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#563925 - 01/06/10 01:23 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: IvanJim]
Dean R Milburn Offline
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Registered: 07/06/99
Posts: 2043
Loc: Indianapolis
Originally Posted By: IvanJim
Originally Posted By: Lawson

A Groth essay written a generation ago sounds a lot like a Groth essay written today.


Then quote from ANY modern essay that Groth has written about superhero comics. Chances are you might not find one as he stopped paying much attention to them quite a while ago.


I think that's true. I think Amazing Heroes was, at least in part, created to get most of the super-hero noise out of The Comics Journal. Groth's 1988 essay came at a time when (and I think I'm grabbing this from Eddie Campbell) every mainstream "Comics are grown up now" (and there were quite a few around this time) still started with Pow! Zap! and spent a lot of time focusing on Batman. It was also not long after this (1992) that Fantagraphics ceased publishing Amazing Heroes and pretty much turned its back on super-heroes entirely.

The market for art comics, largely created and nurtured by Fantagraphics, has grown to the point where Groth and Co can no longer compete financially to publish books by some of the authors they've published.

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#563926 - 01/06/10 01:26 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: Lawson]
IvanJim Offline
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Registered: 06/16/01
Posts: 2865
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Lawson
Heh!

That took 30 seconds.

From an essay Groth posted a couple of weeks ago about (ahem) professional comic book criticism, where, in this part, he laments the Silver Age of comics because all the attention was focused on those friggin' superheroes the kids were reading:

GROTH: To give you some idea of how creatively impoverished the field was, Bails considered it a celebratory event when DC began publishing its rejuvenated superhero line in 1959! Good criticism, at least at this stage it seems, required a critical mass of good art — and that there certainly wasn’t; the fanzines created in the early ’60s (and most of the fanzines through the early ’70s, in fact) reflected the stunted creativity of the comics themselves in their mindless enthusiasms and exuberant appraisals.

Hee hee.

Good to see that some things never change. I think he even used some of the same insults he used back in the early 1980s when I first read basically this same shtick. Groth, 1982 = Groth, 2009.

So what part of what you quoted do you disagree with?

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#563927 - 01/06/10 01:26 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: Dean R Milburn]
Lawson Offline
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Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 11978
Loc: Lexington, Ky.
I glanced at Groth's most recent posts on his magazine's Web site and within seconds found him kvetching about superhero comics. He posted that sucker just a couple of weeks ago. For a guy who never says anything about superheroes anymore, he sure complains about them a lot.

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#563928 - 01/06/10 01:29 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: IvanJim]
Lawson Offline
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Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 11978
Loc: Lexington, Ky.
Originally Posted By: IvanJim
So what part of what you quoted do you disagree with?


Now hang on. Y'all said Groth doesn't gripe about superhero comics anymore. I went and found an example that proved you wrong in no time flat. Now you wanna change the subject and discuss the legitimacy of what he's saying? OK.

I dunno much about the Silver Age fanzine world, so who knows, maybe Roy Thomas and Jerry Bails and the rest really were idiots who worshiped utter crap. Me, I think some of those old Silver Age comics were a lot of fun, and the excited kids writing fanzines about them were, in fact, excited kids. But in terms of Serious Intellectual Criticism, I'm sure Groth is correct, there's probably not a lot for scholars to say about DC bringing back the Flash and Green Lantern. I think the intended audience was 12-year-old boys.

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#563929 - 01/06/10 01:44 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: Lawson]
Dean R Milburn Offline
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Registered: 07/06/99
Posts: 2043
Loc: Indianapolis
I had read that, he's giving a history of comics criticism. It's not like he can gloss over super-hero comics. But okay, point taken.

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#563930 - 01/06/10 01:46 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: Lawson]
IvanJim Offline
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Registered: 06/16/01
Posts: 2865
Loc: Los Angeles
I'm not going to twist words and try to prove you wrong, because you're not; Groth did indeed mention superhero comics. Still, I made the misstatement, not Groth, so the inaccuracy falls on my head not his. For me it does makes a difference that he's actually talking about the art of criticism more than the comic books themselves, but then again I'm fine with him criticizing comic books themselves if it's in an effort to try to raise the form and I do think that doing so is his goal.

