PR: What Not to Do: Reading Like a Time Capsule

I got an email about a new anthology of alternative comics from the UK. Reading through it, I started having flashbacks to last decade:

Just a short email to let you know that Solipsistic Pop — an anthology that features the very best in alternative UK comics — has launched its website with a manifesto that states the intentions of a new wave of comic artists taking over the UK alternative scene.

There was more about the anthology, due in November 2009, but I’m more interested here in looking at the impression the website gives, especially that first post.

A manifesto? Really? Acolytes of Warren Ellis, are we? That just screams “too young to be so bitter” to me. The 90s were about the manifesto and the tough political stance; now, that approach seems tired and naive to me. You want to convince me of something? Do the work and show me what you’re capable of. Anyone can spew declarations, but few can create art to live up to them.

When I read the manifesto, I was even more put off. It was full of negative statements. We don’t do this, we don’t do that, we reject this and that… I found it the wrong tone to take in starting a new effort. I want more energy put into what you are than in telling me what’s wrong with what other people are doing. Defining yourself in terms of absence — we aren’t this — is tricky and often unsatisfying.

Combine that with talk of building “a new paradigm… a new wave” and I’m going to write you off as immature and more interested in mimicking the successes of others who come before you than in showing me what makes *you* unique. I’ve seen all of this many times before, usually from groups who never end up putting out anything of substance before they tire themselves out and wander away. I’m wondering now if this is some kind of parody, a joke put out to see how many people will be taken in. I don’t think that’s the response you want to your new project launch.


5 Responses to “PR: What Not to Do: Reading Like a Time Capsule”

  1. Ali T. Kokmen Says:

    “The 90s were about the manifesto and the tough political stance; now, that approach seems tired and naive to me.”

    I don’t know that I agree that manifestos are particularly associated with the 1990s, or indeed to any particular time period. There are plenty of folks who write ‘em all the time, in every time.

    I do think that manifestos are typical of youthful rebellion in any era. And, Johanna, you and I and many many others are probably now old enough to have seen many proclamations of youthful passionate intensity fizzle out. But I’m trying not to let that make me so jaded as to automatically think the next one will also fizzle. But it’s really hard sometimes…

    “You want to convince me of something? Do the work and show me what you’re capable of. Anyone can spew declarations, but few can create art to live up to them.”

    I agree wholeheartedly. As the Beatles said, “You say you want a revolution…we’d all love to see the plan.”

  2. Johanna Says:

    You’re right, Ali, to remind me not to be so jaded. And what a timely quote for this week!

  3. Heidi M. Says:

    Eh, they’re young and full of fire. That is how it is supposed to be. I would rather read something passionate then another bland marketing campaign.

  4. Tom Humberstone Says:

    Hi Johanna, thank you for the mention on your blog.

    I’d like to agree with Ali that I don’t particularly see politics or manifestos as time sensitive. If having a strong political stance on anything is seen as being “90s” then I think that is rather sad.

    I’d also like to respectfully disagree with your assertion that one cannot define themselves by an absence of something. Any use of the word “reject” in our manifesto is in reference to abandoning rules, restrictions and preconceived notions of what comics were, are and can be. It was written to be inspiring. Freeing.

    A cursory glance at any contributor’s website should also demonstrate that we are all productive and diligent creators. Many, myself included, with a large collection of self-published works already behind us.

    We will be uploading previews of work specific to the anthology over the next couple of months – leading up to our book launch in November.

    Hopefully, during this time, you will give us the benefit of the doubt and decide whether our art lives up to our words. I’d like to think we may surprise you.

    I’ll be happy to send you a review copy of the book when it is released should you wish.

    Take care, and thanks again for the plug!
    -Tom

  5. Journalista – the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Sept. 8, 2009: Who took Robin’s virginity? Says:

    [...] “A manifesto? Really? Acolytes of Warren Ellis, are we?” – Johanna Draper Carlson [...]




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