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Sunday, January 14, 2018

A tale of two reviews

SuperComicFunTime really did not like QUANTUM MORTIS A Man Disrupted #1:

Quantum Mortis: The Actionless Comic
This book is not a good book. It is action-less, motionless, and for the most part, people-less. The book is divided into two chapters. The first chapter is mostly some guy named Tower flying around and talking to his computer until he lands the ship and talks to a green space monkey that spouts gibberish into a translating device.

Then chapter 2 starts and we still don't have our second character for a few more pages. Tower pops a space Tic Tac and we get a pin-up entrance for Hildreth the civilian space detective.

Then both characters are seemingly attacked by word bubbles until their magic space technology identifies the body as an exiled royal from another planet. We get a nice splash page giving the history of the exiled royal's family. Then the book ends.

It's not fun. I didn't learn anything. I don't care what happens next. It's bad. The whole 29 pages should be summarized in a page or two while giving us character development. Don't spend money on this like I did.

On the other hand, Harry liked it a lot.

Great job craftmanship restored
This is a very well done animation of the book .the quantum mortis series is top notch story telling . I read them as fast as I could. The art while having a distinctly retro feel adds to the story without overwhelming it. Knowing what comes next in no way detracts from enjoying the artist's perspective of the story because he is staying true to the heart of it. The illustrations of hildy and tower actually bring out the romantic understory without taking away from the plot. It is great to see craftsmanship restored to graphic novels. Very few English ones approach the Japanese masters. Letting the art add to the story instead of being pictures without purpose. Well done.

To put it in perspective, there is another first issue of a comic where virtually nothing happens, although for 40 pages instead of 28. A guy is in a cage. For decades. Nothing happens except for people actually falling asleep - now there is a fitting metaphor, right? There is no action except for an occult ceremony that doesn't even involve a dead goat or a naked woman until the guy in the cage escapes off-camera, so we still haven't seen anything happen until one of the guys who took part in the ceremony falls asleep and has a dream. The end.

How absolutely horrible, right? How action-less, motion-less, and literally people-less, as the guy in the cage was not a normal human being. Clearly no one ever bought or read or liked that particular comic, right?  Well, no, because that's all that happens in the first issue of Neil Gaiman's Sandman, which happens to be one of the most well-regarded comics series ever written.

Now, I wonder if there might be anything we can glean from these two extremely divergent reactions to the same comic. Why does SuperComicFunTime hate QM:AMD so much while Harry likes it so much? Perhaps their reviews of other products unrelated to Quantum Mortis might give us a clue. Here are a pair of five-star reviews for other products they liked. Guess which review was written by whom?

Review of Avengers #219: By Divine Right
This comic is AWESOME! I got it in a box of comics I opened about three weeks ago. OMG! I was so stoked when I saw Jim Shooter was the writer! Janet Van Dyne loses her clothes early on and soon, cosmic hijinks ensue.

Review of A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
I immediately recognized the writer's talent, the characterizations and plot integrate seamlessly and while the ending is surprising and a little bit disappointing the journey is absolutely worth the time. I can't remember such good prose, and by a non-native English speaker. 

Different audiences, different tastes. SuperFunComic's perspective isn't wrong, it's just different. I have no doubt that he would be as bored by Murakami as he was by QM-AMD #1. As far as I am concerned, the only relevant question is which market is more interesting to us as a publisher? And since the top-selling comic of 2016 was Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York which sold 421,625 units while Murakami's books sell in the millions, well, I am confident that we are making the right choice.

Labels:

48 Comments:

Anonymous Brick Hardslab January 14, 2018 1:02 PM  

I didn't mind the set up. It didn't have a lot of killing but it's a mil-detective story. I was expecting it to play out like it did.

If I remember correctly there's something, 'off' about Baby. Did I just remember that wrong or will you get into that later?

Anonymous kfg January 14, 2018 1:13 PM  

What comic book fans will have difficulty understanding is that comic books only being bought by comic book fans in comic book stores catering only to comic books fans is a sign of the sickness of the comic book industry.

Comic books are not a hobby. Comic books are not a genre.

Comic books are simply a medium.

Anonymous Nathan January 14, 2018 1:32 PM  

I suspect some of it is also that EVS, Captain Cummings, D&C and other opinion leaders have spoken out against VD. Critical rationale in fandom usually lags behind public opinion, instead of setting it.

