Sunday, December 17, 2006

My Letter to The New York Times

The Masters of American Comics museum exhibit has been a recurring subject here in The Hayfamzone Blog. Four of the inaugural articles back in August discussed the exhibit's stay at the Milwaukee Art Museum, and in November I wrote about seeing the comic book portion of the exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York City. (And, by the way, any newcomers to our humble little blog can read all of my postings back to the very first five-watt entry by clicking on the Archives links that can be found over on the right side of this page.)

Back around the time that the exhibit opened in New York City, The New York Times printed an article having to do with the exhibit. I already linked to that article in my earlier posting, but here is that link again. The article struck me not as a fair-minded review of the museum exhibit but rather as a (failed) attempt by the author at self-aggrandizement. I was absolutely infuriated that such a rambling and unfocused and generally poor write-up was what The New York Times was serving up as an invitation to an exhibit that I had found to be excellent.

So infuriated was I that I dashed off a letter of comment to the newspaper. They won't be publishing it so here, for your edification, is my letter to The New York Times.

To the Editor:
Re "See You in the Funny Papers" (Weekend Arts article,Oct. 13):
Should a review of a museum art show be a descriptive record of the works that are included in that show, or should it be a lament for artworks that were excluded? The writer of your review of the "Masters of American Comics"exhibit at the Jewish Museum and the Newark Museum seems more concerned about informing us that he lunched with an artist who was not in the show rather than giving a thorough accounting of the actual exhibit. Your reviewer at once parades a contempt for the artform of comic books (when he ridicules the work of artists who replaced his brunch-buddy in the show as "half-baked...superhero comic artists" when in fact geniuses of comic book artwork like Joe Kubert and Lou Fine who have been added to the show's roster since its Milwaukee incarnation are some of the finest craftsmen ever to have their artistry grace the pages of a comic book) and a faux familiarity with it (when he lavishly bestows upon an undeniably excellent artist the appellation "Picasso of the Comics" as if that individual were widely known by such a title). The most egregious effrontery perpetrated by your writer, however, was his relegation of the great Jack Kirby to a dismissive last-but-not-least pole position in the article. Jack Kirby is regarded far and wide as "The King"of comic book artists and viewing his artwork was my main reason for visiting this museum exhibit. If your readers seek an informed portal to the world of comic books, I hope they will visit my comicblog at
The newspaper won't be publishing my letter because I sent it to them almost a full two months after the article in the crosshairs saw print. Whoops! In an automated response I received after emailing my letter, it was explained that letters to the editor that are printed usually refer only to articles printed in the previous ten days. It took me a little longer than that to cobble my missive together; as any of you who have ever personally climbed into the hayfamzone know, the pace here is at all times head-spinningly frenetic and sometimes it takes a bit of time to get things done. I wanted at least to share my letter with you faithful readers, however, and now I have.
I announced at the startup of The Hayfamzone Blog that this corner of cyberspace would be an outpost of positivity and uplift, and for the most part it has been. Thank you for bearing with me through the rare exceptions to that mission statement such as the recent Tragedy in a Comic Book Store blog entry and today's Poser in Black and White (sometimes I wish I could double-title my entries!).
The Masters of American Comics exhibit continues through 28 January 2007 at the Jewish Museum and the Newark Museum, and I encourage everyone able to attend to do so.


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