Thursday, January 13, 2005

We're not elitist enough

When we first started, I know some readers/commenters bitched that we were too elitist. That was annoying, but it died down. But I've been thinking about it. I've been reading our output. I've come to some conclusions. Mainly, comics needs MORE elitism, not less.

I respect the hell out of everyone that posts on this blog, otherwise I wouldn't be a part of it. (Well, nobody really respects Tadghghadddhhhg because his name is stupid and he never posts.) These are smart, discerning readers. But I think we, like the rest of the general comic-reading populace, are too easily impressed these days. Comic fans (especially superhero readers) fall all over themselves for competency. The praise that should be reserved for excellency is handed out to the mediocre.

Take, for instance, She Hulk. The blogosphere is currently wetting itself with praise for this book. Don't get me wrong: it's not a bad book. It has good craftsmanship in both the writing and the art. It's got a dash of fun, maybe even a pinch. And it's not dreadful like so much other superhero output today. (The latest issue even had a nice little jab at the idea of shared universes.)

But come on! Every blog I see is going crazy for this book! It's a decent book, yes. But we need to demand more than decent. If we explode with joy every time we get a comic that is simply "Not terrible" then that will be the industry highlight. Sure, 90% of every medium is bad. But, take cinema for instance. Movie fans don't go nuts every time a decent movie is made. "WOW THAT MOVIE TOLD A STORY, HAD THREE ACTS, AND FAIRLY BELIEVABLE PERFORMANCES! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!"

This is not enough.

She Hulk is not good enough. It's time to stand up and demand more. When the "elitist" blog is singing the praises of Justice League Elite and New Thunderbolts, we're nearly lost. Desire more, demand more. Comics should be good, dammit. Not just OK.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some time ago I posted a comment about elitism here which is probably what you are refering to. I noticed then what an uproar that term evoked. You sure do seem to have thin skin for a site that so liberally distributes condemnations and harsh comments. I believe the saying is "don't dish it out if you can't take it". And maybe you are refering to other people's comments, but I certainly never "bitched" about anything. I merely offered some constructive critisism. Surely a blog devoted to critisism can stand a little bit itself?

That aside, I do agree with what you say on low standards. I don't think its anything new though. I reread some old Claremont/Byrne X-Men comics a year or so ago, and was really quite stunned at how poorly they held up compared to much of todays output. Much in the same way, I feel many "comix" are overrated simply because they cover more mainstream subject matter, so in our efforts to shrug off geekdom, we treat them like the second coming.

So no, I don't think we need to be more elitist, but we certainly need to be more critical.


1/13/2005 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger TCSmith said...

Come on, Derek. This is a blog, a collection of opinions. I think the purpose of a blog is to state what you want, whether anyone likes it or not. If you find it elitist, too bad! Read another blog or just move on to the next post. That's what I do when I see Brian's fucking nerd games posted. Don't offer constructive criticism to these guys on how to say what's on thier minds. It's a forum to talk about comics, but first and foremost, it's THIER forum and not yours.

As far as the topic, I think we should be discerning, but there are a lot of damn good books out now. There's a lot that ponder to fanboys now, like Uncanny Xmen, New Thunderbolts, Identity Crisis, Fantastic Four, etc. But I think for every one of those, a lot of good stuff is hapening, like Punisher MAX, Sleeper,Ex Machina, the new Authority, Amazing Spidey, etc. There's always going to be books that take chances, but there will be plenty that won't so companies can make money off a sure thing- nerds. Maybe we should be more elitist to make sure the scales aren't tipped in favor of more "safe" comics, but I'm pretty happy with a lot of books these days.

And I think the Billobo issues of She Hulk are as good as everyone says!

1/13/2005 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your taking the piss right? You telling me to go away is utterly ludicrous. I mean this is a public blog, intended for the public to read right? I mean if it wasn't, it would be private. Do you never comment on what others say? Hell, the comics blogsphere would have only half the content if John Byrne didn't provide so much good material to mock and laugh at. Infact, the "its his forum" argument is used at the Byrne forums quite regularly I believe. If thats the level the guys at this blog want to operate at, then good luck to them... I will be off (but I'll let them answer that).

Anyhow, I feel I am entitled to comment when it is implied that I "bitched" about elitism. Oh... but maybe this is a strictly one way operation. I look forward to hearing what the bloggers themselves have to say on it.


