Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Me vs. the Comic Geek Speak Board! The action-packed beginning...

Remember yesterday, when I said I liked the third part of the CBR interview because I came across like a dick and started offending people by saying if they didn't understand the deeper meaning of comics then they couldn't read?

Well, the guys on the Comic Geek Speak message board agree with me! They think I'm a dick, too!

I registered over there as soon as I saw the response, but I need their approval before I can post, and I want to jump into the fray now, man! This is my honor I'm defending. Plus, I wanna stir things up! I'm a dick! Let's keep that debate going!

So, since I can't post over there, I'll excerpt some of the relevant comments and reply right here, right now. Take that, you 24-hour waiting period, or whatever it is they have that won't let me post yet.

Steve Bryant writes: "I don't care what the author intended." So this guy [meaning me, Timothy Callahan] is the arbiter of what all stories are about, regardless of the intent of the creator. Like I said, I'm just an artist. I draw comics. This guy gives credence to the phrase "Those who cannot do, teach."

My Response: Ouch, Steve. Wait, because I don't care about authorial intent, I must not be able to draw? I'm not sure I see the connection, plus, you must not have seen my freakin' awesome picture of NINJAWOLF FIGHTING ALIENS! Damn, look at that masterpiece. Still think I can't do, Steve? And even if that drawing kind of sucks, so what? Authorial intent has been invalidated since the days of the New Critics 80 years ago. And what the author intends clearly does not matter to reader interpretation at all. Example: What did Shakespeare intend Hamlet to mean? We have no way of knowing, so does that mean that we can't interpret Hamlet or that Hamlet has no meaning? Of course not. We base our interpretation on the EFFECT of the text, not on the INTENT. That's how it works, man.

Choanata writes: I just read that interview there, and from the subtext, I'm able to determine he's a dick. That may not be what he was going for, but all the signs point to it, regardless of his intent. It's funny how someone I've never even heard of can do one interview and make me think his opinion is utter crap.

My Response: Now that's what I'm talking about! See. I didn't intend to be a dick. I knew I sounded like one afterwards, but I didn't start that part of the interview by thinking, now's when I get all dicky! So, his interpretation is based on the effect of the words, rather than the intent. Exactly. (And p.s., is my opinion crap BECAUSE I'm a dick, one wonders? Or for some other reason? Because I think it's possible to be both a dick and have a useful opinion, isn't it? What say the readers?)

Citizen Dave writes: I don't think that's what he means. It's perfectly valid to search for ideas and meanings that the author may never have intended. Literature classes have been based on this for centuries. It's up to the reader to find the meaning in what he/she reads. I understand his frustration. It's one thing to state that you cannot see the secondary, underlying meanings, it's another thing to simply refuse they exist and accuse others of "reading too much into it". And, teachers are an invaluable resource who are underappreciated and underpaid.

My Response: I love you, Citizen Dave. You make the rest of us citizens very proud.

My Pal and Yours, Steve Bryant comes back with: I agree with your statement, Dave. However, his dismissal of the author's intent based on what he reads into subjective work (ie. art) is idiotic. Before stating something inflammatory, he should consider his words more carefully.

My Response: Dismissal of authorial intent is idiotic? Tell that to John Crowe Ransom! (Look it up, it's the internet.) And what did I say that was inflammatory again? That part about authorial intent not mattering in interpretation. It doesn't. It matters in creation--I certainly hope the author has some sort of intent, and it's not all just random words. But not in interpretation. Although, wait. What about William Burroughs's "cut-up" technique? He clearly had no authorial intent (in terms of the meaning of the sentences and paragraphs), but the sentences and paragraphs end up with meaning anyway--a meaning determined by the reader. So, scratch that. Authorial intent doesn't even necessarily matter in creation.

Bryan, the guy I ACTUALLY offended because he's the one I was saying was a bad reader, writes: I certainly won't deny saying all of those things. I'm a pretty firm believer in them. However, I think he should go on to quote Matt Fraction as saying "it's okay if you don't get it, not everyone will." If he's such an expert he should know how to take things in context. That's all I'm saying.

My Response: Oh, Bryan. I really, really want to go on the show and debate this over the magical internet airwaves. Please invite me on. But I don't think Matt's response really helps your case all that much. I mean, it is okay if you don't get it. I don't care if you don't get it. But to say there is no meaning is ridiculous. There's always a meaning. Even a Michael Bay movie has a subtext! (And, Steve, it's probably not the one Michael Bay intends.)

The esteemed PurpleBelly writes: Read what you what, read into it what you want. Comics are great because they can reach different people on different levels, they don't have to reach everyone on every level. Is it just me or die it sound like Grant maybe be a little annoyed his hard work/deep sub-text/meta text isn't appreciated by everyone?

My Response: PurpleBelly, you, my friend, are clearly a bad reader if you thought Grant Morrison was the one answering the questions. Um, it was me. Did you even read the thing you're commenting about?

The magically delicious Fnord Serious writes: I can see where Callahan is coming from, as he is a professional reader, in a way. I think it would have been more politic to say that Bryan is a "non-academic reader" rather than a "bad reader". Bryan is reading for enjoyment. Callahan may be reading for enjoyment, but he is reading with a whole arsenal of tools that enable him to read a book in a different way, and most likely analyzing it out of habit. Neither way of reading is objectively "good" or "bad", just different.

