The World That's Coming

May 10, 2013 Writingthoughts Criticism

A Nice Failure

Every artist who ever lived is correct about critics: they are barren nursemaids, never-weres deficient in the slightest authority to dictate the placement of a comma. They are shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, and comics critics are among the very worst, lacking in even the brazen, flatulent delusion that marks the livelier movie types. Yours is a *nice* failure, Tucker, a sweetheart’s sigh of continued, contented disappointment, sauntering dignified into worthwhile irrelevancy, beyond which none will remember, nor care, nor will any demerit solemnify the ignorance of anyone who might be moved, through any impossible intercession, to somehow remember.

That’s from an email apparently sent by an unidentified body to critic Tucker Stone, and… Well. It’s kind of amazing, right? It feels like a joke – I actually hope that is a joke on Stone’s part, to be honest, because otherwise it’s been written by the most insecure person ever, desperate to pre-emptively respond to any negative criticism by yelling NO YOU’RE A BIG MEANIE WHO NO-ONE CARES ABOUT ANYWAY at the top of their voice. The mix of over-written insult (“never-weres deficient in the slightest authority to dictate the placement of a comma,” indeed), childish offense (“They are shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit”) and comedic patronizing (“Yours is a *nice* failure, Tucker”) marks someone so oddly desperate to convince that they really don’t care despite their visual upset and no these aren’t tears it’s allergies and why are you even looking at him anyway, jeez.

(It’s clearly a him; it’s comics, after all.)

As a critic of sorts – even a comic book critic, at times – I read this and instead of feeling suitably chastised at all of the clearly bad life choices that led to my failure as a human being, I get both ridiculously amused and very curious: Who could be that thin-skinned and childish to lash out like that? How can they survive in the real world without coming face to face with far harsher truths and criticism than anything a comic critic could share? And do they spend their spare time writing impassioned screeds in their journal that are just as wonderfully reminiscent of a smart, socially awkward 15 year old railing against the world?

(This reminds me of a story that’s not actually mine to tell, about a comic book creator who once spent an hour at the start of an interview telling the interviewer about all of the bad career choices that they had made. By “they,” I mean that the creator spent an hour criticizing the interviewer’s choices, getting more and more personal. I was once threatened with violence by a comic book professional on the floor of a comic convention. Things are weird, in the comics world.)

I can understand the urge to not want to read criticism of your work, but in that case, don’t read the criticism. It’s actually kind of easy not to, really. To instead try and shout down critics, tell them that they’re worthless and should give up, is just kind of pathetic, all told.

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