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Brigitte Baker says
I have the hardest time explaining to people that that’s how my brain WORKS. 100 good comments + 1 bad comment = I’m a piece of crap.
depression comix says
The strip contains a paraphrase of actual “constructive criticism” I received a week two weeks ago, and I know this feeling well.
Marith Flugelhorn says
I remember that critical comment, and I remember thinking as I read it, “This is going to hit the author disproportionately hard, and the person who wrote it KNOWS that – it’s a comic about depression, ffs – and crafted it specifically to hurt them. ugh.”
I wish I’d said this at the time, but it’s still true now: that comment is crap. Even if it was not made for the purpose of hurting you, it’s just plain wrong. Your art is great and the poses are naturalistic.
Of course they are – that’s what makes them so relatable.
Look at panel two, here, hand not folded tight but interlocked, eye not closed but staring semi0vacantly at the table..
That’s me, sitting out in the back garden, just staring at the grass… waiting for another day of missing my wife to be over and another day closer to whenever I’m going to die.
The art is SO good that you don’t even see it as art, they are real people.. I’m already semi-in-love with the stutter girl.. (name?)
You’re absolutely right. A person who’s well can take critique, hell if you’re not mentally ill you can probably deal with trolls and outright abusive assholes too.
Bit if you’re not… All the visual hints are there, in the poses, manner of speaking etc. This comic is spot on on that, such schoolbook example. I’ve shown strips of this to people when trying to get them to understand. It actually works sometimes.
Hopes for stutter-girl to improve BTW, very vicious circle she’s in.
Brigitte Baker says
I feel like you’re in my brain.
You know what makes you great in my mind, tho? You’re putting yourself out there, let the chips fall where ever….. It’s more than I can bring myself to do, do you’re a hero! 🙂
depression comix says
I dunno about the hero part, but goddamn it with depression criticism feels like it destroys you as a person, it becomes not just about the art.
Morgan Bondelid says
Esmerelda Bohème says
Oh no… keep doing art lol. Always a critic around anyway.
1 single troll sometimes is all what it takes for one’s smallest sparkle of confidence to die …
that’s why we take almost everything seriously …. we do not like trolls or critics ….. for you it’s a whatever , for us it’s life or death
thanks for the post
I really feel this one. I hate it when self-resentment wins, and it almost always does win.
Marke Johnston says
Alicia Whitmire says
Oh God, this is so real to me. So spot on for someone with BPD.
Peter Watson says
Oh man, this one breaks my heart.
Lilit Lobos Heterónima says
I´m sorry you have to listen this… Aunque nada como lo que una misma se dice, esa arpía sí que es terrible!
Katharine Gleason Champagne says
I have a fear of giving critique thanks to one negative experience. I basically left half a paragraph of compliments on Character 1, said “Character 2 isn’t really up my alley but” and left another half paragraph of compliments. The artist BLEW UP at me – for much more than a paragraph – about how disrespectful I was being, how I was going out of my way to insult her, that I was trying to force her to change a finished picture she was proud of for my own selfish reasons. It has to have been over ten years now and it still gets to me.
depression comix says
It’s hard to know what kind of mental precipice the artist is hanging on. When you view things through the filter of depression, everything positive seems very small while the negative is threateningly large. That’s what you deal when interacting with depressed people, and it’s an incredibly delicate situation to give feedback.
Katharine Gleason Champagne says
I tend to hold onto the negative for years. Even when I know it doesn’t matter – or know it never mattered to begin with – it’s still THERE, and still impacts my behavior.
I can get through a lot courtesy of good ol’ sarcasm and spite 😉 but I’ll still hang on to whatever happened for much longer than I should.
I’m sorry to hear that; it does sound like an unfortunate situation all around. Still, hanging on a precipice doesn’t excuse pushing other people with that kind of behavior, especially online where it’s much easier to exit a conversation/continue it later. I’ve been on that precipice myself and it can be much easier said than done, but I don’t want people feeling like they have to walk on eggshells around me.
Still, if you want tips on how to critique better, I think the new-users guide for r/DestructiveReaders is helpful: https://www.reddit.com/r/DestructiveReaders/comments/5p5xon/welcome_to_destructivereaders_new_users_please/. It’s specifically for writing, but I think the principles remain true for other creative works as well. And personally, it’s much easier for me to see past that filter if I feel like the other person really took the time and made an effort to understand my work, which this way of critiquing is helpful at doing.
Just a small note – “uncanny valley” refers to the situation where the characters are TOO lifelike and realistic while the viewer knows them to be artificial (like hyper-real game characters) – that’s the source of the problem, the discontinuity between visual realism and internal acceptance of artificiality.
So saying something is “uncanny valley” is, for my mind, a compliment.
But, having said all that, I DO understand the meaning behind the comic.
Still, it’s not to say that critique and criticism is bad… just our own handling of it.
I have always (since conscious logical thought started that “people can’t offend you” – it’s only you who can decide if you’re offended or not so the offence is inside your mind.
