Saturday, 12 December 2015
PART FOUR OF UK 'TROLLS': KICKING THE BUTTS (OF BUTT-'EADS)...
Right, let's get straight into it. 'Often used to back up the silly rules' he witters in the screengrab above. Well, I think I've more than ably demonstrated that these 'silly rules' (or the way that he distorts them at least) exist only in his own head (and in the heads of those who agree with his catalogue of exaggeration, disingenuity and misinterpretation.)
However, there is a case to be made (and I think I've done so) for a comic - in a precise sense - being regarded as a physical, published entity. Something you can hold in your hands and have a tactile relationship with. (Oo-er, steady on there, missus.) In a very real sense, a comic is a combination of 'carton' and 'content', not just one or the other. (Context would be the determining factor.) If you apply the term 'comic' to any and all paper-covered periodicals in the comics-section shelves of a newsagent, recognize that the categorization is often the result of simple expediency.
Consider this. One thing that irks many comic readers is the automatic assumption by many adults that comics are just for kids and is a format aimed at the immature or simple-minded. Part of the problem, perhaps unique (in degree at least) to Britain, is that both 'carton' and 'content' have traditionally been seen as intended almost exclusively for children, and any periodical for kids is therefore regarded as a 'comic'. So the word has taken on a much looser, wider, definition. One can make a claim that this is a legitimate application; after all, if something is perceived as belonging to a particular category, doesn't it actually become so after a while? Let me apply my mighty brain.
In one sense 'yes', and in another sense 'no'. After all, a tomato being perceived as a vegetable when it's actually a fruit, doesn't make it a vegetable People might think it's a vegetable (and in large numbers too), but it remains a misconception, regardless of whether they're aware of it or not. Yet chefs still use it as if it were a vegetable.
Now, you may at this point think that I'm confirming the accusation of my 'opponent', but I'm actually trying to give him a fair shake by acknowledging that the word 'comic' has more than one just application. That's part of the problem, you see, because the two sides often use both senses of the word interchangeably. The word now has a more general application, as well as a specific one. So, even were I (and others) to subscribe to the limited definition of a comic as derided on that other blog, his negative classification of that as 'silly rules' is surely a purely subjective one, coloured by his willingness to include just about any magazine in the kids' section of newsagents all across the country.
I'd suggest that his looser definition of what constitutes a 'comic' is equally as open to the charge of being 'silly' as the one he so superciliously mocks. That fact seems to be lost on him. He has already decided that his definition of what makes a comic is the 'true' one, making him just as dogmatic on the subject as he accuses the other side of being. By his own standard, his opinion has therefore no more validity than anyone else's. Hoist by his own petard, methinks.
But, as I hope I've illustrated, it's a more complicated matter than may at first appear on casual consideration.
So, is the comic strip item shown in the first screengrab a comic or not? Well, in one way, it is, and in other, it isn't. It's a digital comic. But why qualify it so? Well, when I buy my MARVEL MASTERWORKS volumes, I'm buying a book - but one that contains comic strip material previously published in comicbook form. So isn't the book a comic because of its content? Nope - it remains a book, not a comic. So the item in the above screengrab may (and will) be referred to as a 'comic' in a general sense as a matter of convenience, but it's not one in the specific sense that most people understand it.
Think about it. If it had been first printed in a book, it would be a book and not a comic, so obviously the form in which it appears is a relevant factor which must be taken into account when it comes to classification. Is it silly to give things their own category in order to differentiate between them? I'd say no. Let's return to my record analogy for a moment. A CD is a recording, but it's not referred to as a 'record'. Why? Easy. That's because we all know that a 'record' (as commonly understood) is a black (other colours are available) round disc with a hole in the middle. "So what?" you say. "A CD is a silver round disc with a hole in the middle. They both play music, so what's the difference?"
I'll let you decide that for yourselves, but we all know there is one, don't we? Here's another little something to ponder. If you're going out to the shops and your kids asked you to bring back a comic and you came back without one, I'll bet you can well imagine their disappointment. Even if you were to access one on your computer for them to read, you know, in your heart of hearts, that they'd consider it second-best and not quite the real deal (as far as 'carton' goes). It would be a bit like them asking for a teddy bear and when you forget, showing them a picture of a teddy bear.
True, that's not a perfect analogy, but it serves the purpose of illustrating that there's something about the physical aspect of some things that's essential to their very identity. And a 'comic', to most people's way of thinking, yet remains a physical thing that can be handled.
Also, consider this fact: Animated cartoons are nothing more than a series of sequential drawings given the illusion of movement by the application of technology, yet they're called cartoons, not comics. Why? Given the more flexible, encompassing definition of that other blog writer, couldn't they, shouldn't they be classed in the same group?
The point being there's a reason for the distinction between similar-but-related art forms, and the erosion of those distinctions is not necessarily a helpful development. It certainly shouldn't give folk with no regard or respect for those traditional distinctions, licence to ridicule or contemptuously dismiss the point of view of those who do. (Or invent and ascribe malicious and insulting motivations to them.)
Take a mo to read the caption of the above screengrab. Now maybe someone will tell me (because I appear to have missed it), but where has it ever been said that a periodical is excluded from being a comic just because it arrives through the post? In trying to be clever, he's only making a complete prat of himself. (Do what you're good at is what I say.) Note that I'm not mocking him for his opinion on comics, but for his ridiculous distortions of other people's views.
Let me digress for a moment. Someone who emailed me recently, said that after talking to the author of the piece, he held the view that it was a 'general article' and 'not targeting anyone in particular'. Now, see that part in the above screengrab about 'ridiculous rules' coming from those who 'collected these comics or even worked on them' - guess what? That's me, that is. Not named, but clearly alluded to.
Now, I'm not claiming to be the only target, but I'm obviously one of them, perhaps even the main one. If there's anyone else who's worked in comics who's as vocal in his criticisms as I am then I've yet to learn of them, so any claim to it being a 'general opinion piece' (as described by the one who justified his cross posting of it) is patent nonsense in my view. It was clearly far more than that.
I'd hoped to delve into the definition of 'industry' in this instalment, but I've lingered a tad too long on the above and other concerns now require my attention. Hopefully I'll wind it all up in the fifth and final part - though that ambition is open to revision depending on circumstances.
See you next time.
Posted by Kid at Saturday, December 12, 2015