Yeah, I feel pretty good right now, as a critic. This is now twice where I have made criticisms on a comic, the artist took my advice to consideration, and improved their work.
The first was with my man Peter V over at 13 Seconds. A month or so back I reviewed his comic and said where I think it needed improvement, and he took heed. I’m watching to see what’s going on in that comic and so far I think it’s been improving. Also since, he and I have become decent colleagues.
This second time is with Cayetano Garza, after my… less than friendly criticism of his music-comic experimentation. I happened to come across his LJ, and found that he had made a revision to his experiment with musical comics. This time it was in the form of a QuickTime movie, downloadable for all to view at their convenience.
So I watched it, prepared to not like it. I mean I’ll be honest here, I’m pretty skeptical about this musical comic business, as I am with most experimental art in any form. So I watched it and I have to admit I was intrigued.
It made me think hard on what a comic is. I still stick to the McCloud definition of “Juxtaposed Pictoral and other images in deliberate sequence.” So, if we were defining Cayetano’s latest bit, it would not be a comic. It would be a film or an animation. If the goal were to incorporate music into a comic, a comic by definitive standards, Cayetano needs to figure out how to have his images juxtaposed with each other, laid out together, with the music in the back. And that is of course an immensely tricky preposition, because everyone reads a comic at their own speed, and rarely to a beat.
And this is experimental, and since the objective of experimental art is to get everybody thinking, I’d have to say this effort was a resounding success.
I just re-read Understanding Comics the other day. I hold that tome in a high regard, as I’m sure many of the rest of you do. Personally, I like McCloud’s definition of comics/sequential art. It just works for me. And every time I read that book, it influences the way I think analytically for a few days, when it comes to comics (mostly my own work, but others also).
Getting back to the topic at hand, I don’t think I really like what Cayetano’s making. Music and comics don’t mix well with me. But, I like where Cayetano’s going. The feeling this instills in me is similar to the way I often feel in my film classes when I’m watching something like, I don’t know, Battleship Potemkin or any other real landmark film. I think “Wow, this is really boring/uninteresting/lame, but I understand why it’s important.”
And that’s how I feel about Cayetano’s stuff in the broadest sense. I think what he’s doing is important, because if there’s a boundary that hasn’t been broken, then it’s worth breaking. In art, anyway (me, I just don’t usually enjoy looking at it until it’s all done and figured out). Music and Comics have not gone hand in hand, and if someone can figure out how to do that, then I 100% support that notion. Also, if anyone else is trying to do this, let me know. I’m terribly curious now. I want to enjoy the combination of music and comics.
But again, to make it a comic, in my eyes, it needs to feature juxtaposed pictoral and other images placed in deliberate sequence. That means the images are placed next to each other, rather than shown in a sequential order. That’s what makes it a film or animation (If indeed his goal is to make a musical comic. I’m only speculating at the moment).
So this will be me saying my official stance is “You’re on the right track. Keep it up, you’ll figure it out.”
And this, all this, is the most rewarding part of the criticism process. Helping other artists become greater. Art is cool and communal like that.