Rather nice article on IF in PC mag

2 views
Skip to first unread message

Julie N. Cullinan

unread,
May 1, 2008, 5:35:58 PM5/1/08
to
Picked up a copy of PC Format today and was pleasantly surprised to find a 4
page article on IF. It mostly covered the history of IF of the 80s and
early 90s, with most of its attention turned to Infocom, unsurprisingly. It
did a rundown of some of the more notable games of the time, such as the
Zork series, a Mind Forever Voyaging and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

It did mention the current state of IF and recommended games by Emily Short,
Andrew Plotkin and Adam Cadre as safe bets for high quality. (Specific
mentions are made to Galatea, Spider and Web, 9:05 and Varicella) as well as
games like Jigsaw, Trapped in a One Room Dilly, MST3k: Detective, and Pick
Up the Phone Booth and Die, and The Baron. Unfortunately, the references to
today's IF comes across more as a sidebar (in fact, it literally is a
sidebar item aside from a few casual mentions towards the end of the
article) than a point of actual focus, but it was still good to see. There
was also a sidebar on writing your own IF, with its main focus on Inform7
and its natural language approach.

Considering there was no mention of the article on the cover, it was truly a
nice surprise to flip the page and see the article, especially since it was
clearly written by someone with a sincere appreciation for IF.

--
Blogging my adventures in writing IF at http://jncullinan.wordpress.com.


Taylor Vaughan

unread,
May 1, 2008, 5:52:49 PM5/1/08
to

They recommended Pick Up the Phone Booth and Die?

It seems sort of like there are a lot more articles about IF in
"mainstream" publications recently (of course that may just be me
since I've only started looking at this newsgroup recently). I wonder
if they're having any effect.

Emily Short

unread,
May 1, 2008, 6:04:45 PM5/1/08
to
On May 1, 5:52 pm, Taylor Vaughan <ChaoticShaz...@gmail.com> wrote:

> It seems sort of like there are a lot more articles about IF in
> "mainstream" publications recently (of course that may just be me
> since I've only started looking at this newsgroup recently). I wonder
> if they're having any effect.

We'll know they're having an effect when the articles stop telling the
story in the form "Way back in the 80s, ...".

Paul O'Brian

unread,
May 2, 2008, 10:33:11 AM5/2/08
to
On May 1, 4:04 pm, Emily Short <emsh...@mindspring.com> wrote:
>
> We'll know they're having an effect when the articles stop telling the
> story in the form "Way back in the 80s, ...".

Right. It's a bit like the way every mainstream article about comics
used to be headlined "Pow! Bang! Holy Legitimacy, Batman, Comics
Aren't Just For Kids Anymore!"

S. John Ross

unread,
May 2, 2008, 12:20:40 PM5/2/08
to

> Right. It's a bit like the way every mainstream article about comics
> used to be headlined "Pow! Bang! Holy Legitimacy, Batman, Comics
> Aren't Just For Kids Anymore!"

Given that it took them a decade or two (or three?) to notice _that_
much, this could be a very long wait ...

Someone needs to nudge Activision to hurry those Planetfall movie
rights along :) I hope they can get Chris Barrie to play Ensign
Blather ...

Jim Aikin

unread,
May 2, 2008, 4:21:14 PM5/2/08
to

They aren't just for kids? You're joking, right?

I've heard of "graphic novels." I think I even tried to read (or, I
suppose, "view") one once. I only vaguely recall my reaction, which was
along the lines of, "This doesn't make any sense, and it isn't
interesting either."

I do think there's probably a real semantics of comic-book art, which
would be as foreign to outsiders as operating an IF parser is for new
players. That said, I very much doubt that anyone who wasn't devoted to
comic books as a kid would either be able to decode the semantics, or
want to bother.

From which I would deduce that graphic novels, even when produced for
an adult audience, are basically "for kids." For the kid in all grown-up
comics lovers, that is.

--JA

S. John Ross

unread,
May 2, 2008, 6:39:53 PM5/2/08
to

> They aren't just for kids? You're joking, right?

There's the Jim Aikin we all know and love :)

Missed ya, big guy.

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
May 2, 2008, 6:42:25 PM5/2/08
to
In rec.games.int-fiction, Jim Aikin <midig...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> Paul O'Brian wrote:
> > On May 1, 4:04 pm, Emily Short <emsh...@mindspring.com> wrote:
> >> We'll know they're having an effect when the articles stop telling the
> >> story in the form "Way back in the 80s, ...".
> >
> > Right. It's a bit like the way every mainstream article about comics
> > used to be headlined "Pow! Bang! Holy Legitimacy, Batman, Comics
> > Aren't Just For Kids Anymore!"
>
> They aren't just for kids? You're joking, right?
>
> I've heard of "graphic novels." I think I even tried to read (or, I
> suppose, "view") one once. I only vaguely recall my reaction, which was
> along the lines of, "This doesn't make any sense, and it isn't
> interesting either."

It's good to know that your legendary open-mindedness about IF is
matched by your outlook on everything else.



> I do think there's probably a real semantics of comic-book art, which
> would be as foreign to outsiders as operating an IF parser is for new
> players. That said, I very much doubt that anyone who wasn't devoted to
> comic books as a kid would either be able to decode the semantics, or
> want to bother.
>
> From which I would deduce that graphic novels, even when produced for
> an adult audience, are basically "for kids."

You deduced that from... from what? The one you tried to read once, or
the generalization you made up about the rest of the field?

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
It used to be that "conservatives" were in favor of smaller government,
fiscal responsibility, and tighter constraints on the Man's ability to
monitor you, arrest you, and control your life.

