Harishankar wrote:But judging for your own private reasons and keeping it private is different from putting the entire judgement in a review format and then putting it up in the public domain, particularly when the artist has not requested a review. I think it's in bad taste to write unsolicited reviews of artists who don't specifically go about seeking publicity, even though they might have put their work on the internet.
It's not very different, specially on internet where everything that's said remains, there's a very slippery slope between private conversation and published article.
Let's say I read your comic and don't like it. Am I supposed to keep that totally to myself? Am I not allowed to, in a forum I frequent, remark that I didn't like your comic, if that topic arises? Isn't my freedom of expression seriously in danger if I'm not welcome to express my opinion about it to my peers? I think you'll agree that it is. Yet if you run into that post, you will react in pretty much the same way you would to a full review. Will you say "I was not supposed to read this, therefore I am not upset by it"? I don't think so.
And what if I write a blog post about it? By using the same logic you do, if I do that, but not send you a link to my post or inform you of it in any way, then I am not inviting you to pass judgment of my criticism, therefore if you publicly expressed displeasure of my criticism, that would be in a bad taste.
To rephrase my thoughts from earlier: you may not consciously ask for judgment when you put your work in public. But you are, in fact, signing an implicit social contract that says you will be judged, and you have agreed to this clause in advance.
I think what's even more in bad taste is to bash a creator's work in spite of the creator acknowledging that they might not be all that good in the first place.
I don't think it's in a bad taste to tell artist something that he is openly acknowledging himself.
Even so, many artists use that as a wild card. Many, many comics that openly point to their flaws, hoping that the charm of that act would make up for the flaw... but it's not that charming when so many people are doing it.
I think everybody is judging something or the other at different levels and for different reasons every day. And most people probably keep it to themselves.
You are right about that. We are being judged from our early youth. We are being graded at school, we are being judged in our social life by whether someone accepts us as friends or not, we are specially being judged in our professional life - a person of certain age is bound to be used to the idea that where there's action, there's judgment... I agree it may be frustrating that there is no respite from that in this particular hobby of choice, but also, shouldn't it make a person more prepared to it? And, compared to those areas that I mentioned, doesn't being judged for a webcomic you do as a hobby seem very trivial thing to be upset about?
If reviewers choose to review out of turn or otherwise express themselves freely and unreservedly on somebody else's work then reviewers shouldn't be hypocritical when the comic artists turn around and attack them viciously either.
Reviewers cannot have it both ways either. And I say this in the same sincere spirit that you call upon artists and creators to not take it so personally.
There's no doubt that it's fair to criticize a critic, in much the same way how I'll criticize a few of them further down the post.
Also there's little doubt that there's something of a "bad loser smell" when someone criticizes a critic right after this critic has criticized his comic. It may not mean the artist is a bad loser, childishly vindictive or a prima donna, but it'll certainly can seem that way to impartial observers. It's simply not a very graceful thing to do. As someone who's primarily an artist, I really don't like when fellow artists act this way.
As for critic's response to this back-criticism, the same goes as for comic criticism - read, accept, distill what you need, because criticism is skill all the same. I liked how LC has been responding to his criticizers in his thread - short, in-emotional, without intention to get involved into a further discussion. Most criticism, as I've experienced, has effect in long term, cooking in your head for a while.
The most problems I have is when artists denounce importance to criticism alltogether. And they do this very often, you wouldn't believe. Many artists, really do think that critic's only aim is to make them miserable and that the whole trade of art criticism should not exist. It's no coincidence that these are artists who produce consistently awful work, such as Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich and, need I mention, Uwe Boll.
In general if we're to call to certain symmetricalness* of artist's and critic's, I think that artists have a much better deal there. Artists are the ones who are usually defended. Artists are the ones whose beginner's mistakes are more readily forgiven. Artists are given a chance to learn, to grow, artists are the ones encouraged not to quit, patted on the shoulder when they're miserable, praised for their successes (I mean, don't mind that we are a group of people particularly apologetic towards critics, we are more an exception than a rule), and they're certainly not the ones whose trade's purpose is being questioned. It is acknowledged that art takes time and effort, people rarely realize that criticism does too.
It is certain that it's critics that have odds stacked against them. That's not unjustified, seeing as criticism is basically activity dependent on art and all, but let's at least note that fact.*spellcheck made me spell this word that way. Doesn't sound right to me
I say this because reviewers turn all defensive and huffy when the creator asks the reviewer about their own achievements outside of the reviewing sphere.
Both Cuddly, LC and me disagreed with the idea that you should ask anyone, be it a reviewer or the artist, for credentials other than the quality of the work that is being discussed at the moment.
