CV's Roundtable User Discussion 003 - Art vs Writing

Hello and welcome back to Comic Vine's "Roundtable User Discussion". If this is your first time reading this, let me explain a bit of how this works. A couple of CV users, like you, virtually met up to talk comic books. That conversation has been posted here for you guys to see, read and enjoy. After you read our conversation be sure to comment below where you can submit your own opinions after reading ours. Also, if this is the first roundtable you read be sure to go back and read the comic book-related discussions we had in the past. (Here and Here).  

Introduction time! Hello everybody I am the Ultimate Spider-Man aficionado Geo (sora_thekey) and I will be moderating this Roundtable. This time around, I am joined by two new victim-- I mean users: The Dark Huntress and Gambler
 
Gambler:
 Whats good CV? Gambler here. Part time nerd, Fulltime self-absorbed delusional. 
 
The Dark Huntress: Dark Huntress. Officionado of everything Birds of Prey, Supergirl, Outsiders and X-Men related and a Vine addict. Also go by Courtney, that's pretty common knowledge.  
 
Welcome Gambler and... Courtney! (I actually didn't know that)Huntress, I am reading the latest Whiskey Media blog post right now... and you've been showcased as top commenter this year:    
 
The Dark Huntress: 
Whaaaaaaaaaat?Awesome! <_< god I have no life. 
 
Gambler: Congrats. Top Commentator for the Year....impressive. 
 
The Dark Huntress: Impressive or sad?  

Haha. Well, now that we all know each other lets begin with a question I made in the last Roundtable:  What was the last comic book, graphic novel or web comic you guys read?   
 
 Cry for Justice
The Dark Huntress: I read the Cry for Justice trade the other night...I was underwhelmed. The art was unbelievable but the story....not a fan. I liked the concept in theory but the execution and characterization was poor at best. 
 
 X-Men: Legacy #246
Gambler:
 Age of X: Chapter 3 (X-Men Legacy #246) Which actually marks my return to the X-Titles. Up until the recent story arc I had pretty much abandoned the X-Men, and Marvel as a whole (dabbled with a couple issues of this and that along the way). 
 
The Dark Huntress: OMG yes. Age of X (which I take full credit for getting you to read, by the way) is absolutely amazing. 
 
Gambler:
 Hahahaha whaaa? I was a full two issues ahead of you gurl :P 
 
The Dark Huntress: I have no idea what you're talking about. Plays innocent.  
 
I haven't read that issue yet! No spoilers please! Anyways, Courtney makes a very interesting note, that segways perfectly into the topic of discussion of this Roundtable! 
 Joe the Barbarian #8
The last book I read was Joe the Barbarian #8 by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. Who were the creators behind Cry for Justice and X-Men Legacy #246? 
 
The Dark Huntress: 
Cry for Justice was written by James Robinson with art by Mauro Cascioli
 
Gambler:
 I'm not being lazy, but I'm going to post the link to the issue page. I encourage this because our (Comicvine) users do an amazing job at accurately filling out the information. Here you can see the Creators behind the issue
 
The Dark Huntress:  Well yes, you are lazy. But that doesn't negate your other point.  
 
 James Robinson
Hahaha, I think that might have been another way of saying "I don't know but the site does".  Anyways, the reason I ask this is because Courtney, you said that you loved the art of the trade but wasn't feeling the writing. Why?  
 
 
The Dark Huntress: SPOILER WARNING for those how haven't read it. I have issues with needless death. There was so much death and destruction in this and that's understandable when there's mass chaos going on and cities being destroyed.  
But the death of Lian Harper was needless and stupid, IMO as was Roy's loss of limb. I feel like it was used as a device to have the Green Arrow family go down this really really dark path and that it was horribly executed..no pun intended. Speedy was supposed to be with Lian and she wasn't, which is part of what lead to Lian's death. That's out of character for me and just a little too convenient. That's my biggest gripe with it. I also hate the derailment that it led to for Roy, but that's another issue entirely.  
 