Conrad

unread,
May 2, 2008, 6:56:16 PM5/2/08
to
On May 2, 4:21 pm, Jim Aikin <midigur...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:

> players. That said, I very much doubt that anyone who wasn't devoted to
> comic books as a kid would either be able to decode the semantics, or
> want to bother.
>
>  From which I would deduce that graphic novels, even when produced for
> an adult audience, are basically "for kids." For the kid in all grown-up
> comics lovers, that is.

Jim, I seem to recall a principle that claims widely popular fiction
is often children's fiction with broad appeal. Something I came
across in the context of the Harry Potter success, but which
apparently was meant to describe widely-loved works like Alice, Doc
Seuss, Charlotte's Web, Rats o' NIMH, etc.

For my part, I never much got into comics until I was an adult,
starting with _Watchmen_, and working my way more recently into 100
Bullets, Transmetropolitan, etc.

As with any art form, comics and graphic novels vary in quality and
accessibility. I suppose the broader point, that Jim Aikin discards
other mediums than IF as being artisitically worthless, too, should
come as something of a comfort.


Conrad.

Jim Aikin

unread,
May 2, 2008, 7:41:35 PM5/2/08
to
Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>>
>> I've heard of "graphic novels." I think I even tried to read (or, I
>> suppose, "view") one once. I only vaguely recall my reaction, which was
>> along the lines of, "This doesn't make any sense, and it isn't
>> interesting either."
>
> It's good to know that your legendary open-mindedness about IF is
> matched by your outlook on everything else.

Everything else? Comics are EVERYTHING? I guess you could make a case
for the idea that the whole universe is a vast comic-book, but it would
be pretty depressing.

I just thought it would be fun to watch the fans of comics spring to the
defense of their beloved medium.

I think it would be extremely interesting to read a well-thought-out
defense of the legitimacy of comics as a storytelling medium. I hope
somebody will post one! I could be convinced, by a well-reasoned
analysis, that I'm completely wrong to dismiss comics.

I also think it's somewhat interesting that when one expresses an
opinion, one is accused of being closed-minded. I would dispute the
notion that the holding of opinions equates to closed-mindedness.
("Anyone who doesn't agree with me is just closed-minded!") I would
defend anyone's right to have opinions -- about hip-hop, about Karlheinz
Stockhausen, about Jackson Pollock, about Thelonious Monk, about Andy
Warhol, about any artistic figure or movement.

That said, there are better-informed opinions and worse-informed ones. I
have, of course, seen lots of comic books over the years. Dozens, I
suppose. My feelings are based not on _complete_ ignorance but rather on
a strong preference for nuanced detail over broad brush-strokes. Comic
book art fails to appeal to me because it's FLAT. I would also suggest
that it's likely to be difficult to elucidate the details of complex
settings, complex characters, or complex actions in the comic-book
medium, precisely because the illustrations lack detail and the texts
are so terse. (If the texts aren't terse, then by definition it's a
prose story with lots of illustrations -- it's no longer a comic.)

There is no universal truth about any work of art. Some people will
relate to it, others won't. But we can discuss, if we care to, the
specifics that are embodied in any artistic expression, and we may well
find that certain types of expression are well endowed in certain
specific areas, or seriously deficient.

Speaking of comic books, I'm sure there are millions of people who watch
Maury Povich religiously, feel his show is profoundly stimulating drama,
and would be bored to pieces by Shakespeare. Does that make the Maury
Show as defensible artistically as, or the artistic equal of,
Shakespeare's tragedies? Short of boneheaded, knuckle-dragging populism,
I think it would be very hard to make a case for that view.

So make a case for the legitimacy of comic books as a mode of serious,
adult artistic expression capable of communicating nuance and detail.
Don't just call me names; that's way too easy.

--JA

Jim Aikin

unread,
May 2, 2008, 7:59:32 PM5/2/08
to
Conrad wrote:
>
> As with any art form, comics and graphic novels vary in quality and
> accessibility. I suppose the broader point, that Jim Aikin discards
> other mediums than IF as being artisitically worthless, too, should
> come as something of a comfort.

Too? Too? I'm sorry -- when did I dismiss the entire medium of IF as
artistically worthless? That would most likely have been Fergus McNeil,
not me. Why would I be organizing an IF Authors' Workshop and working on
two new games of my own if I dismissed the entire medium as artistically
worthless?

Other than on alternate Tuesdays, I mean. On alternate Tuesdays,
_everything_ is artistically worthless. This is a well-known law of the
universe.

I do think the medium of IF is not the best choice if what you're aiming
to do is tell stories. If you want to tell stories, you have at least
three choices that are superior to IF -- prose, stage drama, and
screenplays.

But Bach and Haydn don't often tell stories either. Nor do Picasso, Van
Gogh, and Paul Klee. There are other rewarding things that works of art
can do, besides tell stories. Some paintings may hint at a story (or,
indeed, present an image drawn from a story), and some Romantic music
(starting, most famously, with Beethoven's Sixth Symphony) has overt
story elements.

I would tend to put IF as a medium more in the latter category: Story
elements can be important to a given work -- and I think you could
probably make a case that with a few isolated exceptions, almost any
work of IF will be better if its story elements are prominent and well
considered.

But what makes a good story will not necessarily make a good game, and
vice-versa.

--JA

Conrad

unread,
May 2, 2008, 8:32:04 PM5/2/08
to
On May 2, 7:59 pm, Jim Aikin <midigur...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:

> Conrad wrote:
>
> > As with any art form, comics and graphic novels vary in quality and
> > accessibility.  I suppose the broader point, that Jim Aikin discards
> > other mediums than IF as being artisitically worthless, too, should
> > come as something of a comfort.
>
> Too? Too? I'm sorry -- when did I dismiss the entire medium of IF as
> artistically worthless? That would most likely have been Fergus McNeil,
> not me.

