It’s Time To Admit Not Everything Put On Paper Is ArtJon Del Arroz
I read a lot of Fantagraphics books because they put out beautiful hardcover editions of old Steve Ditko, Carl Barks, Bill Everett, and other classic comic artists who not only had the chops to excel in their craft, but they also pioneered and defined what great comic art would look like for decades to come.
Ever since the 90s when artists tried to experiment with different impressionisms and realisms in their work, the quality of art has subsequently degraded, yet publishing houses kept acting like these sub-par creations were just as valid or perhaps even better than their predecessors before. Words like “cartoony” or “campy” were used to describe the past works, when these were “visceral” and “realism”.
What happened over time was standards became eroded, style triumphed over substance, and the publishers themselves got duped into thinking the identity of the person creating was more important than the work they actually created.
Case in point from an advertisement from Fantagraphics today:
Imagine Wally Wood or Jack Kirby walking up in the Marvel Bulpen and turning this monstrosity into Stan Lee as a completed assignment. They would have been laughed out of the room and rightly so.
But in CURRENT YEAR, such formless and ugly rushed nonsense gets hailed by Publisher’s Weekly. Critics golf clap how stunning and brave it is. The person couldn’t even keep their words in the poorly shaped dialogue baloons. The colors are distracting and incoherent. The figure looks like a trainwreck.
This is not art.
A child could make a more compelling piece than this, let alone a professional. It’s not, as Publisher’s weekly calls it, “visceral with tactile emotion”, It looks like someone scribbled on a page quickly and called it a day.
There used to be an adage that one needs to learn the rules of a craft before trying to bend or break them to express oneself. This used to be how people apprenticed before they called themselves professionals, but now artists have skipped that stage entirely and declared their works award-worthy without ever learning the very basics of composition.
This is not art. This is not good. This is not beautiful. There is nothing redeeming about it, and to say so is a statement against morality and the very fabric of creation. It’s trying to gaslight people into believing everything is equal and there can be no judgments.
It’s time to get our culture back to judging what is correct and true again. This has gone too far.