Daily Archives: September 15, 2008

Metapost: Roger Ebert on the Five-Star Rating System

So why am I posting a link to a blog posting from Roger Ebert on this here review site? This is a webcomic site, not a movie site! No doubt some you want to sit me down, pour me a nice, cold glass of milk, and say: “El Santo, webcomics are COMICS on THE WEB.”

And I’d drink that milk because it’s a particularly warm day in Seattle today, and because I need some calcium. But Ebert comments on an interesting grievance that may be of interest to the many reviewers who drop by this site: “You give out too many stars.”

Roger Ebert on giving out stars.

Really a little man jumping and clapping.

Hence, I’m posting this link because I get a lot of questions — surprise! — on why certain webcomics are ranked the way they do. Ebert discusses the topic of star ratings, and he elaborates on these nifty points:

  • Gene Siskel boiled it down: “What’s the first thing people ask you? Should I see this movie? They don’t want a speech on the director’s career. Thumbs up–yes. Thumbs down–no.”
  • Once the scent of blood is in the water, the sharks arrive. I like to write as if I’m on an empty sea. I don’t much care what others think. “The Women” scored an astonishingly low 28 score at Metacritic. “Sex and the City” scored 53. How could “The Women” be worse than SATC? See them both and tell me. I am never concerned about finding myself in the minority.
  • I have quoted countless times a sentence by the critic Robert Warshow (1917-1955), who wrote: “A man goes to the movies. The critic must be honest enough to admit that he is that man.” If my admiration for a movie is inspired by populism, politics, personal experience, generic conventions or even lust, I must say so. I cannot walk out of a movie that engaged me and deny that it did.
  • I cringe when people say, “How could you give that movie four stars?” I reply, “What in my review did you disagree with?” Invariably, they’re stuck for an answer. One thing I try to do is provide an accurate account of what you will see, and how I feel about it. I cannot speak for you. Any worthwhile review is subjective.

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The Webcomic Overlook #55: Jump Leads

What is it with science fiction’s obsession about getting lost?

You’d think that, a hundred years from now, scientists would’ve created something that would put GPS to shame. Or, that in a universe governed by either an interstellar federation or a corporation that controls wormhole jump points, there would hopefully be enough regulations and protocol to keep hapless starships from getting stranded in the middle of nowhere.

But no.

The Voyager, due to no small part of the Captain’s ridiculous interpretation of the Prime Directive, gets stranded 75 light years in the Delta Quadrant. The Robotech series is partially based on the Super Dimensional Fortress accidentally teleporting to the outer rims of the Solar System and the valiant crew trying to make it back to Earth. Sam Beckett bounced from body to body in Quantum Leap, clueless for the most part as to why he ended up in a certain period of time. And the family from Lost in Space … well, you get the idea.

Which bring us to the central premise of Jump Leads. The series was created by head writer Ben Paddon and an artist from Moscow who goes by the name of JjAR. Mssr. Paddon can’t take total credit, though: Jump Leads, like a continuing series, is written by a stable of writers, and Paddon, thus far, wrote the first two issues. Other writers with their names attached to the comic are Psycheverse associates Andrew Taylor, Euan Mumford (who wrote Issue 3), and Paul Varley.

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