I don't care to inventory your posts just now, Jim -- I'm a bit busy.
But as I recall, someone recently *has* taken you to task on this
basis for specific comments you've made. The fellow's name was
"madducks," and he wrote a very cogent and civilized break-down of
your self-presentation. I think. But you neglected to respond to
that one, for whatever reason.

I also think it would behoove you as a professional communicator to
see why so many members of this forum seem to have this
(mis)perception of you, rather than hiding behind the local troll. If
only because it means you're not in control of the written medium.


> Why would I be organizing an IF Authors' Workshop and working on
> two new games of my own if I dismissed the entire medium as artistically
> worthless?

Ego?


> Other than on alternate Tuesdays, I mean. On alternate Tuesdays,
> _everything_ is artistically worthless. This is a well-known law of the
> universe.

Not funny.


> I do think the medium of IF is not the best choice if what you're aiming

> to do is tell stories. [..]
>
> I would tend to put IF as a medium more in the latter category: Story [..]

I'm really not interested, Jim. You're obnoxious.


Conrad.

Adam Thornton

unread,
May 2, 2008, 8:38:22 PM5/2/08
to
In article <fvft3r$mvc$1...@aioe.org>,

Jim Aikin <midig...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>I do think there's probably a real semantics of comic-book art, which
>would be as foreign to outsiders as operating an IF parser is for new
>players. That said, I very much doubt that anyone who wasn't devoted to
>comic books as a kid would either be able to decode the semantics, or
>want to bother.

Hi.

I'm a counter-example.

There's definitely a semantics to it; McCloud's _Understanding Comics_
is about exactly this.

I never cared much at all for comic books as a young'un.

I still don't do issue-by-issue comics.

But I have all the Cerebus phone books (despite the fact that Dave Sim
is *batshit insane*), I think _V for Vendetta_ and _Watchmen_ are
terrific, and, well, if you think _Maus_ is children's lit, I think
you're raising some traumatized and depressed kids.

Adam

Khelwood

unread,
May 2, 2008, 8:40:37 PM5/2/08
to

Well, you do go out of your way to make it easy.

I'd be interested to read a well thought-out argument about why comic
books are not a legitimate storytelling medium. The one you have
presented so far seems to comprise the following:
1) You think doing it well must be difficult;
2) You have seen comics and don't like the look of them;
3) You tried to read a graphic novel once and didn't like it;
4) Your usual shtick about how popularity is not artistic merit, and
something about knuckle-dragging.

<parody>
1) I am sure that writing drama well is difficult.
2) I see really bad drama nearly every day on TV
3) I saw a really bad play once
4) Shakespeare is popular. Popularity is not artistic merit, no matter
what you boneheaded, knuckle-dragging populists may think.
From which I would deduce that drama is not very good, probably for
kids, and not a legitimate storytelling medium.
</parody>

Of course, you are entitled to your opinion, however obviously wrong
it is.

Btw, I'm sure this will not help persuade you, but Alan Moore's
Watchmen (a comic-book series / graphic novel) was listed in Time
Magazine's 100 best English-language novels. I don't know much about
Time Magazine, so I don't know how much weight that carries. But
Watchmen is a very good book.

Adam Thornton

unread,
May 2, 2008, 8:41:26 PM5/2/08
to
In article <fvg8rg$dnq$1...@aioe.org>,

Jim Aikin <midig...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>I think it would be extremely interesting to read a well-thought-out
>defense of the legitimacy of comics as a storytelling medium. I hope
>somebody will post one! I could be convinced, by a well-reasoned
>analysis, that I'm completely wrong to dismiss comics.

McCloud, Scott. _Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art_. ISBN-10
006097625X, ISBN-13 978-0060976255.

http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Comics-Invisible-Scott-Mccloud/dp/006097625X/ref=bxgy_cc_b_text_a

$15.61 from Amazon.

Adam

Conrad

unread,
May 2, 2008, 9:09:14 PM5/2/08
to
On May 2, 7:41 pm, Jim Aikin <midigur...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>
> I just thought it would be fun to watch the fans of comics spring to the
> defense of their beloved medium.

I think that's very revealing.


Conrad.

John W Kennedy

unread,
May 2, 2008, 9:39:37 PM5/2/08
to
Khelwood wrote:
> Btw, I'm sure this will not help persuade you, but Alan Moore's
> Watchmen (a comic-book series / graphic novel) was listed in Time
> Magazine's 100 best English-language novels. I don't know much about
> Time Magazine, so I don't know how much weight that carries. But
> Watchmen is a very good book.

"Time" is like "The Economist" to a first approximation, but not so
respectable.

And, yes, "Watchmen" is bloody brilliant -- the "Ulysses" of comicbooks.


--
John W. Kennedy
If Bill Gates believes in "intelligent design", why can't he apply it
to Windows?

John W Kennedy

unread,
May 2, 2008, 9:40:43 PM5/2/08
to

Not to mention "Lone Wolf and Cub".

--
John W. Kennedy
"The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything...."
-- Emile Cammaerts, "The Laughing Prophet"

Jim Aikin

unread,
May 2, 2008, 11:35:28 PM5/2/08
to
Khelwood wrote:

>> So make a case for the legitimacy of comic books as a mode of serious,
>> adult artistic expression capable of communicating nuance and detail.
>> Don't just call me names; that's way too easy.
>
> Well, you do go out of your way to make it easy.

