Monday, December 17, 2007

Fake contest

-Journalista is going on hiatus for the holidays, The Beat is slowing down, and I suspect other sites will make similar announcements later this week. This seems like a good opportunity to see what I can get away with test the ability of other blogs to respond to interesting, bizarrely contrarian opinions without Dirk Deppey or Heidi MacDonald pointing them out. I've provided three of them for the sake of scientific inquiry. Let's get the experiment started:

Newspaper strips set back the comics industry/medium 50 years: Because they were so much more prestigous and lucrative than comic books, the most talented cartoonists gravitated towards newspapers rather than comic books. Newspaper strips are an excellent format with many advantages, but there are limits to what one can achieve in three or four panels. Furthermore, newspapers made comics a wildly popular form of art in the United States, but also conditioned the public to think of comics as disposable. Comics as a medium and an industry would have been better off if left to struggle in the comic book format. Such a Darwinian landscape would have forced cartoonists to produce more ambitious material sooner.

Comics shops should quit selling toys, models, sculptures, and other three dimensional merchandise: Nothing makes the comics industry look dumber than the tawdry, tacky display of "action figures," figurines, collectible busts, and the like which greet any unsuspecting customer unlucky enough to walk into the average comics shop. All the New York Times profiles in the world cannot undo the harm embodied by a small statue of Black Canary sculpted by someone using back issues of Penthouse as his* primary reference. If Diamond would simply stop carrying these inimical baubles, they would surely disappear from the shelves of stores owned by man-children too lazy or incompetent to order from other sources. In fact, Diamond should mandate that any store with a Diamond account be forced to relocate this worthless junk to a separate section cordoned off by a black curtain, so as to protect the sensibilities of any fully functional adults who may have wandered into the store by accident.

Every snooty "art comix" critic should be forced to review a stack of superhero comics every year to prove that they really like comics: Does anyone really like impenetrable flummery like Acme Novelty Library or EC Segar's Popeye? I don't, and I don't know anyone who does. And yet we're besieged by blogs and websites operated by quasi-literate hipsters who claim to like grim, gloomy, overly introspective junk like Speak of the Devil (which is in black and white, for Pete's sake!). I say it's time that we force these self-righteous eggheads to declare once and for all whether or not they're real comics fans. I suggest that a specially selected cadre of influential comics fans should select 10-12 of the best comics of the year. And by comics, I mean comic books--no graphic novels or trade paperbacks, thank you. (Don't worry--it will be a pretty diverse array, running the gamut from Action Comics to Green Lantern Corps.) These should be sent to every single effete "sequential art" fan of any renown. Even degraded aesthetes such as they should be able to find at least one comic they like in the stack. If not, we'll have no choice but to consider them Enemies of Comics who only like things that are cool at the moment. And we all know that Acme Novelty Library is the pet rock of the 21st century.

There. Now let's see how long it takes for other blogs to pick up on these vital opinions. This will be reflected in your yearly performance analysis**, so take care.

* I'd say "his or her," but let's be realistic here.
** Not really. Your yearly performance analysis will be determined by how many times you linked to this blog, with extra credit for using words like "insightful," "uncanny," or "uncannily insightful" in doing so.

-Okay, this is a Vertigo title I might actually buy, based on concept alone. Can't say that very often.

-Anyone else watching this Rise of the Video Game thing on Discovery? I am, even though every episode annoys the hell out of me. It's the worst kind of pop history, where facile comparisons to momentous historical events (eg, the removal of the Berlin Wall, referenced in nearly every episode to explain any number of developments) are favored over actual research and analysis. It's frustrating to hear the narrator suggest that the popularity of the original Sim City was a product of demographic changes, only to have that analysis abandoned in favor of more footage of the Berlin Wall being torn down. It's doubly frustrating to note how many of the talking heads are people who have real, useful information to share, but aren't providing it. Not sure if that's (a) aggressive editing in support of the stupid meta-narrative, (b) the interviewer asking questions that would provoke responses which fit into the stupid meta-narrative, or (c) the interviewees taking advantage of the stupid meta-narrative to stroke their own egos.

Also annoying is the way the show leaps around in time. I'm pretty sure that Black & White had little to nothing to do with the fall of the Berlin Wall, but you wouldn't know that from watching this thing. The section on Sega from the second episode also bugged me; one would assume that Sega only made plush toys before it launched the Master System, or that the company was completely unknown in America before the Genesis. And you'd also get the idea that Sega's decision to market itself as a more mature/adult alternative to Nintendo led seamlessly to Grand Theft Auto 3.

And yet I keep watching, because I've become the kind of person who enjoys yelling at the television. And I'll probably watch VH1's documentary on the history of rock and roll, even though I'm already annoyed by its ads. I mean really--the "art rock" episode looks like it will cover glam rock and prog rock. I'm guessing that Roxy Music will provide the tenuous link that will allow the producers to claim these are basically two halves of the same movement. Also, I really don't have the patience to sit through an episode entitled "British Indie Rock." But that's the last (or next-to-last) episode of the series, and I'll probably have quit watching it by then.

