BY TIM O'SHEA
In the first part
of PULSE's examination of reviewing, the philosophies and background of reviewers were addressed. In this second part, PULSE delves into the presence (or avoidance) of bias in reviews, as well as the positives, negatives and challenges of reviewing in general.
In addition to a reviewer's bias of analyzing one aspect of the work over the other (as addressed in part one), there are other biases to consider. Another test is how a creator overcomes a bias toward a creator or a genre.
"You don't overcome it; you acknowledge it," said Don MacPherson of The Fourth Rail
. "It's the work itself that overcomes the bias. For example, I've been disappointed with Jeph Loeb's work on Batman, but I've been and remain a big fan of a lot of his comics work. And despite that disappointment, I keep expecting Batman will get better, because Loeb is on it."
In Ninth Art's Alasdair Watson's case: "I try not to comment on works by people I like (or dislike) at all, unless I'm recommending them, rather than reviewing - I wouldn't trust myself to keep my biases out of it."
In terms of genre, bias clearly comes into play for Watson, if you consider an essay
he recently wrote for Ninth Art, where in an essay on the superhero subgenre he wrote: "You hear a lot of rhetoric about how the dominance of the superhero subgenre is strangling the life out of comics. I can't argue with it, but that's not why I hate superheroes - it's just why I hate their publishers. No, I've got other, better reasons to hate them."
While clear on how he feels about the subgenre in its present state, he would not shy away from reviewing them, either. "I wouldn't necessarily seek them out to review them, but I wouldn't avoid them," said Watson"Yes, I'm down on the genre, but that doesn't mean that I can't see how it works, and comment on it. So long as I can support my views on a work, and a reader can clearly understand the perspective I'm at them coming from, then my view is as valid as anyone else's."
"Basically, if I feel I have something to say about a work that more than 'I (didn't) like this', and I've not spotted anyone else saying it, then sure, I'll review it," he added.
Katherine Keller of Sequential Tart
tackles the bias like MacPherson "by acknowledging straight out that I have a bias and warning the reader right off that they must factor this into their assessment of my review.I then try to look at what in the comic was technically good and try to think of what a person who didn't have my bias might think. For example the big googly eyed style of the manga produced by CLAMP really annoys the hell out of me, but I have to admit that I've liked the stories."
"I guess I have to remind myself that just because I do/don't like something doesn't make it good/bad," said Keller. "I mean, about four to five years ago, I enjoyed the hell out of the X-Men books. They were not good, but I still had a blast reading them."
"Reviewers have different favorites," said Augie De Blieck Jr.
"Some even become friendly with the creators they've tasked themselves to review.My answer to that challenge is easiest: Be brutally honest. Everyone expects you to give a puff review to someone who is considered a 'friend of the column.' The only way to counter that is to be brutally honest.Don't lie. Don't pick nits just to do it. If that creator is really a friend, they'll accept it and appreciate the honesty."
Like others, he adds: "admit your biases up front. Your regular readers will know what hey are to begin with.Most of them are regular readers because they share your biases and opinions, to some degree. But it's always good to be honest and admit your preconceived notions, particularly when the comic challenges those."
"As far as genre, I try to simply remain objective and take things on a case-by-case basis," said Sequential Tart's Barb Lien-Cooper. "As far as creators, if I know I don't like someone's style, I try not to read and review that person. If I'm forced to do so, I try to analyze in my review why
I don't like that person's style, then I try to compare the creator's stylistic choices as the do or do not work with the story/characters at hand."
Fourth Rail's Randy Lander has two ways of dealing with the bias, the first being to concede the bias in the review. "The other way is to separate whatever negatives are attached to the genre/creator from the work and review it based on what's on the page. As a for instance, one of my absolute favorite super-hero books right now is written by someone who (last I heard) hates my guts, and who I don't like much personally as a result either. Doesn't affect my reviews or stop me from highly recommending the book, because I can recognize the skill involved in the writing even if there's a personality clash with the writer."
"There are pros who've reacted nastily to my having a less-than-favorable opinion about their work," said Comics Worth Reading's Johanna Draper Carlson
. "As a result, I tend not to write about their work unless I have something positive or something important to say. It's just not worth the hassle, given that there are already more good comics out there than I have time to talk about. Those are the only creators I can think of that fall into a special category for me.
