's blog (I think) complaining about Owly getting a less-than-stellar review. I think Eric Reynolds then wrote in an email expressing bewilderment that anyone would complain about a semi-negative review of a book they had no role in producing. I can't find any evidence of this in Spurgeon's letters blog, so maybe I'm imagining all of it.

Dick Hyacinth said...

That should be "Spurgeon's letters archive." Did I mention that I'm too tired to come up with a post today, assuming there's not some weird shit going down in blogtown right now?

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