Follow up question then, did you buy the trade before reading the book?
 
 
The Dark Huntress:
 Yes. I generally stick to trades of series that I like or have read a lot of. It's a really long list and I've been collecting the Justice League trades from the current volume. Cry for Justice was next in the storyline so I bought that as well. I knew what happened in it (which is one of the perils of buying trades and being part of a comic book website) and I'd seen some of the art and was interested in reading it and forming my own opinion.  
 
So you bought the trade without reading it first. Didn't like it but thought the art was beautiful. 
Gambler, what did you think of Chapter 3 of Age of X, art and story-wise? 
 
 Mike Carey
Gambler: 
As far back as I can remember I've always been a fan of " Alternate Realities." Showing my age here, but the first comic I really started reading (not just looking at the pictures) was the original Age of Apocalypse. The redesigning of not only a character's look, but personality and background, have always appealed to me so naturally the Age of X storyline is a big hit with me. Mike Carey has done/is doing some amazing work with the X-Men and Chapter 3 is no exception. Clay Mann's art is growing on me the more I see it. I highly recommend this arc for any Marvel or X-Men fan. You can jump on-board without having to know a bunch of back history which is always nice. 
 
So you favor the writing over the art, even though you like it. 
 
 Grant Morrison
The reason I asked all this is because there are two essentials when it comes to comic book making. The writing and the art. Sometimes they compliment each other while other times they don't seem to work. 
In my case I mentioned Joe the Barbarian. At first I didn't think too much of the art, but the story is so out of this world (pun intended) that the art matched perfectly complementing Morrison's great writing. 
 
In the manner of the "Music and Lyrics"movie, Which do you think is more important: art or writing?    
 
 
 Terry Dodson's Art
The Dark Huntress:
 Art is the big seller for me. If the art is really really bad I'll drop a book. The only exceptions to this that I've come across so far is Morrison's New X-Men (art by Frank Quitely) and Dodson's and Land's art on Uncanny. On the other side of that, if I see something that has amazing art I'll pick it up and give it a whirl.  
 
Gambler:
 Art over Writing any day. This is why I dont read Vertigo titles. I cant stand the art. Sometimes there are exceptions (The Dark Knight Returns) is one. Hate the art but the story is so good that I can overlook it.  
  
Really? You both favor art over writing? 

I am going to be the black sheep here and disagree. I prefer writing over art. What were to happen if you read an awful book with amazing art. Would it still be a book worth buying for the art alone?
    
 
Gambler: Our very own Devils Advocate huh ;) 
 
The Dark Huntress:
 Gambler and I tend to have similar taste in comics. 
But yes, I prefer the art over the writing in most cases. If I'm looking at horrible art it completely takes away from the story for me. Comics are not just words, they rely heavily on art to tell the story, to describe things that text can't. I think the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words" fits well here. And if that picture is horrible, it definitely takes away from it for me. If I wanted to just look at the words, I'd buy the novel adaptation.  

That being said, if something is written bad enough, I'll drop it as well, but art really is a bigger factor for me.  

Ed Benes's Art     
Gambler: I'll start buying a title I've never read or had an interest in just because of the art. On the same token, I'll drop a title I've been dedicated to for years if the art stops appealing to me. For me, comics are more about visual appeasement then literary. The recently relaunched Birds of Prey is a perfect example. When Ed Benes was doing the art I was all about BoP. Then they switched and I haven't read an issue since (minus the issue with my favorite character of course). 
 
David LaFuente's Art
I mentioned before that I am a huge Ultimate Spider-Man fan. When the title re-launched David Lafuente's art bothered me a lot. I don't mind it now as much as before, but I still wouldn't call it a favorite of mine. Yet, I like the book, the characters and Bendis' writing so much that I did not drop the title. 

If a book with your favorite writer or character was spotlighted with bad art, would you not read it either way?     
 
