SMASHback #2: ASSvision

September 20th, 2016

Some more thoughts on the London Graphic Novel Network‘s second S.M.A.S.H. event, as previously discussed here.

You can watch the panel I contributed to below:

My speech at the start of this panel now exists like the death of Orion in/around Final Crisis, in a mini-kaleidoscope of different versions and recordings scattered across the internet – suits me, given the daft flourish about the Tower of Babel I threw in at the end of it!

The other panellists brought a range of expertise, and while there weren’t any heated arguments, I think our personalities and perspectives clashed in a way that was generally illustrative – Hannah was comfortable enough in her own skin to be flip and funny about taste, Katriona‘s contributions were considered and precise, and Mark‘s focus on technical skill neatly offset my own pseudo-academic tendencies.

As for the broader event, if you’d asked me I would have said that the crowd skewed young and “progressive” (not a term I’m over-fond of myself – I like specificity, a sense of what is being advanced – but having just used it like this I can see the appeal of its vagueness) but there was some pushback when Kelly Kanayama/Maid of Nails discussed the use of racist tropes in the first Warren Ellis/Bryan Hitch Authority story during the panel on MEANING.

Reconstructing intent was a running theme of all three panels (the other two were ART and DIVERSITY, remember), and in this instance it took the form of the Good Man defence

Fresh from his appearance at the debate on comics criticism at S.M.A.S.H. in London this Saturday (pictured above), here are 21 statements on comics criticism from The Beast Must Die:

1. Comics as an art form has the critics it deserves.

2. Comics critics are not as good as critics in other art forms.

3. Comics critics enlighten people about an art form that they might not know about.

4. Comics criticism lacks notable or significant figures in its canon; there are no Pauline Kaels, Harold Blooms or Roland Barthes [‘Bartheses’, surely?].

5. Comics critics are the best critics of all, because comics is an art form free of decades of critical debate and point-scoring and endless spiralling discussion.

6. Comics criticism is a place for juvenile people to snipe at each other pointlessly whilst keeping out strangers from their precious domain.

7. Comic critics who can’t talk about the art in a comic are no good as comics critics.

8. Comics podcasts are a popular avenue for criticism. They are the most ill-informed, badly thought out most lazy form of criticism.

9. Comics podcasts are a popular avenue for criticism. Comics podcasts allow for free-flowing conversation which generates genuinely interesting critical ideas.

10. Most comic criticism is on the internet, and as such often has little or no editorial input, meaning it is littered with mistakes, weak ideas and groundless opinions.

11. A lack of editorial input means that comics critics are free to think in original and interesting ways.

Click here to read the rest of the list at Broken Frontier!