I do art in ink – some people love it, some people hate it (and grey-area degrees within love-hate)… to react so violently towards one’s own work just because of some external opinion is the “issue”, not the opinion itself.
Maybe I just don’t place any value on other people so that their opinions are also valueless to me?
The only person whose opinion mattered to me is gone now… and she loved my art. It was made for her, with all of love.
Logically, “it’s only you who can decide if you’re offended or not” is sound, but unfortunately emotions come into play and we do not often have control over that. Throw in a mental illness and you have less control. That’s why I think that this advice is particularly useless for a lot of people, because emotional reactions are biochemical and not a switch. Most people don’t have the opportunity to think before they get offended if they should or shouldn’t. Not that we shouldn’t *try* to be less offended, but this kind of advice should go in the “easier said than done” pile.
However – I wasn’t trying to give advice that people “chose not to be offended”.
That’s almost impossible, even in the most self-actualised person ever (me = far from that)
I was more trying to day that nothing is offensive as such because “offence” is in the mind of the offended.
I’m not offended by the word “f*ck” (vulgar form of copulation, censored there in case this forum censors it) yet others are. However, I do self-moderate in “polite company… and yet, “bugger”, “bloody”, “shit”, get less moderation.
I’m offended by stupidity and yet there seems to be more and more of it about so obviously others aren’t all that offended by it.
“Offence” is like “art” – it’s in our head, we can’t control what we like in art or what offends us, it’s all a product of genetics and upbringing, situations, current mind-frames, current level of coping with whatever is “wrong2 with us, etc…
It’s more of a case of reasoning with yourself – “Why the hell do i even care what a person that i will never see, never meet, never get to know or understand why they thought that… dislikes my artwork?”.
But, as you said, when 50 positive and encouraging comments get marginalised over the one negative comment… that’s the depression/mental illness taking over.
However – we can’t blame that “one negative comment”.
Did you ever see the latest Red Dwarf series, #12, TimeWave – criticism is illegal… and the problems it (the illegality) brings.
That some people respond badly to critique is not any reason to stop it or ban it (not saying that’s what you suggested!) – when it gets down to it, our mental illnesses and conditions are ours… not someone else’s to have to work around and live within; especially when they might not even know we have these issues.
I think the biggest issue is when you get a comment, well-intended or not, which offers no suggestions for improving whatever concern was expressed. It’s a bit worthless if you can’t even attempt what they’re suggesting or try it out to see how you feel about the change or if you’ve already tried what they’re thinking of but it’s vague enough that you can’t be sure. But above all else, nothing hurts more than someone basically saying “I don’t care.” Because you can’t make them care once they’ve come to that conclusion, and depressed or not, that offends our very being.
I guess that’s why I got more upset because I almost never got comments on anything I put online and I got incredibly flustered and irritable if I only received vague compliments from scattered friends. (I also have a certain level of trust issues and it makes it hard for me to take compliments overall; I’m trying to work on that but I always worry that secretly, deep down, they feel the opposite and simply can’t bear to tell me the truth or else that they truly believe what they’ve said and that means I’m going to disappoint them sooner rather than later.) I knew it sucked and I wanted some suggestions but I rarely got them. Whenever I did get some help, I made the common mistake of arguing against some of it until I could wrap my mind around where I’d faltered or else I stumbled, uncertain how to proceed, and eventually gave up. Over time, I lost all my drive to draw, especially after I decided life drawing and starting over entirely might be the only thing I could do to improve but I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to attempt it. The only reason I got anywhere with writing is because 15 years ago I decided to improve it, kept dabbling but rarely finishing anything, and here I am. Almost no one reads it when I do put it out there, and it’s still blah, when I do finish something. I can’t win, I guess. :\
But please, keep making these comics, especially Depression Comix! They’ve been truly cathartic for me, even the ones that related less to my personal situation because it proved that life is just different for everyone, even when you’re depressed. That made it more real and nuanced, simply a position to be in, and less like the death sentence that it feels like.
You’ve improved a lot over the years, it’s pretty clear from the various archives (here and with Sexy Losers.) You could still work on the fluidity of the poses/expressions because we all can, it’s not as intuitive as people would think, but this style (which reminds me of Archer) isn’t for everyone. There’s not much you can do if it doesn’t resonate with someone on a certain level: no one can like every style of art and they shouldn’t expect that. And dialog is always hard, which is what most writing in comics ends up being. There needs to be a balance between how people actually talk and between proper writing conventions so that it invokes a casual nature but can still be understood and not trip up the reader. (Krazy Kat is an amazing comic overall, for example, but Krazy’s dialog gives me a headache. He/she has such a thick accent that I can’t read more than a few strips at any given time.)
Um, I’m sorry if my own comment makes you want to burn your art supplies (ha ha, I realize you are not your characters, but I’m not sure how else to phrase it.) Because of my dearth of feedback over the years, I always try to leave some if it comes up, unless I can’t without definitely hurting someone’s feelings. It’s the only thing I couldn’t get, like I was in a constructive criticism drought. (Ironically, I’ve experienced it from the other end too… people would ask me how their cooking was and I didn’t know enough to offer any insights, most of the time, so I just said I liked it or didn’t like it… And felt bad, knowing what they really wanted but I couldn’t give.)