Blogger Rantor January 14, 2018 1:52 PM  

Already read the book. I liked it a lot, the comic version was exactly what I expected. Will add a positive review soon.

Anonymous Matvei Daniilovich January 14, 2018 1:53 PM  

"If I remember correctly there's something, 'off' about Baby. Did I just remember that wrong or will you get into that later?"

You're right, but don't spoil it for those who don't know.

Blogger tublecane January 14, 2018 1:54 PM  

Why did he write "actionless" as "action-less?" It's a word, isn't it? It's in dictionaries.

My review of his review: he writes like a child. His sentences are disconnected, as if they each exist on there own. There's no flow.

Anonymous Matvei Daniilovich January 14, 2018 1:55 PM  

Oof, vox used the original art from my first draft. MY EYES!!!!!!!!!

Blogger Nate January 14, 2018 1:57 PM  

it appears the art style was not a bad choice, but a divisive one. and a divisive choice is not a bad thing in my opinion. it just gives honest fans something to talk about.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab January 14, 2018 1:59 PM  

@5 Matvei, Are you the artist? I like the old school Dick Tracy vibe. It's great for this story.

Vox,

For writers artists on Ark Haven you should put up links like you do for the Castalia House writers.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan January 14, 2018 2:04 PM  

Not a comic expert, but book 1 has made me want to buy book 2, and isn't that a big part of the biz?

Anonymous Crew (not the one who makes stupid claims) January 14, 2018 2:16 PM  

I am looking forward to the stuff coming out from CH and Arkhaven in the next month or so!

Anonymous Looking Glass January 14, 2018 2:17 PM  

@10 Mr.MantraMan

That is, in fact, the nature of the Biz, though that does seem lost on most of the industry.

Blogger tublecane January 14, 2018 2:17 PM  

I don't know comics, but as a layman I have no idea what people are talking about with the art. I don't think I've ever seen a comic book image where I said to myself, "My God, what an image! That should be in a museum!"

Then again, I've never felt that way about cinematography, either. Though there are examples I like better than others. Or "design" in general, though most of it nowadays makes my stomach turn.

People have their preferences, but too often it feels as if they're merely pushing personal taste. Or avoiding talking about more important things, like story.

They don't talk about it like people talk about Rembrandt or Raphael. Which may not be fair, but I'm not a fair person.

Blogger SmockMan January 14, 2018 2:27 PM  

This post reminds me of a thought I had yesterday when checking into the Patriots game to see the score. I saw a promo for the various TV shows on whatever national channel.

Who watches these shows? I feel like an alien seeing what humans find entertaining. Maybe they are popular. I don't know.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine January 14, 2018 2:28 PM  

As far as the art style goes... well, I liked some and was offput by some.

I suppose my main gripe would be exemplified by Hildy's face seeming too masculine a few times. It's kind of odd actually, she looks great from 3/4 and 1/2 views, but several of the "straight-on" views look either oddly masculine, or like an older woman's face (in her 40s).

I think the easiest way of describing it is that her cheeks aren't as "supple" or perhaps have no fat in them, like I would generally see from (healthy) women under about 35 years of age. Yes, I can see she has very prominent cheek bones, but usually you don't see her cheeks "indent" sharply underneath the cheek bones unless the woman is fairly into middle age, and sometimes not even then.

You can expect "rough and craggy" from a male character who is older than his 20s, it's a good look, makes them look more manly. Doesn't work so well for a woman.

Granted, this may just be me a case of expecting younger characters while they're actually middle age. I haven't read A Man Disrupted the novel.

Blogger dtungsten January 14, 2018 2:32 PM  

I like it. It would make part of na very nice "making of" set of extras.

Blogger dtungsten January 14, 2018 2:38 PM  

After reading QUANTUM MORTIS A Man Disrupted #1 and seeing some comparisons to old and new comics. I look at newer ones with much art and little text, and wonder where the story is.

Anonymous Matvei Daniilovich January 14, 2018 2:49 PM  

I've heard this same criticism from others and am taking it to heart. Women can be tricky to draw because their forms are more subtle than men.

Anonymous Killua January 14, 2018 3:03 PM  

With Alt-Hero and this, 2018 will be a great year for comics.

Anonymous Man of the Atom January 14, 2018 3:05 PM  

Matvei Daniilovich wrote:I've heard this same criticism from others and am taking it to heart. Women can be tricky to draw because their forms are more subtle than men.

It's a long-term challenge, but also worth the effort. Great art on QM! Love the retro vibe -- Dick Tracy, Dan Dare, and Tintin. Well done!

Blogger Dave January 14, 2018 3:06 PM  

Tower pops a space Tic Tac and we get a pin-up entrance for Hildreth the civilian space detective.

Then both characters are seemingly attacked by word bubbles


Ok those lines weren't bad.


The whole 29 pages should be summarized in a page or two while giving us character development.

Not a good line. I'd like to some examples where this has been done. In fact I'd pay to see this reviewer attempt it with QM AMD#1. Set the scene, introduce two characters with development, and show their conversation in 1 or 2 pages.

I don't care if they hate the book; different strokes for different folks after all, but they're losing credibility.

Anonymous Avalanche January 14, 2018 3:52 PM  

@14 "Who watches these shows? I feel like an alien seeing what humans find entertaining. Maybe they are popular. I don't know."

Just wait till you cut the cable. I keep thinking maybe I should check out Sling (cheap TV via the internet and a Roku box, which I have) -- but then I realize I only miss TWO Home and Garden TV shows. And not even enough to watch them through Amazon Prime! (I use the Roku box to watch YouTube documentaries that I DL onto an external hard drive and carry down to the workroom!)

They always say you don't know what you had until you lose it? Turns out that mostly does NOT apply to "MSM TV"!

And yeah, cutting the cable dropped my (already negotiated) "low" cable cost from $158 to $80 -- but that included a speed bump-up for the internet-only service.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band January 14, 2018 3:53 PM  

A problem with the “comic scene” is that it was gradually dying even before the convergence really blew up. The Diversity in Comics types have been attacking the SJW extremes, but don’t understand or don’t care about the structural changes that marginalized the industry years ago. Sales numbers over the last few decades are enough to indicate that the comic shop/con world of fandom does not even occupy the same cultural space that the medium once did.

Even without the most blatant convergence, the staggeringly inept companies that brought twenty years of endless “events” and the likes of One More Day are not representative of public interest in quality illustrated stories. If the opinions of comic fandom mattered, their industry wouldn’t be on life support. Where are all the readers? Arkhaven is a potential game changer because it targets people that may enjoy graphic fiction but wouldn’t even consider the current offerings.

Complaints about QM’s wordiness are also irritating. Before story decompression, when Marvel titles sold an order of magnitude more units than today, lots of text was not uncommon. Many find it nice when a comic lasts more than five minutes. Criticisms belched from smug barnacles on a sinking ship are not warning signs.

Blogger tublecane January 14, 2018 4:24 PM  

@23-"Events" on t.v. shows are associated with "jumping the shark," which is not a good thing. The only one I remember penetrating mass public consciousness was the Death of Superman. Which had such an impact that amidst two superhero movie crazes in Hollywood, that storyline only made it into the Batman v. Superman debacle as what looked to me like an afterthought. Though I can't be sure, since I fast-forwarded through most of the movie.

I think part of the problem with comics is--as another poster pointed out in the recent post on Stan Lee--the ongoing story cycles. As if comic books are for telling endless Sagas, or something. If I were interested in jumping into comic books, I wouldn't know where to start. I suppose there are stand-alone issues, but there are all these mega-storylines, which braid together 47 lesser storylines, and so on. Or so it appears from the outside.

Television has gone mad with continuous, soap opera-like storytelling. Used to be, you just turned into a show and could enjoy the story with no preparation. Now everything's a dang multi-season epic novel.

Blogger James Dixon January 14, 2018 4:37 PM  

> Then chapter 2 starts and we still don't have our second character for a few more pages.

This represents a basic misunderstanding of the universe and a failure of comprehension on their part. They've already met "two" characters. Hildreth is the third. If they're not getting that, how much more of the comic are they missing?

> Different audiences, different tastes.

I believe Sly and the Family Stone had something to say about that in one of their more popular songs: "Different strokes for different folks". Which I see Dave already mentioned.

