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Geniuses

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Nonsense. You can gauge an artist's contribution to the comic by looking at it.

 

The only thing you can judge on such a superficial level is the quality of the art, character design and layouts. Everything else could be down to the artist or the author, but there's no way to tell. And I don't think those three are enough to base a claim of "genius" on (well, okay, design's a good one - but I can't think of any artist that I could reasonably call a genius unless you include writer/artists like Chris Ware).

 

Why assume, as a default, that everything on the page must have been suggested by the writer, when a comparison of almost any available comic script with the finished pages suggests that this isn't the case?

 

You're putting words in my mouth. I never said that the writer is the sole source of everything on the page, just that you can't know how much of the finished comic book (in terms of camera angles, symbolism or whatever) is down to the artist unless you've read the script.

 

Whereas with the writer you can identify and examine the plot, dialogue, themes, overall structure and concepts within the issue and make a judgement based on them.

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the only artists mentioned in the thread have been writer/artists.

 

That's just what I said. So your and James' "we can't tell how good they are because we don't know how many of their great ideas might have been suggested by the writer" doesn't apply here at all.

 

You're the one who brought up artists, Mark. If you wanted us to discuss writer/artists specifically, you should have said so.

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The only thing you can judge on such a superficial level is the quality of the art, character design and layouts. Everything else could be down to the artist or the author, but there's no way to tell. And I don't think those three are enough to base a claim of "genius" on

 

 

Well, that's where you and I disagree. Simple. Those limited criteria are certainly sufficient to judge so-called geniuses like Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Van Gogh...why not, say, Moebius, Will Eisner or Jack Kirby?

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the writer has ideas the artist interprets them on the page.

Read a few of the dozens of comic scripts lying around the internet (or, even better, check out a book on the subject - there've been some good ones) and you'll see quite how off-the-mark that assumption is. At best, it's a wildly misrepresentative over-simplification.

 

On the contrary, while I grant that the statement is a simplification, because it doesn’t take into account the myriad of writer/artist relationships that are, will and have been, it summarises the writer/artist relationship in straightforward terms. if you'd like to spend the rest of your life trying to craft a statement that adequately describes the relationship between two or more people when the endeavour to create something then your more then welcome, me I’d rather just read the books.

 

and for all this has anyone negated my original point that it is more difficult to pick an artist who is a genius than a writer, because i've seen fuck all artists mentioned so far.

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if you'd like to spend the rest of your life trying to craft a statement that adequately describes the relationship between two or more people when the endeavour to create something then your more then welcome, me I’d rather just read the books.

 

Oh, for goodness' sake.

 

Fuck it, I'm outta this.

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Well, that's where you and I disagree. Simple. Those limited criteria are certainly sufficient to judge so-called geniuses like Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Van Gogh...why not, say, Moebius, Will Eisner or Jack Kirby?

 

Because the comic book artist is still giving shape to something ultimately created (and dictated) by the author, and unless you have a copy of the script so that you can see how much of the finished product is actually his or her work, I don't think you can reasonably declare them to be a "genius" or not.

 

This is completely dissimilar to the artists you mention, since they are are the beginning and end of their work. Even when Michaelangelo was drawing on the Bible for inspiration and being commissioned by others, his work was solely the product of his own brilliance.

 

It is, however, far easier to strip out the author's work from a comic book and judge that.

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As you said yourself, though, even if you strip out anything in a given book which relates to the actual plot/characterisation/underlying thematic content of the story, the artist is still responsible for character design, visual design/page & panel layout, and the actual draftsmanship. Even without access to the unquantifiable elements you're mentioning, I'd say that's enough to make a pretty well-informed judgement on the quality of an artist.

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You can make judgements on the quality of an artist, but not to the extent that you can declare him or her a genius. To do that, I think you need to look at more than just the quality of the draughtsmanship and the layout of the panels. There has to be something unique and exceptional about the way the story is told - like the clever "climbing out of the panel" trickery in Zatanna, or the van cross-section in the first issue of We3. And there's no way to know whether that is down to the artist or the author until you see the script.

 

As a side note, I'd be interested to see some Kirby comic art that you feel shows him to be a genius.

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I think we have very different definitions of artistic genius.

