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A. Heathen

How do comics work ?

When considering a comic that is not the acme of brilliance:  

24 members have voted

  1. 1. If I like a writer, I can forgive art that I don't like

    • Yes
      23
    • No
      1
  2. 2. If I like an artist, I can forgive writing that I don't like

    • Yes
      10
    • No
      14
  3. 3. What did you just say ?

    • Yes & Yes
      9
    • No & Yes
      1
    • Yes & No
      14
    • No & No
      0
  4. 4. What is better?

    • Mediocre writing plus great art
      1
    • Great writing plus mediocre art
      23
    • I do not understand the use of comparative adjectives
      0
  5. 5. What is better?

    • Bad writing with mediocre art
      7
    • Bad art with mediocre writing
      17


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Give examples where possible.

 

Obviously the Colleen Doran art for Sandman was butchered by monkeys with broken crayons, but it is a fine example of good story with bad pictures.

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Looks like I voted with the majority.

 

If the writing's good I can overlook bad art slightly more than the other way round as unless it's specifically designed to be without words you are losing something of the story if you only look at the pictures. But I'd probably still read it if the art was gorgeous. In fact, I've just had this conversation after looking through a load of old 2000ADs on the market, which got me digging mine out and flipping through. Found Revere, which I seem to remember liking, but mainly for the art work. (I'll have to re-read it as I can't really remember what happened in it.)

 

Of course if the art is truly horrible I'll have to avoid. (I was reminded of this looking at some work of Shaky Kane's. It makes my eyes hate me.)

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I do value the writing over the art generally and so would forgive mediocre art if it was written by someone who's work I'd enjoyed in the past or who had been recommended to me.

 

But casually browsing in a comic shop I might overlook a well written book that I hadn't heard about if the intial impact that the art had on me was negative.

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I'm a visual person, to the point that I even majored in "Visual Arts" in college.

 

A perfect example of how art ultimately affects my enjoyment of a comic (moreso than the writing) is with Grant Morrison. Specific examples being his runs on JLA, X-Men, and The Invisibles. Whenever the art wasn't up to snuff (for me), I found his writing suffered and generally, my enjoyment as well. When Howard Porter pencilled the JLA issues I felt Morrison's stories were at their weakest, but when Morrison's paired with artists I like, I almost never dislike his work. Igor Kordey doing X-Men was the same, as was Chris Bachalo. Similar for the "jam issues" of The Invisibles that featured a ton of artists I don't normally care for (Cameron Stewart, Philip Bond, et al.)

 

I just think some writers conjure up stories that require a certain style of art in order to make them work. JasonT recently brought up the fact that Matt Fraction's writing on Iron Fist was cliched and fairly crappy, a lot of that due to his artist, whereas Fraction can get away with a lot of cliches and uninspired moments in Casanova because of the highly stylized art.

 

I'm also very forgiving of Azzarello's HB run because the art was (for the most part) excellent.

 

I guess art just wins out for me in the end; and let's face it, comics are a visual storytelling medium (which isn't to say that good writing isn't important--- it's always important).

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You know, art can be so objective.

I don't really pay that much attention to the art on a comic. There are some artists I really like, and if I get a book like Promethea with amazing writing (Alan Moore) with great art (J.H. Williams III), then it's like that extra bit of icing on a sweet cake.

But, the reason I love Promethea and continued to buy it and find it one of my favourite titles most every month was the superlative writing of Alan Moore.

 

It's all about the writing with me.

In fact, I'd go so far to say that character means more to me than art.

 

There are examples where I absolutely hate the art, but unless it ruins the story for me, it's not a huge deal. An example I can think of where art mattered was Chris Bachalo's worst art on Mike Carey's X-Men. There were times it ruined the story for me because I had absolutely no idea what was meant to be happening in the panels. If the art is so bad that the story is confusing than the art is going to take away from the story, no matter how grand the writing.

 

Like Inca said though, when it comes to browsing new titles and trying to decide if I should read the book, if the writer is someone I am unfamiliar with, if the art looks very cartoonish or childish or 1990s Image, I will pass the book over thinking that it's going to be a horrible story not aimed at me.

There are books that I refused to read for years because the art made the book look like it was aimed at 1990s superhero fans, which finally someone convinced me to try that I absolutely ended up loving. The art was not a direct reflection of the writing and story in the least.

So, art can be give us preconceptions about a title if it's a book that we're unfamiliar with the writing style or tone/plot.

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Exceptionally good writing - say, a Morrison or a Moore - can overcome the hindrance of sub-par art, but outside of those extremes, I generally rate art on a par with, or even slightly higher than, writing (obviously, good art with good writing would be ideal). I won't usually read a genuinely badly-written comic with good art (although I've been known to bend that principle for great art), but if the writing's decent-enough, good art can salvage it to produce something eminently worthwhile, whereas middling writing with poor art generally results in a comic I'm not interested in.

 

We've had this discussion before, and most people around here seem to favour writing over art to a significant degree - I can understand that attitude, but it's never sat quite right with me. Darwyn Cook's introduction to the latest 100 Bullets trade explains my attitude with a rather neat analogy - if we compare comics to film (not an entirely accurate comparison, but probably the closest we've got), the writer is the guy who writes the screenplay - he dictates the plot, dialogue, and usually makes some suggestions about staging/pacing which the artist may or may not choose to follow. The artist, on the other hand, does all the work of the director, cinematographer, casting director, all the actors, set designer, lighting director and costumer. A good screenplay is still crucial to the ultimate success of a film, of course, but aside from a few very notable exceptions, we tend to follow directors (and, to a lesser extent, actors) rather than writers when it comes to cinema, and with good reason.

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That last question is like asking if you would be poked in the eye with a rusty threaded pole or be poked in the eye with a splintery stick. I'll take neither please!

 

For the most part, good writing will get me thru mediocre art (if the art is too bad though, i'll have a hard time following the action and the writing will seem to suffer some). Also, like others have said, if the art isn't to my liking, i'm less likely to try out a new book.

 

Great art will give you something fantastic too look at even if the story isn't that strong, but i think that for the long run success of a book, that's not going to carry you down the road very long. David Macks Daredevil issues are an example of this. I find his art fascinating, but don't like his writing at all, and dropped the book after 2 issues of his six issue run because i was bored.

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