The Magical World of Reviewing Comics

As you probably know, I’ve been writing for Comic Vine for a little over three years now, and most of that time, I’ve spent writing reviews of other people’s comic books. I became something I hated when I was in film school and the few years I spent as a screenwriter, a critic. Three years later, it’s the best part of the job; however, I get asked on twitter, in e-mail, and on the facebook the same chunk of questions over and over again. I think answering these questions will shut everyone up.

1. Why don’t you swear in your reviews?

If you’ve ever met me in real life, you know I have quite the potty mouth. However, swearing isn’t professional. Occasionally, you’ll see me get super excited about a book and I’ll throw a “damn” or a “hell” in there, but there’s no reason for it, especially in the derogatory sense. Calling something “fucking retarded” or “shitty” doesn’t explain why you dislike something. It’s lazy writing. I try not to let anger into comic reviews.

2. Why do you rate everything so high?

Simple. I don’t like reviewing bad comics. On top of that, I usually only review comics I’m interested in, prior to pick them up, so yes, you’ll see me review a lot of Image/DC/Spider-Man books. Writing reviews can be tough at times, especially when something is 3/5 because you really don’t have strong opinions about a book one way or the other. Yes, I do branch out on occasion, but why would I want to review a book heavy with fantasy and mysticism when I personally hate the stuff. Also, I’ve never liked Thor, Superman, or Fantastic Four, so you will very rarely see me touch those books. Sure, I could tell you whether or not they’re good, but as someone who doesn’t like these books, I could never do them justice.

Secondly, I guess I’m in the mindset where I don’t want to give bad books press. On occasion, I will throw a two or one star review out there, like I did yesterday with Wolverine 311, but it’s usually a review out of disappointment or a book with a lot of hype behind it. I’m not in the press business to be a dick, even though sometimes that happens. I’m here to promote what I think is awesome in the industry, I’m sure that same ideal goes for Tony and Sara of Comic Vine as well. Sure, I could grab a local book with a bad artist and crap writing and destroy it, but what’s the point?

3. Why don’t you review [insert comic]?

I try to change it up, but sometimes, people want me [us] to review new mini-series of the same old dreg. How many Godzilla mini-series is IDW going to publish? I think that’s the more important question.

4. How do you pick what you’re going to review?

As I said above, I have a lot of series I like or already read, so I try to pick those first. After that, I want to find new series coming out that week to review. Sometimes, I’ll jump into a book I’ve never read, in the middle of the story arc, and I usually get blasted in the comment section because I should have “read the issues before it” or “done my research,” and while I understand that logic, any issue of a comic could be a readers first issue, so I’d rather go into a book not knowing anything to see if it’s new reader friendly. Tony, Sara, and I all have very different tastes in comic books. I’m much more geared towards independent publishers and non-superhero comics. However, let’s be honest here, not everyone likes what I like, so I always get a few Marvel and DC books in there was well.

5. You use the same 5 adjectives over and over again. Why?

I have a shitty vocabulary.

6. You talk about the same few things in all your reviews. Why?

Each review is a process for me. I have to talk about certain elements every time only because that’s how I see comic books. I see a whole page composition and panel layout BEFORE I see the actual art and writing. I see facial construction and line work. I see colors. I see dialogue patterns. I see an overall consistency. I talk less about whether or not I like what a character’s doing because to me it’s not as important. Again, Tony, Sara, and I all review and see comics in different ways. I see a page the same way I see a scene in a movie. I look at the mise-en-scene and go from there. Film school ruined movies for me.

Hopefully, that answers all the questions all three of you have about my work at Comic Vine. If, for some reason, you have more questions, throw them in the comment section and I’ll answer them as well.

4 responses to “The Magical World of Reviewing Comics

  1. Mise-en-scene both ruins some movies and makes others better. That’s why Shawn of the Dead is better than Zombieland. As for your reviewing process, I think I see some integrity in there. Reviews should only be spent on something that is supposed to be taken seriously as art. That’s why pulp still exists and that is why you shouldn’t have to be caught up on the series to review a single issue. It should be good writing and art from the get-go.

  2. Pingback: Evaluating Websites: Real Mom Reviews | The Wild World of Mat "Inferiorego" Elfring·

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