Really? Just because I disrespected comic books? Is that like wearing a
"Kick Me" tee-shirt? Evidently it is.

I mean, disrespecting comic books wouldn't cause a raised eyebrow among
my friends here in town. Maybe that's because most of them are
intellectuals. Cultural values differ, I guess.

> I'd be interested to read a well thought-out argument about why comic
> books are not a legitimate storytelling medium.

I've been told it's not possible to prove a negative. Also, if we rewind
to the top of this little brouhaha, what we'll find is the assertion
"Comics aren't just for kids anymore!" That was the assertion to which I
raised an eyebrow. The question of whether they're a legitimate
storytelling medium is slightly different.

I don't believe I asserted that they weren't a legitimate storytelling
medium. But of course, a lot rests on how you interpret the word
"legitimate." I mean, Hamlet could be recast as a comic book. That would
be a legitimate way to tell the story, I'm sure -- but would it be the
BEST way to tell the story? Or would it perhaps be demonstrably inferior
to the method that Shakespeare chose?

Do you really want to defend the Hamlet comic book? If so, go for it!

> Of course, you are entitled to your opinion, however obviously wrong
> it is.

But is it _obviously_ wrong? If it's obviously wrong, then why has
nobody in this thread yet articulated the ways in which it's wrong? I'm
getting all sorts of heat here, but the flames are not yet shedding any
light.

Well, that's not quite true. Someone recommended that I buy a $15 book
on Amazon. I'm on a limited budget, though. If there are websites in
which comics are presented as a legitimate artistic expression, please
dial me up.

> Btw, I'm sure this will not help persuade you, but Alan Moore's
> Watchmen (a comic-book series / graphic novel) was listed in Time
> Magazine's 100 best English-language novels.

In general, I distrust mainstream media, and Time is certainly
mainstream. Their 100 best list reads like one of those "gotta include
something by F. Scott Fitzgerald, gotta include something by Philip K.
Dick" exercises. I used to work at a magazine, and I know just how
political the process of assembling such lists can be.

You've got me interested in reading Watchmen, though. The local library
has a copy, but there's already one request in on it. Maybe in two weeks
I'll remember why I was interested.

--JA

Jim Aikin

unread,
May 2, 2008, 11:37:45 PM5/2/08
to

'ere, 'e's accusin' me o' bein' a snob for not likin' bloody comic
books! Don't that beat all!

Jim Aikin

unread,
May 2, 2008, 11:48:16 PM5/2/08
to
Conrad wrote:

>> Other than on alternate Tuesdays, I mean. On alternate Tuesdays,
>> _everything_ is artistically worthless. This is a well-known law of the
>> universe.
>
> Not funny.

No, man, you're wrong. It _was_ funny.

If you've never experienced, at a gut level, the utter and complete
vacuous emptiness of the universe, and then GONE ON TO MAKE ART ANYWAY,
then you still have a lot to learn both as an artist and as a human being.

Meaning no disrespect. I mean, we _all_ still have a lot to learn. The
learning process never ends.

> I'm really not interested, Jim. You're obnoxious.

Well, see, the thing is, I'm not the one who is calling people names.
I'm the one who is interested in discussing the realities of art, and
willing to make assertions pertaining thereto. If my assertions are
wrong, tell me how they're wrong. That's how people learn stuff.

Calling somebody obnoxious and accusing them of being motivated by ego
doesn't help anyone learn anything useful.

--JA

S. John Ross

unread,
May 3, 2008, 12:45:17 AM5/3/08
to
> Don't just call me names; that's way too easy.

Trolling, though, is even easier ("I just thought it would be fun to


watch the fans of comics spring to the defense of their beloved

medium").

And by golly you're a beauty. I say this sincerely: on most days, this
group wouldn't feel like Usenet without you. Long may you reign, sir.


S. John Ross

unread,
May 3, 2008, 12:52:16 AM5/3/08
to

> I'm the one who is interested in discussing the realities of art, and
> willing to make assertions pertaining thereto.

I don't type LOL unless I really laughed out loud.

LOL :)

James Cunningham

unread,
May 3, 2008, 12:58:14 AM5/3/08
to

You misunderstand. What you seem to be revealing is that you're an
agent provocateur, which would be terribly disappointing.

Best,
James

James Cunningham

unread,
May 3, 2008, 1:09:09 AM5/3/08
to

On the other hand, this may not be the most appropriate context for you
to play Socrates and teach us a lesson about art. Note that this
subthread started by your off-topic response to a short, throwaway
comment by Paul O'Brian on an unrelated subject. I suspect that there
are better places for a discussion on the artistic merits of comic
books -- e.g. a newsgroup devoted to comics or a thread here
specifically about art.

Best,
James

J. Robinson Wheeler

unread,
May 3, 2008, 1:22:05 AM5/3/08
to

It is only within the last eight months, by my reckoning, that the
New
York Times has ceased headlining articles about comics with "Pow!
Zap! <Such-and-such>" I nearly wrote to the editor the last time they
did it to complain; they were still using it in articles about
serious
graphic novels, and nearly two years after they started publishing a
regular full-page comic in their weekly glossy magazine, as a
companion to serialized fiction.

So yeah, it takes a while for these things to percolate. However, I
think
Emily's measuring rod is correct. And it does seem that, at the very
least, the videogaming press is teetering on the tantalizing edge of
growing past having to do that every time, because they're covering IF
more regularly.


--
J. Robinson Wheeler
http://raddial.com/if/

Jim Aikin

unread,
May 3, 2008, 1:28:02 AM5/3/08
to

Is that trolling? I guess you could look at it that way. So yes, I need
to apologize. Sorry.

