ZL – Hi, thanx for agreeing to talk to us!
RC -My pleasure, thank you for the invite!
ZL – Let’s start with a bit of an introduction, can you tell us your name, where you live and what site(s) we can find you on and how long you have been reviewing?
RC – My name’s Ryan Carey, I’m from Minneapolis, and I’ve been cranking out reviews for about a decade now, first doing primarily grindhouse and low-budget movies, and gradually transitioning into reviewing more and more comics and art ‘zines as time went on. These days I’m more or less done with the film review game, although a lot of my stuff is still up at my old blog, Trash Film Guru, but my current ongoing concern, so to speak, is Four Color Apocalypse where I try to post two or three new reviews of things I find interesting every week, and I’m also one of the co-founders of comic arts non-profit Fieldmouse Press, where I both serve on the board and function as the “lead” critic of our website, Solrad, so you can find a new column from me on there every Friday, as well.
ZL – When and where did you publish your first review?
RC – I deleted my first review ages ago, and can no longer stand to look at my early stuff. I was a rank amateur and probably feel the same way about it that a cartoonist does about their early work. I was having fun putting my thoughts out into the world because I’m an opinionated bastard by nature, but at the time that’s ALL I really was. Today I flatter myself that I actually know what I’m talking about and am a better writer as a result, but hey — I’m sure there are plenty who would disagree with that assessment!
ZL – What kind of work do you review and what would you say are your two or three biggest comfort spots for work when reviewing?
RC – My favorite things to review are avant-garde and experimental comics, mainly of the self-published variety, that literally no one else reviews and that very few people are even aware of. I like to think that I’m helping good artists expand their reach and maybe even sell a few more books. I don’t know that I have any “comfort spots” — I prefer to read and review things that either make me actively UNcomfortable, or that at least force me to consider the ideas they are presenting, and the methodology they are using to present it WITH, in new and unconventional ways.
ZL – Describe your approach to a review.
RC – I don’t really have an approach, I just start typing. Really. One thing I HATE both as a reader and as a writer are belabored plot recaps, I think they’re a total drag and don’t prove that you UNDERSTOOD anything, only that you read it, so I tend to focus more on what the IDEAS behind a work are and an artist’s methodology. Anyone can write a story synopsis, but it takes something approaching actual skill to let someone know why that story is worth their time and money. I also like to review a lot of non-narrative work, so the idea of a story recap in that context is a complete non-starter. So yeah, I guess I’m more about “pulling things apart” and examining whether or not an artist has achieved what I feel they set out to do.
ZL – What would you say are the key things a creator should do or think about when asking for reviews of their work?
RC – Look at the work of the critic you are reaching out to first and decide if they’re the person you really want to be writing about your stuff. I get that there are so many homemade works out there these days that many creators are hungry for any kind of attention they can muster up for theirs, but seriously — I get inundated with stuff in the mail that just isn’t in my wheelhouse at all, and while much of it is probably quite good for what it is, I’m just not the guy to be sending your super-hero or magical girl comics to. Just as there are comics for every taste these days, there are critics for every type of comic, so focus your outreach on critics that you KNOW love to read, and subsequently write about, the kind of stuff that you make. This is advice that applies to my situation specifically AND to everybody out there in general, creators and critics alike.
ZL – Can you tell us about the review you’re most proud of and why that is?
RC – I’m exceptionally proud of my review of Alex Graham’s Dog Biscuits because it’s a comic that tons of people read but that a lot of people also imposed their own agendas onto as it was serialized rather than allowing the work to speak for itself. I like to think I cut through the extraneous bullshit and noise and really analyzed what Graham was communicating with the story. But hey, judge for yourself.
ZL – Lastly, can you tell us where to find your reviews please!
RC – As mentioned earlier, my own blog is Four Color Apocalypse, and you can find a bunch of my stuff at Solrad. I also maintain a Patreon, which I update three times per week and you can join for as little as a buck a month, so help a guy out with a little beer money if you feel so inclined by going over there.
ZL – Thanx so much for your time!
RC – Thank you, this was fun!