"There are certain genres I don't care for, and I try to mention that explicitly in the review," she added. "'I may not be the best judge of this because I don't care for horror', for example, or 'even though I don't normally read about sports, this was so good I want to read more'. C.S. Lewis said, in his essay On Science Fiction
, 'Hatred obscures all distinctions. I don't like detective stories and therefore all detectives stories look much alike to me; if I wrote about them I should therefore infallibly write drivel.... Many reviews are useless because, while purporting to condemn the book, they only reveal the reviewer's dislike of the kind to which it belongs.' I've tried to remember that when choosing what to write about."
Like many of his fellow reviewers, Paul O'Brien of The X-Axis
admits his bias in the review. "Part of the skill of reviewing is knowing the difference between your own personal tastes, and a story which is good or bad.If the story's achieved what it's set out to do then it probably wasn't that bad, whether or not I enjoyed it (unless its aims were totally wrongheaded from the start). On the other hand, I think the best genre fiction has appeal beyond its genre, so I tend to treat those sort of stories as 'fine if you like that sort of thing'."
"I like to think I'm generally okay when it comes to creators - there have been several creators whose work I generally can't stand, but I've still given them good reviews once in a while when they produce something different," O'Brien added.
IComics' Greg McElhatton's
advice for overcoming bias is direct. "Be professional. No, really. If you can't get past a bias, positive or negative, then you shouldn't be reviewing their work. I've had friends whose work I've given a negative review, and there are a couple of people in the industry whom I can't stand but I've given them good reviews anyway because I'm reviewing the work, not the person. I can appreciate Frank Lloyd Wright's skills as an architect without liking Wright himself, who was a pretty dreadful person."
"I think the greatest challenge to being a reviewer is in maintaining your objectivity," said Peter Siegel of ARTBOMB
."There's a lot of bias in the comics media Ů which I think is a direct result of the industry being so small Ů that it just makes me scratch my head sometimes. So much so that I stray away from reviews that use absolute rankings like stars or points or what not. Reviewing is a subjective art after all."
The Internet has allowed for more of an international appeal to comic book review sites. This phenomena leads some to wonder, is there a difference between North American and U.K. reviewers and/or a cultural bias of some kind? For an admittedly extreme and unique example of potential cultural/political bias, consider O'Brien's review of Captain America 6
, in which he writes:
"It is a despicable piece of question-dodging, comfort food dressed up as insight, tired old propaganda posing as art."
When asked about that review, O'Brien answered: "Well, Captain America #6 is an extreme example, and a subject I feel strongly about.As a general rule I don't give negative reviews simply because I disagree with the politics; in this case, I thought the story was so divorced from reality that that ceased to apply. But yes, the reaction to that review from British readers was overwhelmingly positive. American reaction was more mixed. Then again, it's a comic about America, and of course non-Americans are going to have a different perspective on that."
"Generally, though, I think it's inevitable that British reviewers will bring a different perspective to things," O'Brien said. "We're reading imported comics set in a foreign country, and our own domestic comics industry (such as it is) is very different indeed.How much that matters will vary from comic to comic.Every so often you get a comic which is highly U.S.-specific and goes sailing over the heads of British readers.And vice versa - I have no idea what Americans must make of JACK STAFF, which is drowning in U.K.-specific references."
(As an aside, in terms of Jack Staff, the U.S.-born and based author of this article has written several reviews in favor of Paul Grist's Jack Staff and Draper Carlson devotes an entire page at her website to the series [http://www.comicsworthreading.com/comics/jackstaff.html]. Image plans to launch a new color version of Jack Staff this year, so it's clearly working for some Americans.)
"Though Ninth Art is based in the UK, we actually run plenty of reviews by non-British writers," said Andrew Wheeler. "If there is any difference in the reviews I and other Britons produce, it's that the tone is sometimes less reverential. I suppose the culture that informs our analysis can be a little more diverse as well, since we have both our native culture to draw on, and the cultural influence of both Europe and the U.S. I grew up reading U.S monthly superhero comics, U.K. weekly anthologies and Continental humour albums, for example."
"I think among the British reviews I read, there's a greater willingness to place a work in a broader context, and deconstruct it a bit, rather than just give it marks out of ten," said Watson. "I don't know, maybe I'm being unfair, but I can't think of any American reviewers I read on a regular basis, unless you want to count the people at artbomb.net who aren't so much reviewing as recommending, in my view.But there are a few British reviewers I do pay attention to, because they're good at making me consider things I hadn't before.I don't get that with the Americans."