I think I'd like to amend that statement, though. "I just thought it
would be fun" isn't quite what I meant. It would be closer to the truth
to say that I was curious to find out how energetically the denizens of
this particular grotto would rise to the defense of comic books.

I found out.

This is useful information, actually -- and perhaps useful to others,
not just to me. Given that useful information has arisen out of the
exchange, I don't know that it qualifies as trolling.

Comparing comic books to Maury Povich -- yeah, that was rude. If I had
done it on a newsgroup devoted to comic books, it would definitely be
trolling. (But only if the folks there didn't like Maury Povich.) On a
newsgroup that isn't about comic books, it's borderline.

Anyway, it's a nice way to brighten a dull evening. The low-oxygen areas
of the world's oceans are growing, George Bush has single-handedly
destroyed the American economy, I've got bursitis in my left elbow, and
everybody on raif thinks I'm an arrogant asshole, but at least my cello
students still love me. It all evens out in the end.

--JA

Jim Aikin

unread,
May 3, 2008, 1:35:03 AM5/3/08
to
James Cunningham wrote:

> You misunderstand. What you seem to be revealing is that you're an agent
> provocateur, which would be terribly disappointing.

You're right. Please see my response to S. John amending that statement.
It wasn't so much a case of thinking it would be fun -- it was more a
case of being curious whether people here would spring to the defense of
comic books. That's more in the realm of postmodern theater or something.

Or maybe it was just an offhand comment about comic books. There's that
possibility to consider too. A forum in which one were forbidden on pain
of ostracism to make offhand comments demeaning comic books would be ...
less fun.

--JA

Aaron A. Reed

unread,
May 3, 2008, 1:55:41 AM5/3/08
to
On May 2, 9:35 pm, Jim Aikin <midigur...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> You've got me interested in reading Watchmen, though. The local library
> has a copy, but there's already one request in on it. Maybe in two weeks
> I'll remember why I was interested.

I predict that Jim will read the first eight pages, become
uninterested, and then post that this is proof that "comics" are
incapable of being an artistically valid medium.

Jimmy Maher

unread,
May 3, 2008, 5:08:55 AM5/3/08
to
Jim Aikin wrote:
>
> I mean, disrespecting comic books wouldn't cause a raised eyebrow among
> my friends here in town. Maybe that's because most of them are
> intellectuals. Cultural values differ, I guess.

I don't know enough about comic books / graphic novels to have an
opinion about their artistic worth, but I am curious: what do these
intellectual friends of yours think about interactive fiction / text
adventures?

--
Jimmy Maher
Editor, SPAG Magazine -- http://www.sparkynet.com/spag
Thank you for helping to keep text adventures alive!

Khelwood

unread,
May 3, 2008, 5:33:29 AM5/3/08
to
On 3 May, 04:35, Jim Aikin <midigur...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> Khelwood wrote:
> >> So make a case for the legitimacy of comic books as a mode of serious,
> >> adult artistic expression capable of communicating nuance and detail.
> >> Don't just call me names; that's way too easy.
>
> > Well, you do go out of your way to make it easy.
>
> Really? Just because I disrespected comic books? Is that like wearing a
> "Kick Me" tee-shirt? Evidently it is.

Not because you don't like comics. You make it easy for people to call
you "closed-minded" by writing posts in which you sound very closed-
minded.

> I mean, disrespecting comic books wouldn't cause a raised eyebrow among
> my friends here in town. Maybe that's because most of them are
> intellectuals. Cultural values differ, I guess.

Maybe none of them have read any comics either. Lots of people
haven't. But popularity isn't artistic merit, despite what you


boneheaded, knuckle-dragging populists may think.

> > I'd be interested to read a well thought-out argument about why comic


> > books are not a legitimate storytelling medium.
>
> I've been told it's not possible to prove a negative.

That's ludicrous. Fermat's last theorem is a negative, that's been
proven. Root 2 can't be expressed as a ratio of two integers: that's a
negative. Besides, anything is a negative if you phrase it suitably.

> Also, if we rewind
> to the top of this little brouhaha, what we'll find is the assertion
> "Comics aren't just for kids anymore!" That was the assertion to which I
> raised an eyebrow. The question of whether they're a legitimate
> storytelling medium is slightly different.
>
> I don't believe I asserted that they weren't a legitimate storytelling
> medium. But of course, a lot rests on how you interpret the word
> "legitimate."

You asked for people to justify comics' legitimacy to you. I didn't
know what you thought you meant by legitimacy, but I assumed it wasn't
just hyperbole.

> I mean, Hamlet could be recast as a comic book. That would
> be a legitimate way to tell the story, I'm sure -- but would it be the
> BEST way to tell the story? Or would it perhaps be demonstrably inferior
> to the method that Shakespeare chose?

Probably wouldn't be as good. Also, dramatisations of comic books are
not as good as the originals, because they tend not to capture the
complexities and the details of the characters.

> Do you really want to defend the Hamlet comic book? If so, go for it!

No I don't. I never said that plays would be better if they were
remade as comics. What's your point?
Do you want to defend the film version of "League of Extraordinary
Gentlemen"?

> > Of course, you are entitled to your opinion, however obviously wrong
> > it is.
>
> But is it _obviously_ wrong? If it's obviously wrong, then why has
> nobody in this thread yet articulated the ways in which it's wrong? I'm
> getting all sorts of heat here, but the flames are not yet shedding any
> light.

I'm not sure what you expect. If someone posted "films are for kids"
with no coherent argument to back it up, people could point out that
you are arguing from ignorance, and tell you some films to see that
they think disprove your assertion. What would you accept?

