December 10, 2007

The Artistic Paradox

I wrote this as the introduction to an anthology for a local group. It gets into some hows and whys about artists and readers and the relationship between them.

I'm curious what you might think about it. For me, the core is the paragraph that starts, "Artists are an interesting bunch . . ."

"A story unread is a zen conundrum, a shout in an empty universe. Unread, unheard, a writer is a dying thing." Tad Williams, The Writer's Child

I love anthologies.

I know, "traditional wisdom" says that they aren't marketable. They aren't popular. They're too haphazard. Too hit or miss.

But I completely disagree. I love anthologies because of what they represent -- a diverse group of stories by a diverse group of artists. Now, I can understand that if you have no intention of trying to read something other than a select style of story or a select genre, an anthology may not appeal to you. But I enjoy reading all types of stories and hearing different voices.

And that's what makes this collection so cool. This anthology has allowed a number of voices to be heard, some for the first time. The stories are "various and sundry" and this provide a perfect example for why I happen to love anthologies and other people happen to hate them. For in this book, there are examples of historical fiction, fantasy, superheroes, and "indy" comics. With two exceptions, they were created by a team, which added to the challenge, since no team had worked together before this project . . . although a few teams may continue working together. (And a few teams may never speak to each other again.) It was an interesting dynamic, and every person involved learned something new about their art or about the "industry" or about both.

To be honest, if I had been smart I would have brought my camera to some of the meetings and filmed some sort of reality show documentary about the making of the project. There was a lot of human drama -- which was amplified by the fact that you had a bunch of artists getting together and working together.

Artists are an interesting bunch. Many artists are self-effacing, meek, and humble -- unwilling to share their work with the world out of a fear of rejection, coming from the introspective nature that cultivates their artistic tendancies. Other artists are arrogant and egotistical, growing from the recognition of their own talent and the knowledge that, simply put, it's good. But the majority of artists are a strange combination of the two -- living paradoxes -- humble and unassuming, yet confident and assertive. Their introspection is tempered by an arrogance that their story is worth reading, that people will enjoy it and laugh or cry or have some sort of reaction. When you get these strong artistic personalities in a room, sparks fly. There's really no way around it. (Honestly, though, it makes life more fun . . . albeit a little more stressful sometimes.)

And yet, it happened. By some miracle, the stories were completed. The files were finalized. And a fantastic anthology was birthed. The truth is, not every story may be your cup of tea. But in reading this anthology, you will get to hear a new voice you may not have heard before and experience some strong artwork that, while you may not LIKE the style, you will definitely appreciate.


The anthology this introduction appeared in is called Syndication and can be found here, if you're interested in getting it and checking out what I was referring to. There's some fun stuff in it from a diverse group of artists.

~ Ben

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