In terms of response from readers and creators, some reviewers get more direct response than others, as in addition to featuring the reviews on their respective websites, reviewers like O'Brien and Draper Carlson post their reviews on Usenet. Draper Carlson addressed how that audience has helped to strengthen her reviewing skills. "It's made me concentrate on making my points as bulletproof as possible. I'm more likely to give concrete examples (of panels or lines of dialogue, for instance), in order to avoid being challenged."
"I've also had to write through the fear," she shared. "It's no fun dreading publication of your column for fear of what some bozo's going to say about you, your family, or your sex life. There are still folks out there that confuse 'I don't care for the comic you love' with 'you're an idiot and a loser because no one could like that'. In a way, it's a twisted compliment. If someone takes my opinion so seriously that it causes them to question themselves, that's a power I must use responsibly. (Sorry, that's that sense of humor I mentioned [earlier in this article].)"
"I couldn't stop now even if I wanted to, though," Draper Carlson added. "It's a calling."
Draper Carlson's personal Usenet experience while unique is not the only response that reviewers receive, as most reviewers receive their fair share of negative and positive e-mails and other forms of feedback.
Sometimes the feedback can come from creators and can be best characterized as hate mail.
"I don't bother responding to hate mail, any more than I think creators should bother responding to reviews that are nothing more than 'This sucks!," says Lander. "Fortunately, I could count the pieces of actual 'hate mail' that I received in the last year or two on one hand. I have gotten some emails correcting aspects of my reviews or taking issue with elements of the review, and these well-reasoned disagreements are more than welcome. There have been occasions where I've corrected a review when a creator pointed out something I got wrong, and I really appreciate the pros who can separate their personal involvement with the work and realize that my review is not a personal attack on them. I've found just about every creator I've dealt with to be smart enough to realize that in the end, my reviews are basically 'one guy's opinion' and not worth getting that worked up about."
"Sometimes I do respond; sometimes I don't," said De Blieck."You have to take it in the way it's offered.Some people honestly disagree with you.Some people are just trolls."
"Sometimes, it's impossible to write back to them, De Blieck admitted."I've had a couple of people write large tracts in response to my column. They're interesting and well reasoned, but I don't have the time to respond point-by-point and have to let it drop. The ones who are obvious trolls are the most fun to play with, though. =)"
"The only other negative e-mails that I make a concerted effort to respond to are the ones with public fora whose writers have clearly misrepresented something I've written to make their snarky comments," De Blieck added."I give them a chance to correct themselves.After that, I just ignore it.They're not worth it. They're just trying to ride coat tails."
"If it's non-creator hate mail, I either ignore it or, if it is particularly vile, I send a note to the sender saying that his (because it's always been a 'he' so far) argument is unreasonable and needlessly rude, ask him not to contact me again, and block the sender from sending me any more email," said Lien-Cooper.
"If it is from the creator, I'll either ignore it, or, possibly, engage in a dialogue," she said. "Usually, I have to ignore it, because if I engaged with every wanna-be creator of every indie comic, mini-comic, or self-published comic, I'd have no time to be a reviewer, let alone a writer."
Lien-Cooper is both surprised and not surprised about the level of creator sensitivity sometimes.
"I know these works are their babies, and no one wants to say a bad thing about a baby," she conceded. "However, I think that creators sometimes have a closeness to their works that sometimes keeps them from seeing the faults, as well as the strengths, objectively. My duty is to the comic book audience, who are looking for good books, more than to the creators. It's my duty to analyze every comic, weigh it, and tell people if it's worth their time or not. It is to be hoped that reviewers' influence may help consumers find the good comics for which they are looking."
Some of the criticism, nonetheless, has been vehement at times.
"Well, there have been a couple columnists who laid on personal insults for some time because they disagreed with my reviews," said Lander. "And one pro who took a dislike to me early on and has maintained that grudge through a surprising amount of years, even though I honestly have no idea what I did to piss him off so badly. That's mostly balanced out by the many friends I have in the online comics community and all the incredibly nice pros I've had dealings with in the past. But I will admit that I have occasionally been a bit stung by the rancor directed my way."
While sometimes volatile, there can be a positive outcome in the end with some reviewer/creator exchanges. "I had a creator write me a nasty e-mail once in response to a comment I had made about his work in a column," said De Blieck,"He took it rather personally.I wrote back a much nicer e-mail in response.He wrote back a few hours later to apologize.He was drunk when he wrote the original e-mail and he didn't mean much of it. (He's British. He drinks.Big surprise. ;-) We traded a couple of e-mails after that and straightened the whole misunderstanding out.I met him in San Diego a year later.He remembered the exchange, and we had a good laugh about it. Nice guy."
