Monday, December 10, 2007

A comic book for which I feel nothing.

I got a comment that I wasn't expecting:
BTW, could you please pass on the comics that you picked up at Wizardworld on to someone who actually does care about female comics creators? If you stated you absolutely hated and loathed the independent comics I write and publish but linked my website to let people decide for themselves, it'd least get some server hits, but it's been over a year now. Thank you.
For starters, I do remember Stephanie. I bought her comic at Wizardworld in 2006. I did not like her comics. I thought I was being nice by not reviewing them at this site, because there wasn't much to say. I'd made sure to pay for them so she wouldn't lose money because she was very nice in Artist's Alley, but I didn't have the heart to give it a bad review. I didn't really have the inclination to give them a bad review.

See, I didn't loathe or hate them either. I usually hate something because it is remarkable in its horribleness or something that could be awesome but was ruined by incompetence. But instead I found 21st Centurions bland and unimpressive.

The story was unmemorable. I didn't care about it. It certainly seems like something I should like. But I can't get into it. I start to read and lose interest halfway through the page. I put it down, distract myself and wait for a moment I might like to read it. The same thing happened again. I forced myself to continue and resented the book for bring forced to continue reading something that doesn't capture my interest. I can't even remember the character's names, and there's nothing I found remarkable about any of their personalities.

I'd say I needed recognizable characters, but I never saw Omega the Unknown before I picked that book up and was instantly hooked. I devoured Dynamo 5 with the first issue. I've read tons of teambooks with no prior emotional investment in any of the characters. All they have to do is hook you early enough.

This did not.

And it didn't hook me later on, either.

It is possible that the artwork is distracting me. This isn't unskilled or untalented artwork (which would definitely be noteworthy) but there is a generic and uninteresting quality to it. It tries to be dynamic artwork. It doesn't fail spectacularly at being dynamic artwork. It merely doesn't succeed at being dynamic artwork.

The first time I read it, I placed it to the side after getting to the last page and found I couldn't remember what I'd just read when I finally finished it. I promptly forgot about the entire book. I went to next thing I'd gotten at that convention, which didn't impress me either. I'd bought several interesting-looking indie works, thinking I'd just do a post with one or two sentence reviews of all of them. I optimistically thought I might find something like Pop Gun War there. I was wrong. I didn't find anything worth writing about when I got home, so I gave up on that idea and spent my money on toys at the next convention. I went back to the advice of indie-saavy bloggers and the guy at the comic book store for what non-mainstream comics are worth checking out. Such people are more adventurous than I.

Here is Stephanie and Mark Heike's website, in case you see something you like. If you feel I have no taste in art, or constantly find yourself uninterested in what excites me (in which case I have no idea why you are reading this blog) you may enjoy 21st Centurions.


  1. Wow. In what way does picking up a book or comic—whether paying for it or for free—obligate anyone to review it? And in what way does not reviewing it equal not caring about female creators?

    The world—and a potential reviewer—does not owe a creator a living. If you get it, for better or for worse, great. If you don't, that's no need to whine.

  2. I went to the website. I even downloaded the six-page preview of the first issue of 21st Centurions. I thought it had a mildly intriguing concept, but the writing was pretty awkward. I did think, however, that there was potential for it to develop into something. This is going to sound mean, but the dialogue and set-up (not to mention the artwork)were giving me a real "power rangers" vibe.

    But that property has made gazillions of dollars, so that's not necessaily a bad thing.

    And this is based solely on the preview, so ...

  3. Um, why would you have to "pass along" comics that you paid for? I was there, after all, I remember you being very insistent about paying.

    Oddly enough, I feel retroactively justified in not picking up a copy myself. :-)

  4. Because property is theft, Kalinara -- at least when someone feels that you don't appreciate your property as much as someone else might.

    Wow, I think that might be a good start to some kind of burglar's manifesto.

  5. I wouldn't worry about it too much- this is grade C+ stuff all the way, both in story and illustration. As you say, not bad, but nothing exceptional either. I think your perception, in this case, is right on the money.

    And to expect you to write about and/or praise work because of gender is disingenuous at best and stupid at worst.

  6. The really funny thing about this is that I might actually pick an issue up. But dang, why do so many creators have to wank it up...


    "Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it." - G. K. Chesterton. :)

  7. Ragnell - You were far, far nicer about it than this person deserved. I mean, honestly...insulting you and begging for a review/link? Very sad.

  8. It's pleasant enough art, from what I saw, but it's pretty much at what used to be called "fanzine level." Still, if you do bother writing back to her, recommend that she get in touch with Val D'Orazio as Val's currently updating the Women Doing Comics list I used to maintain for Friends of Lulu.

  9. Look, I take what I can get. Thanks for the link.
    I just do my daily grind doing comics thanklessly (and often anonymously) inking, lettering and editing (story and art) other people's comic books for a living.
    Occasionally, I pay a few grand to create and publish my own comics and ship them through Diamond.
    One thing I'm definately not is a self-promoter.
    Sorry you didn't care for it. You may recall that at WW Chicago '06, I indeed tried to get you to take the two comics for free for review purposes, but you kindly insisted on paying for them, just to set the record straight. If you would like a refund, email me and I'll send you your money back.

  10. Does this fall under the "be careful what you wish for category?"

  11. BTW, could you please pass on the comics that you picked up at Wizardworld on to someone who actually does care about female comics creators?

    Ahahahaha whut

  12. "..I indeed tried to get you to take the two comics for free for review purposes, but you kindly insisted on paying for them, just to set the record straight."

    Ragnell already had the record set pretty straight. I don't see any difference between your account and what she wrote.

    I completely agree with Bully that even if she accepted it for free, Ragnell wouldn't be obligated to review your book. Her paying for it though eliminates any doubt about obligation either to review it or to give it away. She paid for it, it's hers, and she can do or not do whatever she likes with it.

    Ragnell: I also agree with Mike that you were far too kind. :)

  13. If you would like a refund, email me and I'll send you your money back.

    How kind! I suppose then she'd be obligated to "pass along" the issues?

    Honestly, enthusiasm's one thing, but presumption's another. The back-peddling's a bit too little too late.

    (And for the record, supporting female creators does not mean someone is at the beck and call of every person who asks for a review. Especially if they're not very good.)

  14. I have to agree with everyone else here. You were far nicer than you needed to be, especially given that Stephanie's post insulted you, and given that the work at the link you provided is very amateurish and awkward-looking. The person who compared it to the Power Rangers nailed it.

  15. Whether or not her comic is any good, I think Stephanie deserves her own case in the Batcave.