My Response: Yes, but that's not much fun. It's more fun to stir things up and take a stand (to mix a metaphor). But, you know, I do think there are degrees of readers. Some readers are better than others. They either have more training, or have a more natural facility for seeing the meaning of a literary work. Some people can recognize symbols, allusions, rhetorical devices, etc more quickly than others, and that helps to make a more meaningful interpretation. When someone can do something well, we say that they are "good" at it. When they can't, we say they are "bad" at it. Why is reading different. And here's the thing: not because I'm some kind of super-teacher or anything, but I thnk I can teach Bryan how to understand literature (and comics) more deeply. I called him (and his ilk--you know who you are, and I probably pissed you off, didn't I?) a bad reader, true, but I think he can learn how to become a good reader. None of this, by the way, is to imply that every comic book story has some significant depth to it that only a good reader can decipher. Most comics are, basically, simple moral fables with punching (or, in the more recent comics, lots of talking about maybe punching at some point in the future). But a good reader should be able to recognize when a writer or artist is doing something with a bit more depth.

thefreakytiki comes out to add: Might I suggest the Geeks invite Mr Morrison on to the show to elaborate his point. I think when two individuals are there to "defend/explain" their P.O.V. that a greater understanding can be met.

My Response: Bryan, compared to these guys, you are looking like an amazing reader right now. Read the words, people! All of 'em.

Citizen Dave, cue awesome theme music, arrives to set things straight: Just so everybody is aware, it's not Grant Morrison making any statements here, it's Timothy Callahan, author of Grant Morrison: The Early Years.

My Response: Thanks once again, my friend.

Lobo shows up, yes!, to say: And I agree that subtext can exist outside of a creator's intent. Isn't there a whole branch of psychoanalysis that looks for subtext in what someone writes/draws, regardless of the creator's intent?

My Response: See, Steve, even the Czarnians know about the fallacy of authorial intent. And I never pegged Lobo as a college man, but he's clearly got some education hiding beneath all those chains and the Kiss make-up.

Paul joins the fun: The fact is, some people just don't like pesto. They aren't wrong. It's just not their thing. They're not a "bad eater". To say that someone who doesn't see that stuff is a bad reader is ludicrous. Many people don't want or need to read deep meaning. They just want to be entertained. One might make the converse statement that someone who writes something that is all deep meaning, with no surface entertainment value is a bad writer, if their book is being marketed to a mainstream audience. I don't happen to be one who would make that kind of statement, outside of playing devil's advocate, but there is something to be said for someone who can deftly do both. As to authorial intent, well sometimes one writes things a certain way, and these disparate influences from things they've read, seen or experienced come bubbling up to the surface (or perhaps just below the surface). It may not have been what they intended, but it's there nonetheless, due mostly to the allusions that they've made.

The reason that there are so many different kinds of comics out there is because there are so many different kinds of readers, and different things appeal to them. That's not a bad thing. It's what gives us choice.

My Response: Aww, Paul. You are so measured and logical. I can't make fun of anything. Well done, my friend. Although the pesto argument doesn't quite apply, since people do use the term "bad taste" all the time. I see your point though, but I'm not sure my argument has anything to do with convincing Bryan to like a certain type of comic. Just to recognize that there is a meaning beneath the surface, especially with Morrison.

ctowner1 replies to Steve's original post by saying: It's not that he's the arbiter - the point he's making is that his individual interpretation (just like YOUR individual interpretation) is just as valid as the author's interpretation. Once the author has created the work, it stands alone in the owlrd to be interpreted by any who experience it. No one's experience/interpretation is superior to any others. (it's just that some are more illuminating and interesting and more likely to invoke insight and discussion).

My Response: Exactly.

Jose Chung explodes with fists of fury--okay, not really: Kinda ironic that he slams Bryan while implying that everyone's interpretation is valid. Couple that with his reaction to his students and I get the feeling that a strictly textual interpretation is completely invalid with Mr. Callahan. I haven't read the whole article, and I don't really disagree with his points necessarily, but he comes off as pretty didactic and even vain to me: For example, the whole Wizard of Oz/DP parallel (so and so "is totally" this and "is totally" that--setting aside that it's not the most penetrating analysis ever, seeing as how one character is named Dorothy and the Tin Man analogue is, well, a tin man); and how he pats himself on the back (unintentionally, I'm sure) by telling how he pointed out something that Morrison says he wasn't aware of; then there's this quote: "I've just shown you it being there"; And this one: "I don't' care what the author intended". Is that a valid interpretation of the text? I'm just picking. He's probably a nice guy and just got riled up.

The excerpts I've seen have increased my appreciation of Geoff Klock, who I've heard on both the Animal Man and Matt Fraction podcasts and on both occasions came off as, first of all, a nice guy, and very knowledgeable without a whiff of condescension.

My Response: I'm vain because I use the word "totally"? See, Steve, that's an interpretation that has nothing to do with my intent. I thought the Wizard of Oz stuff was obvious too, but I have never seen anyone point it out before. But because it was obvious, I was shocked to see that Grant didn't even consider it. That's why it's a great example of interpretation vs. intent. Also, I am not a nice guy, I am a dick. See previous comments. And don't let Dr. Klockkkhammer lure you into his web of sweet, nice, pleasant, good guy stuff. It's all part of his plan to make you feel good about yourself.

