Anytime you work in a field with creative people, it's difficult, because you are occasionally put in a situation where you evaluate each other's ability. Is it better to keep your mouth shut and play the role of a nice guy? Or is it better to offer honest critique for their benefit? I guess, it comes down to the invitation. Did they ask for your advice or opinion? Sometimes people only want to hear the positive, even if they ask you to be honest. Artists and writers are sensitive creatures. I've tried my best to sugar coat criticism. Lately, however, I think I've gotten more harsh. Maybe my experience as a Creative Writing teacher has tainted me?
Someone sent me a graphic novel and asked for my thoughts. It was a mostly glowing review. However, I did say...
"That being said, I do feel like (name deleted) is still finding his footing with the dialogue and overall plot structure. However, it's nothing that will damage this story. As a writer, it reminded me of my first steps into the process. No one else will notice, but in your gut, you know it could be more polished."
They never responded to my email.
Another person sent me a few issues of a comic book he was marketing. He asked for some feedback.
"That being said, the art is not good, and it corrupts the entire work."
"(name deleted)'s sense of anatomy, perspective, ability to render backgrounds, and his inking are sloppy and lacks a personal style that comes with being comfortable in the illustrative process. With some hard work, I do not doubt he'll develop as an artist, but he's not there yet."
"The writing is a little awkward in places, especially on the use of captions. It takes away from the pace more than it adds to the tone."
As before, they did not email me back.
I met a talented up-and-coming writer at Wizard World Texas who wanted me to review their work. It was very good, but I did notice some glaring grammatical errors.
"I apologize for nitpicking the grammar -- but I think if comic book writers are to be taken seriously, we need to hold ourselves to the same standard as other professional writers. Need to proof read for these mistakes."
In this instance, they responded. No problem. They were professional and tolerant of my advice.
Then just yesterday, I feel like I overstepped my bounds in a critique to a peer. I don't want to go into details, but I did apologize.
Any thoughts? How do you handle criticism? How do you give it? (pause) How do you really feel about my comics?