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#191924 - 12/04/07 12:59 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
gene phillips Offline
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Registered: 09/30/99
Posts: 5910
Loc: Houston, TX
"Some great works of propaganda stand on their own, too, but so what? I've no problem with the appearance of ideology in art, but good art that deals with it critically (not meaning just negatively or positively) is going to be better than good art that only presents it."

SPIDEY isn't ideological art in the least, but I've seen many examples of bad criticism that read it and similar wish-fulfillment tales in that manner.

I'm gonna give you a quick summation of something Northrop Frye wrote-- quick, not because his ideas don't deserve in-depth treatment, but because I know you'll ignore them.

In short, Frye asserts that "myth" and "ideology" (which he would probably interpret as a kind of allegory, or "forced metaphor") are idioms that deal respectively with what Frye terms "primary concerns" and "secondary concerns."

"Primary concerns" are basically what pagans call the "four F's"-- flags (housing), flax (clothing), fodder and frig (no explanation needed). Around such primary concerns myth, both in the religious and literary senses, orients itself.

"Secondary concerns" are the concerns of ideology, which are all about how people get the primary concerns and what way is the best way to get them. Name any ideology out there and at base it's just another way for its adherents to maximize their ideas as to how to get hold of the primary concerns.

Myths in the raw are not concerned with ideology. Ideological notions derive from them, but such notions are entirely a secondary product.

And that's why it's silly to try to judge SPIDER-MAN as ideological fiction. Its concerns-- sex, money, power-- are the stuff of wish-fulfillment. As I noted in my earlier post, these are the forms that come first, and everything else builds on top of them.

Starting with an ideological approach to everything is like building a house without any knowledge of the ground on which you're building it.

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#191925 - 12/05/07 01:12 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
Loc: us of fuckin' a
Quote:
Praising Archie Goodwin for being able to craft basic, well-constructed tales doesn't take anything away from the Brothers Hernandez. And condemning him as "mediocre" (not something I said) doesn't help them, either.
If you're saying that Goodwin's as good as Jaime or Moore or Clowes at basic storytelling, it is taking away from the latter.

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'If this were a discussion of gender politics, you'd be the one arguing that I'm ignoring gender because of neglecting the "fact" that women are more emotional than men.'

That's an argument for supporting whatever power is already entrenched, right? Then by logical extension it's *your* argument, since you're the one claiming that unitary standards of goodness are the only standards that need be applied, the same way that the above bromide is meant to defend the necessity of men remaining in power.
First, I don't consider the analogy you've made to gender politics a revealing one or even particularly adequate. Second, what I'm opposed to here is the essentialist evaluation of genre works, either the dismissing of works because they belong to a genre, or the celebration of works for that reason. Genre classification is a somewhat shifting set of criteria based largely on content that doesn't say much about the quality of the best works being classified, since those works aren't determined by some checklist. THE NEW FRONTIER was a well-crafted superhero tale that didn't do much but follow the rules. That's okay, but it doesn't make it great. Its naive idealism would be a problem if it's taken as anything but an entertaining superhero tale. Kids would probably really love it.

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"Some great works of propaganda stand on their own, too, but so what? I've no problem with the appearance of ideology in art, but good art that deals with it critically (not meaning just negatively or positively) is going to be better than good art that only presents it."

SPIDEY isn't ideological art in the least, but I've seen many examples of bad criticism that read it and similar wish-fulfillment tales in that manner.
A tale of acquiring power and wielding it in some moral fashion isn't an ideological tale? Come on. Regardless of whether you want to acknolwedge that, my point was that like the appearance of ideology within a story, wish-fulfillment can be presented in a more or less critical manner. You might get a good story without much questioning, but a good story with questioning is even better. Now, Spidey does have a criticial aspect to its fantasy, but it's not done very well. Again, I don't have a problem with that (since I don't think the aim of Lee and Ditko, but particularly Lee, was to question the ideological aspects of their tale), but I do have a problem with someone who can't see why Spidey doesn't compare to great literature, just because it might be the best superhero comic of the 60s.

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In short, Frye asserts that "myth" and "ideology" (which he would probably interpret as a kind of allegory, or "forced metaphor") are idioms that deal respectively with what Frye terms "primary concerns" and "secondary concerns."

