Thursday, October 06, 2011

Imposing Limits on Creators:

I just noticed something from friend of the blog Reese on the sad decline of Frank Miller.

I think it speaks a great deal about, art, ego and limits to human creativity. Neil Young's adage it's better to burn out than to fade away. Most human geniuses have limited genius work in them. The Beatles broke up before writing a bad song. John Lennon was murdered (and limited his outcome during his post-Beatles years) before he was able to write bad material. The rest of them have produced their share of mediocre or bad material over the years.

Likewise Led Zeppelin broke up before producing bad material; but that didn't stop Page or Plant from producing a good deal of mediocre work post-LZ.

Likewise examples abound of artists working well in a band only to produce crappy solo work.

This speaks to both synergy and the non-egotistical recognition of your limits. I'm conflicted a bit here. I recognize record companies, producers, publishing companies and editors often destroy creativity and outside the box thinking. But other times their input, wisdom and constraints add necessary value.

Most people just can't do it all. That's the problem. In order to produce a great album, comic book, movie, etc. you need to do tons of (including little) things well, but usually about 5-8 core things very well. Most people can do one or two (if they are really talented maybe three). Group efforts where editors/producers/outside songwriters play a core role can better guarantee covering all needed bases.

In Frank Miller's case, the guy has obvious talent; but unless he has, as was pointed out, a brain disorder, this is an obvious case of an egotistical talent badly phoning in his artwork, and pushing crackpot bad writing ideas.

He's Frank Miller, so no stinkin' editor is going to tell him what to do. But the sad part is, if someone he respected were willing to throw water on his crap, he probably could have been doing some cool work over the past decade. The guy can draw well; so if he, for instance, collaborated with Neal Adams, Bill Sienkiewicz, Alex Ross (or even just have Klaus Janson inking/finishing his work like in the original) he wouldn't have been so crappy with his artwork because he would be disrespecting their contribution. Etc. Etc.


Reese said...

This reminds me of the forward in Stephen King's book, On Writing, in which he proposes the adage "The Editor is Always Right." No one follows all of his editor's advice, but editors do know what they're talking about.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Reese: Yup, producers too in music.