Blogger James Dixon January 14, 2018 4:40 PM  

Incidentally, purchasing QM lead me to browsing the comics listings on Amazon. There's a series called Overwatch that's currently free in the Kindle version. The first two issues strike me as pretty good. YMMV, of course.

Blogger Zarathustra's Bastard January 14, 2018 5:25 PM  

This is cunning advertising, Vox. I have no interest in graphic novels at all. But this is now making me curious.

Blogger Cataline Sergius January 14, 2018 5:39 PM  

The ridiculous part to me is just how brilliant the setting is.

This is Constantinople at the height of the Byzantine Empire...And. In. SPACE!

Okay, if you've never heard of Constantinople or the Byzantine Empire you may be left behind a bit. But I know I'm looking forward to the story.

Blogger Cataline Sergius January 14, 2018 5:48 PM  

The simple and obvious truth is that the number of critics who are honest and are NOT pushing a message are drastically small.

We have reached a point where the critics simply can't be trusted at all because they see themselves as "artists in uniform..." Or to be more exact, "failed artists in uniform." Critics will reliably circle the wagons to protect their more successful comrades.

But why take my word for it. I'll let the numbers speak for themselves.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi; Critics score: 90% Audience score: 49%

Star Trek: Discovery; Critics score: 82% Audience score: 56%

And now lets do a little compare and contrast.

Bright; Critics score: 27% Audience score: 87%

The Orville; Critics score: 20% Audience score: 93%


Blogger Snidely Whiplash January 14, 2018 5:52 PM  

Cataline Sergius wrote:Okay, if you've never heard of Constantinople or the Byzantine Empire you may be left behind a bit.
If you don't know about Byzantium, you've already been left behind. Missed the bus, watched the train leave the station, got stuck in TSA having your giblets palpated while your plane took off. Now you need to walk home.

Anonymous Looking Glass January 14, 2018 6:25 PM  

@29 Cataline Sergius

Something I've noticed for a very long time, no one wants to split their scores into "technical quality" and "enjoyable experience". Because they don't, you end up with a binary Good/Bad discussion, yet there's an entire class of "So Bad, it's Good" films.

There are brilliant movies that you should never really want to watch twice, yet some okay quality films are the ones I've seen far & away the most. The utter inability to separate the two aspects, at a professional level, is the reason why YouTube reviews have taken off. In 3-5 minutes, a guy that's entertaining can give positives/negatives and their impression, then I can get an idea if it's worth my time.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash January 14, 2018 6:27 PM  

Looking Glass wrote:There are brilliant movies that you should never really want to watch twice, yet some okay quality films are the ones I've seen far & away the most.
I will never watch Blackhawk down again. I've watched Three Amigos 8 times.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band January 14, 2018 6:46 PM  

24.

The Death of Superman is interesting. It really did cross into mainstream consciousness, to the point that tons of people who knew nothing about comics were buying up copies as future collector's items. Of course, Superman came back to life, the comics became worthless, and the already-cratering comic investment market got a jet pack. I haven't studied the industry closely, but my understanding is that the whole DoS debacle was a mile marker on the way to the current situation.

Blogger eharmonica January 14, 2018 6:58 PM  

Quite often, I was unable to determine which bubble to read next.

Blogger James Dixon January 14, 2018 7:08 PM  

> I have no interest in graphic novels at all. But this is now making me curious.

I think it probably bears repeating that it's free for folks with Kindle Unlimited.

Blogger Anno Ruse January 14, 2018 7:35 PM  

"I think part of the problem with comics is--as another poster pointed out in the recent post on Stan Lee--the ongoing story cycles. As if comic books are for telling endless Sagas, or something."

The Wire has a great quote about the War on Drugs, which I think applies to comics rather well: "You can't even call this sh*t a war. Wars end."

Spider-Man? Never gonna end. Ever. He's had three actors in 15 years, not counting the animated shows! What kind of story are we getting there? Aren't stories supposed to end?

Anonymous nightskyradio January 14, 2018 8:19 PM  

@33 - "The Death of Superman is interesting. It really did cross into mainstream consciousness, to the point that tons of people who knew nothing about comics were buying up copies as future collector's items... my understanding is that the whole DoS debacle was a mile marker on the way to the current situation."