1/13/2005 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger TCSmith said...

Hey man, I didn't mean to upset you like that. My point is we have to agree to disagree. And I said you can read another blog or move to the next post on this one. But I do think a blog is a little more one sided than a message board. Maybe I'm wrong? Maybe it's not for me to say but for the guys that run this blog. I do think these guys could do without constructive criticism for something they just wanna do for fun, though. Whatever. I hope I got my point across, whether you agree or not.

1/13/2005 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

This should surprise you not one whit, Joe, but I find two of the three books you mentioned to *be* good, not merely OK. (The third, JL Elite, I haven't read and don't plan to, having hated the Authority the first time around.) And I'm wary of elitism in anything, so I can't agree with your central thesis either.

None of this is to say I'll stop reading the blog anytime soon.

1/13/2005 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Ed Cunard said...

You know, I agree with Joe. Perhaps not on the use of the term "elitist," (because we indie comix snobs want that term back, dammit), but with the general idea.

That said, I liked what little I read of SHE-HULK. Not as much as everyone else seems to, but that could be because everyone who suggested it to me as the ALLY MCBEAL of superhero comics, and nothing can live up to that kind of endorsement.

(Shut it.)

But, here's something I'll toss out, just to play devil's advocate... The Sturgeon's Law thing applies, certainly, but if people are starting to get fed up with the crappy 9/10ths of superhero comics (as it sometimes seems), why not try to find the 1/10th of good superhero comics as well as the 1/10th of good comics that aren't coming from the front half of Previews?

(I'm not directing this at the hairy long-grained one, but just as a discussion point - I know Mr. Rice possesses catholic taste in terms of comics reading).

TC, you said:

As far as the topic, I think we should be discerning, but there are a lot of damn good books out now. There's a lot that [pander] to fanboys now, like Uncanny Xmen, New Thunderbolts, Identity Crisis, Fantastic Four, etc. But I think for every one of those, a lot of good stuff is hapening, like Punisher MAX, Sleeper,Ex Machina, the new Authority, Amazing Spidey, etc. There's always going to be books that take chances, but there will be plenty that won't so companies can make money off a sure thing- nerds. Maybe we should be more elitist to make sure the scales aren't tipped in favor of more "safe" comics, but I'm pretty happy with a lot of books these days.What about some love for the books in the green section? I'm all about the idea that "comics should be good," but I want to broaden the scope to be more than "superhero comics should be good," you know?

1/13/2005 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

Occasionally, I think it's easy to misinterpret caustic personality as thin skin. When people are generally harsh with critiques, it should logically follow that they'll be equally harsh with their defenses. Derek, your posts seem like bitching to me. My posts seem defensive to you. We can't hear each other so I guess we'll never really know.

People are free to critique us here. Hell, I'm critiquing us here!

Now, never let it be said that I don't think there's a lot of good books out now. I think there's a whole lot of them, and in some ways it seems like a great time for comics. But that doesn't change the fact that too many creators get away with either mediocre work or mediocre talent. I think it's high time we, as a community, call BS on that. Sure, no one will listen, but we'll have that awesome self-righteous indignation thing that so many political types love.

A book like She Hulk is fine. But let's give it the proper amount of praise. It's not a great book, it's, at best, a good book. Now comics SHOULD be GOOD, but the ones that make us go gaga should be GREAT.

1/13/2005 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

Ah, and a clarification.

Now, by "elitist" I don't mean going around thinking you're better than other people [even if you are (i.e. me)]. I mean the stuff that internet fans CALL elitism: high standards.


1/13/2005 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger alex said...

Yeah, seriously... what is up with this blog? If I want to read a review of every other lame mainstream DC book, or read about the desire to see Eisner draw Spiderman, I’ll just kill myself, or go to any other comic website. Both are equally bad.
Seriously folks, how can we call this site “Comics Should be Good”, and then proceed to an intense discussion Joe Casey’s latest shitty opus? Stop making me sad, people. Please be more snobby, or I will get depressed. I walk around moping and sniffling with teary eyes.

And Derek, we didn't get upset because you called us "elitist"- we got upset because you were disagreeing with us, which makes you wrong.

It's sad to see people be wrong.


1/13/2005 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger blinkingbeauty said...

