More on Webcomic Creator vs. Critics

I’m sure everyone’s tired of the whole Scott Kurtz/webcomic book review/”are critics ever useful” debate by now (although I love that people are getting practical advice on fonts in that thread at this point). But here’s a new entry in the debate. If you really want to understand what Kurtz was trying to say, I recommend listening to his podcast on the subject, because he comes off much better when he’s talking than when he’s writing.

I’m only about a third of the way into it (it’s an hour and a half), but the presentation, Kurtz talking with two other creators, allows for elaboration on what he really means. I do wish Dave Kellett, the contributor who actually wrote the chapter of the book under discussion, had been able to join them, because in all this, he hasn’t said anything. (Maybe that’s in keeping with his philosophy, staying out of it.)

I now think I have a much better idea of Kurtz’s position, which in its more nuanced form makes a lot more sense. (I might try to restate it as “criticism is ok but only from fellow artists whom you think are great and if you invite them to give it”, if I didn’t fear kicking off another go-round if I got it wrong.) I don’t believe him, though, when he says that he wouldn’t have had a problem if I’d hated the book. (That’s a joke, son.)

The podcast is also in direct opposition to his latest screed (link no longer available), where he goes off on how there is no craft in reviewing and I’m only a blogger, not a real, professional critic. (My tax returns beg to differ.) As I said there, I’m a critic and proud of my craft, regardless of what anyone says about it.

12 Responses to “More on Webcomic Creator vs. Critics”

  1. Don MacPherson Says:

    I’ve always been frustrated with the term “blogger,” especially when used in a dismissive way or in an exalted way.

    Blogging is just *software* for building a simple website. Some using blogging templates for their online diaries. Some use them for links alone. Some use them as a means to present criticism. Some use them to create an online portfolio or gallery.

    What I do with Eye on Comics (built with WordPress software) is no different than what I did on The Fourth Rail (which was not set up as a blog). Blogging is just a means to present content. It can be more effective than others or less effective, depending on what you’re trying to do or say and how you say or do it.

    Bloggers aren’t automatically journalists, but some journalists do present valid articles on blogs.

    The reason it’s so easy to dismiss “bloggers” is that the user-friendliness of the software enables ANYONE to set up a blog. Dismissing ALL blogs is foolish. Comics Reporter is a blog. Newsarama‘s new site design and structure are essentially that of a more elaborate blog.

    What’s most puzzling about this whole “controversy” is that your original point, Johanna, as I understand it was about *promotion* of webcomics by bringing them to the attention of reviewers, not about whether or not the comic creator should use reviews as a means to develop his or her art/product.

  2. Johanna Says:

    I agree. I tried to point that out, that a blog is just a tool, but I think it was gas on the fire. And yes, you’re right about the original point.

  3. odessa steps magazine Says:

    The easy dismissal of “blogging” and “easy website publishing” is why I’m always to make sure that stuff I wrote ended up in a print magazine and not just online.

    Maybe it’s because I’m old and from the last pre-Internet generation, but I hold print in higher esteem than online writing (since anyone can seemingly do the latter). Print takes a commitment, even if we are only talking about monetarily, and the web always seems so ephemeral (except for

    And, if I can pimp while making my point, we’ll have our first issue in a couple years debuting at Baltimore next month.

  4. Don MacPherson Says:

    My day job is as a reporter for a daily newspaper, so I take writing for print seriously as well. But I don’t see it as better in any way than online efforts.

    Yes, there’s more noise to signal online, but the sites worth reading tend to stand out from the fly-by-night, amateurish sites/blogs.

    The problem with print is that there can be so many obstacles impeding efforts to reach an audience. Financial and logistical concerns can get in the way easily, whereas communication is much easier online. That’s both an advantage and a disadvantage.

  5. Dennis West Says:

    If you want to hear Dave Kellett’s opinion about critics that elaborates a little more on what he said in the book, Listen to Webcomics Weekly episode 10 titled “Crossover!” at this link: (itunes)

    “Cultivate a Cult of Niceness”

  6. Dave Rose Says:

    Johanna, Don,

    I’m not sure why you (and other critics) are letting Scott Kurtz get to you. He’s only one man.

    You know you’re qualified for your jobs. You have many people who read your work. Why does it matter what Scott thinks? If he chooses to ignore his critics, fine. But this shouldn’t matter to anyone but him.

    Scott strikes me as someone who likes to throw a statement out to see who bites and, after someone does, he likes to fan the flames. He gets a kick out of upsetting people. Don’t give him any satisfaction.

    I’ve done several jobs over the years – by choice. I’ve enjoyed building my skills through each career I’ve had. I’ve never been fired – I’ve always chosen when to move on. I know the skills I have and so do my employers. So long as they are pleased with my work, I’m comfortable. I enjoy my work and no one’s opinion will change (or hinder) that fact.

    If someone like Scott were to come along, I’d acknowledge his opinion to myself (in the appropriate file), but not feed his attempts to upset me.

    Please don’t let Scott get to you. He’s just one guy.

  7. Johanna Says:

    Oh, I write for print too… but they keep going under! (hmmm… death of print or I’m a jinx? but the Comics Journal is still around.)

    And really old-school print folks look down on self-publishing, too, as “vanity press”.

    Dave, he’s not getting to me. I’m just talking about it because That’s What I Do. Whether high prices (ha!) or stupid statements, I comment on things that interest me about comics.

    If he was truly ignoring the critics, then we wouldn’t have so much mill grist to discuss. Another funny Kurtz comment: that I only say “oh, I enjoyed this”… he hasn’t read very many of my reviews, has he? :)

  8. Dave Rose Says:


    I’m glad to hear you’re not getting stressed by this – that your actually having fun with it.

    Good for you!


  9. Don MacPherson Says:

    Like Johanna, I’m not hurt or stressed. I’m just participating in the discussion. I can’t speak for Johanna (though I suspect she’ll agree), but one of the reasons I wrote about comics is to spark discussion.

  10. Steven Rowe Says:

    i have to admit that I never heard of these folks prior to this bru-ha-ha, and I have to admit all i know about them is they have thin skin. eh, that’s their choice in marketing ;-) all publicity is good publicity some say.

  11. johnny zito Says:

    I didn’t really understand the uproar.

    But I did find it funny that his point about staying on message and not being dissuaded by mean spirited critics wasn’t derailed by all the mean spirited critics :)

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    […] grown-up and – much as I enjoyed the thoroughly plated serving Scott Kurtz deservedly received from comixxx critix – I am not. I can’t speak for bobsy Mindless or amy Mindless or any other of my cohorts in […]




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