Storytelling Part 2

A couple of contrasting reviews to Malinky Robot, at least with the storytelling. Over at CBR’s Pipeline, Augie De Blieck appreciated the art (“I could stare at it all day. The inks, the colors, the panel compositions, the cityscapes, the facial expressions, the meticulous backgrounds… Beautiful stuff. Everything is well designed, pieces that belong to a whole but look unique and interesting on their own…..There’s an atmosphere to this book that is hard to capture in many other comics.”), but categorizes it as an “Art Driven” Comic, meaning one where the story is perfunctory, or in his words, “forgettable and occasionally nonsensical”.

Over at the Westword Blog, Thorin Klosowski also likes the art (“…some of the best you’ll ever see”), but thinks that the stories “are so filled with nuance and subtlety, you’ll need to read them a few times before it all really sets in.”

And a while back Brian Cronin at Comics Should Be Good (also from CBR) thought it was a “powerful work and well worth you picking up”, with”Karakuri” described as an “extremely well-crafted tale”

So: differing reactions, and that divide is a  question I’ve mulled over for the longest time, ever since The Comics Journal ran a review on “Stinky Fish Blues” way back when, lumping that story together with Farel Dalrymple‘s  Pop Gun War as “shallow” ones that ” create…barriers between the reader and the beautiful drawings” .

There was a discussion on a blog post a few years back, over the nature of good storytelling:

What is Storytelling?

No real conclusion then, not sure what the conclusion would be now.

What makes a good story? The kind Pixar movies tend to tell? What about your art house stuff, someone like, say, Tsai Ming Liang or Hou Hsiao Hsien?

Those who do end up reading the new Malinky Robot collection, do let me know your thoughts, good or bad🙂

9 comments

  1. The stuff in the bicycle comic was kind of hard to wrap my head around honestly, but I think it deserves another read as there was an obvious continuing thread and it was being told through a bunch of brilliant Sunday style newspaper comics. I’ll be checking it out again in the new Malinky Robot collection, that’s for sure!

  2. Malinky robot completely changed my views on storytelling when i first read it. In middle school it was my first exposure to subtle, character-based stories and led into my interest in film and literature. Please don’t let these reviews change your work, because i disagree with them completely. I think comic books (and their reviewers) are a bit behind the times. They can choose dramatic plots over Taiwanese new wave-style plots if they want, but don’t feel obliged to listen to them.

    1. I guess my semi-conclusion at this stage is to try my best to understand how traditional storytelling works and figure out if i should bend or break any rules – though most storytelling guides start off with the caveat that all their rules are breakable anyway :p Maybe could say that the comics are art driven in the sense that the art could play a role in helping reader interest so they could push past any unconventional storytelling, like how well-composed shots in arthouse movies can help no matter how long or static the shot :p

  3. Malinky Robot was my first read from you and I really enjoyed the art. I have just read it once through and I think I have to read it a few more times to really get the gist of it. I find the robot pitiful, being ordered around and left behind by Mr. Nabisco, but robots don’t have feelings or do they?

  4. Malinky Robot was my first read from you and I really enjoyed the art. I have just read it once through and I think I have to read it a few more times to really get the gist it. I find the robot pitiful, being ordered around and left behind by Mr. Nabisco, but robots don’t have feelings or do they?

  5. I have become more and more bored with conventional plot formats. Life isn’t like that.

    In particular, the idea that everything in a story depends on conflict is, I think, a very tired convention.

    1. i wonder if some people do see their lives in terms of conflict and resolution though… there probably is that element in all lives, but maybe its a question of how much emphasis it’s given in the story, and especially how conventionally its laid out…

  6. I think what throws people off is that Malinky has the setting of one genre (Cyberpunk science fiction) and the storytelling style of another genre (Slice of Life), meaning that some can’t see the story, cus they are looking for the wrong story, am I making sense?

    It reminds me a little about what a friend of mine said about travelling to japan: “I felt like I was in an anime that never started,” since he could recognize the “setting” from a genre of stories (modern-day anime), but this wasn’t a story, it was reality.

    Malinky was sort of the same for me, it felt like actually travelling to a place I only know from movies and stories, but seeing their reality, not just the stories that’s supposed to take place in that setting.

    In the end, that’s what storytelling is all about, isn’t it? Taking you to places you haven’t been to meet people you haven’t met.

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