Jer says: I personally love all that subtext jazz. But only a snob is gonna hold it against those who don't. This is leisure reading, for crying out loud. Get off yer high horse.

My Response: That's pretty dismissive of the entire medium. "Lesiure reading?' That's all it is? If it's just that, then why do we all care so much about it anyway? And I don't hold anything against Bryan at all. I'm bad at a lot of things. I'm really bad at baseball, for example. Does anyone hold that against me? If someone watches me play baseball, and says, "you're bad at baseball" after I strike out five times and drop every fly ball, does that make the other person a snob? Why is it different with reading?

And holy Hell, I have spent way too much time on this topic! Thanks for playing, everyone.

And seriously, I would love to go on the podcast. What do you say, guys?


Molly said...

I think Vladimir Nabokov has something to say:

"Teachers of Literature are apt to think up such problems as 'What is the author's purpose?' or still worse 'What is the guy trying to say?' Now, I happen to be the kind of author who in starting to work on a book has no other purpose than to get rid of that book and who, when asked to explain its origin and growth, has to rely on such ancient terms as Interreaction of Inspiration and Combination - which, I admit, sounds like a conjurer explaining one trick by performing another."

When I first read what you said I thought, of course the author's intent matters! But I thought about it some more and I've somewhat revised my opinion (partly because I happened to remember part of the above quote from the afterword to Lolita, which made me think of Lolita and the many, many ways that it can be read and interpreted). I don't think the author's intent should be completely dismissed in any medium, it just shouldn't be the only way a piece is interpreted. I think that's what makes re-reading something so much fun; I know in my experience at least if I re-read something I look at it from a different angle and pick up on parts I skimmed over before. And it's not even necessairly that I notice more or "get it" more, I'm just noticing something different than when I last read it, and different from what I'll pick up the next time I read it.

So, this is very garbled because it's 6 in the morning and I got up because I haven't been able to fall asleep yet. But I guess my opinion on all this (because I know it's very important to you), is that I mostly agree with you, but I do take issue with not caring at all about authorial intent, because I think to dismiss that is to miss out on one level of appreciating a work of art or literature. Personally I like to know what they were going for, if only to compare it to what they ended up producing. And I like seeing how their mind took whatever basic concept they were working with and turned it into that specific work, which would have been vastly different if it was produced by someone who intended a different meaning.

As for people who refuse to believe there are deeper meanings to comics or anything they read...well, I think you probably know my reaction to that, but since I'm not as eager to get called a dick or anything else by inernet strangers, I'll just keep that to myself.

Sorry again for this being so rambling and nonsensical. Let's just blame that on me being very tired instead of on me being, well, me.

Matthew E said...

I think I'm with Molly. At least partly.

My opinion is, authorial intent is important. It's not the only important thing; the reactions of individual readers can be quite illuminating. But it's silly to say that (to put the notion in its most extreme form) when considering a book, we should study what everyone thinks about that book except the author.

Obviously, we can't always know what the author had in mind when writing something. That's a problem. But when we can have access to that knowledge, I think it's of interest.

And I don't think you disagree with me.

Richard Oldstate said...

I've said this before and I'll say this before: arguing on the internet is like competing in the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you're still retarded.

Jumaan said...

The thing that bothers me so much about this is not only the thin skinned defensiveness of fanboys, but the rejection of the whole point of the book, which is to read some great stuff from a different perspective. I think that is the greatest thing about human artistic endeavor; the fact that you can have multiple readings of it is astounding, much less the fact that a different reading might completely change your experience with the text. It's a wonderful thing to have something that is so good that you could read it in a million ways if you chose.

The fact that people feel the need to be crabby and defensive about their purported hatred of "mental gymnastics" or whatever kinda misses the whole point. This whole thing is specifically about getting you to look at some really cool, fun stories in a new light that makes them cooler and funner. It's Grant Morrison - I don't think the guy can really be accused of pretentiousness.

Ultimate Matt said...

Tim, you dick. I have a tangent story which does have a point:

A couple of years ago I was at a CD release party for the band Life of Agony. I met the bass player after the show where I told him about what their song "Other Side of the River" meant to me, and how I interpreted it. His response was shock that I read so much meaning into it and got such an emotional reaction from it, but that it was awesome that I did.

So, basically, I tend to agree with Tim that authorial intent is not the "end of meaning" for art. Art can be designed for many things, sometimes to impart a particular message (in which case authorial intent would be important to interpretation, but not the end of it), and sometimes (often) is simply designed for a reaction. And Morrison is most definetly an artist.

Timothy Callahan said...

Molly, you make an excellent point! And, of course, as I make such grand statements as "authorial intent doesn't matter!" I also write an entire chapter of the Morrison book quoting liberally from Morrison's own notes on what he was trying to do.

But I guess my approach is that authorial intent doesn't HAVE to matter. A valid interpretation can be made without it, and such an interprtation is, in fact, required when the details of authorial intent are lost to time.