> > Btw, I'm sure this will not help persuade you, but Alan Moore's
> > Watchmen (a comic-book series / graphic novel) was listed in Time
> > Magazine's 100 best English-language novels.
>
> In general, I distrust mainstream media,

Of course. Well I suppose I could try and cite non-mainstream media,
like Wizard, but I don't imagine you would find that persuasive
either.

>
> You've got me interested in reading Watchmen, though. The local library
> has a copy, but there's already one request in on it. Maybe in two weeks
> I'll remember why I was interested.

Good for you. I hope you manage to get far enough to enjoy it.

Khelwood

unread,
May 3, 2008, 5:45:47 AM5/3/08
to
On 3 May, 04:48, Jim Aikin <midigur...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> Conrad wrote:
> >> Other than on alternate Tuesdays, I mean. On alternate Tuesdays,
> >> _everything_ is artistically worthless. This is a well-known law of the
> >> universe.
>
> > Not funny.
>
> No, man, you're wrong. It _was_ funny.

No, you are wrong. It wasn't funny.

> If you've never experienced, at a gut level, the utter and complete
> vacuous emptiness of the universe, and then GONE ON TO MAKE ART ANYWAY,
> then you still have a lot to learn both as an artist and as a human being.
>
> Meaning no disrespect. I mean, we _all_ still have a lot to learn. The
> learning process never ends.

If you can't distinguish between your personal artistic experiences
and the experience that everyone else needs to have to to make art,
then you have a lot to learn about not being pompous. No disrespect
though: we _all_ have a lot to learn. Just not as much as you.

Khelwood

unread,
May 3, 2008, 5:47:18 AM5/3/08
to
On 3 May, 10:08, Jimmy Maher <mahe...@SPAMgrandecom.net> wrote:
> I don't know enough about comic books / graphic novels to have an
> opinion about their artistic worth,

Apparently, that needn't be a barrier.

Jim Aikin

unread,
May 3, 2008, 11:57:39 AM5/3/08
to
Khelwood wrote:
>
> Not because you don't like comics. You make it easy for people to call
> you "closed-minded" by writing posts in which you sound very closed-
> minded.

Yeah, I was thinking about that a lot last night after I shut the
computer off. I think I understand what's going on. So y'all have given
me a good dose of self-knowledge. Thanks!

For one thing, I was raised in a household where having intellectual
opinions, and expressing them, was normal. For me, making a bold
assertion is not "being closed-minded," nor is it a faux pas, as some
folks seem to feel On the contrary, it's just the beginning of an
enjoyable dialog.

> Do you want to defend the film version of "League of Extraordinary
> Gentlemen"?

No, but I thought "V for Vendetta" was a terrific film. (I never saw the
graphic novel. Those who did might feel the film was inferior to the
original. Dunno.)

--JA

Jim Aikin

unread,
May 3, 2008, 12:10:52 PM5/3/08
to
Khelwood wrote:
> On 3 May, 04:48, Jim Aikin <midigur...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>> Conrad wrote:
>>>> Other than on alternate Tuesdays, I mean. On alternate Tuesdays,
>>>> _everything_ is artistically worthless. This is a well-known law of the
>>>> universe.
>>> Not funny.
>> No, man, you're wrong. It _was_ funny.
>
> No, you are wrong. It wasn't funny.

Okay, since you're comfortable with the idea that you can prove a
negative, prove it wasn't funny.

>> If you've never experienced, at a gut level, the utter and complete
>> vacuous emptiness of the universe, and then GONE ON TO MAKE ART ANYWAY,
>> then you still have a lot to learn both as an artist and as a human being.
>>
>> Meaning no disrespect. I mean, we _all_ still have a lot to learn. The
>> learning process never ends.
>
> If you can't distinguish between your personal artistic experiences
> and the experience that everyone else needs to have to to make art,
> then you have a lot to learn about not being pompous. No disrespect
> though: we _all_ have a lot to learn. Just not as much as you.

Meaning no disrespect, of course.

Look, I was making an offhand comment, but underlying that comment was a
serious observation having to do with existential anxiety in the face of
a meaningless universe. That point seems to have slid out of view in the
ensuing hoo-hah.

I deny that making an observation about existential anxiety is the same
as being pompous. If you interpret it as being pompous, I can't help
feeling you're going out of your way to find stuff to get pissed off about.

I should, of course, have put a niceness wrapper around what I said. I
plead guilty on that count. I shouldn't have said "you." I should have
said, "Anyone who has never experienced ... still has a lot to learn...."

Would that have washed out the taint of pompousness? I don't know.

--JA

Khelwood

unread,
May 3, 2008, 12:21:28 PM5/3/08
to
On 3 May, 16:57, Jim Aikin <midigur...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> Khelwood wrote:
>
> > Not because you don't like comics. You make it easy for people to call
> > you "closed-minded" by writing posts in which you sound very closed-
> > minded.
>
> Yeah, I was thinking about that a lot last night after I shut the
> computer off. I think I understand what's going on. So y'all have given
> me a good dose of self-knowledge. Thanks!
>
> For one thing, I was raised in a household where having intellectual
> opinions, and expressing them, was normal. For me, making a bold
> assertion is not "being closed-minded," nor is it a faux pas, as some
> folks seem to feel On the contrary, it's just the beginning of an
> enjoyable dialog.

Making a bold assertion is not logically equivalent with being closed-
minded. If you make a bold assertion founded on ignorance, that's self-
evidently closed-minded. If you had read or knew anything about
comics, then you might be able to make a bold assertion about your
conclusion that would be based on knowledge rather than prejudice.