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Could you explain yours so I can understand your argument?

 

As far as I'm concerned, an "artistic genius" is someone whose talent goes beyond mere technical excellence and becomes something unique in the truest sense; someone whose vision is not comparable with anyone else and whose works could not concievably be written, painted, drawn or otherwise created by another person. It's not about having a unique style or particular artistic tics - Steve Dillon doesn't draw like anyone else in the comic industry but I wouldn't call him a genius - nor is it about sheer technical prowess; Alex Ross, extraordinarily talented though he may be, is not, I believe a genius. It's about having a vision, an ability to extend one's thoughts beyond the realms of the common human mind and to envision something utterly extraordinary.

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Could you explain yours so I can understand your argument?

 

As far as I'm concerned, an "artistic genius" is someone whose talent goes beyond mere technical excellence and becomes something unique in the truest sense; someone whose vision is not comparable with anyone else and whose works could not concievably be written, painted, drawn or otherwise created by another person...It's about having a vision, an ability to extend one's thoughts beyond the realms of the common human mind and to envision something utterly extraordinary.

 

Well, I'd enthusiastically agree with that as a definition, but I'd say that it can be determined, to whatever degree is possible with a matter as subjective as "genius", from the criteria described earlier. The other things you mention - story-telling innovations such as those used by Quitely in WE3, for example - those are fascinating and important aspects of comics production, but they're just that - story-telling innovations. They're not exclusively the purview of writer or artist, and deserve separate consideration, which is simply a complication of the inherently collaborative nature of comics creation - and even then, regardless of how they're conceived, the execution of those concepts is entirely a product of the artist, and can therefore be a reflection, or indication, of his/her genius.

 

Essentially, the things which you don't think are sufficient - draftsmanship, visual design, etc - those are what an artist does. They're the core aspects of an artist's work, be it comics-related or not, and if the genius (or otherwise) of a comics artist can't be determined from those, I fail to see what difference having access to the scripts could make.

 

As to Jack Kirby - well, I'll have a look for some specific images later - but for now, there are some excellent (although far from fully representative) examples of his work in these galleries here, and a good, concise tribute piece from Kevin Church's consistently-excellent blog here. I would certainly suggest that the description of artistic/creative genius you gave above is about as good a summation of Kirby's contribution to the history of superhero comics (and, in fact, the medium as a whole) as anything I could come up with - in fact, I may steal it at some point for just that purpose.

 

For sheer depth, breadth, range, quantity, long-term significance and pure imaginative quality, I don't think there's a single artist in the history of the genre can touch Kirby. Even critics who absolutely hate the influence his work has had wouldn't deny that - hell, Kirby has been the subject of numerous rhapsodic tributes from The Comics Journal, of all publications - a magazine whose vision of what comics should be is about as far from Kirby's oeuvre as you could possibly imagine. Just cast your eye across the (highly selective) list of his work here - it beggars belief.

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the writer has ideas the artist interprets them on the page.

Read a few of the dozens of comic scripts lying around the internet (or, even better, check out a book on the subject - there've been some good ones) and you'll see quite how off-the-mark that assumption is. At best, it's a wildly misrepresentative over-simplification.

if you'd like to spend the rest of your life trying to craft a statement that adequately describes the relationship between two or more people when the endeavour to create something then your more then welcome, me I’d rather just read the books.

 

But perhaps more people should spend a lifetime reading comic scripts. Film scholars read screenplays, old drafts, shooting scripts, director notes; they don't just watch movies, they also watch the story boards; it's all fair game, because they take their job and their beloved medium seriously. Do you take comics seriously, Kej? Now here's a question that would provide fertile argument for comic scholars, if they only existed.

 

How does the artists-interpret-writers theory correlate with the annoying philosophy preached by most writers, that "one should write to the artists' strengths"?

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I don't know about "annoying" - it's always struck me as common sense. For example, I'd certainly say that it's something which should have been considered by the editors who thought that putting Steve Dillon on a Wolverine book was a good idea...

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Morrison, Moore, Eisner, etc.

Kirby and Quitely are the only artists that jump to mind, but I'm sure if I thought about this longer I could come up with a few more.

 

This is tough.

As others have wondered, where does one draw the line exactly?

