Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Review: Meta 4 #1

META 4 #1 (of 5)
Written and drawn by Ted McKeever.

I knew, from having read a little bit about Ted McKeever, that this was going to be weird. But it was ever weirder than I expected. Nice, though. I like weird things.

This is the kind of comic that everyone loves to call "pretentious," that ugly word that closed-minded, ignorant people always use. "I don't understand this, therefore it is pretentious." That's a lazy and dishonest response, in my opinion. It implies a kind of malicious intent on the part of the creator of the work, as though artists actually plotted against their audience, trying to come up with something that looks really complicated but actually signifies nothing, so that people will feel inferior because of their inability to comprehend it, while simultaneously being tricked into thinking it's brilliant.

That's a lot of horseshit. I think the people who imagine these types of scenarios have a very poor understanding of how the creative mind works. They also have a very limited view of what art can be, and the different ways that one can appreciate it and respond to it. Not everything has to "make sense," and the value of a work of art doesn't always depend on whether or not it can be "understood."

When faced with a work that I don't immediately understand, my first reaction is never to assume that there is something wrong with it. I don't blame the artist for not allowing me to understand the work. Instead, I at least consider the possibility that either (a) I am missing something and I should try harder to understand it, or (b) the work is not meant to be understood on a literal level, and I should look for a different kind of meaning. Of course, there's also the possibility that the creator of the work somehow failed to convey meaning. Maybe the work was just poorly executed and that's why it doesn't make sense. But I think usually it's not that hard to tell the difference between someone trying to produce a coherent work and failing, resulting in a jumbled mess of ideas that don't quite hold together, and someone crafting a work that is meant to be appreciated on a different level.

I did not "understand" the first issue of Meta 4. Who are these characters? Where do they come from? Where does this even take place? And what are these excerpts from police radio transcripts pasted all over the place? I'm not sure. But I'm enjoying this. I want to find out more and see where this is going, how (or if) it's going to all come together in the end. The illustrations are nice to look at and the narrative is intriguing, so this works for me.

There's four more issues of this coming up. I'm looking forward to them.

(Sorry if this was more of a rant than a review.)


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