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  1. #16

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    All comes down (for me at least, this is something very subjective) to how well it meshes together with the story that's being told, without totally overwhelming it. Being entertaining helps mitigate any issues, and there are some stories where the smugness just rolls off in waves, but that's the main thing; remembering that no matter what message you're trying to offer, the focus has to be the delivery system. It's the difference between (to go to the Grant Morrison well) Flex Mentallo, maybe the single defining text of his career in terms of his relationship with and thoughts on superhero comics, packed with meaning on almost every panel but still an incredibly fun and emotionally charged story all its own, and Arkham Asylum, which is a gorgeous, paper-thin hot mess thrown together for the sake of visual symbolism and half-assed rumination on the nature of madness. To be fair, the latter has its virtues and seems like a genuine effort (the only Morrison comic I'd call truly and utterly pretentious is The Mystery Play), but the message and desire for artistic complexity totally overwhelms the actual narrative. It doesn't have to be subtle--Scott Snyder's Batman work is about as far away from subtle as it can get, but what he's doing meshes well with the stories he's telling, so still works for me--it just has to be kept in mind that first and foremost, a story is being told, rather than a visual essay.
    Best of the Best
    Grant Morrison; Alan Moore; Mark Waid; Warren Ellis; Mark Millar (when not all Millar-y); Elliot S! Maggin; Kurt Busiek; Jonathan Hickman; Matt Fraction; Jason Aaron; Garth Ennis.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mia View Post
    I only use the word pretentious regarding an authors work is when it attempts to be intellectual but has no substance. Such as much of Jeph Loeb's later work, which seems to go for the use of big words but the stories are lacking.
    I have never found Loeb's work pretentious, it's usually just big and dumb fun (when it's good of course).

    Quote Originally Posted by Dispenser of Truth View Post
    All comes down (for me at least, this is something very subjective) to how well it meshes together with the story that's being told, without totally overwhelming it. Being entertaining helps mitigate any issues, and there are some stories where the smugness just rolls off in waves, but that's the main thing; remembering that no matter what message you're trying to offer, the focus has to be the delivery system. It's the difference between (to go to the Grant Morrison well) Flex Mentallo, maybe the single defining text of his career in terms of his relationship with and thoughts on superhero comics, packed with meaning on almost every panel but still an incredibly fun and emotionally charged story all its own, and Arkham Asylum, which is a gorgeous, paper-thin hot mess thrown together for the sake of visual symbolism and half-assed rumination on the nature of madness. To be fair, the latter has its virtues and seems like a genuine effort (the only Morrison comic I'd call truly and utterly pretentious is The Mystery Play), but the message and desire for artistic complexity totally overwhelms the actual narrative. It doesn't have to be subtle--Scott Snyder's Batman work is about as far away from subtle as it can get, but what he's doing meshes well with the stories he's telling, so still works for me--it just has to be kept in mind that first and foremost, a story is being told, rather than a visual essay.
    One of these days I need to check Morrison's Arkham Asylum, so many mixed opinions about it.

  3. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mia View Post
    I only use the word pretentious regarding an authors work is when it attempts to be intellectual but has no substance. Such as much of Jeph Loeb's later work, which seems to go for the use of big words but the stories are lacking.
    Yeah, that's kind of how I view it either. However, I never use the word or if I do, it is very rare. There are very few stories that I read or have watched that feel pretentious, Nocenti's Catwoman, Cosmopolis (the film, never read the book), and maybe one or two other things.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by InformationGeek View Post
    Yeah, that's kind of how I view it either. However, I never use the word or if I do, it is very rare. There are very few stories that I read or have watched that feel pretentious, Nocenti's Catwoman, Cosmopolis (the film, never read the book), and maybe one or two other things.
    That's how I personally saw Ales Kot's Suicide Squad.

  5. #20

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    I personally saw Kot's SS as a small slice of heaven taken from us too soon.
    What? do you need blood spattered on your faces to even feel alive anymore???
    ohsnapulon5000

  6. #21
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    A really small and hollow slice.

  7. #22

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    It was a delicious slice, nonetheless.

    I sang yummy yummy yummy, I've got love in my tummy when I finished it.
    What? do you need blood spattered on your faces to even feel alive anymore???
    ohsnapulon5000

  8. #23
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    But it left you hungry and with a bad aftertaste...

    Nah, just kidding. It's cool if you liked it.

  9. #24

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    You're totally right, Rakzo. It left me hungry for more KOT :( and with a bad aftertaste, considering how editorial kicked off Kot for Johns' buddy Kindt >:(

    I know you're kidding. We're cool.

    As for pretentiousness, the only example I can think of right now is when G Mo said that people will get Batman Inc's ending in two years. Not now, in two years.
    I mean, come ON, Grant! I know your intentions are good and honest, but readers aren't that dumb.
    What? do you need blood spattered on your faces to even feel alive anymore???
    ohsnapulon5000

  10. #25
    Marquis de carabas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rakzo View Post
    Same problem.
    I still don't get what your problem with it is. What is awkward about it, exactly? Psychopaths can't have terrible taste in music or have Foreigner stuck in their head or something?
    'The marquis. Well, you know, to be honest, he seems a little bit dodgy to me.'
    'Mm,' she agreed. 'He's a little bit dodgy in the same way that rats are a little bit covered in fur."

  11. #26
    Senior Member DochaDocha's Avatar
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    In general, I don't know anyone who would openly praise pretentiousness. On the other hand, it's kind of hard to readily identify, so I can't really come up with any comic book examples. Maybe (MAYBE) there are aspects of the Nolan-verse that might seem a little pretentious, but that just goes with the territory of making comic book characters seem as real as possible and trying to tackle real world issues. Otherwise, I think pretentiousness is pretty low on my concerns for comic books.

  12. #27
    Mattress Tester T Hedge Coke's Avatar
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    It's probably better to risk being called pretentious, than to risk being called inane, boring, standard, or meh.

    I do think it's much easier to be blatantly pretentious in interviews than in fiction. With fiction, there's always the chance the author isn't any of the voices in the story, including the general tone. Most of what we take away from a comic, we also brought in with us.

  13. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Mastermind View Post
    According to the internet, you're apparently pretentious when you're smarter than the reader.

    True, some crap in comics is pretentious (like all of Scott Snyder's work), but the word has lost a lot of its meaning by people just screaming it whenever a story is too smart for them.
    +1

    Although, I think the term is used most fairly when the story becomes too smart for itself. Or, to clarify, I'll never knock a genre story for aspiring to something greater, but if it becomes wrapped up in a message it isn't successfully delivering, that can be a problem. In comics, I'd place certain pieces of both Snyder's and Morrison's Batman under this umbrella, although in different ways. It's a failure of execution, though, not goal.

  14. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by T Hedge Coke View Post
    It's probably better to risk being called pretentious, than to risk being called inane, boring, standard, or meh.

    I do think it's much easier to be blatantly pretentious in interviews than in fiction. With fiction, there's always the chance the author isn't any of the voices in the story, including the general tone. Most of what we take away from a comic, we also brought in with us.
    I agree with everything you terrifically packed in this amazing post.
    What? do you need blood spattered on your faces to even feel alive anymore???
    ohsnapulon5000

  15. #30
    More human than human. Johnny P. Sartre's Avatar
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    Scott Snyder pretentious? Whhhaaaatt?
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