Is this a list of our absolute favorites?

Are creators geniuses if they've only created one work of "genius?" How important is it that someone was a trailblazer (even if their work is no longer impressive)?

If the parameters for this are truly, truly genius creators (like Mozart or Picasso) then the list is frighteningly short since there (imo) are only a handful of true geniuses in every generation.

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This really got a conversation(fight) going!

 

How about Bill Siekienwicz as a genius when it comes to artists?

 

I can't believe more people aren't thinking of Morrison as a genius.

If I had to pick one man in comics as a genius, it would be Grant Morrison.

He's one of the few people alive who I'll admit is more intelligent than myself.

 

umm....Why did I pick Harvey Pekar? Because I'm pretty positive that he is truly a genius based on IQ tests...I remember reading that...In fact, I'm pretty sure Pekar said that himself....

OK, so it was based on flimsy evidence and petty choice....

 

Trace-No. It's not about favourites. That's why I said if you love Garth Ennis, but can see that he's not a genius, don't include him. Only include those who go above and beyond.

There are actually many geniuses every generation. Most of them are insane and afraid to leave their houses(mental hospitals) though.

There are only a few geniuses who actually manage to overcome their mental problems and actually contribute to our every day lives in some meaningful manner.

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There are actually many geniuses every generation. Most of them are insane and afraid to leave their houses(mental hospitals) though.

There are only a few geniuses who actually manage to overcome their mental problems and actually contribute to our every day lives in some meaningful manner.

 

Umm...you get this notion from where, may I ask?

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Because it's well known by anyone with any rudimentary knowledge of psychology.

Schizophrenics, clinically depressed, bi-polars, Schizo-disorders, autistics, Borderlines....

There's a huge average of people with genius level IQs from the ranks of the mentally ill, unseen in the larger population.

But, the majority of them are so concerned with themselves internally that they never make any achievements in life. Most are lucky to keep their homes.

The point where genius becomes a curse.

The old adage "There is a fine line between genius and madness" is completely true.

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You're talking about "genius" in the academic sense (an IQ of over 140, yes?), which is totally unrelated to the rather more nebulous concept of creative genius. They're different things.

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You're talking about "genius" in the academic sense (an IQ of over 140, yes?), which is totally unrelated to the idea of creative genius. Different things.

I think that is how genius is defined in practice, though, and in that respect it's a lot easier to quantify than the other notion, which is purely abstract.

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What's the point of starting a thread to discuss who we think the geniuses in the comic book medium are if the answer is "anyone with an IQ over 140"?

 

And, you know, there's always that old line: "Apparently, IQ tests are a really good way of working out how good people are at IQ tests."

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I think that is how genius is defined in practice, though, and in that respect it's a lot easier to quantify than the other notion, which is purely abstract.

 

Nope - they're two equally-valid but separate definitions of the word. That definition is certainly more quantifiable and easier to define, but it's also far removed from what we were talking about here.

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That wasn't my original point, James.

 

But there are two criteria of genius.

Dog Poet is right that one is far more easy to quantify.

Of course, I probably misunderstood Trace's comments. I thought he was talking clinical genius versus creative genius in his comments, but he may not have been. I like reading intent behind words.

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I thought he was talking clinical genius versus creative genius in his comments, but he may not have been. I like reading intent behind words.

 

That may well be, but since his comments were clearly framed in the context of a discussion about creative, not clinical, genius, I'd question how good at it you are. :)

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What's the point of starting a thread to discuss who we think the geniuses in the comic book medium are if the answer is "anyone with an IQ over 140"?

 

And, you know, there's always that old line: "Apparently, IQ tests are a really good way of working out how good people are at IQ tests."

 

That's always been bitter grapes by the creative and powerful aspects of society that don't rank as highly on IQ tests.

The quantifiable aspects of IQ mean little in every day life though.

If a person can't manage to move out of bed or feed themselves but ranks 170 on an IQ test is compared to a person who can create an emotionally moving masterpiece but only has an IQ of 130, which one figures more prominently into discussions of importance to reality?

 

Doesn't it make you wonder why a person who can't figure out how to discuss their world in the same language you use to discuss your world would be able to master an IQ test?

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