So now, yes, I'm skewing the subject when I ask what part of what he wrote you disagree with. I ask, though, because I don't think that he's wrong. Nor are you when you point out that the intended audience was 12 year old boys. Groth's point (as I see it, not as I can factually state that he's said it), is that not only can the medium be so much more, poorly done critical appreciation and blind and inaccurate examination of the form often acts as a retardant to that goal.

It's fine to enjoy those books, and lord knows I did, but it's also fine to try and elevate the medium and I'm pretty sure that Groth is trying to do just that. Even with all the ruffled feathers, and yes more feathers have been ruffled by the guy over the years than was necessary, I think that Groth's push has actually had the desired effect in some small measure.

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#563931 - 01/06/10 01:51 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: Dean R Milburn]
Lawson Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 11978
Loc: Lexington, Ky.
Originally Posted By: Dean R Milburn
It's not like he can gloss over super-hero comics.


No, realistically he can't. But that's my point. Groth hates superhero comics, and yet, by publishing magazines about the world of comic books and by thinking and writing and speaking about the world of comic books, he pretty much guarantees that at least some of the time, he's having to dwell on stuff that he hates. Because for better or worse (and I agree with Groth, it's worse) comics in the U.S. have been and remain dominated by superhero comics.

I dunno. I've known serious vegetarians who were chefs who preferred to make vegetarian dishes -- who loved to convert diners to meatless lifestyles -- but of course, they usually had to prepare and serve a lot of meat, and it bothered them to no end. Seems like eventually you either would need to change jobs or find a way to have nothing whatsoever to do with meat -- or Batman and the X-Men -- whatever makes you crazy.

Alternately, Groth could lighten up a bit. Of course most superhero comics are crap. Until fairly recently, it's been a mass media aimed at little kiddies, not discriminating adults. But there's still a few good ones out there -- there often have been, hither and yon -- and for the rest, you have to shrug and say, "It's for the kiddies."

The film critics that I respect tend to review the more intelligent films that I want to see, not the blockbuster crap with explosions and Megan Fox. But I'd get tired fast if they kept ragging on in print about the blockbuster crap with explosions and Megan Fox. If we're agreed that we want to focus on something else, let's just focus on that.

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#563934 - 01/06/10 02:09 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: Lawson]
IvanJim Offline
Member

Registered: 06/16/01
Posts: 2865
Loc: Los Angeles
My sense is that, generally, Gary writes about what he enjoys and is impressed by. Just as your hypothetical vegetarian chefs have to deal with customers who prefer meat, Groth often has to deal with folks who prefer superhero comics. Just as those dedicated chefs try to show their diners that Vegetarian cooking is healthier for both the individual and the planet, Groth attempts to show his metaphorical diners that there's something far healthier, exciting and creative about the intellectual cuisine he's convinced is healthier both for the consumer's health (of mind) and for the greater whole (the medium).

In both cases part of the process is to compare and contrast, and to try and show that ingrained behavior patterns are actually causing long term problems even if they're incredibly difficult to change. In reality, comic books aren't being bought primarily by kids anymore, and perhaps that's because the actual needs of the adult market have been stunted for so long that primarily what's left is a rapidly dwindling niche market primarily for former teenagers who weren't able to break the addiction cycle of no longer age appropriate power fantasies.

Groth may be trying to keep a candle lit in a wind tunnel, but I think there's something noble about the attempt even if the failure is probable. He loves the medium for what it could be, for what he thinks it should be, and that will always entail recognizing the faults of how it actually exists in it's current form.

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#563935 - 01/06/10 02:15 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: Lawson]
shjonescrk Offline
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Registered: 10/31/03
Posts: 1351
Loc: Airdrie, Scotland
Originally Posted By: Lawson
Of course most superhero comics are crap.


.. as are most other type of comics except that superhero comics on the whole probably have better art.

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#563936 - 01/06/10 02:19 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: shjonescrk]
Lawson Offline
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Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 11978
Loc: Lexington, Ky.
Originally Posted By: shjonescrk
Originally Posted By: Lawson
Of course most superhero comics are crap.


.. as are most other type of comics except that superhero comics on the whole probably have better art.


No argument, except maybe about the art.

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