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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Passion is the Start of Good Comics (and Everything Else) -- It's not often I disagree with Steven Grant, but his comments on passion in his column today at CBR are sticking in my teeth like last night's spinach:

Over at "The Engine," one person wrote that it's time for people to get really passionate about the comics they create. But y'know what? That's a dodge, too. Frankly, I don't give a rat's ass about passion. Passion's overrated. I've seen hundreds of comics - I've produced some of them - whose creators were undeniably passionate about what they were doing. That didn't stop the comics from being pure crap. Passion can produce pure crap, too. And I've known people who were bored silly by the comics they were working on, and they turned out really good, really popular comics. Fact is that anyone can go do an interview talking about how passionate they were about some idea or comic but there's simply no way of telling from the product what the talent's state of mind was when they were working on it. And doesn't matter. The only thing that matters, the only thing that counts, is the end product. Works of brilliance created in the midst of disinterest and ennui are still works of brilliance (and please don't ask me what works I'm talking about, because you really don't need to know), and passionately created crap is still crap.

Now, after a certain point we may be arguing semantics, and that's a fool's errand. I'll agree with Grant so far as saying that passion is no excuse for shitty comics. For all I know Geoff Johns, Jeph Loeb and other bad comics writers who can't spell "Jeff" are all about passion for the very bad comics they continue to inflict on the marketplace.

However, implicit in that thought is the key problem with what is wrong with corporate -- and many other -- comics today. Too many "creators" are jumping into the game simply because they want to make comics but have nothing to say and no talent to say it with. Maybe it comes down to James Kochalka's unduly-dismissed Craft is the Enemy theory, but give me an amateur comic by a new creator with a passion for comics and stories to tell any day over rote hacks like your Johns, Loebs, Winicks, Ruckas and seeminly anyone else currently writing anything with "Infinite" or "Crisis" in its title or subtitle.

Passion is the beginning of art. If a creator aopproaches their work with passion, a solid understanding of craft will often follow. So, no, passion is no excuse for bad comics -- but more importantly, there's no excuse for creating comics if you're not doing so with passion. And I'd extend that to retailing as well; probably the biggest problem with the direct market is the passionless majority of retailers who accept the status quo and are satisfied with the current customer base. Let me tell you something: In ten years, the audience for comics will be far larger than it is now. It will never be comparable to the audience for the biggest summer blockbuster movies, say, but the new interest in comics over the past two years (including manga, obviously -- a huge factor in the growth of comics that seems to prove that at least some rising tides actually do raise at least some boats) is not going away. There will only be more mainstream media coverage, more interest in the possibilities of comics as a storytelling medium, and more readers discovering them at their local bookstore, library, or even at the one- to two-hundred progressive comics shops serving the wider comics audience in North America.

So, when it comes to comics, whether creating or selling them -- hell, even buying them -- be passionate. Let the energy and excitement of great comics fire your passion for the medium, be it your passion for creating them, reading them, writing about them, or selling them. Because if you're not passionate, you're...irrelevant.



Blogger Blu said...

Have you ever tried to write anything without mentioning James Kolchalka? I know he is your "gold standard" as far as...well, everything....but the constant shoving of Kochalka down our throats is getting old.

13 January, 2006 16:23  
Blogger ADD said...

I have never heard of James Kolchalka.

13 January, 2006 16:25  
Blogger Logan said...

Haha, thanks for the laugh, I needed it after this crap day. I'm more inclined to agree with you, but I think Grant has a good point. But, like you said, I'd prefer passionately created anything over well crafted tripe. Though I disagree with you on a few of the ceators you mention, but everything isn't for every one.

14 January, 2006 01:27  

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