And just because an author intends something, it doesn't mean it ultimately shows up in the finished work. Nor does an interpretation automatically become invalidated because an author says, "I didn't mean it that way."

Also, I went and played nice on the Comics Geek Speak message board. We'll see how they respond.

choanata said...

If you notice, I have no argument with the whole concept of reading deeply into a literary work to find the hidden subtext or metatext or, what's after that? Hypertext? Ultratext? Regardless, I think it's a dick move to call anyone a bad reader. If you read, anything at all, you are already ahead of the game. It's like calling someone a "bad volunteer" at a soup kitchen when they don't hand out the soup fast enough. Well, unless they are stealing the soup, you can't really be labeled a bad volunteer. And to label Bryan Deemer, of all people, a bad reader is just idiotic considering what he has done, what he has read, and what he has gotten others to read. As far as your opinion meaning nothing to me, it is derived primarily from the fact that you would label anyone a bad reader.

JunBobKim said...

Timothy, I am actually a long time listener and a friend of the Comic Geek Speak podcast. I've debated whether I should post this reply at all in fear that my affinity to the podcast may somehow invalidate what I might have to say here. Having read some of your replies to a few posts on the board, I see that fear is unwarranted. You seem to enjoy seeing someone coming to your defense as well as not being bothered with emotional responses. I do ask your leniency upfront, however, as I am not a good writer in general.

First of all, if any of my reply tone seems "hostile", it's NOT my intention but an under-current emotion showing through as I don't particularly like someone reducing the opinion of a friend of mine with over-generalized statements and mis-informed conclusions.

As mentioned in your interview, you began by mentioning your frustrations with people who say "I don't get it" or "it just doesn't make sense". You have summarized everyone making such statements as "bad readers" and someone who "just don't know how to read." You attempt to clarify your position a bit mentioning how you define a "reader." As I agree in part of what you are saying in that definition, I think you in turn were making a distinction between an "active" and "passive" reader. When we make that distinction, we can clarify the behavior more as a reader response rather than a qualification.

Even as Matt Fraction mentions many times over in that interview, we are talking about taste - the realm of subjective opinions and reactions to liking or disliking something. If and when asked to vocalize the rationality behind their reaction or emotions, even the most well-informed and educated people may blunder in necessarily voicing their opinions well. Further, I believe most "readers" do participate in active reading when the art in question has appealed to their subjective self on the surface. I think it would be erroneous to judge someone's true, honest reaction to a piece of art as being "right" or "wrong". We definitely should not confuse that with a person who refuses to consider the merit of any art at all due primarily to ignorance.

So in the case of Bryan Deemer, the host of Comic Geek Speak, you are quoting, I urge you to reconsider your opinion. First of all, if you listen more carefully to what he actually said in the podcast, I think you will find this whole debacle was over a case of "bad listening" rather than "bad readership". When I listen to his initial question to Matt Fraction, I hear (and interpret in kind) him actually giving credit to Matt Fraction of all the under-current meaning and subtext that exists in Casanova. His followed up his "controversial" question after a several minutes of the dialog from the author and guest about how Casanova was embedded with an data overload or these things to achieve Matt's main goal - for a reader to be so overloaded with data that he gives up trying to figure out all the subtext and just enjoy the book on the surface. Matt holds no condemnation for anyone who reads into the subtext nor does he care for anyone trying to enjoy his book for the mere surface value. In fact, he later on clarifies how important the surface value is in all art.

Further more, Bryan Deemer also acknowledges how he was intrigued by the series because of all the pop-culture references and such. Here's also the subtext of Bryan's statement that you did not understand. In fact, he wasn't saying that he dropped the book because "he didn't understand" or "just didn't get it"... he only honestly mentions that he dropped the book because he did not find this book to be FUN to him. Listening to him speak, he is actually questioning if things would have been different if he could have noticed everyone of the subtext in Casanova. If it is true that you have NEVER heard of any podcasts except this particular one mentioned, I believe you've failed to do your active listening to find out what Bryan Deemer was really saying. Once having listened to other episodes of CGS or even in this episode, examined his statement in the correct context, I think you'd have interpreted Bryan's statement differently.

As far as the later part of their debate on finding "meaning" in art... once again, you've taken a statement out of context again. At that particular juncture, Bryan was discussing fine art in general. Having listened to other episodes, one would understand that he is talking in particular of modern art, in the realms of gallery arts of painting and scultures. However, this is the kicker. After having said he "doesn't believe there's deep meaning" in some splash of paint on canvas a 3rd grader could do, he clarifies that he "is NOT talking about comic books or Casanova," but fine art in general.

In your interview, however, it seems that your INTERPRETATION of what Bryan said was more important than what he actually said or intended. However, seeing what your opinion on an author's intentions are, I guess I can at least understand why you have no problems doing so. Even more so, I guess we really shouldn't question or regard your INTENTIONS in doing all these things... since the way it seems according to our INTERPRETATIONS of the meaning behind your actions are... that you just want some controversy and free publicity for your book on a write that you seem so fond of.

Jeremy said...

Wow, Tim -- completely different tone here than you had over on the CGS boards.

"after I strike out five times and drop every fly ball, does that make the other person a snob? Why is it different with reading?"