The Dark Huntress:
  It would really depend on how faithfully the character was being written and who was writing it.  
Emma Frost is one of my favorite characters and Morrison did an exquisite job writing her when not many (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, FRACTION!) seem to be able to do so correctly. However, Frank Quitely's art..well it blew. But I kept reading anyways. So there are exceptions. 
 
Lady Shiva     
Gambler:
 I dont really have a favorite writer, but I'll read anything with Lady Shiva in it. She's had some horribly drawn appearances but its Shiva...come on. However she so rarely turns up in anything that its seldom a decision I have to make. 
 
The Dark Huntress: You mean Gail hasn't just started writing more appearances of her to get you to leave her alone? ;)  
 
Gambler: She loves my Twitter attention :)  
 
The Dark Huntress:
 Isn't that what all stalkers say? xD  
  
Gambler:  You should have left that out of quotes ;) pussy lol  
 
The Dark Huntress:
 Goes to tell on him for calling her names. 
 
Mike Choi's Art
Do you guys think of rotating creative teams then? For example Second Coming, having a different artist in each chapter, Amazing Spider-Man having a different artist after every arc or Birds of Prey having a different artist on every.. page.
   
Gambler:
 I hate rotating artists. I never really pay attention to writers honestly, they can come and go. But I really hate when they switch artists in and out. Birds of Prey was ridiculous. I understand sh!t happens and life throws some unexpected things out there and the show must go on, but every other page? That was fuggazy. 

The Dark Huntress: Not current on BoP, so I'll sound off on Second Coming. 
I think that if it's done randomly and oddly that it can take away from the storytelling and break the flow of things That didn't really happen with Second Coming though, it was very coherent and some of the styles were similar so it meshed together quite well. Plus Mike Choi is probably my absolute favorite artist. I'm such a fan of his work.  
 
Who doesn't love Choi! 

I actually dropped Uncanny because I couldn't take the art anymore. I like Fraction's writing, but I don't think X-Men suited him. He does a great job with Iron Man and Thor though. 

 Greg Land's Art
Since we are talking about Uncanny X-Men (It's a shame that xerox-kitty and jordama are not here for this) did you guys know that for a time Greg Land was my favorite artist?    
 
 
Gambler: Really? I honestly dont know much about Land. I hear/read all the haters going off about how he traces and what have you, but I've never minded his art. Could be worse...alot worse. 
 
The Dark Huntress: I can sympathize with you on the Greg Land thing. When I was first getting into comics and didn't actually understand that continuity of things, I was looking at trades that featured Jean and Emma. I came across Phoenix: Endsong and it was Greg Land's art that swayed me into buying it. He was my favorite for a whileeee. 
 
 Phoenix: Endsong
That is exactly what happened to me! lol! I was so into the Jean Grey after reading old trades that I wanted a modern take of her. So I bought Phoenix: Endsong. I was in love with Land's interpretation of the character. 

To be honest, I still like it a lot. One of my favorite Jean images is the one where she is crying as she is going in to the White Hot Room in her White Phoenix outfit. 

The problem now is that I seem to be reading Endsong over and over again as he uses those same iconic poses from that book into the "new" stuff he does but  before this discussion becomes Greg Land oriented, let me quickly change the subject, Is there a book you guys read/bought only because of the writing?  
 
The Dark Huntress: 
Yes. Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men. I was not keen on Cassaday at all at first but grew to really enjoy his art throughout the series. 
 
Same here. I read it because I love Kitty Pryde so much. Then dropped it after... well y'know!
 
 
The Dark Huntress:
 I bought it because I'm a Whedon and Emma Frost fangirl. I was not disappointed, and yeah, sucks about Kitty. Especially her lack of use since she's been back.  
 Mouse Guard Winter 1152
 
Gambler: David Petersen's Mouse Guard Winter 1152 (although technically I didn't originally purchase it. I won the first issue and was hooked) 
 
What about the other way around. Is there a book you would recommend solely on art?
  