> > Do you want to defend the film version of "League of Extraordinary
> > Gentlemen"?
>
> No, but I thought "V for Vendetta" was a terrific film. (I never saw the
> graphic novel. Those who did might feel the film was inferior to the
> original. Dunno.)

Speaking as one person who has read the graphic novel: yes, the film
was inferior, good though it was. Films inevitably fail to develop
comic-book characters and worlds to their original depth. Plus the
film uses 1812 instead of Beethoven, and who would prefer that?

Khelwood

unread,
May 3, 2008, 12:37:51 PM5/3/08
to
On 3 May, 17:10, Jim Aikin <midigur...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> Khelwood wrote:
> > On 3 May, 04:48, Jim Aikin <midigur...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> >> Conrad wrote:
> >>>> Other than on alternate Tuesdays, I mean. On alternate Tuesdays,
> >>>> _everything_ is artistically worthless. This is a well-known law of the
> >>>> universe.
> >>> Not funny.
> >> No, man, you're wrong. It _was_ funny.
>
> > No, you are wrong. It wasn't funny.
>
> Okay, since you're comfortable with the idea that you can prove a
> negative, prove it wasn't funny.

OK, since you're comfortable with the idea that subjective views can
be subject to proofs, prove it was funny.

> >> If you've never experienced, at a gut level, the utter and complete
> >> vacuous emptiness of the universe, and then GONE ON TO MAKE ART ANYWAY,
> >> then you still have a lot to learn both as an artist and as a human being.
>
> >> Meaning no disrespect. I mean, we _all_ still have a lot to learn. The
> >> learning process never ends.
>
> > If you can't distinguish between your personal artistic experiences
> > and the experience that everyone else needs to have to to make art,
> > then you have a lot to learn about not being pompous. No disrespect
> > though: we _all_ have a lot to learn. Just not as much as you.
>
> Meaning no disrespect, of course.
>
> Look, I was making an offhand comment, but underlying that comment was a
> serious observation having to do with existential anxiety in the face of
> a meaningless universe. That point seems to have slid out of view in the
> ensuing hoo-hah.
>
> I deny that making an observation about existential anxiety is the same
> as being pompous. If you interpret it as being pompous, I can't help
> feeling you're going out of your way to find stuff to get pissed off about.
>
> I should, of course, have put a niceness wrapper around what I said. I
> plead guilty on that count. I shouldn't have said "you." I should have
> said, "Anyone who has never experienced ... still has a lot to learn...."

Would it have helped if I had done the same? Would you have then not
assumed that I was talking about you?

> Would that have washed out the taint of pompousness? I don't know.

Maybe if you didn't PUT A LOAD OF WORDS IN CAPITALS to show how
incredibly important it was that people try to understand them, it
might not have made the same impression on me.

Matthew T. Russotto

unread,
May 3, 2008, 1:23:09 PM5/3/08
to
In article <481bc25a$0$25057$607e...@cv.net>,

John W Kennedy <jwk...@attglobal.net> wrote:
>
>And, yes, "Watchmen" is bloody brilliant -- the "Ulysses" of comicbooks.

Unreadable and incomprehensible, yet widely acclaimed?
--
There's no such thing as a free lunch, but certain accounting practices can
result in a fully-depreciated one.

Conrad

unread,
May 3, 2008, 2:47:40 PM5/3/08
to
On May 3, 12:10 pm, Jim Aikin <midigur...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>
> >> If you've never experienced, at a gut level, the utter and complete
> >> vacuous emptiness of the universe, and then GONE ON TO MAKE ART ANYWAY,
> >> then you still have a lot to learn both as an artist and as a human being.
>
> >> Meaning no disrespect. I mean, we _all_ still have a lot to learn. The
> >> learning process never ends.
>
> > If you can't distinguish between your personal artistic experiences
> > and the experience that everyone else needs to have to to make art,
> > then you have a lot to learn about not being pompous. No disrespect
> > though: we _all_ have a lot to learn. Just not as much as you.
>
> Meaning no disrespect, of course.
>
> Look, I was making an offhand comment, but underlying that comment was a
> serious observation having to do with existential anxiety in the face of
> a meaningless universe. That point seems to have slid out of view in the
> ensuing hoo-hah.

Jim, this is how I see things:

You posted a deliberately inflammatory remark with the specific
intention (as you later admitted) of stirring up shit.

Having single-handedly stirred the shit, you hid behind Fergus; you
objected that people must have taken you way too seriously to have
bothered to respond; you objected that nobody took seriously enough
your deep existential commentary on the nature of art; and you offered
patently insincere apologies that you instantly negated by denying
that you did anything wrong.

The inflammatory remark specifically tried to sucker the good folk of
raif into a loser's game, with: "Comics have no artistic merit; I
know because I tried to read one once and didn't like it. Does anyone
want to prove to me otherwise?"

We all know how this goes: the sucker knocks himself out trying to
reason with you, while you define your terms in such a way that nobody
can get through. You've been called on your definitional games, but
not on setting up a sucker's game.

Now you're calling for people to defend the artistic merits of a comic
book version of Hamlet that doesn't exist?

What exactly do you want us to defend this nonexistent work from?
Your incisive scoffing?


> I deny that making an observation about existential anxiety is the same
> as being pompous. If you interpret it as being pompous, I can't help
> feeling you're going out of your way to find stuff to get pissed off about.
>
> I should, of course, have put a niceness wrapper around what I said. I
> plead guilty on that count. I shouldn't have said "you." I should have
> said, "Anyone who has never experienced ... still has a lot to learn...."

