Everyone's A Critic: A round-up of comic book reviews and thinkpieces

• Let's kick off with Tim O'Neil's look back at the previous decade, in an essay which he ominously titles "Mediocrity Triumphant":

I would posit that even though there are far more comics being published now, there are no more truly great comics being produced now than there were at the beginning of the last decade. If you discount the constant stream of reprints and international offerings, new English-language comics are about as good as they've ever been, it's just that there are more of them. In fact, because of the market's rapid expansion, actual average quality has plummeted. It's not a question of having abandoned critical standards in order to gain popular market share: comics never had critical standards. What we have done now is to adopt the standards of the larger book market.

• Andrei Molotiu has been blogging up a storm at the Abstract Comics site, examining how classic, mainstream comic book artists have incorporated abstract shapes and forms into their work. Here he is talking about Steve Ditko; and here he is talking about Frank Miller. You'll want to read both pieces.

Jeet Heer makes the case for Gahan Wilson: "For all their morbidity and ghoulishness, Wilson’s cartoons affirm the value of cherishing life."

• While we're on the subject, The San Francisco Chronicle's Laurel Maury really likes that new Wilson collection as well.

Neil Cohn looks at a type of visual shorthand in comics he calls "action stars."

Matthew Brady reviews The Squirrel Machine: " It's a compelling, fascinating journey through an often creepy and always striking world."

Cory Doctorow examines Goats II: The Corndog Imperitive: "Rosenberg continues to walk the razor-edged line between silly and dumb, and does not slip onto the dumb side."

Nina Stone compares reading Not Simple to having a date with Eeyore. Ouch.

• The Mindless Ones' Botswana Beast and Zom look at recent issues of Starman and Spider-Man, respectively.

• The Forbidden Planet's Richard Bruton doesn't care much for horror comics, but he liked The Abortion.

• Finally, Ryan Sands shares his opinion on a few books he's been reading lately.

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