 
The Dark Huntress: Anything that Mike Choi does. I'd say X-Force, but Crain's art isn't a big seller with everybody. 
 
 All Star Bataman & Robin
Gambler:
 Allstar Batman and RobinJim Lee art....no idea who wrote it, no idea what the story is about. Also, Just Imagine Jim and Stan Lee's Wonder Woman. As you may have figured out I'm an avid Jim Lee fan. Jim Lee all day everyday around here.  
  
The Dark Huntress: Ah yes, Hush as well. The art in that is amazing. Story is impeccable as well, but it's awesome eye candy.  
 
Gambler: Ha! "as well." Wanna throw another "as well" in there? I think you could fit one more in that post ;)
 
The Dark Huntress: Screw you....on the other hand....no. ;) 
 
 David Finch's Art
I would probably recommend anything David Finch works on. I just really love the detail he entails in his work. (Except the Psylocke covers... those were not good at all).  
 
Gambler:
 Ah yes, David Finch. He's in my top five.  

I am surprised that neither of you mentioned a book where the art complimented the writing. If you think about it, in the end, the art is the complimentary packet since the plot is worked on first. 
  
The Dark Huntress:
 Hush is definitely one of those plots, IMO. The story is amazing and the art suits the dark mood and mystery feel to it.  
And Crain's style complimented the X-Force books quite well. 
  
Here Comes Tomorrow
Gambler: 
As we've established that I am an "art first writing second" style dude, its the writing that compliments the art, not the other way around. Court mentioned Hush, I'd also say Here Comes Tomorrow is another example of the writing being able to hang with the art. 
 
The Dark Huntress: Here Comes Tomorrow. How I love you and hate you at the same time. 
 
Writing compliments art? but without the writing the artist doesn't know what to draw.  
 
Joe Benitez's Art  
Gambler:
 I dont mean in the literal construction of the comic. I mean that for me, the art is primary and if the writing ends up being on the same level then its win win. But like we talk about, I can love a book with crappy writing. I'll give you an example. GI Joe Origins #19. I luv this issue and its primarily a silent issue. Joe Benitez art. A comic can still be a comic without writing. In my opinion what makes a comicbook just that, is the art. Sometimes you dont even need writing. 
 
 Exiles #7
The Dark Huntress:
 OHOH! This issue of Exiles (left) was part of Marvel's 'Nuff Said event, when they printed a month (I think) of silent issues. Showcasing how well art alone can tell stories. This issue nearly brought me to tears it was so moving.  
 
Silent issues are scripted too. So there is writing involved.  
 
Gambler: I don't think we're saying that silent issues are unscripted (as part of the creating process) but the final product is void of writing. For me, I'm not looking at a silent issue thinking how well scripted it most have been before hand. All I'm looking at is the art and whether or not it appeals to me. The writers contribution never even enters my mind. Art was what drew me to comics in the first place. Sometimes I still just look at the art and then later on I'll go back and read the issue. All depends. 
 
Do you guys buy comic book artist's art books? 

 
 Adam Hughes's Art
The Dark Huntress:
 Adam Hughes's sketch book is on my to buy list. As is the Marko Djurdjevic variant poster.   
 
Gambler: Niiiioce. Adam Hughes is certified badass lol
  
The Dark Huntress: Adam Hughes is a boss. ^_^  

Marko Djurdjevic's Art     
Gambler:
 I've bought/won several artist art books. I have an Alex Ross art/concept book which is pretty cool even though I'm not an Alex Ross fan.  
 
Oh my god! We have been talking art and Marko Djurdjevic and Alex Ross came up just now! Hahah Fail!  
 
The Dark Huntress:
  I have a thing for painted and digital art. Most of my favorite artists tend to use those mediums. 
   
Gambler:
 They're not even in my top five. Respect their work, but I have other personal favorites. 
 