No, I can bear the dreadful accusation by Jim Aikin of never having
faced squarely the unspeakable meaninglessness that the Universe
manifests during alternate Tuesdays. I will take like a man his
respectful judgement that I have a lot to learn as a human and an
artist. This burden perhaps someday I can bear.


> Would that have washed out the taint of pompousness? I don't know.

Jim, you've won: you're the center of attention, just like you
wanted. So take the outrage and the sad head-shaking elsewhere.
You've put enough into this: so enjoy it.


Conrad.

ps -

http://tinyurl.com/5jcbs5

C.

S. John Ross

unread,
May 3, 2008, 3:40:35 PM5/3/08
to
> Yeah, I was thinking about that a lot last night after I shut the
> computer off. I think I understand what's going on. So y'all have given
> me a good dose of self-knowledge. Thanks!

Earlier, when you were just bullshitting and backpedaling, that was a
bit too simplistic; I chalked it up to firing from the hip. But, boy-
howdy, this new passive-aggressive insincerity has more layers ... I
think you're growing as a Usenet artist. Not only are you spinning a
foundation for self-justification ... you've pushed rapidly beyond
that ... with all this "I was raised to speak provocatively from a
position of ignorance; that's just the way my intellectual friends and
family roll, yo" you eventually reach not only a position of self-
justification, but actual self-pity. In a few more posts will be into
the realm of martyrdom, with the unappreciated intellectual, who came
to us with so much potential for learned discourse, being forced to
(sob, choke) take his footb -- er, wisdom and politely step aside,
denying us all what we could have had, because we failed to appreciate
that his pretense to being an ignorant bigot ("Are you joking?" is of
course the traditional intellectual preface to civil debate) was
simply a ritual designed to provide a foundation for meaninguful
discussion. Woe is us, that we have missed this golden opportunity; I
guess we'll never (sniff, sob) fully appreciate what we had ... But of
course, your martyrdom will also be a message of forgiveness, of
understanding, and of the kind of tolerance that you were never shown,
because that's just the kind of stand-up guy you are. May we all learn
from your example.

Aw, I should have prefaced that with spoiler space :) But maybe this
way you'll be inspired to come up with something a _little_ less
predictable.

David Whyld

unread,
May 3, 2008, 4:41:02 PM5/3/08
to
Nice to see everyone having a flamewar instead of discussing the fact
that there's an IF article in a PC magazine. This place is boring when
all we do is talk about the subject the newsgroup is here in the first
place for.

S. John Ross

unread,
May 3, 2008, 4:56:11 PM5/3/08
to

> Aw, I should have prefaced that with spoiler space :) But maybe this
> way you'll be inspired to come up with something a _little_ less
> predictable.

(or, if you're going to stick with formula, at least shift gears into
umbrage; it's funnier and plays more to your strengths) ;)

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
May 3, 2008, 5:29:47 PM5/3/08
to
Let's back up.

In rec.games.int-fiction, Jim Aikin <midig...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>
> I just thought it would be fun to watch the fans of comics spring to the
> defense of their beloved medium.

So, you were just *pretending* to be stupid?

Yeah, right. They all say that afterwards.

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
9/11 did change everything. Since 9/12, the biggest threat to American
society has been the American president. I'd call that a change.

S. John Ross

unread,
May 3, 2008, 5:40:00 PM5/3/08
to

> > I just thought it would be fun to watch the fans of comics spring to the
> > defense of their beloved medium.
>
> So, you were just *pretending* to be stupid?
>
> Yeah, right. They all say that afterwards.

To be fair, that was just the rough draft. He later amended it to "it
_looked like_ I was pretending to be stupid, but that's just the way
we intellectuals begin a productive discussion," and something about
existentialism, and how he was raised. And I think there was a
marmoset.

... but, dear god, I always think there's a marmoset.

John W Kennedy

unread,
May 3, 2008, 9:27:02 PM5/3/08
to
Matthew T. Russotto wrote:
> In article <481bc25a$0$25057$607e...@cv.net>,
> John W Kennedy <jwk...@attglobal.net> wrote:
>> And, yes, "Watchmen" is bloody brilliant -- the "Ulysses" of comicbooks.
>
> Unreadable and incomprehensible, yet widely acclaimed?

I have read "Ulysses", and, while I am sure there are subtleties that I
missed, I certainly got the meat of it.

"Watchmen" certainly does take careful reading, though. My wife and I
read it in its original form as a 12-issue miniseries, and found that
what we were both doing was, every time a new issue came out, going back
to issue #1 and rereading the entire thing up through the current issue.
Each reading revealed new surprises.

--
John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract,
Man only earns and pays."
-- Charles Williams. "Bors to Elayne: On the King's Coins"

Daryl McCullough

unread,
May 3, 2008, 10:49:29 PM5/3/08
to
Jim Aikin says...

>
>S. John Ross wrote:
>>> Don't just call me names; that's way too easy.
>>
>> Trolling, though, is even easier ("I just thought it would be fun to
>> watch the fans of comics spring to the defense of their beloved
>> medium").
>>
>> And by golly you're a beauty. I say this sincerely: on most days, this
>> group wouldn't feel like Usenet without you. Long may you reign, sir.
>
>Is that trolling?

Yes. That's exactly what trolling is. You make a post for the
fun of watching the reaction of those who will spring into
action to disagree with you.

--
Daryl McCullough
Ithaca, NY

Adam Thornton

unread,
May 3, 2008, 11:47:26 PM5/3/08
to
In article <38976594-f1ad-4139...@34g2000hsh.googlegroups.com>,

PC Magazines Cannot Possibly Be Art! I know because I tried to read one
once.

Adam

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages