Go To The Source!

By | Thursday, January 06, 2011 Leave a Comment
I started buying classical music in college. Not just randomly, or for a class, or anything. But I went out with some very specific pieces in mind. Giuseppe Verdi's The Troubador. Pyotr Tchaikovsky's Festival Overture The Year 1812.* Gioachino Rossini's The Barber of Seville. The reason I was hunting down those particular pieces (and others) was because they were not infrequently used in Warner Brothers' cartoons. I had a good appreciation of the cartoons, and thought it might behoove me to listen to where some of the music they used came from.

See, the premise is simple. You can appreciate a work of art out of context, as it stands on its own merits. But if you appreciate a work on its own merits, it stands to reason that you would appreciate it more knowing more about it.

This is one of the big hindrances to an appreciation of modern art, I think. People look at the works of Pablo Picasso or Jackson Pollack or Keith Herring and don't understand where they're coming from. Do you know what cubism was about? Cubism was about trying to present, in two dimensions, three and sometimes four dimensions of an object. Not just drawing something in perspective, but trying to show the front, the back, the top, the bottom and the sides simultaneously. That's why you wind up with those weird eye placements that are infamously shown; the artist was trying to show a head-on view and a profile with one single image. Knowing that, one is able to see what the artist was attempting, and his/her work can be judged on those values instead of the ones that might be traditionally brought to a piece of art -- does it look like the subject?

That's something I do with comics, as well.

I really liked comics, so I made a point to learn more about them so that I might have a deeper appreciation for the medium on the whole. I've spent time looking into their history, the business practices that are in place, the creative process, the production process, the legal implications... everything I can. Hence, the somewhat eclectic series of posts that wind up on this blog. My interest in is comics, and the more I learn and process -- regardless of the specific sub-set of comics knowledge it's a part of -- the better I'm able to understand and appreciate what's being done now. So I ramble on about what strikes me as interesting within comics, whether that's a story that was published, or a business decision that was made, or a new technology that impacts production, or a reaction within the fan community. It all falls under the purview of this blog because I take an interest in all those varied aspects of comics.

Which means that, when a news items comes along that can cause a visceral reaction -- say, the death of a long-running character or changing the cover price -- I'm able to sit back and discern WHY that decision was made. I may or may not like or agree with it, but I can at least understand it enough that I'm not left figuratively howling in the wilderness. Being able to differentiate between what fans want from what creators want from what publishers want, and understanding how/why those differences exist, is important to understanding and appreciating the industry on the whole.

And that's why, in 2011 alone, I've posted here
  • A historical Yellow Kid comic
  • Financial analysis of a webcomic creator's earnings
  • Commentary on a reaction to a publication change
  • A brief biography of an old comics fan
  • Some mildly snarky comments about some questionable licensing practices

Long-time readers are, I'm sure, familiar with my all-over-the-map approach but I thought it might not be a bad idea to call out exactly why I'm all over the map. I hope you stick around for the ride.

* On a side note, it's since amused me to no end to imagine the following discussion having taken place between Tchaikovsky and the percussionists the first time they rehearsed the aforementioned song...

Tchaikovsky: You've all had a chance to look over the score now; does anyone have any questions before we begin? Yes?
Percussionist: Yeah, um, it says here towards the back that we're supposed to be ringing church bells. Did you mean chimes?
Tchaikovsky: No, church bells is correct.
Percussionist: Like those hand bells they ring at Christmas?
Tchaikovsky: No, church bells. As in, the bells hanging in a church.
Percussionist: ...
Tchaikovsky: Any other questions? Yes?
Percussionist: I'm sorry, does this say cannons?!?
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