Archive for ‘Games’

Well, Here’s an Awesome Gift Idea

The legendary Todd Klein (quite probably comics’ best all-time letterer, and an old pal of mine from my DC production department days) and artist Shawn McManus have released a truly unique comics gift for the upcoming holidays: A Freelancer Game Board!

Order yours here, learn more about the creation of the board here, and get a closer look here.


I like this interactive series by Vincent Morisset a lot. Makes me feel like a kid again.

A weird, lonely, kid.

In space.

It has some of that same haunting atmosphere that made Welcome to Pine Point so memorable for me (another recent offering from Canada’s legendary NFB). I’d love to see more work along these lines.

[via Lori Matsumoto]

Things I Never Said

Roger Ebert tweeted what he thought was a quote of mine yesterday. It’s been retweeted “100+ times” — which could mean many more — and many are reacting to it.

Nice of Mr. E. to name check me, but there’s one little problem:

I never said it.

During the neverending video-games-are-or-aren’t-art debate on Ebert’s blog, several people brought me up, citing my definition of art from Understanding Comics, and one of them paraphrased the definition which Ebert then put quotes around and tweeted.*

Here’s what I actually said way back in 1993:

“Art, as I see it, is any human activity which doesn’t grow out of either of our species’ two basic instincts: survival and reproduction.”

…followed by pages of explanations of how I don’t see art as an either/or proposition, but a component of human behavior that exists to varying degrees in nearly everything we do.

Got it?

Now here’s the paraphrased (i.e., wrong) version that was rampaging across the Twittersphere yesterday:

“Art is is something people do that doesn’t get them money or sex.” (Scott McCloud)

Not quite the same.

So… Knowing how these things work, I just thought I’d make special mention of it here so that maybe the correction will follow the meme, at least enough to keep it off my tombstone.

For much more than a sound bite on my ideas on art, check out Understanding Comics pages 162-169 and Reinventing Comics pages 42-51.

This all goes with the territory of course, and there are worse problems than being misquoted by Roger Ebert, but I am thinking of starting a list of “Things I Never Said.”

Maybe I’ll start with “McCloud thinks Egyptian hieroglyphics are comics.” [Um… No. UC page 12.]


[Edit to Add #1: No I don’t blame Ebert, it was an honest mistake.]

[Edit to Add #2: Where I come down on the videogames = art question.]

*[Edit to Add #3!Neil Figuracion originally took the blame, until we both realized it was someone else.]

Happy Accidents

Simon Cottee’s A Brief History of the Modern Pixel is the latest entry in an ongoing discussion in videogame circles about the power of the simplified aesthetic of early lo-res games. I get roped in as usual in connection to cartoon art and the points I make about universality in Chapter Two of UC, but it’s a very game-native presentation with some interesting points.

Comics and games both have some sorting to do when it comes to old technologies. Some of the old technical limitations have genuine aesthetic advantages and are worth hanging onto long after they’re no longer necessary. But mixed in with those happy accidents are other artifacts bathed in nostalgia and fetishizing that sometimes makes it hard to tell the useful from the merely warm and fuzzy.

Cottee obviously wants to help with that sorting so more power to him.

[link via boingboing via fpinternational]

Wrong Question?

Related to yesterday’s post, there’s a controversy brewing over whether video games are “Art” or not, spurred on by various comments by film critic Roger Ebert.

A couple of people have even Beetlejuiced* me, wondering which side of the issue I’d come down upon. Anyone who’s read the art chapters of UC or RC can probably guess my response.

If you’re asking if videogames are art, I think you’re asking the wrong question. I don’t think art is an either/or proposition. Any medium can accommodate it, and there can be at least a little art in nearly everything we do.

Once in a while, someone makes a work in their chosen medium so driven by aesthetic concerns and so removed from any other consideration that we trot out the A-word, but even then it’s a matter of degrees, and for most creative endeavors you can find a full spectrum from the sublime to the mundane.

The idea that for the lack of a single brush stroke or word balloon or camera angle, we could consign something as complex as a painting or a graphic novel or a motion picture to the art equivalent of Heaven or Hell does a disservice to the depth and breadth of those forms. There’s no hard dividing line, no thumbs up or thumbs down for these things.

Games are an interesting case though. Duchamp insisted that the viewer is a contributor to the creative act, and on several levels actually completes the work. In games, that “user interaction” is more than just a contribution to the work—it’s the very substance of the thing. The idea of abdicating authorship to the user (a concept I first heard about from game designer Doug Church) gets pretty close to the DNA of all games.

Does “abdicating authorship” mean abdicating any hopes of high art though? I don’t think so. But what do I know? I make comic books.

“I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.” –Marcel Duchamp

Talk, Rock, Kick, Ass

Catching up a bit:

Liked the visual essay Less Talk More Rock on BoingBoing last month. Good approach to tackling a problem in games that assails every medium; how to reconnect with core principles and the unique potential of an art form in the face of commercial dilution and the imported sensibilities of other media.

Getting “back to basics” can be much more than just turning back the clock. Taken in its more profound sense, it’s also the key to moving forward.

Saw Kick-Ass last night. Not bad, though our crowd might have been happier if the movie had just been called Hit-Girl (Yeah, yeah… balanced round-up of that little controversy here).

I confess to not having read many of Mark Millar’s comics yet, although I’ve noticed that every time he comes up, someone always seems to be angry at him. What’s that all about?

For me, the coolest part was seeing THE preview in a theater for the first time, and hearing SP name-checked in the movie.

Oh, and the Sparks song!!

Where Your Eyes Don’t Go

The esteemed Mr. Manley sends word of a cool game by producer and director Tyler Glaiel and artist Jon Schubbe called Closure.

It’s a spare independent flash game now being developed for other formats which plays with some of the ideas I talk about in Chapter 3 of UC to great effect.

It’s really cool so I decided to link to it—and then realized that I already had an email from Tyler Glaiel telling me about the game over a year ago.


I am so behind on my email.

Anyway, check it out!

Toronto à la Will Wright

From the top of the CN Tower (click for big version).

I noticed how from high up and far away, crossing perspective lines resolve to almost parallel, giving an eerie Sims-like quality to the surroundings in photos when zoomed in and cropped. I especially like the people:

I mean, geez. Where are the little floating diamonds, Dude? And yet… as real as you and me.

Life imitates art, example #387,941,229 for your consideration.

Ruben and Lullaby

Okay, not comics maybe, but you might want to check out this nicely executed choose-your-own-emotion game/story thingey by Erik Loyer and Ezra Clayton Daniels that I just downloaded to my iPhone.