"You never know how things will turn out," De Blieck added. "I've actually been very lucky in that department. There have been a few creators who've written to me in response to something negative I had written about their work in a review. But they've always been kind about it, and often quite open about discussing things. The trick is to remember to review the work and not the creator. It makes it a lot easier. It's also more honest and constructive."
De Blieck shared one exchange he had in particular. "There was the one time I completely trashed a book and the creator wrote back that day and said, 'You're right.'That one surprised me.He hated the issue, as well."
"It pays to be honest," De Blieck concluded. "It really does.People can smell the b.s. from pretty far away."
"There are really only a couple of ways that you can deal with hate mail, and it depends entirely on how it's phrased," said McElhatton. "If it's a rational letter, I'll sometimes try and better explain if something wasn't clear to the reader the first time through. If it's an irrational letter and they're just screaming nastiness at you, it gets deleted."
Fortunately McElhatton recalled that "the only incident of real nastiness I've ever had was one creator who devoted an entire page of her website to how much she personally hates me. Rather than merely attack me, though, she instead ripped into one of my siblings and then said that my entire family should crawl into an oven and die because we were too stupid to live. Charming."
"I wear hate mail like a badge of honor, an attitude I carry over from my career as a newspaper reporter," said MacPherson. "Mind you, there's not a lot of it, especially from pros.Most comics pros, when emailing about a negative review or something they feel is in error in the review, are quite polite."
Surprisingly, MacPherson was quick to add: "Too bad... it'd be more fun the other way."
In terms of the most memorable mail, MacPherson recounted "I'd have to say the most memorable would have to be the huff that arose over my review of CrossGen's Meridian #1. This was back when Randy and I were writing for Fandom.com's Comics Newsarama domain. There were some folks at CrossGen who did not appreciate the review at all, and that's fine by me. What did irk me, though, were the CrossGen fans --voracious, foaming-at-the-mouth fans, despite the fact CrossGen had been publishing comics only for a few weeks at that point -- who lied about my comments in various fora in order to drum up support for their 'side.'
"While I still stand behind that original review, the weird thing is that Meridian has become one of my favorite titles," MacPherson said.
Some movie and music reviewers (as well as other cultural and artistic critics) often lay claim to helping put a certain person or project "on the map" --helping bring attention or otherwise boosting something's profile. Most comic book reviewers shy away from any such claims, though some admit that at times their constructive criticism has been acknowledged to help one or two folks' creative process.
McElhatton is one of the reviewers that would not think to take credit. "Absolutely not, and I don't think any single reviewer in comics can say that. By way of example, when Leland Purvis was self-publishing his anthology VOX, word got out that it would be dropped by Diamond after #3 if orders didn't increase. Several reviewers (including but not limited to myself) pushed the book heavily, and there was a great deal of attention brought to it on places like the Warren Ellis Forum, begging people to check out online previews and to pre-order the third issue. When the sales figures came in, it was a little higher... but not that much. This was a really sharp book, had gotten probably more attention that month online than anywhere else, and the sales "spike" was pretty low."
McElhatton continued: "It's a strange dichotomy; in terms of mass-media, comics are probably the lowest in terms of audience numbers, but it's because of that you don't have people like Roger Ebert or publications like the New York Times Book Review that have the power to make something a smash in its field; there's nothing that gets the message out to the critical number of people that it can make a big enough difference."
"It sounds silly, but I honestly think that in three and a half years of reviewing the most good I ever did was participating in judging last April for the Eisners," said McElhatton. "That was less than 72 hours of my life, and I'm pretty sure that seeing some books on that ballot probably did more to raise awareness than any review I've ever written. (Well, except for the infamous Pokemon Tales: Come Out, Squirtle! review, which seems to surface every six months to shrieks of laughter across the internet. Since that was more or less the point of the review, though, it's a good thing.)"
"It's not about me getting praise or recognition as someone who can break a book," said Draper Carlson. "It's about directing readers to good work and causing them to think about what they're reading, no matter what that is."
"I don't really think of my reviews in that way," said Lander. "I do believe what I do is important in helping to create a buzz around new or little-known titles, but no one reviewer can do it on their own. It's when a lot of reviewers start to agree, and fans join in on the word of mouth, that our influence is really felt. Which is as it should be... reviewers aren't editors or publishers, we shouldn't have the sole power to make or break a book by ourselves."
"Pipeline is done without spoilers," said De Blieck. "This can be incredibly frustrating sometimes when I want to talk about specific twists and turns of the plot. It means I have to rely mostly on discussing the process used in creating the book. A lot of creators over the years have responded to that, citing my column as what caused them to see a weakness in their work that they've responded to."