Yelling at the television--evidence that I'm still young/dumb enough to care about this kind of ultimately meaningless shit, or evidence that I'm becoming an old crank who's forgotten that the television is a unidirectional communication device?

15 comments:

Johnny B said...

I agree with you about the toys, models, etc. thing. Anyone who can afford to drop hundreds of dollars on such "objets d'art" really needs to reevaluate their priorities.

And this:

...the "art rock" episode looks like it will cover glam rock and prog rock. I'm guessing that Roxy Music will provide the tenuous link that will allow the producers to claim these are basically two halves of the same movement.

Makes me gnash my teeth. I will avoid this at all costs, and this is speaking as someone who loves King Crimson and T.Rex (and yes, Roxy too- 1972-76 Roxy that is) in equal measure.

Chris Mautner said...

You probably shouldn't watch the Anime special on the Starz network tonight then.

Dick Hyacinth said...

Dude, we don't get Starz. (Whenever I think about that channel, I think of the monster (Nemesis?) from RE2 busting through a wall and growling "STARS! STARS!" until you hit him with enough grenades to stun him into temporary unconsciousness).

And Johnny, I like prog rock in a pretty unapologetic way, and I'm dreading this as well. Especially since we'll probably get a whole lot of Pink Floyd, not much Soft Machine, and absolutely no Can.

Hugh Stewart said...

I don't quite follow what is happening here. Are these your contrary opinions, or just some contrary opinions?

Like, I think I get that you're trying to make some big ridiculous claims about comics, and then make people fight about them? Like that big dumb 'Comics needs more storytelling' thing from a few months ago?

SORT OF RELATED: I have exactly one (1) comic-related statue, the Mignola Batman Statue, which my wife got me for my birthday last year. It is my secret shame.

SORT OF RELATED TWO: Creepy woman comic statues have nothing on creepy anime women statues.

Dick Hyacinth said...

I think I'd be violating the scientific method to give anything away here, but I will point out that my comics shop (which I love dearly) has a large assortment of toys and sculptures. I assume this means they actually sell these things, and I suspect that proceeds gleaned from such sales encourage greater diversification in the realm of two dimensional comics and comics-related goods. So bear that in mind.

Also, that Mignola statue doesn't look real. I know that's kind of a vague statement, but I don't know how else to express the cognitive dissonance I experienced upon seeing it.

Jeff Lester said...

Boy, what I wouldn't give for them to intercut between footage of the classic game Breakout and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, suggesting that the former helped inspire the latter. That would be excellent.

As for the prog/glam, I'm an obvious idiot because I could've sworn there at least was some heavy duty cross-pollination going on there. But you don't think they would use Peter Gabriel-era Genesis for their prog/glam connection?

Dick Hyacinth said...

I would think of those more as fleeting moments/isolated examples of convergence rather than sustained periods of cross pollination. Especially once you get into the golden age of glam--Slade, Sweet, T Rex, and Mott the Hoople had disparate influences (like blues, hard rock, or bubblegum), but I'm not sure that I'd include prog rock or the things that influenced prog rock (classical, jazz, British folk) among them.

Were there many examples of musicians moving back and forth between prog and glam rock bands? I'm not asking as a rhetorical question--if there's a clear answer, it would do a lot to settle the question in my mind.

It might also help to note that the series is called The Seven Ages of Rock (or something like that), and is divided as follows: The Birth of Rock, Art Rock, Punk Rock, Arena Rock, Heavy Metal, British Indie Rock, and American Alternative Rock. I think that first episode will take us from Ike Turner (RIP) to Woodstock, which is pretty irritating in and of itself.

Johnny B said...

One Prog/Glam hybrid that comes to mind is Todd Rundgren circa 1972-1976- he has worn a lot of hats during his career, but in those years he blended diverse influences from the Beatles and Hendrix to Mahavishnu and Yes, and was not averse to appearing in public with eyeshadow and feathers.

Dick Hyacinth said...

Another possibility I should have mentioned earlier: Sparks.

I think that episode is on tonight, plus it's apparently on VH1 Classic's website. It's officially titled "White Light, White Heat," and the commercial prominently featured Pink Floyd's "Money." Expect an angry response sometime by the end of the week. Maybe I'll take notes by tape recording myself yelling at the TV.

Steve Flanagan said...

Okay, I'll take a pop at your newspaper strip argument. What the hell, it's a slow day.

Matthew J. Brady said...

That's an interesting "assertion" about newspaper strips. I never thought about it that way before, but it does make a sort of sense. Or maybe I'm just falling under Dick's spell.

The other two arguments are amusing and contrarian, but I love seeing them right next to each other. Made me laugh. Although now that I think about it, the ant-bust argument isn't necessarily pro-cancercomics; it might be from the perspective of a superhero fan who takes the genre too seriously. But would such a fan be in favor of expensive art collectibles and whatnot? Now I'm all confused.

Oh, and that Mignola statue is something, isn't it? I never buy stuff like that, but I wouldn't mind owning it; it somehow looks like a 3-D Mignola drawing from every angle. That's a pretty cool object right there.

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