Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Defining the differences

Following up on yesterday's comments about whether what blogger Johanna Draper Carlson said about Aquaman #18 is a review or not. I've begun wondering if there isn't an even simpler way to tell the difference between a comment and review, than length or worth of insight.

Simply put, I wonder if a comment is just someone expressing what their likes or dislikes of a particular item are. While a review usually tends to go into why something is liked or disliked and hopefully an eventualy discover of whether something is good or bad. Which some might consider the same, yet the two comparisons can mean quite different things.

For instance, Neil Gaimon's Sandman run, and Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan are widely considered two of the best examples of what comics can offer. Which is entirely correct, as the craft and attention to detail in both is above what you'll see on nearly any other comic story crafted.

Yet I can't stand either one of them.

I found Sandman to be pretentious to the point of aggravation. While JC was such a depressing story, that I had to struggle to finish it, because it was just not a story type I was interested in. Yet I can look at both and know that while they are not designed for my tastes, I can admire the craft of the people behind them.

Being able to separate like that can be difficult though, especially if you are emotionally attached to what you read. Yet I think it would behoove any reader, much less reviewer, to always take a hard look on the WHY they like or dislike something. At least as much as they tend to focus on the WHAT they like or dislike.


John Jakala said...

I think reviewers always have to be mindful of the "I liked X" vs. "X was good" distinction but I think there's quite a bit of overlap, or at least there is in the pieces I'm interested in reading. Continuing to pick on Johanna's Aquaman example, I think it's obvious that she didn't like the story, but I think she backed up her dislike with reasons grounded in the text. So, once again: Review...or Commentary??? (How about "Capsule Review"? Or "Insightful, Grounded Commentary"?)

- John Jakala

James Schee said...

True, and maybe what I think of as a review is more in line with what the definition of a critique would be.

One thing I've found is that it can be very hard to really define anything creatively based, especially by someone as diverse as Johanna can be.