It's been observed that DC comics led people to believe that they were killing off Superman permanently, which removed any incentive to come back to buy any future issues.

Chuck Rozanki of Mile High Comics has written about the event, calling it "the greatest catastrophe to strike the world of comics since the Kefauver Senate hearings of 1955." A lot of customers felt ripped off when they learned DC was just bringing Superman back later.

http://www.milehighcomics.com/tales/cbg127.html

Anonymous Matvei Daniilovich. January 14, 2018 8:45 PM  

That's an issue I'll be correcting.

Blogger Derick Catman January 14, 2018 9:10 PM  

I'm curious how long it typically takes to draw a single page. I don't mean color, just draw. My daughter has some unusual skill with character development and drawing and I'm trying to help her develop some ideas on how to make a living in this space. She is in 9th grade now and I've been pushing the idea of non-traditional learning paths post high school.

Anonymous Man of the Atom January 14, 2018 9:18 PM  

@38. Derick Catman
Speed varies from artist to artist. My current speed:
* Average penciling (6 panels/page): 2-3 hours
* Average inking (6 panels/page): 2-4 hours

Blogger Retrenched January 14, 2018 9:23 PM  

Just bought it, looking forward to checking it out.

Blogger Madame Ringading January 14, 2018 9:31 PM  

@38

For me, a comic page - pencilled, inked, lettered - is perhaps 5-8 hrs. work depending on number of panels and amount of detail. The more figures and background, the more work. Of course, there are some gorgeous European graphic albums that will make you swoon over the scope and details. It's not uncommon for one of those to be a year's work for an artist. But for the usual sort of comic art, a finished page a day is reasonable.

Blogger wreckage January 15, 2018 5:46 AM  

I wasn't that interested initially, but I bought QM and found it very much to my liking. Reminded me of the serialized "pulp-ish" comic strips they used to have in the newspapers: Dick Tracy, The Phantom.

The art very much reminded me of the oldest Phantom comics; I expected to have to tolerate the art, but instead I found it very enjoyable in its own right.

And contrary to the criticisms, I also enjoyed the dialogue and the sense of larger storytelling at play.... and of actual narrative structure instead of the endlessly drawn-out mess of soap-opera-action glop that I remember from 80s-90s X Men and other Marvel titles.

Blogger tuberman January 15, 2018 6:46 AM  

Short attention span people do miss a lot. Good to great stories do need a setup or first Act. Intense Action with CGI and great technical artistry get boring.

Wise readers watch characters, mysteries, landscape, action, romance and plot all interweave for fun payoffs and twists.

What can you say about the "I want my MTV" crowd? They still exist, want even quicker and shorter cuts, and need lots of explosions. No Sun Tzu for them, hot war 24/7.

Blogger Unknown January 15, 2018 8:55 AM  

The art is on that Kirby level. I do not see much of a problem. Maybe get to John Byrne and you will nail it.

Blogger Michael Maier January 15, 2018 8:42 PM  

nightskyradio wrote:@33 - "The Death of Superman is interesting. It really did cross into mainstream consciousness, to the point that tons of people who knew nothing about comics were buying up copies as future collector's items... my understanding is that the whole DoS debacle was a mile marker on the way to the current situation."

It's been observed that DC comics led people to believe that they were killing off Superman permanently, which removed any incentive to come back to buy any future issues.

Chuck Rozanki of Mile High Comics has written about the event, calling it "the greatest catastrophe to strike the world of comics since the Kefauver Senate hearings of 1955." A lot of customers felt ripped off when they learned DC was just bringing Superman back later.

http://www.milehighcomics.com/tales/cbg127.html


One of the DUMBEST F'IN' things I've ever read. Esp. from someone steeped in comics the way that tool is.

No one. I mean, NO F'IN' one believed Superman would stay dead. Not the general public and especially not Comic Fans.

I DID think DC would milk the "new Supermen" for longer than they did before bringing Kal-El back, though.

As for the "speculator bubble" popping because of it, who cares? It shouldn't have ever been inflated to begin with.

Blogger Michael Maier January 15, 2018 8:44 PM  

Is the QM comic going to be printed for purchase? I have e-readers but if it's the only option...

Anonymous Matvei Daniilovich. January 15, 2018 9:12 PM  

Yes. February.

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