There are many positive aspects to the reviewing process, as the critics will fully admit.
According to Lien-Cooper: "I get free items to review, and I get to try to spread the concept of analyzing things to see if they are good or bad and thinking about why instead of just saying 'it rocks' or 'it sucks'."
"The daily partnership with Don MacPherson, whose sense of humor and friendship I probably would never have known without our shared experiences in comics reviewing," said Lander. "Frequent contact with the folks who create these comics that I love. The feeling of being a part of the comics fan community. And though I'd quit in a heartbeat if it was at all a reason why I was reviewing, I can't deny getting a kick out of seeing myself quoted on comics, trades, ads, etc.
"I have my own column to talk about whatever I want to, and no editorial restrictions.››
It's all me, both the good and the bad," said De Blieck."Pipeline is how I work all of this out of my system."
"It feels great to be more involved in the industry you love, as well," De Blieck added."I don't kid myself that I can change things or get powerful people to make the right decisions.But it's nice to know that your fellow comics fans respect your writing and your opinions. It's a great way to be active in fandom, and you meet a lot of interesting people you wouldn't otherwise meet. That includes the creators and publishers."
"Certainly the positive is having the occasion to get to read and enjoy an awful lot of really good books," said Siegel. "If I didn't enjoy them, I wouldn't do it otherwise."
"The joy of sharing a great comic with as many people as possible," said Draper Carlson. "The thrill of looking back and saying 'dang, that was some good writing I turned out'. (The latter doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's wonderful.) Conversations with some terrific and talented creators."
"Reviewing stuff (usually) makes for an interesting intellectual and creative exercise to indulge in," said Ninth Art's Nick Brownlow. "Writing a review should be a nice, brisk workout for the mind, and at the end of it you've hopefully increased both your understanding of the work in question and your own reactions to it."
He also added: "And of course it's a kick when someone else really likes what you've written."
"I get a fair amount of feedback from the reviews," said O'Brien, "and it's nice to know people generally seem to like them. And I enjoy writing them - I like trying to work out why a story worked."
"You get to share the joys and wonders (and occasionally disasters) of things you've enjoyed with other people," said McElhatton. "If even a couple of people pick up something you've pushed, then it's a great feeling."
"The drop-dead coolest thing about doing reviews is when I see one of my pieces quoted," said Troy Brownfield of Shotgun Reviews
. "Whether it's on a website, in an ad, or on the back of a trade paperback (like Vagabond Vol. 1 from Viz), it still gives me a thrill.That having been said, I would do reviews without that kind of reinforcement because I simply like to do it.Also, it's nice to occasionally get an advance look at something or to receive items for reviews; it feels good to have your opinion regarded highly enough by the companies to get some items.That said, I don't cater reviews to get free stuff.You should see some of the things I wrote about pre-Quesada Marvel ..."
"One of the positives is that Randy and I have been at this so long and have developed an audience to the point that we're starting to get a good amount -- and an interesting variety -- of comp review material (but far from EVERYTHING, as many of our readers erroneously believe)," said MacPherson."And that's a negative too, because there's so much of it, I'm disappointed that I haven't reviewed most of it.Even if comics reviewing was my job now -- which it isn't -- I doubt I could review all of that material."
As MacPherson points out for every positive there can also be a negative, as well as challenges.
"On the negative side, good reviewing takes a lot of time," said McElhatton. "It's quite challenging to come up with a new way to say, 'I liked the art' when you're feeling uninspired."
"The negative is the occasional weeks when you're sitting with a pile of thoroughly mediocre comics wishing to god you had a format that would let you review LUCIFER instead," said O'Brien. "Or maybe that's just me.That's why I started reviewing all the first issues of new series as well as the regular format - at least there's usually something out there in any given week."
"The challenge with the X-books, on occasion, is trying to find something to say about a comic that's just published a slight variation on the same comic for the sixth month in a row," O'Brien added. "Mutant X was particularly hard in its middle phase, when it wasn't totally dreadful, but was consistently mediocre in exactly the same way every month.I eventually gave up and did four or five months of a running gag where I cut and pasted the same paragraph as the 'review' for each issue, until it stopped being accurate.(I think they ran a fill-in or something...)"
"Writing interesting positive reviews is tricky, as well," O'Brien concluded."It's very easy to write an entertaining negative review of a truly hideous comic, and a lot of people love reading them.It's much, much harder to write an entertaining piece about why something was good, without lapsing into gushing."