Reading is subjective and open to interpretation. Sport and other things akin to baseball aren't. Those rules are established; art by definition is open to interpretation. That's why we can debate cool things like "meaning" rather than just discuss "what happened." Perhaps playing baseball as performance art will win over some critics. It won't win you games.

"You: That's pretty dismissive of the entire medium. "Lesiure reading?' That's all it is? If it's just that, then why do we all care so much about it anyway?"

Not dismissive. I love my leisure activities. They don't, however, give me any sort of false sense of superiority or make me into a dick should I disagree with someone.

I don't know you well enough to interpret your shifting attitudes depending on venue, but I hope I am not a sucker for checking out the podcast you suggested and, likely, the book.

Timothy Callahan said...

My shifting attitudes are easily explained: the blog entry was written in the early morning hours before sleep. The stuff on the CGS board were written after I woke up today.

I think I make the same points in both places, but I was a little more giddy when I wrote the stuff here. And, once again, I never called anyone who disagreed with me a "dick." I said I came across like a dick and people on your board called me a dick. I never directly insulted anyone in the interview, in my blog post, or in my board postings. I might have been sarcastic, though. That's pretty much typical for me.

Jeremy said...

Fair enough. Keep it rolling.

Where are you based, Tim? (I perused the blog a bit, but have to run). Planning a signing tour at all?

Julian Darius said...

It seems to me that there are really two points here.

First, the issue of authorial intent, which is always a hot-button topic. The problem here is that it just strikes lay people as an excuse to say anything about a text -- which is not at all what it's saying. There are still responsible and irresponsible statements, better and worse interpretations.

I personally love reading authors' statements, and it can be helpful to point you towards interpretations -- but the point is that it's not the final arbiter. I often have defended authorial intent myself, but it's just not the final arbiter. Imagine a writer clearly talking about his or her psychological problems without being aware of it -- those themes are there, whether intended or not. And there's a lot of scholarship prooving that authorial intent isn't -- and can't be -- determinative in interpretation. Tim just didn't have his teaching cap all the way on and didn't elaborate on this concept, to which many whole books have been dedicated.

Second, I think the comment about readers who don't look deeper being "bad readers" might have put some people off. I wouldn't say "bad" but rather "superficial" -- not that there's anything wrong with that. As Tim himself said in the interview, there's room for people to enjoy retreads of Lee/Kirby today, though that doesn't interest him. There's nothing wrong with reading superficially, just enjoying a comic. We often forget in comics that our love of this long-malaigned medium is more unifying than which particular comics we like.

The great irony here is that Tim's book is astounding for its accessibility. It's the complete opposite of a dry, academic book. And this is purely in line with Sequart's philosophy: making research and interpretation of comics accessible, finding that middle ground between pure fandom and snooty academics. Tim's a master at exactly this, which is what makes this controversy so ironic.

-- Julian Darius, Sequart

Anonymous said...

Tim, I think you have brought up some really fine points and I agree with most of what you have presented. With that said, I think you have to realize what you have done by aiming criticism at one of the hosts of Comic Geek Speak. To these gentlemen and their legions of fans, they are above criticism. They can say or do no wrong.

The host you pointed to in your example routinely doesn’t understand what he reads. If you were to listen to past episodes, you would know that his co-hosts must routinely explain things to him so that he can more fully understand the material. And that’s only for the material he admits to not understanding.

What I find to be amusing is that his defenders do not seem to realize that he himself was insulting his fellow co-hosts when he accused them reading too much into the book. They seem to bristle at the fact that you were labeling him as a “bad reader”, but they think nothing of him saying the same of his fellow co-hosts. He didn’t say it in so many words, but that is what he is doing. If he truly believes that his co-hosts are reading too much into things, they must be the ones that are truly bad readers. They cannot have it both ways. Either the book had subtext or it didn’t.

Then again, some of them actually thought it was Grant Morrison that was criticizing their beloved podcast host. Ha!

JunBobKim said...

Hmmm... interesting... I guess it really matters to Anonymous and Timothy that Bryan actually did not say that Casanova did not have subtext... but that's really irrelevant, I guess?

I see caustic statements dripping with sarcasm toward readers that misread other stuff... but that really doesn't apply to people listening?

Timothy Callahan said...

Bryan implied that he doesn't believe in "deeper meaning" in the podcast. I never accused him of directly saying Casanova in particular has no subtext, as you'll see by my response to Andy's question, when he asks if the CGS guy was talking about "Casanova" in particular.

Here's what I said in that interview: [He says "no" to subtext in] any comic books. His defense was, 'Well, whenever you guys play up the deeper meaning of anything, I just don't think that stuff's there. I think you're reading too much into it.'”

That's how I interpreted the conversation, and on the message board, Bryan verified my interpretation by writing, "I certainly won't deny saying all of those things. I'm a pretty firm believer in them."

So I think we can assume that my listening skills were not totally bad.

JunBobKim said...

Thanks for replying, Timothy.

Once again, I see you quoting part of Bryan's statement to mold into what you want the statement to say. I believe he followed that statement to with a quote from Matt Fraction and another sentence: "If he's such an expert he should know how to take things in context."

I'm simply suggesting that you may have made some assumptions on what you have heard on a limited show not understanding the subtext of the Geeks' private lives, friendships, discussions and even banters they carry on and off the show.