Alex Ross' Art
The Dark Huntress:
 Djurdjevic is hit or miss for me. Love his variants not an enormous fan of his interiors. Alex Ross...I have mixed feelings on Ross. I think his art is really really well suited to variant covers and covers in general, but I can say that after reading Kingdom Come it is not suited for interiors, in my opinion. It's too...motionless, if that makes sense? Among other things.  
  
Gambler: I agree with you on that Court.  
 
I understand what you mean, but both artist seem to have that epic-effect when doing covers. I simply like them! :)  
 

The Dark Huntress: Oh their covers are amazing, no doubt. Their styles just don't suit interiors well. I find that with a lot of artists who paint or use digital art, though. Adi Granov and Danny Luvisi, for example.  
   
Well this has been a very "disagreeable" discussion amongst us. By that I mean Courtney and Gambler teamed up against me! I think it's time to bring this to a close so that the people reading can agree to disagree. 
  

Gambler: Hahaha yeah well thats how we roll son ;P 

Healthy disagreements can be productive. No one wants to read how we agree on everything.   
  
Would you guys like to say your farewells?
    
 
 Icarus...
Gambler: I rather enjoyed this Roundtable. Thanks Icarus....I mean Sora ;S oops. Always get you two mixed up. 
 
The Dark Huntress: Shakes head at Gambler. You did that on purpose.  
I had a great discussion, was happy to be a part of this. 
 
Icarus...? 

Be sure to come back for future Roundtable Discussions and let us know what you thought of this topic. I am Geo/sora_thekey signing off.  

Somebody let me in on the joke... Why do you confuse me with Icarus?
...Guys? 
    
 
-- Geo (sora_thekey) 24/7 geek! -- Follow me on Twitter: @sora_thekey
9 Comments
9 Comments
Posted by Mercy_

Awesome! ^_^ 
 
And now you all see how cruel Gambler is ;)

Moderator
Posted by tonis
@sora_thekey: OMG I LOVE LOVE THIS!! (yes it needs 2 shouts) 
This rules Sora.
p.s. , being confused for Icarus is probably a good thing, it means you're coming off as cute in some way/shape/or form :)
Posted by Mercy_
@tonis said:
" @sora_thekey: p.s. , being confused for Icarus is probably a good thing, it means you're coming off as cute in some way/shape/or form :) "
LOL. 
Moderator
Posted by danhimself

great job guys...hopefully my schedule clears up again and I'll be able to take place in another roundtable since I loved doing the first 2
 
I think for me it's an "either or" situation...I can forgive poor writing if the art is good and I can forgive poor art if the writing is good...for instance I really don't care for Frank Miller's work but with Jim Lee doing the art for All Star Batman and Robin I have to at least flip through the book just to see his work and I really don't care for Frank Quitely's art but I've grown to love Grant Morrison's writing so much that I have to read his books
 
then there are situations where the art and writing just mesh together perfectly...Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul on the Superboy arc of Adventure Comics was a dream come true for me...I love Geoff Johns writing and I love Francis Manapul's art and the bonus was they were doing a Superboy story who's my favorite character...they could do no wrong...I've reread that arc so many times that I think I might need to get the trade just to give the individual issues a break

Posted by JediXMan

They're both important.
 
That said, it's common for me not to want to read a comic book because of the artist. And I don't usually become physically ill from bad writing (it happens, just not as often as bad art)

Moderator
Posted by SC

Great discussion and topic guys, awesome!  
 
Oh, wow, congratulations Dark Huntress!  
 
With this topic, I was so glad that writing vs art was defined and established. Often, I find with this topic, people are all to quick to turn the discussion into story vs art, which I tend to find a flawed concept. Good art can tell a story too. ideally both the writing and art synch up to give us a good story in comics. In this sense, great art, with mediocre writing for me, can make a good story, but good writing on the flip side can't or won't usually follow though story wise, if the art is mediocre or subpar. Bearing in mind though, that writing does tend to be more important, in regards to plot development and characterization. What I feel complicates (well simplify sort of applies as well) is when you have a good artist and writer on good terms with each other! The story you get when the creative team can play to their strengths.  
 