"It can sometimes be awkward if you know the creator personally, like from a message board or something -- there have been times where really decent, nice, terrific people have asked me to review their stuff, and...it's just not very good," said Smith. "That's just an uncomfortable situation to be in, no matter how you slice it.Likewise, if you know the person and the work is GOOD, you still have to be objective when reviewing it, which is trickier than it sounds."
For Brownlow, the main negative is "the cost of buying lots of new graphic novels (more free review copies please), and the challenges tend to revolve around finding the time, and - on occasion - the enthusiasm to actually get it all down on paper in a coherent, readable form."
"Bozo responses, attack email, and lack of respect," are on Draper Carlson's list of negatives, while her challenges are "Continuing to improve my craft. Making my points as clearly and well-expressed as possible while not hurting others."
"The in-fighting and back-biting that is part of the comics industry, whether it's from professionals or fandom," is at the top of Lander's negative inventory. "Being a target for those who take your high profile as a reason to have personal problems with you... loudly. The constant second-guessing, whether it's 'Why didn't you review this?' or 'You're an (insert company/creator here) sycophant, your reviews are totally biased!' or any number of other negative things that come from people who are irritated that your opinions don't match theirs."
In terms of the challenges, Lander maintained: "Keeping the reviews fresh, especially when you're talking up a book that you've reviewed a dozen times before. Finding the time and energy to review on top of a 40+ hour work week plus time spent with friends and family. Getting diversity in your reviews without passing up those books you really want to talk about, even though you've covered them before."
Lien-Cooper's challenges are ones shared by many of her fellow reviewers "Having to be a human thesaurus, forced to come up with new ways to say that something is well-written, well-plotted, or well-characterized, especially with multiple issues by the same old creative team," she said. "I hate to overuse the same old words and phrases like beautiful, creative, wonderful, blah blah blah, as I often need to do with, say, Morrison/Quitely."
So when reading a review, it's clear, there's a great deal to consider and a great deal of consideration has gone into a typical review.
"What people have to understand is that taste is relative," said Brent Keane (from Ninth Art, PopImage
). "What I think is an excellent piece of work may not be the case with someone else. I knew a guy who thought that Pulp Fiction
was the worst film he'd ever seen, which I couldn't fathom; I personally thought it was a masterpiece. But it was his right to say he didn't like it, just as it's somebody's choice to think that Archie
is the best comic being published today. I may not necessarily agree, but make a reasonable argument about it, and I'll listen. That's a necessary function of reviewers and critics - being able to make that argument cogently and clearly."
De Blieck offered some advice for folks hoping to enter the reviewing "game":
"It's not as easy as it looks. It does get easier with practice. It also gets harder, for all the reasons mentioned earlier.
"Anyone can do it. The great thing about the Internet is that you can go out there tomorrow and publish your thoughts and call it a column. You can spend a few bucks, if you'd like to, buy a domain name and set up a little HTML code to showcase your work. With some dedication and effort, you'll find an audience.
"But it won't happen overnight. Reviewing is, in some ways, no different from attempting to break into the comics industry.It takes perseverance and dedication.Writing a column every now and then when you feel like it won't work. Timeliness is key. A schedule is a must. Announce it and stick to it.I think you need to do this weekly if you really want to succeed at it. (I'm measuring success here as attaining an audience.Trust me -- if nobody is reading, writing will get pretty boring very quickly.)
"You also have to find a way to stand out. If you're just repeating the mantras that everyone else is already chanting, nobody is going to care. What makes you unique?Why read you and not just go back to the other reviewer already out there?
"Finally, the Internet does not represent all of comics fandom.It can be difficult to remember that sometimes, I know.It seems like everyone is on-line, but those two dozen people on that message board aren't the 100,000 buying the latest issue of GI JOE or X-MEN. Don't kid yourself into thinking you're going to change the industry."
The final word goes to Draper Carlson, with her favorite quote, from author Nick Hornby in Fever Pitch
: "A critical faculty is a terrible thing. When I was eleven there were no bad films, just films that I didn't want to see, there was no bad food, just brussels sprouts and cabbage, and there were no bad books - everything I read was great. Then suddenly, I woke up in the morning and all that had changed.... from that moment on, enjoyment has been a much more elusive quality."
According to Draper Carlson: "That's the reviewer's curse and strength."
Tim O'Shea is a columnist/e-interviewer/reviewer for www.orcafresh.net and www.digitalwebbing.com/cbem.