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Monday, March 24, 2014 

Paul Levitz thinks modern comics journalism is wonderful

CBR's Robot 6 section interviewed former DC executive Levitz, who takes a very naive view of comics journalism:
You left journalism behind when you took a job at DC, but how do you feel about what comics journalism has evolved into?

Well, let’s be broader than comics journalism; let’s talk about writing about comics. There’s a sophistication to some of them, to a scholarly level, which I’m thrilled to see happen. Years ago I wrote an article for The Comics Journal titled “Call for Higher Criticism,” and looking back at it I think it was very naïve and immature in many ways. The argument was that there’s more to talk about than if the Thing can beat the Hulk, but there was broader things to talk about. I’ve seen it evolve over the years, with an army of professors now bringing scholarly knowledge and wisdom to the field. You asked earlier about what I’m working on next; I just finished contributing to an updated edition of Matt Smith and Randy Duggan’s Power of Comics. It was a wonderful experience to be invited to join as the third author for this second edition.

Speaking about the state of comics journalism now, however, and most of it’s terrific. There’s an enormous amount of information available now that wasn’t accessible back when I was doing it. But there’s some things that come out, and the tonality of it makes my shudder. It’s snide and personalized in a way I hope I never wrote, and not something I ever particularly enjoyed as a reader. But if you’re going to have a broad conversation, there’s going to be a lot of people talking about a given topic – and in a big conversation, you sometimes have to put up with someone being a snarky ass.
Exactly what journalism is he talking about? A large chunk of the mainstream news on comics today is very superficial and unobjective, and often not even negative. And sites that are dedicated to comic reviews like CBR themselves often run very gushy, favorable reviews about the worst products on the spinner racks like Superior Spider-Man. I get the feeling they're predisposed to liking what the worst writers cough out no matter how bad they truly are.

And I wonder what Levitz is talking about when he speak of "snide and personalized" comics commentary? Could that be a hint at objective commentators who don't toe the PC lines he does? If so, he's not helping the cause of comicdom.

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Levitz clearly hasn't read a lot of modern comics "journalism," or otherwise he'd know that sites like CBR, Newsarama and Comics Alliance are more like sleazy tabloid rags (especially CA) than anything "scholarly." They gush over crappy comics, write articles promoting political correctness and liberal politics and blast anyone who thinks differently.

I wonder if Levitz is taking a potshot at bloggers when he says that, mainly bloggers like you or I or Hube or Doug (I quit blogging back in December obviously, but I don't rule out an eventual return once I complete my book) who have our own opinions and toe the PC line.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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