Friday, May 28, 2010

"It's my style"

The recent discussion of the lettering in a certain vampire themed comic has brought this argument up to the forefront of my brain again. When is it an artistic style or choice and when is it just wrong? Unfortunately, I don't think there's an answer even though I've been told otherwise. I look at books that have horrible layouts, artwork that is filled with traced celebrities who do not reflect the emotion or action of the comic, no feet, and lettering that looks like it was randomly thrown on the page covering up a good chunk of the art and I think "No, this is all wrong." But then the creators come back and say it's their "style" and the 100,000 readers who are buying it up are quick to jump to their defense because they loved it. So can something that seems so wrong to me (and usually a handful of others) really be that bad if it's working for so many people?

Some might say that yes, that it and the people enjoying it are wrong. Just like how TV shows and movies are always wrong despite working for millions of people. But at some point, it's art and part of that is connecting with the viewer/reader. Even if they seem to be doing it wrong to some of us, they must be doing something right to reach that many people to the point where they will tune in week after week or shell out another $13 to see the movie again (and $30 for the extended director's cut DVD).

This is why I often leave disclaimers like "in my opinion" or "didn't work for me" in my reviews. I know I can sometimes have a pretty analytical approach when I read some comics, picking out times where and reasons why the art or writing failed to connect me with the story in some way. And I know a majority of readers aren't like me but I can only speak for myself.

So I guess the way I see this sort of thing is that I'll try not to say anything in the writing, drawing, colouring, lettering, etc of comics is really done "wrong" but maybe "wrong for me".

But here's where I flip it. I think any comic creator who comes out saying "no, that's my style" is missing an important point. When someone says their stuff was done wrong it means at the very least it was done wrong for them, it took them out of the art and story and ruined the experience to some degree. Now you can decide this was just one, two, or a handful of people and write it off but to simply dismiss it is doing yourself and your future work a big disservice. You're depriving yourself of learning what works and doesn't work for people. You're limiting yourself of never producing anything better than what you're doing now. At a computer conference I went to a while back they had "fly on the wall" sessions where people discussed your paper and you weren't allowed to respond to their feedback. The idea was that your paper had to be good enough to get the point across on its own without you there to defend it. It was a great experience. Sometimes artists need to take that approach to, you can't always be in every reader's ear telling them how they should be experiencing your work, your work should stand on its own. And if it's not working for someone then listen to why and decide for yourself what that means for your work, both current and future.

But this is all just my style and I'm probably doing things all wrong.

1 comment:

Luc Herbots said...

I've always felt that the lettering can NEVER look as though is is "fitted" in , or laid over the top of the artwork. It has to be part of the art, every aspect HAS TO BE part of the art, because that is where you find "style"