Thursday, April 07, 2005

Is it Insulting to Say That a Writer Has Greatly Improved?

So I am reading the first issue of the lastest Cal McDonald comic, Supernatural Freak Machine, that came out this Wednesday, and I thought to myself, "Wow, Steve Niles has really become a much better writer."

Then I that a compliment? Or is that insulting?

If someone told you that you have become a much better writer, would you take that well?

In any event, Supernatural Freak Machine does a lot of things right, and is a very fun comic book. The only minor quibble I have with the book is the fact that it really does not read like a first issue, but rather the beginning of a new storyline in an ongoing title. I believe Niles is going with a "series of mini-series" approach to the Cal McDonald comic, and it is fine for those who have read the previous series, but otherwise, there ARE some reference that you just will not understand, like when Cal talks about his girlfriend, who he began dating last series.

Still, if you pick the book up, you will be treated to some nice Kelley Jones art (who works well in the medium), an interesting main character in Cal McDonald the supernatural detective, and most especially, some great dialogue banter between Cal and his best friend, who happens to be a deceased Ghoul. The supernatural mystery he gets involved in is shlocky, but that is the point, as we get to see how a normal person would handle a Scooby Doo mystery if a Scooby Doo mystery was an actual ghost problem.

Fun book, it is worth a look see (as is Niles' Lurkers mini-series that I did a piece on a ways back, where I was also impressed by how much better Niles was THERE, and he's even BETTER here).

And Mr. Niles, I do not mean to insult you, but I think you have become a much better writer.


Blogger Michael said...

Speaking as a writer, no, that's not an insult. It's a writer's job to get better.

4/07/2005 11:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad Curran said...

I think it depends on how you phrase in. Unless you say something like "Your writing used to be unbearable shit that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy! now it's just not very good. So, you've improved!" Otherwise, I'd say Michael's got it. Since you're not saying that about Niles, you aren't insulting him. Or, in other words, if you wouldn't read it in a review of a slightly less bad than his worst work Chuck Austen review, you're not being a jerk. Pretty easy system, isn't it?

4/08/2005 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

I miss Ben Templesmith drawing Cal McDonald. There's something about his art that fits so well with the character. The new stuff is too cartoonish. The writing, however, is still great.

Somebody explain this to me: Why is Cal McDonald the only Steve Niles book I can ever get into? I thought the 30 Days of Night stuff was mediocre (although, it would make a kick-ass movie), and the stuff he's doing with Rob Zombie is a little childish. There was this one book he did about a couple of teenagers bringing their dead friend back to life ... I couldn't even finish the series.

4/08/2005 03:58:00 PM  
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