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I'll admit that I find BWW entertaining in a really horrible sort of way. On some level, one might consider those reviews to be at least a little helpful, though the hyperbolic writing style tends to make each review less about the comic and more about the poor, poor reviewer having to read such an awful thing. But it saddens me that people hear "webcomic reviews" and immediately picture the BWW style of "review." There are plenty of good reviewers out there who take care when writing their work, but people think of the "swear-word, swear-word, vulgar phrase, ad-hominem insult" manner that comprises the Bad Webcoimcs Wiki, and then they assume every other reviewer is like that.
It's entertaining to read when it's reviewing something that I hate, specially those big-time comics that reviewers are usually afraid to tackle because that means a backlash from webcomic's populous fanbase (you know, Chugworth or DD).
But on a principle, I don't approve that they encourage attacking author personally - they actually have a section "what we think about author based on his comic". I don't approve the anonymity because it invariably encourages people to the worst possible kind of behaviour.
But also in general, I don't approve of reviewers that trade only in negative reviews. The thing that I've heard from artists often, and which I think it fundamentally untrue, is that criticism is somehow driven by hatred of art or desire to climb over other people's shoulders. I can honestly say that 90% of reviews I've ever read are written by someone who genuinely likes the medium, and are a product of writer's desire to comment on the thing that interests him so much, and aggravation over, say, a bad comic, doesn't come from hatred of comics, quite the opposite. It comes from impression that the beloved medium has been underused, abused and misused.
But if they have strictly bad reviews, you justifiably ask "Does this guy actually like anything?" Reviewer also has to say something private about himself if he wants us to consider his opinions, and there's no better way to say it than to say what he actually likes. Talking about things you hate is callous, sheltering, but talking about what you like actually says something about you.
For these reasons I can always feel in BWW that whiff of not caring about comics all that much, and specially trying to walk over other people's corpses (if success means having an article on a popular site and having a built-in audience to read it, and in this case it does).
With Solomon it's another story, I always felt in him a great love of the medium, but also a great lack of understanding. He is so tied to the conventional ideas of a good comic that it almost feels like he has a Brian Boland sketchbook handy, so he compares it with every comic he reads and judges based on "looks like this" or "doesn't look like this". It's like he doesn't get the emotional connection, doesn't get the more abstract qualities a comic might have, doesn't get that the whole is sometimes greater than it's parts, doesn't get that sometimes greatness arises in the most unexpected places and not just as a sum of conventionally good craftsmanship. If he was a printed comics critic, I could imagine him trashing Satrapi, Trondheim, Cloves, all those universally praised comics of last few decades.
And, most importantly, he doesn't get that webcomics have created a specific vocabulary that is different from printed comics, and that if you want to consider webcomics in any relevant manner, you have to use this new vocabulary as a starting point.
No need to mention that he is also the master of overstatement, redundancy, and trying to beat opinion into reader's head by repeating it a dozen times, each time with more overstatement.
I guess if I was making a lost of things that discredit the reviewer, well you have the content of the list in these few paragraphs.
I agree with this. When someone receives critique (even if it's just in the form of someone leaving a comment saying "The anatomy looks a little warped in the third panel" or something), there are people who will whip around and insist that they weren't asking for your opinion anyway. Like hell! If the commenter had left them a praiseful comment, I doubt they'd be saying the same thing. An artist saying they don't want people's opinions would be like someone signing up for an online dating website and then getting mad when people try to put the moves on them. If an artist doesn't want anyone's opinions, there's a simple solution- don't let anyone see it.
Yeah, I don't think that it's unjustified to be hurt, I just think that it's a point that is being overemphasized and overreiterated. It's almost as if we're supposed to keep quiet about flaws of one such vile comic as "The least I could do" despite the fact this is the comic that is effectively hurting people in a different, much more profound way.
As a person who's been dedicated to comics all my life, I really can't muster up much compassion for people who are tempted to quit comics after first bad review. To make a good comic, to learn the ropes and find your voice, takes a bit of dedication, and if you don't have that dedication, as a reader I am not at loss if you're not making comics. This, again, probably sounds more cruel than I intended it, I mean I personally have talked some people out of quitting comics, strictly because it can be tough for beginners... but then again people whom I see "hurt" have invariably been in webcomics for years.
Regarding expertise/knowledge/ability on the side of the reviewer:
My anatomy isn't that great. My backgrounds aren't that great. My coloring isn't that great. But that doesn't mean I can't spot bad anatomy, backgrounds, coloring in other comics. I don't need to be an ace at something myself before I can help someone else. Otherwise who would be able to critique the really "great" comics?
Obviously understanding the way something works is pretty important as a revieiwer, but I don't really think anyone's arguing against that
There's that old saying, I forget who to attribute it to... "I can't lay an egg, but I can spot a rotten one."
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I just remembered to comment how in the article that started this thread, there's only ever one mention of a thing in a positive review that might discredit a critic. And it's not even given a full bullet, it's mentioned by the way.