"Primary concerns" are basically what pagans call the "four F's"-- flags (housing), flax (clothing), fodder and frig (no explanation needed). Around such primary concerns myth, both in the religious and literary senses, orients itself.

"Secondary concerns" are the concerns of ideology, which are all about how people get the primary concerns and what way is the best way to get them. Name any ideology out there and at base it's just another way for its adherents to maximize their ideas as to how to get hold of the primary concerns.

Myths in the raw are not concerned with ideology. Ideological notions derive from them, but such notions are entirely a secondary product.

And that's why it's silly to try to judge SPIDER-MAN as ideological fiction. Its concerns-- sex, money, power-- are the stuff of wish-fulfillment. As I noted in my earlier post, these are the forms that come first, and everything else builds on top of them.
In a world where wealthy women starve themselves to meet an ideal, your take on Frye's categories is nothing but a oldfashioned fiction. But if anyone needs proof of how you use the term 'myth' to artificially inflate stuff like supehero tales beyond any critical reproach, you've given the best (well, most ludicrous) example yet. Spider-man is about our primary needs, whereas -- one can only infer -- all that hoity-toity "writerly" or canonized literature is about something less central to our lives. Spidey is about Truth and Reality, and therefore can't be ideological. Whooboy, that's a humdinger! Haha.
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The Gospel, wherein much Truth is written.

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#191926 - 12/06/07 05:36 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
gene phillips Offline
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Registered: 09/30/99
Posts: 5910
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"If you're saying that Goodwin's as good as Jaime or Moore or Clowes at basic storytelling, it is taking away from the latter."

Goodwin, while he is as I said not "singular" in terms of merit, offers a better study of what basic craft is. Moore has gone beyond basic craft by assimilating to his style more complex (or at least complicated) narrative strategies, and for that reason he doesn't offer as good an example for study purposes. He certainly learned much of his craft from basic readerly stories, and has stated in interviews that he still esteems simple fare like the Weisinger-era SUPERMAN tales.

I would be unlikely to consider either Clowes or the Hernandezes as examples of basic storytelling since they're both committed to a writerly approach.

"First, I don't consider the analogy you've made to gender politics a revealing one or even particularly adequate."

Because you find yourself on the side defending an entrenched power, which I'm terming unitary standards. The main difference between you and the guy who opposes women in the political arena is that his opposition *may* stem from a non-reasoned sentiment. There's no question that you've used reason to argue unitary standards (i.e., the "more good things" argument), but I find that they don't adequately describe what's going on.

"Second, what I'm opposed to here is the essentialist evaluation of genre works, either the dismissing of works because they belong to a genre, or the celebration of works for that reason."

So am I. You haven't heard me say, "Bill Mantlo is good just because he writes straightforward genre." To the contrary, I've said that he doesn't write it as well as Goodwin, who exceeds in terms of technical excellence. I might find certain good things in Mantlo's oeuvre, but that's not the same as saying he's good in all respects. I can term Goodwin as good within his idiom because he does bring a certain consistent competence to his work, even if he's no Stan Lee.

"Genre classification is a somewhat shifting set of criteria based largely on content that doesn't say much about the quality of the best works being classified, since those works aren't determined by some checklist. THE NEW FRONTIER was a well-crafted superhero tale that didn't do much but follow the rules. That's okay, but it doesn't make it great. Its naive idealism would be a problem if it's taken as anything but an entertaining superhero tale. Kids would probably really love it."

No question that genre is sometimes difficult to classify or quantify, but I tend to see it as primarily a response to trends in readerly tastes. As I said, Doyle's SHERLOCK HOLMES came out of an evolving tradition for thriller-fiction, which Doyle gave a new twist. That was no less a response to something that a mass audience (speaking proportionately with respect to comic books) wanted than THE NEW FRONTIER. Is Holmes greater than NEW FRONTIER? Sure. But so is the Siegel/Shuster SUPERMAN, which is perhaps inferior to NF in technical excellence but represents a superior conceptual breakthrough, like Holmes.

"A tale of acquiring power and wielding it in some moral fashion isn't an ideological tale? Come on."