Even in a related topic and explanation of a forum rule, Peter, another host of the show touches on this subject: "Bryan, Peter, Shane, Kevin, Jamie, Matt, Adam and Brian are friends who share their time both in front of and away from the mics. We joke, we argue, we debate, we make fun of each other, we go all guy mode, we flirt with wives and girlfriends, we make fun of the world, etc. etc. etc. etc.

But we do this knowing our boundaries, knowing our limits, knowing what can and what can't be said, knowing who we are as people, as individuals, as thirtysomethings, as twentysomethings, as fortysomethings, as comic readers, as homeowners, as tv watchers, etc. etc. etc. Even though we're discovering new things about each other day in and day out, we have a strong foundation that was built from knowing each other and interacting with each other for years in many different situations.

This is something that just can't be replicated on a forum with over 1700 registered users. You will never fully know each other's sensibilities, sensitivities, temperments, limits, boundaries, etc. etc. etc. There are far too many variables.

So to assume that a topic is okay because "we talked about it on the show" is not putting into account all the other fellow forum members. The forum is far more interactive than the show and there are far too many variables. You can turn off the podcast. But you can't always ignore a thread title while browsing the forums. If you can't respect each other's differences and levels of tolerance (and ages), than you don't understand the reason for why this forum was created in the first place. We will continue to close/delete threads that belong on a personal blog. And we will continue to come down on those forum members who think this is their personal playground.

There have been some great communities and friendships that have been created because of the forum. And we will continue to make the forum a place where everyone feels comfortable. That's the greatest thing about this forum, everyone is willing to guide others, new and old posters alike, to why we're all here. "

I think you did the right thing by apologizing to Bryan on the forum.

Jeremy said...

hey, anonymous:

"To these gentlemen and their legions of fans, they are above criticism. They can say or do no wrong."

I don't think that's true. I have no problem with Tim's opinion; I just think it've been a little classier to say "I heard a guy on a podcast say blah blah" rather than call out CGS on a widely read venue like CBR. CGS is generally, in my opinion, more than the sum of its parts, and I don't think Tim's example, valid as it may be in this specific instance, paints a fair picture of the overall quality of the podcast.

In any case, I'm sure that wasn't his intent.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy –

I will believe they are not above criticism when they stop responding to it with such a level of emotional reaction. Look at how they treated the hosts of Fanboy Radio. It was anything but classy.

I guess I don’t get what the Comic Geek Speak guys want. They go to conventions and set up booths where they sign autographs, pose for pictures, and sell merchandise. Then they act like hurt school girls when someone on a popular comic book website points out something idiotic one of them said on their show.

I didn’t listen to the podcast. If I understand it correctly, Bryan said he couldn't read CASANOVA because he didn't understand it. He said that it was over his head. He also rejected the idea that CASANOVA had a deeper meaning. He accused the other podcast hosts of seeing something that was not there. Not just with CASANOVA, but with other comic books. He said that whenever the other guys claim there is a deeper meaning to something and he doesn’t see it, that he believes they are just reading too much into it.

If that is what truly transpired, Tim was being too kind. I would listen to the episode in question, but it sounds as though it would be too painful to listen to. I do have to hand it to you Jeremy. Unlike so many of the other Comic Geek Speak fans, you seem to understand that it wasn’t Grant Morrison criticizing your favorite podcast host.

Jeremy said...

Anonymous, I fear you paint with an overbroad brush. I'm a fan of a lot of things, not limited to comic books and particular podcasts.

Not aware of any Fanboy Radio issues. Must've missed that episode. Accordingly, I'm not sure how it relates.

I can't condone your thought that people deserve some sort of public humiliation for disagreeing with your point of view. ("If that is what truly transpired, Tim was being too kind.")

The backhanded compliment you closed with was not especially nice either. It's that kind of disappointing behavior that turns people off from listening, even to decent points. If you drop your abusive speech -- and perhaps come out from behind the "anonymous" mask -- we can have a real conversation.

As it is, I think I've more than said my piece.

Anonymous said...

“I can't condone your thought that people deserve some sort of public humiliation for disagreeing with your point of view. “

Just what do you define as public humiliation? The hosts of Comic Geek Speak have said far worse things about comic professionals and their work then what Tim said about Deemer. Or are they somehow beyond criticism?

They hold themselves up into the public spotlight. They operate a booth at comic book conventions and sign autographs. They pose for pictures with their listeners. They sell merchandise to their listeners. They are even charging their listeners $15 to come to their local comic book shop to watch as their 300 episode is recorded. I think that when one of them says something dumb, it’s not inappropriate for someone like Tim to point it out.

The only public humiliation Deemer should be feeling is from his own comments. Not from anything Tim said about him.

I would have a lot more respect for the lot of them if they had the courage to have Tim on their show where all six or seven of them could debate him on the topic.

Jeremy said...

Certainly not beyond criticism; your clear implication was that Tim should have been more insulting, intentionally. That's what I have issue with.

The hosts of Comic Geek Speak have said far worse things about comic professionals . . .

I don't recall hearing anything inappropriate over there. If I did, I'd certainly curb my listening or let them know my feelings. Even if true, however, two wrongs don't make a right.

