Welcome to SBC’s The Panel, a chance for you to put your burning questions – comics-related or otherwise – to a group of comics professionals.

The Panel lives or dies by your contributions; please email them to panel@silverbulletcomicbooks.com and we’ll add them to the list…

This week’s question comes from Joseph P. Gauthier (and is one of three good’uns) and is as follows:-

“Is there such a thing as a bad comic book?

Seriously, has anyone ever read a comic they didn’t like at some point? Sure, you may hate it when it’s fresh off the racks, and the “sting” of poor continuity, the death of a character, or just bad writing/art could last for a while. But in how long?

A month? A year? Two years?

It’s been my experience that all comics are good at some point, even if your connecting more from the feeling of nostalgia than the actual book itself.

So, can anyone really say a comics bad if a year from now that same book will “pop-up” on Ryan McLelland’s “It Came from the Quarter Bin” and be praised for being “ahead of its time” or just fun to read?”

Mike Collins:

If the creative team don’t care what they’re doing, and don’t have the first clue about WHY they’re doing a book, then yes, you can have a bad comic…. but, as you say, that can change with a different writer & artist… it’s the old Neal Adams adage that there are no ‘bad’ characters, just poor execution.

Mike Collins has worked on many properties, including Batman, the Transformers, Captain Britain, Dourdevil and Judge Dredd.

Roger Langridge:

There are literally millions of bad comic books. I’m not even talking about the “so bad they’re good” variety, like Tony Tallarico’s 60s stuff, which are so awful you’re compelled to read them to the bitter end just to try and figure out how he got away with it; they’re redeemed by their incredible crapness, in a perverse sort of way. It’s like watching a train wreck, but at least they’re not mediocre; they’ve gone through mediocre and come way, way out the other side. I’m talking about your standard production-line stuff, made without heart and with a take-the-money-and-run attitude.

I suppose we’ve all got our own ideas of what’s a bad comic, so in that sense, I suppose every terrible comic will be loved by somebody for some reason (it might be their first or something), but come on. For me, bad comics are those which are made with a mediocre level of craft and a cynical attitude towards the audience. When you can tell by looking at it that the creators are thinking, “Hey! Who cares what shit we fill the pages with, as long as we put some tits/blood and gore/big manga eyes in there somewhere, the kids will lap it up!” — and you can smell that attitude coming off the pages in most superhero comics these days, it seems to me — it’s a bad comic.

Roger Langridge is the creator of Fred The Clown, a new issue of which is out right now… your orders are to look out for it

Vince Moore:

I believe bad comics are those that don’t meet a kind of unwritten rule of professional polish. We’ve all seen them: amateurishly done books, published with someone’s savings or borrowed cash. In that sense, yes, there are bad comics.

But even that is subjective.

I think it was last year or two years ago when Scott Kurtz and Frank Cho sparked an Internet flame war by saying that many alternative comics are poorly done. Advocates of alt/indy comics came out in droves to defend the artist integrity of many artists. So it may be hard, in this society, to say someone’s writing or art is bad, without being attacked for it.

As for series titles, which I think the question is talking about more, they do go through rough period that aren’t good or as good as they were or will be once the creative team changes.

In many ways the “mainstream” of comics is driven by nostalgia. Old bad things are remembered fondly with hindsight.

But yes, there are bad comics, fondly remembered bad comics, and many others along the way.

Vince Moore is the writer of Platinum Publishing’s upcoming book, Kid Victory & The Funky Hammer

Alonzo Washington:

Check it out! I’m the Roy Rogers of comic books because I have never met a comic I did not like. I may not ever buy a particular comic or even read the whole thing. However, I will collect any comic book. Being a publisher people send me comics all the time. Mainstream titles, self published titles & alternative titles. I have seen a lot of crap from all these types of comics and a lot of greatness. However, if you send it to me our give it to me I will keep it. Therefore, I guess I like all comics as long as they are free.

