Saturday, May 01, 2004


For a while, I've felt that many alternative comics, while they have good art, have weak stories, and that only in rare cases can good art redeem a weak story. It just occurred to me, though, that I may have been looking at things wrong. It may be that the problem with these comics isn't that their art is good but not good enough; it's that their art is simply not good. It looks good superficially; that is, it imitates the surface appearance of genuinely good art. But this appearance is a hollow facade, with no ideas behind it: it neither has aesthetic value of its own, nor adds anything to the story. (For examples of what I'm talking about, see most of the stories in Top Shelf: Asks the Big Questions.)

To be honest, this conclusion came to me while contemplating manga, and the fact that there were some manga I enjoyed though the stories were lightweight (CLAMP) or obscure to me (some of the Japanese-language manga I've been reading). So does this mean that I think CLAMP are better artists than most (American) alternative comics artists? I guess so.

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