I would also probably enjoy hearing Tim on the show. I don't know that there needs to be a "debate." A spirited discussion about Grant Morrison would certainly be welcomed, or even one on methods for interpreting comics. My problem with the situation, for the third time, was not with what was said, but how it was said -- which Tim already stated was not done with malicious intent.

So, seriously, at least as your argument applies to my comments, you can feel free to drop it.

Timothy Callahan said...

Geoff Klock wants me to go on the show with him. He finds this whole debate great fun, as he expressed in an e-mail to me. I told him I felt like I was banned from the show, so it probably wouldn't happen.

It would make a cool show, right? Why wouldn't they want to discuss it, I wonder? If someone said something I disagreed with, I would love to debate them (as, I guess, might have happened on the message board at CGS, but too many people just went for the direct insults, so there wasn't much to debate, really).

Timothy Callahan said...

And, yeah, there's no need to pick on Jer. He just wants us all to get along, and he's a Morrison fan!

Timothy Callahan said...

I've only listened to a few of the CGS podcasts, but I've never heard those guys maliciously attack anyone, either. Although they do say things like "the art was terrible" which is pretty insulting to an artist, I would imagine, but it's fair game in comics criticism. I've certainly said it more than once.

And Bryan said, about Animal Man #5, "that was a complete waste of paper." He went on to add that the story was, "one of the most worthless comics I’ve ever read in my life." Insulting, yes. But not an attack on an individual.

Anonymous said...

”Certainly not beyond criticism; your clear implication was that Tim should have been more insulting, intentionally. That's what I have issue with.”

In retrospect, I think Tim should have been more insulting in his comments. At least I wouldn't blame him if he did. Considering how quickly they resorted to personal name calling, I think Tim has been quite restrained.

”I don't recall hearing anything inappropriate over there. If I did, I'd certainly curb my listening or let them know my feelings. Even if true, however, two wrongs don't make a right.”

Two wrongs don't make a right? You are assuming that anyone said something WRONG. I didn't say he ever said anything inappropriate. He criticism about some comic creators has been far worse then anything Tim ever said. To criticize someone is not necessarily wrong. It wasn't wrong for Tim to say what he did in the manor that he did. The only thing that can honestly be considered wrong is the attitude displayed by the host of Comic Geek Speak. He is more then happy to listen to praise and adoration from the masses. For him to react the way he has been acting over this criticism is somewhat ridiculous. The fact that he now refuses to carry the CCL show on their feed because Tim is being interviewed is extremely petty and juvenile.

If the host of Comic Geek Speak is willing to criticize others on his podcast, he shouldn't act like an immature school girl when someone criticizes something he said.

Jeremy said...

Congratulations, "anonymous," you have the last word because: a] I'm not interested in debating you; b] I've made my position very clear in what I thought was "wrong," and see no need to repeat it; c] I consider the situation resolved and have moved on; and d] I am not a proxy for CGS' board members nor its proprieters, as you seem to believe I am; e] I have no interest in being a proxy for whatever weird grudge against them you seem to have; and f] you clearly can't have a conversation with someone who can't keep the sequence of events clear ("he should have been more insulting because of what happened after the fact" -- I know we're talking comics, but, c'mon, no such thing as time travel).

If only we knew your name so you could get credit for your sharp-witted namecalling, sweeping generalizations, and clever use of homonyms.

On a positive note, I intend to add these pages to my daily browsing, Mr. Callahan. Hope you don't mind.

Jeremy said...

Of course, quite ashamed, I meant homoPHONE. That'll teach me.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy, you do understand the concept of "retrospect", right? If you are going to quote something I wrote, don't cut anything out. Like the word, "retrospect".

Brent said...

I just wanted to clear up that the CGS guys charge for their 300th episode event for good reasons. The money goes to the spaces they are using. Maybe they don't rent out the comic shop for the day, but a lot of creators are coming to the episode and some are doing free sketches. Also, they are using another space in the mall for other events, which probably required money, and after the episode, they are going to a large restaurant, which probably had to be rented. Also, where do you think all the chairs, programs, and door prizes come from? Stuff isn't free, as well as podcasting equipment. If Anonymous listened to CGS a lot, he would know, instead of stirring up old Fanboy Radio arguments. Find me on the CGS boards as knightwingbk. Just wanted to clear up CGS's intentions in that they are not monetary. Here's a list of creators who are going:

Mike Norton
Steve Bryant
Morry Hollowell
Erica Hesse
Martheus Wade
Janet Wade
Jun Bob Kim
Freddie Williams II
Danielle Corsetto
Dan Adkins
Andrew Charipar
Dave Ryan
Lin Workman
Dave Beaty
Micah Stewart
Scott Neely
Jamal Igle
Sal Abbinanti
Kevin Volo
Randy Gentile
Harold Jennett
Chris DiBari
James Hatton
Pat Loika
Ryan Stegman

Anonymous said...

I'm not the Anonymous that posted above, just to make that clear.

Why respond to such an old post? To give Tim some credit. There's so little criticism of CGS in Comic Internet Land, that finding his comments from a few years ago was very reassuring to me.

