I support fan works as a way to learn the many, many facets of creative production. From my work with Garry's Mod comics alone, I have learned...
- Image editing: I sailed through Digital Imaging class with all of the work I've done with Photoshop/Gimp making comics.
- Comedic timing: Most of my comedy writing came from feedback from my fan works.
- Accepting criticism/giving criticism: I used to be very defensive about my works, but now I understand how/why people give reviews: to help people improve.
- Storytelling: Fan works gave me a chance to learn from feedback, and nowadays, I use create.swf as a way to test storytelling in the field.
- Making friends/Joining communities: Fandoms are a great place to practice social skills or learn the hard way about how not to act.
- Video editing/animation: Before Garry's Mod/create.swf, I couldn't animate in Flash to save my life. Now I can easily jump back at any time. The same applies for video editing.
- Work ethic: I've learned more about the healthy habits of a work schedule making comics than I ever did from school.
Even now, I defend create.swf as a great training tool for other outlets, regardless of whether or not it is considered "art."
So, should Walfas comics/videos be considered art? I ask this based on the couple of critics saying create.swf is nothing more than a glorified sprite comic generator, but it's more than that...
- create.swf allows custom props that *you* draw, including custom characters and other things imported through .pngs. Theoretically, it may be used as a standalone animation engine.
- create.swf requires you to animate everything frame-by-frame. It's not like GoAnimate with canned animations or robotic voices: you actually have to animate everything yourself.
- create.swf's comics require a decent know-how of image editors like Gimp or Photoshop. If a comic is sloppily edited, most create.swf users frown and say it makes the rest of us look bad.
- create.swf does require discipline in order to use properly: if you pose characters incorrectly, make a badly-drawn speech bubble, or make a poorly-designed character, we will not let it slide.
- create.swf requires decent writing because that's all you have to work with. Without having to worry about a bulk of the character/background work, your creative writing is the only thing getting you by. If you can't tell a joke or tell a good story, you're as good as dead.
- create.swf requires time. You can't simply make your frames and generate a comic or video: it requires just as much work as anything else. The only difference is the parts/props/backgrounds were already drawn by the talented KirbyM, so we have to focus on writing, arranging everything, and editing (or for more advanced videos like what I do, voicing characters and making music).
After studying art criticism from the Greeks to now, I believe art is any form of unified creative work resulting in any range of emotions. This is why dance, which serves barely any function than to look pretty, is considered an art, or some forms of well-crafted food to inspire awe are considered art. A well-folded napkin shaped like a crane can be art, and Andy Warhol has proven even the design of a soup can could be art (with the intent to make us question, "Well, what is art?"). Therefore, any product of create.swf (that doesn't suck, that is) can be considered art. And don't say, "Everything made by create.swf sucks," because that isn't true: there is at least a dozen videos or comics that have made people laugh, cry, or whatever. We do have standards, and we frown upon anyone who sinks below them (such as the people who make poorly-designed characters or terrible stories/jokes).
As for the argument, "Well, create.swf eliminates the need to draw, so it's not art," most of the people who use create.swf can draw, but choose not to: create.swf, and indeed any form of prefab artwork (machinema, posing engines, etc.), focuses on two things: writing and collaboration. For us, artwork is not the main issue: it's about how we write things. We all love artists who spend hours on their drawn art, but we're hobbyists who would rather come up with stories and get feedback from our friends and colleagues. As I said before, prefab communities are a great place to begin learning the creative process: even if it seems like we're not producing "real art" now, it's developing us to we can make "real art" later.
However, if we are going to invalidate create.swf products as "not art," we must also invalidate other forms of art on the same grounds...
If create.swf is not art because it uses pre-made parts, the following are not art:
- Machinema comics and videos.
- Anything made with Poser or Vue.
- All games made by Unity, UDK, or GameMaker.
- All fractal generators.
- All sprite comics.
- Sculptures/Instillation Art (submitted by htfkid2000)
- Plunderphonic/Sampled music
If create.swf is not art because it is too easy, the following are not art:
- Speed sketches.
- Minimalist art.
- Photographs (especially anything with automatic settings).
If create.swf is not art because it focuses entirely on writing, the following are not art:
- Video game or comic stories, sans artwork.
If create.swf is not art because it is not drawn, the following are not art:
- Computer-generated art
- Machinema comics or videos
- Anything made with Poser or Vue
- All fractal generators.
- Sculptures/Instillation Art/Ceramics
If create.swf is not art because it cannot be sold professional, the following are not art:
- All fan works of any other media.
- All free works.
- Anything available through Creative Commons.
If we have to throw all Walfas comics/videos out as "not art," then we are no better than video games in the eyes of Roger Ebert, no matter how much time, effort, creativity, or anything we use in making our works.
However, I would like to address a counterpoint that gives Walfas a bad name.
Walfas is not a higher art than drawing. To tell somebody who is skilled in drawing that Walfas requires just as much effort is a lie. No two media contain the same skills, discipline, or effort. To compare Walfas to drawing is like comparing ceramics to literature or glassblowing to music composition. Walfas is about writing and framing shots, and drawing is about precise shading and curves. For a time, photography was not not considered an art because all photographers had to do was point and shoot: this took away credit, effort, art gallery space, and jobs from established painters. When somebody slaves away for hours on a drawing, and then they're told something somebody made by pointing and clicking took just as much effort, of course they have the right to be angry. As a Walfaser myself, I am angry at such a statement: it makes the rest of us look bad, including those of us who actually draw our own stuff!
Bad Walfas art is not art: it is crap. Also, non-art is non-art. A lump of clay is not art, neither is a pic of you in the bathroom mirror, and neither is a crappy picture/video of your OC or a bad comic. Just as every medium has its own standards, Walfas is no different. For example, this is not art because it doesn't meet standards. This is not art because it is a promo. This is debatable for how simple it is. This is art for its extreme detail, and so is this. This is humorous art. This is inspirational art. This is satirical art. It's not art by drawing standards or photo standards or modelling standards, but Walfas standards: they're unified works that elicit emotion.
Walfasers, do not think that you are above any other medium, and non-Walfasers, do not let our degenerates make the rest of us look bad. As artists, it is our job to collaborate and represent the best of what our medium/media has to offer. After all, many Walfasers can draw (and do draw to make their own sprites and backgrounds), and many other artists can collaborate with Walfasers or use create.swf to organize their stuff (as I said, it can theoretically be used as a standalone animation engine).
I'd also like to pick the brains on anyone who says create.swf comics/videos are not art if the above arguments have not said enough. Even if it's not art, could you at least agree that it could be a useful learning tool?