Four more possible Spewers

Now that I’ve started the topic, I’ve been keeping my eyes open, plus other people have contributed ideas, and since my last post on the subject I have four new potential entries for the list.  Since I’m basically doubling the list here, I think it is fair to recap the criteria once more:

  • incredibly prolific
  • awesome at their best
  • but with a nonexistent quality filter
  • largely intuitive in approach, as far as I can tell
  • even the best works are big messes (in a great way) rather than tightly constructed jewels
  • apparently wide-ranging in genre
  • but with enough tics that their work is instantly recognizable

One thing I do want to emphasize here is that there is no upper limit on quality.  You can be one of the masters of all time in your craft and still be a Spewer.  On to the list, in approximately descending order of how obviously they belong here:

1. Stephen King.  Perhaps less obviously so since he gave up cocaine, but still a pretty clear member.

2. Dave Sim.  A little different in that pretty much everything he’s done is part of one 25-year-long work, and that he’s kind of insane, but I think he fits well enough that I’m comfortable slotting him in.

3. Woody Allen.  Liza wasn’t sure about him when I proposed him.  For one thing, his best works are acknowledged masterpieces, but as I said, there’s no upper limit on quality here.  Also, it’s harder to fit these criteria as a film director; the fact that you’re directing a team of dozens of people rather than scribbling away in your attic imposes a certain having-it-togetherness that is a little antithetical to the Spewer aesthetic.  But I think he fits pretty well, disgorging a film every year, often on basically the same subjects, whether they are any good or not.

4. Pablo Picasso. Suggested by Daniel Koning in the comments to my last post on the subject.  I know about as much about him as any educated person would know, but beyond that am not really qualified to judge whether he fits into this category.  For example, did he make thousands of works because he was an artist with a compulsion to create and no filter, or just for completely mercenary reasons?  I feel like a true Spewer must fit into the former category, otherwise we have to start including people like Thomas Kinkade.

That brings us to the following population if we are as generous as possible:

  • Writers: Jack Vance, Michael Moorcock, Stephen King (I note they are all genre writers)
  • Musicians: Robert Pollard, Frank Zappa
  • Graphic Novelists: Dave Sim
  • Filmmakers: Woody Allen
  • Artists: Pablo Picasso

This is starting to get big enough to get actually meaningful!  Can we get it up to ten?  My next nominee: Honoré de Balzac.  To quote Wikipedia: “His magnum opus was a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815.”  Sounds pretty promising to me…

9 Responses to “Four more possible Spewers”

  1. Dan Shiovitz says:

    Hmm, how about David Lynch? I haven’t seen a huge amount of his stuff but it seems pretty intuitive and often a mess. (I admit I don’t know about the *creation process* vs the end result, since presumably you’re talking about the former being intuitive).

    Also, if you’re counting IF authors, Andy Phillips. Who you probably haven’t played anything by, but I wrote this review of one of his previous things and in retrospect it sounds like what you’re talking about.

  2. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    I’ve been considering Frank Gehry. I’m not sure if an architect can qualify the same way, since the work he does requires contracts and money, and isn’t entirely self-motivated, but I think it works. As far as the criteria are concerned:

    – incredibly prolific
    He has completed 45 works, according to Wikipedia, and some of those “works” are collections of buildings. Half of those were in the past ten years, and he has 21 “in progress,” so maybe he’s still at the peak of his spewage. To be honest, I’m not sure how this compares to other architects, but it seems high.

    – awesome at their best
    It’s undeniable that he’s had a large impact on architecture ever since the Guggenheim was completed in 1997.

    – but with a nonexistent quality filter
    He took a job to design the cafeteria for Conde Nast in 2000. It looks stupid.

    – largely intuitive in approach, as far as I can tell
    I don’t know where else this stuff could come from.

    – even the best works are big messes (in a great way) rather than tightly constructed jewels
    I think the Stata Center is amazing in so many ways, but there’s been tons of trouble with architectural basics like drainage and electrical systems. The Walt Disney Concert Hall, while gorgeous, caused traffic accidents on the LA freeway because it was too reflective during the daytime.

    – apparently wide-ranging in genre, but with enough tics that their work is instantly recognizable
    This you could argue, I think. His buildings definitely have similar thematic elements, and I think the varied types of work he does (exteriors, atria, plazas) could be considered “wide-ranging in genre.”

  3. Iain says:

    Woody Allen totally fits.

    In comics: Frank Miller?
    In books: Barbara Cartland?

  4. Iain says:

    Or even better, Jack Kirby.

  5. geenius says:

    I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned Neil Young. And if you’re open to including groups along with individual artists, I nominate Wu-Tang Clan.

  6. Mark Dominus says:

    I’m not sure he’s prolific enough, but maybe Neal Stephenson fits.

    He’s only written something like half a dozen novels, but one of them was a 2400-page monster.

  7. Austin says:

    Should we be subtle here? Updike and Roth come immediately to mind. Among prolific authors, aren’t the “spewer” qualities the rule rather than the exception?

  8. Aaron says:

    Mark E. Smith seems like another archetypal spewer. He, Pollard and Zappa are the three musicians who got their own shelves separate from the rest of my CD collection.

    Hm. There seem to be two kinds of prolificness in your list– people whose rate of releasing work is huge and maybe related to the lack of a quality filter, and inexorable forces like Woody Allen and Dave Sim, who don’t work so amazingly fast but also never stop.

    In the latter category, I would actually nominate Dylan.

    In the former… depends on how long they have to be prolific for. Alan Jenkins (Deep Freeze Mice/Chrysanthemums/Creams/Ruth’s Refrigerator) spent about a decade spewing two dozen albums but has slowed down since. Graham Smith only had a few years of spewing (but fell back on the spirit of it, to great result, with his “record a box set in one month” thing a few Novembers ago).

    Video games have a similar problem to movies– they usually take enough people to make that one person’s idiosyncrasies can’t dominate. There are probably solo developers in the webgame world that qualify, though– jmbt02 ( comes to mind.

  9. Darius K. says:

    Also on the video game front, you have Increpare:

    Roughly one game a week, usually interesting too!

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