Any Given Critic
Erik Larsen (Creator of Savage Dragon, Image Comics Co-Founder, now Publisher) has a weekly column over at Comic Book Resources (CBR). This week, it addresses the worthwhile topic of the value critics have in the industry. I've never really enjoyed Erik's writing or art, I'm not usually fond of his column, but I do think he's done some very impressive things as Publisher of Image Comics. That's my opinion, and it's a nice segue to some of his very valid points.
I encourage you to take a look at the article, but wanted to quickly summarize two points that I agree very strongly with.
* Despite what critics may say, it all comes down to one thing. What do you think? It's pointless to dissect what qualifications any given critic may or may not possess. Their opinion is their opinion. It is not fact. Different writers and artists will impact us all differently based on our individual tastes and that happens regardless of the quality of the execution. Form your own opinion despite what anyone says.
* As Erik says quite succinctly, "Criticism has it's place. I think it has value. If you follow the writing of a certain critic and become accustomed to his or her taste in relation to yours, you can get a decent idea of whether or not you might like something. And I think that's valuable."
And that's really the key, finding someone whose comic "eye" for art and "ear" for dialogue most closely resembles your own unique appreciation of the medium and using them as a guide.
He goes on to explain the value of critical anaylsis for creators. If a reader or reviewer thinks something is confusing, he wants to know that. If they think something was fantastic, he wants to know that too. He won't always *use* that feedback as a creator with his own vision or alter his style necessarily, but it can help with developing the craft. All in all a great column from someone I have a new found respect for.