REVIEW: LNH Comics Presents # 91 (ILC 56)

Tom Russell milos_parker at
Tue Jun 26 20:38:44 PDT 2007

On Jun 26, 10:16 pm, Martin Phipps <martinphip... at> wrote:
> On Jun 27, 8:51 am, Tom Russell <milos_par... at> wrote:

> > Thank you for your concern, but your example is a poor one.  I would
> > never make that kind of statement-- and, as I said, I don't.  I never
> > comment on things that can be expressed in "better than" or "worse
> > than" terms.
> Any qualitative comparison can be expressed in those terms.

But, in general, I don't make qualitative comparisons.  On occasion, I
compare works and authors, but I'm more likely to compare and contrast
the different qualities-- that is, the stylistic choices, moods,
quirks, methods of characterizations, the textures-- than anything
qualitative.  If it would help get the point across on a purely
semantic level, then I'll say that I compare and contrast the textures
of the works-- no better than or worse than need apply or implied.

Let me give you an example-- I'll compare the prose styles and the
attitude towards exposition present in the works of three different
RACCers-- Saxon Brenton, myself, and Martin Phipps.

Saxon's style of writing is very precise.  His detailed sentences,
expositionary digressions, and large vocabulary all grow out of his
need-- and ability-- to orient the reader and eradicate any
confusion.  Like Proust, he often expresses a complete and complex
thought with the multivariousness one associates with the classically
structured novel-- particularly the British social novel of the 1800s
and, perhaps more accurately, the wry British comic tradition that
began with Wodehouse and extends, in some fashion, to Prachett (as
opposed to the brawnier and more manic/silly tradition of the Pythons
or Spike Milligan).  Not surprising, I suppose, for an Aussie.

By contrast, when I try to express a complete thought in my own
writing, such as in JOLT CITY, I do so by being less precise-- in an
attempt, I suppose, to ape the amibiguities of life.  When I dole out
exposition, it tends to be either in quick, almost footnote-like
references, or in longish, somewhat angsty monologues-- in the
tradition, one supposes, of superhero comics, particularly during the
eighties.  My prose style is perhaps a bit more European than it
should be-- I favor "soft" sounds and I often use present tense to
increase their frequency.  The desired ambiguity probably has more in
common with the Continent than the States, which tends to like things

Martin's writing seldom features introspection; he's at his best,
exposition-wise, when he can fold it into the dialogue itself.
Dialogue has always been his strength, and his spare, direct style is
perhaps reminiscent of Spillane-- making a Canuck teaching abroad more
American than this Midwesterner.  His thematic didactism also places
him in this tradition; he focuses on the tangible world, on actions
and deeds.

Now, nowhere in the above is there any statement that can be called
"better than" or "worse than", at least to my reckoning.  I am simply
saying that these different styles are-- you got it, DIFFERENT.  None
is better than the other; all three, I think, get the job done.

And if anyone reads a qualitative statement into this approach--
that's their own fault, and I won't make any further apologies.


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