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The Middle Ground #45 | Wherein common sense goes out the window

by  in Comic News Comment

So, I’m a complete snob when it comes to comics. I shouldn’t be, I know this; comics are comics, and there’s no such thing as a bad idea, only ideas badly executed (Case in point: DC’s Animal Man shouldn’t have been the wonder it was under Grant Morrison’s pen, if judged purely on the “man with the animal powers discovers animal rights” high concept behind it). And yet, there are comics that I just can’t quite bring myself to read.

It’s the front page of CBR that brought this to mind, I should admit: I was looking this afternoon at what stories were on the site today, saw the link to Ron Marz talking about his plans for Top Cow’s books and had a response that was pretty much the definition of turning my metaphorical nose up in something approaching disgust. It’s an entirely unfair response, of course. For one thing, I’ve liked some of Marz’ work in the past, and for the much more important and pertinent other thing, I can’t think of a Top Cow book that I’ve even read since the first issue of Paul Dini’s Madame Mirage back in… what, 2007? So that’s four years of uninformed prejudice guiding my nose turning, instead of just reading the article.

Weirdly, it’s ridiculously unearned prejudice. I’ve read Marz talk about what he’s doing with Witchblade and Artifacts and everything before, and thought that it sounded ambitious and potentially entertaining, if somewhat offputtingly filled with backstory and mythology that I’ve never read. In other words, what he’s doing is something that I might actually enjoy reading, if only this random, mysterious prejudice wasn’t in my way. So where does it come from?

I’m tempted to say that it’s all to do with the art – The T&A aspect, sure (There’s a time and a place for good cheesecake, but the Top Cow cliche girls aren’t my idea of good cheesecake, all anger and artificiality where I want something smarter, more coy), but more than that, the idea of a line filled on the aesthetics and lessons of Marc Silvestri, an artist whose style overwhelmed his substance back when I was a kid and who hasn’t fully recovered even yet. This is where my true comics snobbery lies; there are artists, and art movements, that I just can’t read – I try, but it defeats me every time (See: 1990s X-Men comics) – and a lot of the early Image books fall into that camp. Even more than mythologies so large I could never learn them if I read everything for a year are less frightening to me than struggling through art filled with lines like static and impossible anatomy.

Thing is, I don’t know that the books today really look like that any more. I could, of course, just pick up a couple of issues and see, but… Well. I’m a comic snob, even if I wish I wasn’t. I wish I wasn’t, but nonetheless: There are comics I can’t quite bring myself to read.

Update: Thanks to the power of Twitter, I shall be receiving a package of Top Cow books from Ron Marz himself, and reading them. Will my prejudice be revealed to be as ridiculous as I tried to point out above? Will I find some new favorite comics? Stay tuned for the next column…