The function of the ideology is subsidiary to involving the reader in the hero's adventures, so that the reader finds those adventures exciting/funny/morose. SPIDEY doesn't argue within a greater sphere of moral action because that would be stepping outside the genre-boundaries as Lee and Ditko perceived them. It's likely that Lee and Ditko would not have been able to address any greater moral sphere had they tried-- although Ditko would try later, following his Randian seduction. The point is that it takes nothing away from SPIDEY to say that it doesn't address that greater sphere, any more than one downgrades a medieval European folktale for not (directly) addressing Christian ethics.

"In a world where wealthy women starve themselves to meet an ideal, your take on Frye's categories is nothing but a oldfashioned fiction."

You'll have to elaborate as to why you think your "wealthy women" paradigm disproves the existence of basic needs like eating and having sex.

"Oldfashioned" in what way?

"Spider-man is about our primary needs, whereas -- one can only infer -- all that hoity-toity "writerly" or canonized literature is about something less central to our lives."

The readerly stuff addresses needs everyone can relate to, smartypants. I didn't say a thing about its being more important; that would contradict my pluralist stance. The writerly stuff's certainly not central to the lives of a lot of people who don't want to burrow through James Joyce to understand why the academics think it's great, but that doesn't make all the highbrow work inferior in importance, either.

All of which goes to my earlier statement that I don't have a "problem" with the high and the low, because each of them (to the extent that they can be rhetorically separated) functions in the sphere for which each was intended. And there can be bad examples of both idioms, which is more or less the thought with which this thread started.

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#191927 - 12/07/07 12:26 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
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Quote:
Goodwin, while he is as I said not "singular" in terms of merit, offers a better study of what basic craft is. Moore has gone beyond basic craft by assimilating to his style more complex (or at least complicated) narrative strategies, and for that reason he doesn't offer as good an example for study purposes.
If your study is of the average superhero stories, then I agree. Moore is better than that; Goodwin is not. I'd rather read the above-average superhero writing if I were studying it for technique or just reading or pleasure.

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There's no question that you've used reason to argue unitary standards (i.e., the "more good things" argument), but I find that they don't adequately describe what's going on.
Suggesting that A is better than B because although they both meet criterion g1 (for first good thing), only A meets g2 through g4 in no way entails a unitary standard. It's the exact opposite, in fact.

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The function of the ideology is subsidiary to involving the reader in the hero's adventures, so that the reader finds those adventures exciting/funny/morose. SPIDEY doesn't argue within a greater sphere of moral action because that would be stepping outside the genre-boundaries as Lee and Ditko perceived them. It's likely that Lee and Ditko would not have been able to address any greater moral sphere had they tried-- although Ditko would try later, following his Randian seduction. The point is that it takes nothing away from SPIDEY to say that it doesn't address that greater sphere, any more than one downgrades a medieval European folktale for not (directly) addressing Christian ethics.
But it does address that greater sphere, only in a naive, mixed up, contradictory way. A great story dealing with ideology (or any subject matter) isn't going to be great as a story just because it deals with ideology, but because it manages to be a good tale while not simplifying or simply fucking up the issues it raises. You seem to have this idea that a story can't be entertaining and intelligently deal with realworld themes. I say the best stories do both.

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You'll have to elaborate as to why you think your "wealthy women" paradigm disproves the existence of basic needs like eating and having sex.

"Oldfashioned" in what way?
1. It doesn't.

2. It would take a long-winded reply, but within a first-world context, eating, clothing and sex have become part of a system of signs that are no more primary than many others symbolizing what we think of ourselves and what we mean within that system. Even our poor are often fat, so getting food isn't a primary concern, rather the kind of food they get is a sign of who they are, how it functions, what 'food' means. Your breakdown, which ignores all of that, is oldfashioned.

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The readerly stuff addresses needs everyone can relate to, smartypants. I didn't say a thing about its being more important; that would contradict my pluralist stance. The writerly stuff's certainly not central to the lives of a lot of people who don't want to burrow through James Joyce to understand why the academics think it's great, but that doesn't make all the highbrow work inferior in importance, either.
Saying Spidey is relatable to everyone, and is thereby more geared towards "the reader" than L&R or EIGHTBALL, is a unitary standard. I hold that there's more than one reader.
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#191928 - 12/10/07 01:07 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
gene phillips Offline
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Registered: 09/30/99
Posts: 5910
Loc: Houston, TX
"If your study is of the average superhero stories, then I agree. Moore is better than that; Goodwin is not. I'd rather read the above-average superhero writing if I were studying it for technique or just reading or pleasure."

There are a lot of pleasurable things about Moore's work but because he's essentially "rewriting" readerly concepts he often becomes too mannered and abstruse. In addition, he's not as noteworthy as some of the "journeymen" types in terms of sheer creativity. Goodwin would not be his superior in this respect but Gardner Fox would be. But one can only appreciate the superior creativity of Fox's best work when comparing it to something more in less in the same vein, like TOM STRONG. Fox's JLA has its own set of flaws, of course, but in terms of inventiveness TOM STRONG doesn't come close.

"Suggesting that A is better than B because although they both meet criterion g1 (for first good thing), only A meets g2 through g4 in no way entails a unitary standard. It's the exact opposite, in fact."

To revive an earlier thread-argument, your unitary standards center about what I termed "thematic realism." This does allow you to appreciate a wide spectrum of authors as different as Moore and Kafka. However, as long as you're unable to deal with the creativity of authors who don't attempt the more sophisticated modes of narrative, you've tossed out the baby with the bathwater.

"But it does address that greater sphere, only in a naive, mixed up, contradictory way"

That's because you're imposing false standards on the situation. "Naive", yes, but that's the nature of the idiom you're given. Peter Parker may symbolically make a sort of devil's bargain for popularity but he also receives an ongoing punishment for it by wearing the hairshirt of the superhero. Villains are bad because they steal; Jameson is bad but in a kind of doofus way because he doesn't realize how absurd he is. There are moral conflicts but they're never meant to sustain thoughtful debate, but to offer excitement and reader-identification. I see no contradictions.

"You seem to have this idea that a story can't be entertaining and intelligently deal with realworld themes. I say the best stories do both."

There are some great stories that do both and some great ones (like Coleridge's example, perhaps) that don't. What's the morality behind ALADDIN or SNOW WHITE?

"eating, clothing and sex have become part of a system of signs that are no more primary than many others symbolizing what we think of ourselves and what we mean within that system"

It seems obvious to me that to a starving man (and I mean really starving, not someone who simply wants to lose weight), a ham sandwich is a good deal more primary than a lecture about why ham sandwiches are the bane of existence, or symbols of commodification, or the like.

'Saying Spidey is relatable to everyone, and is thereby more geared towards "the reader" than L&R or EIGHTBALL, is a unitary standard. I hold that there's more than one reader.'

It's not unitary because I'm not trying to preach that it's better, that it's the standard to which all should aspire. I'm simply elucidating the dominant nature of the idiom, of which Spidey is just one example. Of course there's more than one reader, but some discourses reach more readers because they deal with matters to which more of them can relate-- again going back to the "truck-barrelling-down-the-road" paradigm. Most of the critics who can't see the appeal of basic "primary concerns" are the ones who are trying to pursue some agenda related to their own beliefs re: "secondary concerns."

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#191929 - 12/10/07 01:25 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Dumas Offline
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Reece is a pretentious douchebag who only seems to like comics written by pretentious douchebags for other pretentious douchebags. Trying to debate with him about subjective taste stuff is kind of pointless.

The dude has truly horrible taste in comics, so it's not worth arguing with him about this stuff any more.
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#191930 - 12/10/07 01:37 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
snoid Offline
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Registered: 02/26/99
Posts: 2205
"Reece is a pretentious douchebag"

Yes, yes he is, but then again so is Gene.

"The dude has truly horrible taste in comics,"

No he doesn't. douchebag he may be, but he does like good comics.
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#191931 - 12/12/07 12:52 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
Loc: us of fuckin' a
Quote:
There are a lot of pleasurable things about Moore's work but because he's essentially "rewriting" readerly concepts he often becomes too mannered and abstruse. In addition, he's not as noteworthy as some of the "journeymen" types in terms of sheer creativity. Goodwin would not be his superior in this respect but Gardner Fox would be. But one can only appreciate the superior creativity of Fox's best work when comparing it to something more in less in the same vein, like TOM STRONG. Fox's JLA has its own set of flaws, of course, but in terms of inventiveness TOM STRONG doesn't come close.
Well, I think TS is every bit as creative as anything I've ever read from Fox and it's better written. And if you don't arbitrarily limit the comparison to Moore's simplest works, BLACK DOSSIER, WATCHMEN and PROMETHEA blow Fox off the map in terms of "pure creativity."

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"Suggesting that A is better than B because although they both meet criterion g1 (for first good thing), only A meets g2 through g4 in no way entails a unitary standard. It's the exact opposite, in fact."

To revive an earlier thread-argument, your unitary standards center about what I termed "thematic realism." This does allow you to appreciate a wide spectrum of authors as different as Moore and Kafka. However, as long as you're unable to deal with the creativity of authors who don't attempt the more sophisticated modes of narrative, you've tossed out the baby with the bathwater.
I forget what you meant by thematic realism, but if its "applies to some aspect of human reality," then I do think that's a good thing. There are so many ways of doing that, though, that there's no way it could be reasonably called a 'unitary standard,' any more than my preferring the good to the bad. Your response doesn't really touch upon my point. Your argument has pretty much been reduced to "if one considers 50s and 60s superhero comics solely within the context and demands of 50s and 60s superhero comics, they are great works." I don't have a problem with flights of "pure fancy," where a story has little to no concern with how it might be significant to any human situation, but an equally imaginative tale that does say something significant about who we will be better, because it contains more good stuff.

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"But it does address that greater sphere [of realworld morality], only in a naive, mixed up, contradictory way"

That's because you're imposing false standards on the situation. "Naive", yes, but that's the nature of the idiom you're given. Peter Parker may symbolically make a sort of devil's bargain for popularity but he also receives an ongoing punishment for it by wearing the hairshirt of the superhero. Villains are bad because they steal; Jameson is bad but in a kind of doofus way because he doesn't realize how absurd he is. There are moral conflicts but they're never meant to sustain thoughtful debate, but to offer excitement and reader-identification. I see no contradictions.
That's subjective mush, a defense based on where one sees green, another maybe sees red. In my world, greatness doesn't come from being simplistic and naive and wholly irrelevant to any concerns we might have as humans. Saying a work is intended to be that way isn't a defense of its being good. Comparing it only to works with a similar "intent" only serves to reduce our understanding of what's complex, nuanced and relevant.

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It seems obvious to me that to a starving man (and I mean really starving, not someone who simply wants to lose weight), a ham sandwich is a good deal more primary than a lecture about why ham sandwiches are the bane of existence, or symbols of commodification, or the like.
Uh, yeah. But you didn't understand one thing I said. To a starving man, Spidey, with its socalled primary themes, isn't going to be any more relevant than those works with your socalled secondary themes. We're talking about a cultural context where people have the time to read. It's in that context that your breakdown above is oldfashioned.

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Saying Spidey is relatable to everyone, and is thereby more geared towards "the reader" than L&R or EIGHTBALL, is a unitary standard. I hold that there's more than one reader.'

[1]It's not unitary because I'm not trying to preach that it's better, that it's the standard to which all should aspire. [2]I'm simply elucidating the dominant nature of the idiom, of which Spidey is just one example. [3] Of course there's more than one reader, but some discourses reach more readers because they deal with matters to which more of them can relate-- again going back to the "truck-barrelling-down-the-road" paradigm. [4] Most of the critics who can't see the appeal of basic "primary concerns" are the ones who are trying to pursue some agenda related to their own beliefs re: "secondary concerns."
1. It's not a unitary standard for what's better, but what's supposedly reader-oriented. I see multiple readers, where you seem to see only one. 2. No one's disagreeing on what the dominant "idiom" is like, only whether there are other "idioms" which might be better at touching on the same things. 3. Well, then, there is no real difference between your writerly works and readerly works other than the size (probable or extant) of the audience. 4. Right, it can't be that these readers have found works which are more oriented towards their own "primary concerns," and that your view of what makes up a reader is, in fact, myopic.

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Reece is a pretentious douchebag who only seems to like comics written by pretentious douchebags for other pretentious douchebags. Trying to debate with him about subjective taste stuff is kind of pointless.
Thanks, my new "readerly" blog has you and snoid in mind as a target audience.
_________________________
The Gospel, wherein much Truth is written.

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#191932 - 12/15/07 05:08 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
gene phillips Offline
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Registered: 09/30/99
Posts: 5910
Loc: Houston, TX
"Well, I think TS is every bit as creative as anything I've ever read from Fox and it's better written. And if you don't arbitrarily limit the comparison to Moore's simplest works, BLACK DOSSIER, WATCHMEN and PROMETHEA blow Fox off the map in terms of "pure creativity."

PROMETHEA isn't readily comparable with Gardner Fox, but WATCHMEN and LOEG, while also striving for more adult audiences, are still as indebted as TOM STRONG is to rewriting the tropes of more straightforward entertainments. Moore is certainly Fox's superior in terms of thematic creativity but not in terms of creating basic concepts.

"I forget what you meant by thematic realism, but if its "applies to some aspect of human reality," then I do think that's a good thing."

It's not a bad thing, but it's not a measure for fictions of "simpler textures," which is why I don't accept that SPIDEY fails any sort of competition for The Best Alienated Story of All Time.

"There are so many ways of doing that, though, that there's no way it could be reasonably called a 'unitary standard"

But that's the way that you have applied it, by insisting that fictions that do not hold to that standard have failed, as when you judge REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE to be a better study of alienation than SPIDER-MAN.

'Your argument has pretty much been reduced to "if one considers 50s and 60s superhero comics solely within the context and demands of 50s and 60s superhero comics, they are great works."'

Nope, I'm comparing them to everything in the same idiom, ranging from ALADDIN and SNOW WHITE to Sherlock Holmes. You've made this false claim before and it's still not true. I don't mind saying that there are aspects of a given time that one has to take into account when evaluating a story, such as noting that 60s depictions of Communism are not likely to be fair and balanced. But this doesn't have anything to do with keeping the stories sequestered in some little corner all to themselves.

"it contains more good stuff."

Depending on the nature of a given creator, though, a "flight of fancy" may produce results that could not be produced by someone more tied to depicting reality. Just to remind you, that's the argument by which I proved that Doyle is not inferior to Eco because Doyle is less concerned with deep and abiding themes in his work than Eco is. Doyle created a serial milieu, what I consider a "literary mythology," that has its own unique character and deserves its own respect alongside the very different idiom than an Eco would pursue.

'Comparing it only to works with a similar "intent" only serves to reduce our understanding of what's complex, nuanced and relevant.'

Hogwash. There's nothing "subjective" about saying that an apple isn't an orange, and that both may nourish in quite different ways. On the contrary, it's entirely scientific.

"To a starving man, Spidey, with its socalled primary themes, isn't going to be any more relevant than those works with your socalled secondary themes"

You're the one who's misunderstood the simile. The "starving man" here is the reader who wants a simple-textured entertainment, on whom more convoluted textures (Joyce, Kafka) are likely to be lost. Just because you think it's fun and challenging to unknot those knotty problems doesn't mean it's fun and challenging for everyone.

"It's not a unitary standard for what's better, but what's supposedly reader-oriented. I see multiple readers, where you seem to see only one"

There's room for all sorts of individual interpretations within within the readerly sphere (not "standard.") I like Mort Weisinger Superman comics and Dumas doesn't. But no matter how far apart our tastes may be on the subject of what makes a good Superman story, in neither case do we expect a Superman story to worry about what's "complex, nuanced and relevant." That's a false unitary standard.

"No one's disagreeing on what the dominant "idiom" is like, only whether there are other "idioms" which might be better at touching on the same things'

Didn't you foreswear the applcation of idioms at all?

"Well, then, there is no real difference between your writerly works and readerly works other than the size (probable or extant) of the audience"

Already answered.

"Right, it can't be that these readers have found works which are more oriented towards their own "primary concerns," and that your view of what makes up a reader is, in fact, myopic."

Says the guy who thinks SPIDEY fails the "alienation test."

