Tuesday, May 06, 2008

You don't get me.

“Style” has got a lot to answer for.

The word ‘style’, when applied to creative endeavors, is now being used as a blanket excuse for shitty ideas, poor quality work and generally being retarded.

Today I was sitting at my computer pressing that ‘stumble’ button when I came across a webcomic. The art was absolutely fucking terrible. It wasn’t bad in the same way that the artwork on ‘Cyanide and Happiness’ is bad where the artist uses stick figures. It was the kind of bad that can only be attained when someone with little or no skill tries to draw well.

That wasn’t the bad part, the bad part is when I tried to read this comic, it made absolutely no sense. I mean, literally, no sense.

It was then I noticed a link at the bottom of the page for ‘new readers’. I clicked it. Here’s what it said.

“I’ve invented a whole new style of webcomic and a whole new way to read it. You start at the bottom right, read up that column, then when you get to the top you read the panel on the left and then read down that column.

PS. I’m getting sick and tired of all the comments saying this is stupid. If you don’t get my new style, go read something else. I don’t see you inventing new ways to read comics!”

I went and read something else.

How in the blue hell can anyone think that putting the panels in their comic backwards and sideways is a ‘new style’ that they ‘invented’? It’s not a ‘style’ it’s just plain retarded.

It’s like this guy started his comic and say there and thought “Hmmmm, how can I make reading my comic as counter intuitive and hard on the reader as possible?”

You see, XKCD took stick men comics and made that a valid ‘style’, Perry Bible Fellowship also has a very unique art style that works. However, you can’t just do something completely and totally random that makes your work less accessible to your audience and then think of yourself as a genius because of it…and then complain when people say they don’t like it.

In the West we read from left to right, top of the page to the bottom of the page. It’s the way we learn to read, what we’re used to and it’s the format we expect. Releasing a comic that requires the reader to start at the bottom and go anti-clockwise is just plain stupid.

I mean, it’s like Ford releasing a new car and billing it as a ‘totally new and inovative way to drive”. Then you buy the car and find out you steer left to go right, press the brake to speed up and press the gas pedal to slow down. Would you spend weeks and weeks re-learning how to drive just because some gigantic ego of a designer designer mistook being retarded for being gifted? Or would you just buy another car?

What this guy’s comic boils down to is this. You can either fight your instincts and read a not-very-good comic in a way that’s totally alien, or you can leave the pretentious prick to it and go read something else.

I hate to be the one to release this revelation onto the internet, but 99.999% of the time, when people complain that your work sucks it’s not because they ‘don’t understand you’ or ‘don’t get your style’…it’s because your work sucks balls.

This is the thinking I just don’t understand. If you’re an artist, your work is meant to be a message to the rest of the world. If people consistently don’t ‘get’ you, or don’t understand you it’s because you’re not being clear enough, not because they’re too stupid to understand your genius.

It’s like Stephen King said in ‘On Writing’ about his college writing class:

“It never seems to occur to the attendees that if you have a feeling you just can’t describe, you might just be, I don’t know, kind of like, my sense of it is, in the wrong fucking class.”

Well, anyway, to these people…enjoy spending the rest of your life in mediocrity, producing work that no one is even halfway interested in, just because you’d rather assume the role of tragically misunderstood genius artist than accept you just might not be that good and need to work on your craft.


Dauragon said...

I think another problem is that the internet has conditioned people to want instant gratification out of everything. That guy could have spent more time working on his comic and polishing the idea until it was functional instead of just throwing it out on the internet for the world to see and have everyone tell him it's garbage.

In most of my artistic endeavors I tend to work on things in isolation until I think "okay.....this doesn't suck ass" which could take months, or even years. Then after I get to that point I post it on the internet for all the world to see, because at that point I honesty could give several shits less if some one says it sucks.

Most of the time if someone has to defend your "style" then it's not a style at all. It's a facade for their own mediocrity.

Dauragon said...

"if someone has to defend THEIR style"