I listen to Comic Geek Speak sometimes. I enjoy their "Footnotes" episodes in particular. But Bryan Deemer nearly ruins every episode. It's not that he's a bad reader (though he is that) but it's the cocky manner in which he's almost proud of his inability/refusal to recognize deeper meaning in almost anything. I honestly don't know how the rest of those guys can be friends with him. Maybe they just don't interpret his comments as such, but he's often SO dismissive of the meanings that others see that it's really insulting. As an infrequent listener, though, I've gotten over it. He's a clown. He'll make some ridiculously overblown proclamation along the lines of "Oh, I don't see THAT at ALL. Yeah...maybe that [meaning]'s there...but if so that's just pointless. I don't care." And then five minutes later he'll be needing one of his co-hosts to explain something very basic to him.

Earlier today I was listening to a CGS podcast about an old Walt Simonson Thor issue. In the issue Odin is in a disguise as a beggar or something. The guy recapping the issue mentions this, and Bryan Deemer's all like "Hold up--what?! Oh I didn't see that. Oh. WELL I GUESS YOU COULD READ IT EITHER WAY. WHO WOULD KNOW THAT THAT'S ODIN? IT'S NOT REALLY EXPLAINED. IT'S NOT REALLY IMPORTANT." And then the guy doing the recapping goes on to recap how a page later one of the other characters in the comic calls Odin out on wearing a disguise, and the fact that this disguised character IS ODIN becomes important based on the dealing that the character is then able to make as the revealed "All-Father". Bryan Deemer is a bad reader. Bryan Deemer is a horrible reader.

Is he a bad host? Not really. Not always. Except when he puts his foot in his mouth or when he makes rude, sweeping judgments about things or ideas. And that doesn't happen ALL the time. But he's an awful, awful reader.

It's been odd spending about 20 minutes basically researching this "spat" that Tim and CGS had a few years ago. What's most disheartening to me is seeing how poor many CGS defenders are, from their actually thinking that it was Grant Morrison who called Bryan Deemer a "bad reader", not Tim Callahan, to their pathetic attempt to spin everything around and say that Bryan Deemer was actually defending Matt Fraction or whatever. Totally ridiculous.

The worst part of all, though, is something that I see the comicbook fanboy community reveal often: they're so thin-skinned that they don't think any objectivist negative criticism of anything should be tolerated. To a degree, yes, most things are "subjective". That doesn't mean that everything is completely subjective. It's totally reasonable to say that Bryan Deemer is a bad reader; he proves himself so very frequently. But his defenders call foul because it's "mean". A few of them even said that it was wrong to call ANYONE a "bad reader". Ridiculous. If someone's bad at something, they're bad at it. The fact that the guy is the host of a podcast which to its credit has gotten a lot of people to read certain comics means nothing.

All that a very large faction of the fanboy community wants to do...is be entertained. They don't want to think. They don't want to figure anything out. They just want to be piggish consumers of cheap entertainment. And they want a large "community" of enablers to facilitate their four-color dreamworld.

I like being entertained. I like a lot of what I've heard on comics podcasts, including CGS. But there is a bad gene, you might say, in the DNA of the comic community: it's the gimme-gimme-gimme-I-want-it-now gene. It eats comics without digesting them. It goes through ideas without thinking about them much, or very deeply. It's making this hobby, which others struggled to make respectable for adults to have, nothing more than a playpen for overgrown children. And not smart children, either, but children who are unable/unwilling to read well or carefully, or to interpret much beyond the surface. Bryan Deemer is basically the posterboy for this cheap, superficial mentality as far as comics go. I remember an episode where be basically admitted that when he was a little kid he always loved to read, and then the bad old English teachers ruined it for him by trying to make him read deeper. So it's obvious: he's stuck at a 5th or 6th grade reading level. But there are a lot of other people like him, in the media: and they're all trying to suck the rest of us down to their level. Their call is "Eh, c'mon down here--it's just FUN. Let's just be slackers and have fun. Our 'work' will be puttin' dis out on the internet--so don't call me lazy."

Alan Moore was right, in what he said a few weeks ago: It's like comics didn't really grow up, or they haven't grown up in a while. Instead it's like everything else has grown down.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I listen to another podcast called the Uncanny X-Cast. One of the hosts there is also what I would call a "bad reader", though not as bad as Bryan Deemer. This X-Cast guy also frequently needs his co-host to explain things to him; he'll be recapping an issue and his co-host will have to step in and set things straight. Or else it'll be his co-host doing the recap and he'll chime in with a "What?! When did that happen?" "It happened right there! How did you miss that!? How could you not know what that meant?"

The difference is that the X-Cast co-host is congenial about his inabilities. He laughs them off. And when there's a deaper meaning, he might say "I didn't get that at all", but he'll never launch into a long, didactic diatribe about how everything in comics or in literature *should* be right on the surface, or else it's a "bad" work of art.

With Bryan Deemer, though, I almost think he's got blackmail on the other CGS guys or something. Regarding the stuff with Odin mentioned in my post above, the other co-hosts didn't even call him out on it. No one said, "Uh, yeah Bryan, it says on the next page that this is really Odin. And, yeah, it's kind of important. And you're kind of a piss-poor reader to say otherwise." They just went on with the recap but didn't even respond to him.