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About Varied / Professional Premium Member Joe EnglandMale/United States Recent Activity
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Bad Talbot ... BAD!!! by pushfighter

The colors are gorgeous and vivid, the out-of-focus effect drawing to mind old monster movies. The characters exude personality, and th...

Sharing Breath by Yamino
by Yamino

Y'know... I gotta admit, I saw it too. I know they're sisters, and I should be able to watch a depiction of two siblings expressing the...

Well, I'm back from MoCCA Fest.  Had a great time.  I didn't sell too many books or posters, but I met some great people and had a fine time hanging around with Jim.  Me and him, we're tight now.

But that's not what I began this journal entry to say!  And I didn't start it to drum up support for a humanitarian petition either, though if you're interested there's one right here.  Sounds like a good cause, and worth a few seconds of time.  Think about it, won't you?  Actually, what I really wanted to contemplate here was the nature of the "can you do better" line of reasoning.

You've probably heard this one before.  Someone asks you, after or during some form of criticism, if you can do better.  And if you can't, it's implied, you have no right to cast judgment.  What gets me about this is that the argument might conceivably be valid in some cases... but in most of the examples I imagine, it's really not.  It doesn't make sense.

I started thinking about it when I commented on a movie trailer recently.  The science behind the plot seemed pretty phony to me and I went off on one of my little rants.  I probably was being a bit obnoxious.  Since YouTube revamped itself and made it possible to post longer comments I've had trouble showing restraint.  Still, someone else got his dander up, called me an egghead and said "you think you got the money/talent to do it better? shut the f!#k up and go do it. Otherwise, shut the f@%k up, sit down, and read something."

Incidentally, it's also possible that on some level I only started this journal entry because I wanted everyone to see how mean this guy was so they can rush to comfort me while I clutch plush animals to my chest as I curl into a fetal position and silently weep into my pillow, stuffing my face with potato chips mingled with the snot pouring out of my nostrils, listening to heartbreaking melodies warbling from the radio buried underneath a gigantic pile of soaking wet handkerchiefs.  But that's an outside chance.

Still, it really did get me thinking, and this is something I've thought before whenever I hear that argument...  I certainly can't do better.  I mean, I wasn't directly criticizing the film's acting or direction... it might be a lot of fun if it doesn't take itself too seriously.  But I surely don't have the money or experience to make such a movie.  That is true.  But why on Earth would that negate the validity of my criticism?

Think about it.  You go to a fancy restaurant and order a fancy lasagna.  The waiter smacks his fancy lips with pinched fancy fingers and saunters off with promises of a magnificent fancy meal.  When he comes back, however, he brings you lasagna that's not fancy at all!  In fact, it makes you a little sick.  Do you not have the right to complain because you yourself can't make any kind of lasagna, fancy or otherwise?  Are you stuck forcing this meal down your throat because it's still technically better than what you could come up with in your own filthy kitchen?

The basic function of most any business is to provide people with products or services that they can't readily produce on their own.  This gives us a perfect right, even a responsibility, to point out flaws in the product we're offered.  We're not qualified to make it, but we're still qualified to judge.  Sure, sometimes folks don't know what they're talking about.  We misjudge, we talk out of our asses.  That still doesn't mean we should be blamed for our initial impression.  It falls to the makers of the product to contemplate whatever complaints they may receive.  Even if those complaints lack merit it's still worth hearing because all input grants perspective on the work that the creator may not have.

But on the other hand, surely there are situations where it's fair to say "can you do better?"  I don't think that movie criticism is one of them, but I'd be interested in hearing your ideas.  I ask you, when is it truly justified to ask that of someone?  When should you stand up and throw negativity back to the audience, asking them to operate as an equal to the performer?  It's a technique that's often misused, but I think there's probably a time and a place for it.  So where is the line drawn?

Juggling comes to mind.


JoeEngland's Profile Picture
Joe England
Artist | Professional | Varied
United States
I spent six years learning at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, and have been publishing my webcomic (Zebra Girl) since 2000. I don't drink, smoke, eat meat, or do drugs, and yet I remain worthy of pity. Then again, that might go without saying.


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Roscoe3000 2 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Just got your Volume 1 book today.  It was very fairly priced for how many obvious hours of work that went into it and I'm impressed by how quickly it got to me.  I find it kind of ironic that it is so very much better to read a web comic in print than it is to read it on screen.  Not sure who you got to print it, but I really like the way it's put together.  Without being broke in, the pages fall apart from each other very nicely.  I've always enjoyed your "pinstriping" designs, and they are a perfect wrapping for your cover.  I'm a bit sad that Sam was relegated to the back cover, but I guess he wasn't an overly central character at this point in the story yet, anyway.

'Tis very nice to have at least part of it in print finally, since I found your comic again after many years of "forgetting about it" and this seems to be the best way to read it again.  Sam Sprinkles kicks so much mental ass it's not even funny... but it is very satisfying.  Gives any anti-hero in the comic biz a run for their money... plus he's a degenerate cartoon rabbit.  What's not to like?

Haven't read all of it so far, and I know you've already adressed this in your foreword (which made me lol), but I could definitely see how it would be a bit of a difficult read for someone with poor near sight.  I don't imagine that this has been a huge complaint among your paying fan base yet, though. For quality of resolution purposes, I imagine you didn't have much choice, either.  In any case  I'll be sure to send you along a hearty, griping old-man complaint email when I'm old enough for reading glasses *shakes fist*

I have very few actual printed comic volumes on my shelf, but I don't regret adding this one in the least.  I'm looking forward to adding the second volume some day.

Also, "item 666"?  Nice touch. x]
JoeEngland 18 hours ago  Professional General Artist
Thank you very much for the feedback Roscoe.  It's really helpful.  I'm glad you're enjoying the book, this certainly inspires me to create future volumes!
I just saw the latest page, and in the last panel, it looks like Thriller Night out there! :fear:

What you said makes me ask: how do you avoid a story becoming impenetrable? 

I'm working on one right now, and I'd like to think it's easy to understand. ^^;
JoeEngland Apr 16, 2014  Professional General Artist
  It's a good question, and one I've been working on for a while.  It's easy to lose perspective when you're a writer.  You shouldn't dumb down the plot if it feels unnatural, but you can't get too complicated either.  You've got to keep it simple, as the old rule of thumb will say.

  All I can suggest right now is to subtly supply the audience with exposition which will simplify and streamline the plot, but this can be tricky to do without betraying the organic flow of the story.  Laying things out has to be something which seems perfectly natural, or at least something unobtrusive.

  Like I said, I'm still working on the question myself.  Maybe I'll get back to you when I have a better answer.
Thank you for that. :)

You and Jim actually inspired my to make my own TF girl with her own story. Thanks for that too. ;)

MY OC Celia may not be a demon, or part goat, but I think she'll get enough attention - she's gotten a bit already. ;)
TOMIE IS A....!!!! WTF!?!?!?!?!?! I always thought he was a, but then that would mean.....*GASP* The porn mags!
JoeEngland Mar 31, 2014  Professional General Artist
Yeah, that's pretty much the reaction I was hoping for.
Joe you twisted rabbit, you are one of surprises. What's next Sam is a human.... He's still rabbit right?
JoeEngland Apr 6, 2014  Professional General Artist
Don't tempt me to enjoy keeping you in the dark!  I'm sadistic enough without invitation.
(1 Reply)
Tomie is a *spoiler censored*  ?!  Didn't see that one coming.   Of course, it might be explained away, but...  Wow.
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