I agree with that you are saying about things needing to truly be good instead of us just dealing with what we get and calling everything remotely interesting the best. However, at the same time there are many different views out there on everything. Some people find things to be better than others. One may love the mainstream Xmen and Superman while others could drool over the latest Army of Darkness or Danger Girl crossover. It all matters what you are looking for and I think that as long as people as satisfied in their one ways by the comics they read then that is what matters. And why bash something that you love anyway?

1/13/2005 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

I'll put it this way: I like my fiancee Lisa a lot. I might even love her in some respects. But let's say she started choosing to have a lot of cancerous tumors all over her. I would not love those tumors. I would say, "Those tumors are cancerous and unattractive! Don't get them anymore!" to which she would reply, "Whatever you command, my sweet."

I love comics. That's why I hate bad comics.

1/13/2005 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Ed Cunard said...

Cross-posting out of laziness... Sorry, Joe, who's read this before:

Does it get on anyone else's nerves when people use a phrase like "this is good" when what they're really trying to say is "I liked this"?

I'm not saying that "good" in the title of this blog is misused, or anything like that. I'm of the opinion that "good" is subjective, but any declaration of "good" should be backed up with reasonable evidence and/or insight. It's certainly less subjective than "I like this, and therefore it is good."

There are really, really crappy things that I enjoy and that I couldn't begin to describe as good, and there are works of brilliance that I read and thing, "eh, not for me." But I can admit that it is, you know, "good," even if it isn't too my taste.

1/13/2005 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger alex said...

Hey! FUCK YOU CUNARD! I'm right and I'm always right all the time!

I love you so much it confuses my butthole.


I love you.


1/13/2005 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I guess I'd agree if I was saying stuff like, "This book is not that great, but it's OK, so I liked it."

Since I am not, but rather, saying I thought Justice League Elite and New Thunderbolts were GOOD (not OK), then I don't see a problem.

1/13/2005 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

As to Derek and TC's differences...I am a bit torn between the two.

On the one hand, I totally agree with the concept of this blog being all free discourse. Say whatever you want, and have people be free to say whatever they want to you.

On the other hand, I do understand TC's point that while you CAN discuss whatever you like, sometimes it may be better for you to just avoid discussions that you KNOW are gonna irk you. For instance, if you like continuity-inspired comics, and you see a blog entry titled "Continuity Can Suck My Dick," you are probably not going to agree with anything in that entry, ya know?

So while you should certainly feel free to read and reply to the entry to SAY you disagree, it's almost like a given that you WILL disagree, so it may not be worth your effort.

1/13/2005 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Say, the "this comic is good" complaint just a general one, or did you have any specific complaints about entries here?

1/13/2005 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

I have several things to say on this topic.

Unfortunately, I have consumed an over-large amount of cough syrup and am finding myself unable to cohere my thoughts in any meaningful way.

One really important thing, Brian:

I like your fucking nerd games. I can't really put my finger on why, precisely, but again it probably has something to do with the copious amounts of phenol in my bloodstream at the moment.

Good night.

Oh, yes, one more thing.

Someone pick my wife up at work at 8 pm.

Thank you.

1/13/2005 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger Ed Cunard said...

Say, the "this comic is good" complaint just a general one, or did you have any specific complaints about entries here?No. I mean, our tastes don't agree completely, but you guys tend to back up what you're saying, even when you're laying on the goofy.

It's more of a generic message board conversation thing.

1/13/2005 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

That's what I figured, Ed...I was just checking.


1/13/2005 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger Dan Apodaca said...

Dear Paul,
I tried to pick your wife up at work tonight. She was not cooperative. Apparently, I did not style my hair well this morning, because she said something about "rape", whatever that is. It is hard for me to know. I am deaf. Also, please tell her to take the brick out of her purse.


1/13/2005 11:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


As Joe suggested, this is one of those times where the "tone of voice" is lost on the net. I wasn't upset by your statements. More suprised than anything.


It may be that a misunderstanding of the term elite is at the heart of this. When I used the term elitist here it was in reference to some statements sledging the common comic reading public, which made it seem like the person making the statements considered themselves above the general crowd and more important somehow. That I don't think is constructive. However, suggesting that comics are currently being critiqued with rather low standards, and calling for higher standards is in no way elitist. I think it was Joe Casey on CBR a while ago calling for a similar thing.

See Alex... I don't neccessarily disagree with you :)

Anyhow, I am glad to hear you guys are open to critique. I do enjoy reading this blog irrespective of whether I agree with everything said on it or not.


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