Although, if I am going to have to open my wallet to buy it I am much more selective. Since I entered into the comic book business I really don’t buy comics anymore. It would really take a hot comic book to make me buy it. Too many people give them to me now. That’s the cool thing about being in the comic biz. People always send me comics to get my opinion of them. So I keep my money in my pocket. Although, when I walk into a comic book store I am overwhelmed because I like all comics.

So, keep sending them to me!

Alonzo Washington is the creator of Omega Man and a noted black rights campaigner

Gary Spencer Millidge:

Is this a serious question? Good lord, of course there is such thing as a bad comic book! The whole history of the industry is full of bad comic books. Terrible, awful comic books. The vast majority of comics produced are weak in some, if not all departments. That’s not to say that you couldn’t find one tiny redeeming feature somewhere in any given book, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s worth 20 minutes of your life.

Many comics of yesteryear fondly remembered, re-read in the cold light of modern day are exposed as trash, perhaps with a nostalgic affection as its only saving grace. Comics creatively may be better now than they have ever been, but still, examples of true quality are so few and far between, it can be depressing if you think about it for any length of time. Too many creators are influenced only by other comics and yet lack even basic storytelling skills. Poor anatomy and composition are obscured by over-rendered, over-flashy colouring, inappropriately lettered, with stories that are inspired by potential sales figures and column inches rather than by quality.

In today’s overheated, over-hyped marketplace, mediocre works are undeservedly acclaimed as classics and the consequences are a lowering of standards across the boards. For every BLACK HOLE or EIGHTBALL there are a thousand unimaginative bog-standard comic books. Or am I just getting old and cranky?

Gary Spencer Millidge is the creator of the wonderful Strangehaven comic, which – although on an annual release schedule at the moment – is so damn good he is ALWAYS my first port of call at the yearly UK Comics Festival in Bristol

Alan Grant:

Yes. Usually but not always they happen when the writer and/or artist takes the gig only for the money, rather than love of/interest in the characters. I’ve written more than a few of them myself, so I feel qualified to comment.

Alan Grant is maybe most famous for his Batman and Judge Dredd work, and is currently appearing with Judge Anderson and “Half-Life” in the JD Megazine.

Fiona Avery:
There probably is, but I try not to think about it. If I spent time dwelling on what doesn’t work, I’d never get to work and find anything that does work.

Fiona Avery plays in the Marvel Universe, with Wildstorm at DC, and is the creator of No Honor.

Scott Allie:

While it’s difficult to make objective statements about the quality of art, it’s pretty easy to authoritatively say that there are some absolutely awful comics out there. Bad writing and bad art that you never really need to look at again. It’s entirely different from saying something’s dated, or that it’s ahead of its time. Hackwork is hackwork, and it doesn’t age gracefully.

Scott Allie edits and writes for Dark Horse – a trade of The Devil’s Footprints is just out, and is not only a superb collection but is an excellent story too.

Rob Williams:

No, some comics are just plain bad, in the same way that some movies, books, shirts, sandwiches and fascist dictators are bad. I’m not talking about a book not being to someone’s taste – that happens – everything’s subjective, but if a comic is indecipherable due to poor work by its creators then it goes past opinion to just being out and out stinky.

There’s a very famous book currently being printed (that I won’t name here – it’s unprofessional to bitch about other creators online) which I recently read and I was genuinely flabbergasted at the lack of craft involved. I couldn’t tell what was going on in some panels, bodies were out of proportion, the writing was cluttered. It was beyond opinion, it was just a very bad comic.

If creators are in control of their craft then you may like their work or not, but it’s not a terrible comic. If you don’t have the basics under control – if the punter can’t tell what’s occurring on the page, for example – then, yes, it is a bad comic.

Rob Williams is the writer of Cla$$war for Com.X, Family for the Judge Dredd Megazine, a bunch of stuff for 2000AD, including the upcoming Low Life, and Star Wars Tales for Dark Horse.


About The Author