(paul pope, random paul pope comic, a division of random house, a division of snakes and werewolves, a division of general motors and otaku everywhere, blahblahblah–paul pope drew that, obviously)
I think in general the need of audiences and critics to explain a work of art by its nearest comparison of work points to a certain overarching lack of ability to appreciate art.
Influence is interesting to talk about for sure. And creating that kind of historical discussion of growth and digression is important. I’m not denying that whatsoever.
But it is the predominant way that people talk about movies, music, comics–whatever. “This, reminds me of that”.
And really what you’re talking about there is yourself, not the art. You are talking about the context you have brought to the piece as a viewer. It’s the music critic who needs to show how deep their record collection is, before they can even begin to talk about the work in front of them, if at all. It is self-service, and done ostensibly for the aggrandizement of the person who is rattling off the comparisons.
I think it also tries to view art as a con. Like “oh, oh, look they tried to get this over on us, but I see the Paul Pope in you”
It’s like the person who thinks they are talking about Led Zepplin by spending 75 percent of the time talking about blues records.
Regardless of what influence you think you see in a piece of art, influence is not description, is not criticism, is not analysis. Even if an artist is just straight up covering another work from another artist–what is there is still an individualistic statement about the work which is in front of you.
If I made a zine that was just photocopied Love and Rockets comics and passed it out–even though the art and content would be completely one hundred percent beholden to the hernandez brothers–what you are dealing with in terms of the art in front of you is me, and what it means that I’ve passed out these photocopied copies of Love and Rockets and what I’m saying with that.
If you spent the whole review just talking about how these are love and rockets comics, and how much you like love and rockets comics–you would be completely missing what had just happened in front of you.
By focusing in on an artist’s influence, you are literally losing the forest for the trees. Or trees for the forest. Or sharks for the tornado. I don’t know how you kids talk.
And I know at the end of the day all criticism, despite it’s pretensions is about the ego of the critic. It’s just like a lot of people aren’t even trying to hide that fact, and there is a threshhold there where you are damaging the level of discussion about the medium you are a critic for.
A fun experiment would be to form an anonymous collective of critics where everyone posted under the same name, and tried to write pure criticism as divorced from identity and perspective as possible. Every work engaged on its own grounds. As close to the bone as possible. Of course even that eventually would just become “who are these masked critics?!”
Identity is fucked up. It corrupts everything.
I’ve often thought about doing a series of interviews with creators where we just talk about a comic that is important to them, but other times I think that would be the absolute worst thing. It just invites the audience to glue works together and pollutes the experience. And besides mostly what I’m interested in with that approach is just trying to get at how an artist sees art that is not their own.
A variation on that that might work, is interviewing a series of creators about the same work–and have that work as your control. I think you’d have to do them all as a series before you released even one of them though, so you didn’t just end up with artists agreeing with one another.
Why do I spend my time thinking about these things?
Anyways. I’m just saying. All respect to Jae Lee. I don’t draw like him.