February 27, 2014

Non-Review Review – February 2014

10:32 am in comics,community,conversations,reviews,Uncategorized Ulises Farinas

In case anyone is wondering where the comic reviews have been. It took me about 2 months to get exhausted reading comics. Its exhausting to sift through so much coal, and find that you’re trying to make diamonds yourself, trying so hard to find the good in all of them. I’d read about 5 comics at a time, maybe finish a trade paper back, and i’d find myself struggling to not be thoroughly MEH on everything. Like i’ve found a basket of oranges, but they are so old, they’ve dried out, and are hard as rock. The surface that is facing me is a bright orange, but you turn one over and find a forest of fuzzy mold in their shadow.

It’s pretty exhausting to get recommendation after recommendation, only to find that people have become so used to, so invested into believing that their cherished medium is so valuable, that the only reason its still floating is on the hot air of praise of an entire comics structure that is incapable of self-reflection.

The comics journalists, they need to maintain good relations with the comics publishers. The comics artists need to keep good relations with each other. The comics editors need to justify their existence. The comics writers need to assert their ability. Its not that the Emperor has no clothes, its Adam and Eve, ignorant of their own nakedness. Meanwhile, the shelves are lined with colored paper, no more worth while than colored paper.

What’s their to review? I’m not sure if i’m gonna stop 100%, or if i’ll stop at all. But I remember times, where i had a girlfriend, and of course, you want to share your interests. They’d make an honest effort, pick up a few comics, read them fairly regularly. All the while, i could see, that they were mostly just doing it for me. I’ve never made much of an effort to read comics regularly, but now i feel like i have more of a reason not to read comics regularly.  Pretending i was a new reader of comics, only ended the illusion that i actually am a fan of comics.  I like comics, i love comics – specific comics, particular comics. But saying i love comics, all comics, is like saying i love chinese food when all i ever order is General Tso’s. American Comics are the takeout equivalent of chinese cuisine. I pick up a book made by anyone outside of america, and i might not like it, but the things i don’t like about it don’t start at the bottom of the barrel.

I review comics like i’m working on the railroad, and i’m hammering all the live long day. But i’m not hammering hard nails into hard wood, sturdy and strong, ready to carry some Story Trains to gold paradise. I’m insane, i’m a crazy motherfucker punching a muddy floor. There’s no nails, no wood, no steel. Just slop and shit and dying things, and i want to believe that i can build something out of that slop. It can’t be built. I can dry those shit cakes in the sun, and make a shit castle, but the majority of what i have read, was like seeing a piece of glass in a pile of garbage and pretending i found diamonds.

Mediocrity is rewarded in comics. No, not rewarded. Mediocrity is incredibly sustained. Whether its writer’s getting exclusive contracts, to make any kinda shit they want. Or its editors who provide no insight, no comments, nothing but their name on the book and a paycheck from your work. Or its artists who get no credit, shit pay, and no time. Its a system that isn’t doomed to fail, and i wish it would, but it’s better described as Homer’s bobbing bird:

Do nothing, add nothing, take no chances, keep the wheels turning, keep the bird bobbing. I can’t read book after book, that has no inspiration. Where every fucking convention announcement is treated like Moses coming down from Mt.Sinai. These aren’t the stone tablets, we ain’t got no Moses. What we do have, is the golden fucking calf.

All our comics, we’ve built up into an empty idol, and i go and read other reviews. After i review a comic, i go and see what other dudes and dudettes are saying, just so i can get some kind of context for what i’ve just experienced. I don’t really care to see if someone liked or didn’t like what i liked or didn’t like. Cause honestly, a lot of this is subjective taste. The reason i read other reviews, is because critical thinking should operate from a certain standpoint. We all gotta be speaking the same language, understanding how a story works, characterization, that kinda shit. And when i go and read other reviews, it quickly becomes clear that IT JUST DOESN’T HAPPEN. There are no ten commandments. There’s no one talking about story, why Batman is doing something Batman-ish. Just because we all understand the archetype doesn’t mean you get to get away with brooding for 172 pages cause THATS JUST HOW HE IS. Do you know how many superhero comics have basically just skipped any kind of character development? How many comics have basically abandoned any kind of narrative structure and called it ‘serialization’ and ‘decompression?’

How many reviews are unwritten right now? Already preformed, just looking for the right moment to burst forth. You don’t have to wait, i can write them for you. “TREES by ELLIS IS A SCIENCE FICTION TOUR DE FORCE,” You see, I’m not even saying that Trees will be a bad book, or a good book, or a great book, or any kind of book. But i can guaran-damn-tee it, that it doesn’t matter, there won’t be any reviewer, journalist, comics blog, podcast, that doesn’t hedge their bets, that doesn’t watch their tone, that doesn’t say flat out “Yeah, this doesn’t work” Every word in comics journalism has to pay for itself, and every comics professional only talks to the comics journalists that will help them pay their bills. The interests of the two parties are so inextricably linked, the persons involved so codependent, that we should just give up the facade and just make a central comics news node, we can call it “PRESS RELEASE DROPBOX”

So i’m just tired. I’ve read a lot of times, “Don’t be so negative. Its better to spend your energy on your own work,” In a way, they are right. But it’s not that it takes energy to be negative. That shit is automatic. A negative feeling is an automatic reaction to trying your best, to find the best in a medium you’re supposed to love. It takes energy to TRY to love something. It takes energy to pretend that you like comics like everyone else does. It takes energy to explain that you’re not just trolling, you’re not just hating. I went and saw that movie Robocop. The Remake. Yes, that one. I saw a lot of hubbub about how “It shouldn’t even have been made!” And it takes energy to pretend that this movie, this by-the-numbers action flick, isn’t just as good as that Rocket Girl comic. I’m not knocking that Rocket Girl comic. It’s one of the last comics i read in the last month. But let’s not sit on our high horses, and believe that some B-movie remake into another B-movie is somehow at a lower level than our B-comics. Cool Special Fx – Check. Some moments of good dialogue – Check. Light Social Commentary – Check. Which story am i talking about? You decide!

It takes energy to be disappointed.

I’m not gonna make comics better by bathing in mud. Comics aren’t gonna get better. I don’t want to read any work of my peers, i only read to learn and i ain’t got nothing to learn from them. Bunch of 30 year olds who had better ideas when they were 12. 50 year old who act like they are 25. 60 year olds who aint got shit to offer. 20 year olds with dreams ready to be crushed. Infinite Blandness.

A desert of corn flakes. A dessert of corn flakes.

I leave you with some words taken from Tupac,

Dying inside, but outside you’re looking fearless
While tears, is rollin down your cheeks
Ya steady hopin things don’t all down this week
Cause if it did, you couldn’t take it, and don’t blame me
I was given this world I didn’t make it

 


3 Comments »

  1. […] and the future of comics. Before you drink his Kool-Aid, though, I’d urge you to consider Ulises Farinas’s overview of the state of comics, based off his experiences of reviewing them recently, and an interesting piece on comics, digital, […]

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  2. […] § Ulises Farinas has given up writing comics reviews and delivers an exit manifesto: […]

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