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#191933 - 12/16/07 11:03 AM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
Loc: us of fuckin' a
Quote:
PROMETHEA isn't readily comparable with Gardner Fox, but WATCHMEN and LOEG, while also striving for more adult audiences, are still as indebted as TOM STRONG is to rewriting the tropes of more straightforward entertainments. Moore is certainly Fox's superior in terms of thematic creativity but not in terms of creating basic concepts.
I don't know why PROMETHEA isn't any more readily comparable than the others. If Bat + man = Batman, so hawk + man = Hawkman, isn't rewriting tropes, then nothing Moore does is rewriting tropes. One writer's thematic concepts are another's basic.

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Nope, I'm comparing [superhero comics] to everything in the same idiom, ranging from ALADDIN and SNOW WHITE to Sherlock Holmes.
Well, since you feel it's okay to compare Sherlock Holmes to Eco and Borges, then it's okay to compare superheroes to their work. Very few of them come anywhere in the same ballpark to the quality of ideas and writing than can be found by of these 3 authors. And, unless you wish to say that none of these 3 should ever be compared to any other writer of literature, you've just lumped it all into the same "idiom." I'd say that unless you're speaking of the folk versions of stuff like Aladdin, the literary adaptations are also comparable. Superheroes aren't really folk tales, though.

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Depending on the nature of a given creator, though, a "flight of fancy" may produce results that could not be produced by someone more tied to depicting reality. Just to remind you, that's the argument by which I proved that Doyle is not inferior to Eco because Doyle is less concerned with deep and abiding themes in his work than Eco is. Doyle created a serial milieu, what I consider a "literary mythology," that has its own unique character and deserves its own respect alongside the very different idiom than an Eco would pursue.
Just to remind you, I wasn't arguing that Eco was a better writer than Doyle, so your proof was to your own satisfaction, not mine.

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There's room for all sorts of individual interpretations within within the readerly sphere (not "standard.") I like Mort Weisinger Superman comics and Dumas doesn't. But no matter how far apart our tastes may be on the subject of what makes a good Superman story, in neither case do we expect a Superman story to worry about what's "complex, nuanced and relevant."
But Superman isn't aimed at people who do want that, it doesn't take them into account. Thus, it's not "readerly" for some audiences. To say it's more readerly because it aims at its own audience rather than another is a unitary standard. That's myopic, QED.

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Didn't you foreswear the applcation of idioms at all?
Not sure what you're talking about, but since your idiom fits everything written, no. I don't think your term has much use do to its loose application, though.

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Already answered.
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You're the one who's misunderstood the simile. The "starving man" here is the reader who wants a simple-textured entertainment, on whom more convoluted textures (Joyce, Kafka) are likely to be lost. Just because you think it's fun and challenging to unknot those knotty problems doesn't mean it's fun and challenging for everyone.
My response wasn't to any metaphor of "starvation," but to your oldfashioned notion of what's a primary concern (which was real food, not metaphorical food). That you see Spidey any more related to such a concern than Borges is ridiculous.

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Says the guy who thinks SPIDEY fails the "alienation test."
Since you seem to have missed it, here's what I said regarding Spidey's "failure":
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As for being a "failure," Spidey (or any 60s superhero comic) wasn't intended to be placed in some canon of great art, and it succeeds. So I don't consider it a real failure, only a "failure" when someone tries to inflate its signficance as art. It's at that point that someone else has to point to the level of writing and ideas that had become even commonplace in novels or art or film at the time of Spidey's creation. If you're only argument is that something like Iron Man succeeds at being a reasonably formulaic adventure tale, you'd get no argument from me (I remember it not even being that good, but I don't wish to reexperience it, so I'll just grant you your argument). But when you start arguing that it touches on something deep in humanity, the way one of our greatest writers do -- only a different aspect of our humanity -- then I have a reason for pointing out obvious deficiencies in that respect. We both agree that Spiderman has been better than Iron Man, and that Iron Man's been mediocre at best, so what? The problem comes in when someone would want to argue over the probability that in terms of Godard's justified relevance to cinema, what comics likely hold a similar aesthetic relevance: Lee and Ditko's Spiderman, or Clowes' Eightball? One might not like Godard's films, but one looks like a dimwit to simply call them shit. The parallel holds true with Eightball. You can't legitimately ignore it if you're thinking about the aesethetic worth of comics as an artform. The same isn't true of Spiderman.
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