Opinions are hard. @_@
Thanks for your kind words. The thing is, I guess for me, the thing about criticism is that I kind of expect that there has to be some kind of relationship first. I’m autistic, which affects how I relate to people and I know that I can’t really discern criticism from hate. If it’s someone close to me and I’ve asked them for advice, I’m comfortable in knowing that the advice isn’t intended to criticize *me* as a person but some aspect to a problem I need help with. Without this familiarity with the person, it comes off as mean spirited. It’s a kind of an internal rule for me, I can’t understand why someone would feel free to criticize a stranger as I certainly don’t feel free to do so myself.
As for the dialogue, it’s awkward. What’s weird is that this is the way I talk as well, so for me, this is *natural*. Again, this is autism playing a role in what I do, I tend to make connections and play with phrases that make sense to me but not for others. It’s frustrating because I often have to explain myself when to me it’s obvious, and my explanations involve my awkward way of speaking so it doesn’t help at all.
As for the change in art style, recently I went to an all-digital format. I am not used to this change and there are going to be some growing pains. Also, I am aiming for a different art style away from the anime style of Sexy Losers so right now I am in a period of experimentation. This is a transitional “style” — one where I really focus on anatomy and proportions — until I feel I know it good enough to play again. A comment I got a few years ago really stuck with me — “he still doesn’t know how to draw hands”. So this is my way of trying to relearn how to draw.
For the most part I don’t get comments about the art, most comments are about how the comic relates to them and for me this is exactly what I want. For me, the art is just about trying new things and seeing what works for me and what doesn’t.
I like how you do the dialogues, not many of those around that are soo relatable to me. My brain goes on constant “wiki walks” that I easily get distracted. I really like your writings in the patreon emails too. Thanks Clay for you being you 🙂
Tiamat Noricum says
Too damn relatable… :/
Jose Bello says
The best comments ive gotten was Its a “sadistic” house for an architecture project and “your drawing gave me nightmares”.
Those are the BEST drawings… the one that give nightmares.
Art should either settle the unsettled or unsettle the settled… if you can do both in the one picture you’re an art-goddess.
Settled… unsettled… or is it just rubbish?
Reminds me of the Architect Sketch by Monty Python …
Yeah, this happened to me. Somebody compared my art to that of Christian Chandler, and I felt so humiliated I deleted it.
Yeah – I can see why (had to google it though).. I’d have done the same.
But – remember – you and I might think his art is amateurish and shite (sorry!)… but there are people who do like it and respond to it, buy it, etc..
The thing with art is that the liking or disliking of it is absolutely and totally within the mind of the viewer. That somebody might have seen your art as having bold colours,simple designs, flattened layout and thought of those other (personal opinion) rubbish art pieces
It doesn’t make him/her right – it’s just their internal vision of it.
I can’t stand Picasso’s cubist period art (I’d burn one if I found it in my attic (no I wouldn’t – I’d sell it to one of the morons who thinks it’s wonderful)) and yet people will pay millions for it for galleries and private collections.
There was a super-nothing photo of a green riverbank + bland dead river + green river bank.. it was totally nothing, a photo a 4 yr old might have taken… a photo I;ve thrown out 100s of times as a “mistake”… and it sold in Europe for £3 million.
There really is no such thing as “art”, simply because the definition of “art” doesn’t really exist – “art” is purely internal (or externalised by mutual agreement).
Even if 1000 people agree with be about Cubism – that doesn’t make us right and it;s crap…. it doesn’t make us wrong and it’s art.
Simply because opinions can’t ever be right or wrong.
Elie Hirschman says
This, very hard. Everybody can do the thing I do better than me, so why bother doing it?
Because the doing it not for them, it’s for you.
Commercial art is for a market – the painter paints what will sell.
“True” art is you expressing yourself.
Just because Jimmy or Jenny can speak clearly and enunciate better than you is NOT a reason to be silent. (a non-art example)
True expression is not market-art or rote-repeating. Even if you paint the same things and say the same things… they come from inside you, an expression of you.
That’s why “bother doing it”.
Yaron Kaplan says
Hey, is that Shinuji talking with the depressed artist?
Opus the Poet says
How long between updates are we supposed to wait before sending a search team?
The next update will be on June 16. It will be a three strip update.
O, good, you´re okay-
Who here is okay??!?
If we actually knew each other, this would be the point where I’d call you on the phone. I get the impression I’ve offended you, at least,, I can see how that could have happened, if it did.
I won’t try to explain, and just say sorry if I’ve offended you.
I love your work and look forward to seeing more of it.
No offense at all, it was just a joke. My sense of humour is kinda on the dark ironic side. None of us are okay, or we wouldn’t be here!
…and once you explained it was a joke I could actually laugh at it.
Who said a joke wasn’t funny if you had to explain it?