Jamie McKelvie is the type of artist I would have ignored when I first got back into comics. I was very picky. I grew to like and appreciate his work more and more, alongside other artists that didn't have flashy, ultra detailed styles, but about the time of the Loki Siege One Shot... there is one page with three panels, that I think are silent, but words balloons wouldn't have mattered, because with three artistic panels, he absolutely conveyed and nailed the characterization of the trickster god. He is an artist who could own on a Marvel Nuff Said issue, but forget that, on the Siege Loki issue, his writer was Kieron Gillen! Those two work closely with each other, the overall effect is great work. The sum being greater than say a superstar artist and a superstar writer whose work might not gel that well together...  Anyway, in comics, writers are more important these days and pushed a lot more. Creatively as well they hold a lot of the power as one would expect. Comics need art to be a comic, writers determine which comics are best sellers etc in my take. 
 
Still find Uncanny X-Men hard to read. Land's art just sucks any good writing out of the story for me. Oh, and I feel, everyone loves Phoenix Endsong don't they? It helped me get back into comics too, I have heard similar stories from other people, and this is where artists being put on the right projects is important. Phoenix Endsong is notably different to most of Land's other work, in a lot of different ways, which affects story flow. The time line for that arc is dramatically shorter than most other arcs he works, the same scenes are spread out longer, and Greg Land is much better at static panels than dynamic panels. Thats the effect of tracing imagery. Most photographs don't intend to tell a flowing consistent story. When you have scenes that are spread out longer, you may introduce more panels which sort of creates a better illusion of movement. Basically the story can breath and flow, and Land gets to play to his strengths. Strong relatively static work, oh and it helps Jean Grey is in a lot of those panels, the pace is slow, and character expressions are predominantly pouty, sombre, staunch or well, not that subtle. Endsong is unusual though pace and purpose wise, but yeah. Not a fan of Land at all, but some stories he can work it good. lol Most of his other stories though... I won't go into lol

Moderator
Posted by xerox_kitty

I remember when Adam Pollina took over X-Force (post Age of Apocalypse) and I really hated the art... but I liked the writing.  As time went on, I grew to love Adam Pollina's art & now feel rather tpid about the writing in those books. 
 
Yet last week I was tempted into buying one more issue of Generation Hope by the change of artist.  However, I was bitterly disappointed with the attrocious writing.  No amount of glossy art can hide a poor story & worse characterisation.  And I doubt that over time I will ever grow to appreciate it.
Moderator
Posted by soundbite

I'll be reading this one under protest.  Art vs. Writing and no invite por moi?
Posted by ChadwickDavis

@The Dark Huntress: :

 

"I have issues with needless death. There was so much death and destruction in this and that's understandable when there's mass chaos going on and cities being destroyed.  
But the death of
Lian Harper was needless and stupid, IMO as was Roy's loss of limb. I feel like it was used as a device to have the Green Arrow family go down this really really dark path and that it was horribly executed..no pun intended. Speedy was supposed to be with Lian and she wasn't, which is part of what lead to Lian's death. That's out of character for me and just a little too convenient. That's my biggest gripe with it. I also hate the derailment that it led to for Roy, but that's another issue entirely."     

 

I agree with your assessment of Justice League completely. While the art was great the plot was a little too unfulfilling (at least in the execution of it --great concept.) In regards to Speedy's absence that was actualy understandable for me Lian was mature foir her age and used to being left alone so Mia pulling a "be good, I'll be right back" makes sense to me...she just did it on the wrong day. Their reactions were understandable and the reactive nature of the team proves Hal Jordans lack of ability to lead a team, he is all instinct and little to no strategy.

 

In regards to the Round table discussion this is my first commentary but it is an Excellent idea.