I remember when I did Storeyville, it was "You shouldn't do it like this, you should do it like Rubber Blanket. Have you seen Rubber Blanket? Check this out." Or "If you could just tighten up your drawings." Everybody had something to say as opposed to, "Hey, cool comic." It was raked across the coals. Even John Porcellino, we were exchanging letters. He was like, "I just don't understand it. I don't like the ending. I don't get it. It just ends." I remember James Kochalka wrote me a letter and said, "It's too many pages; there's so much you can cut out." [Spurgeon laughs] That's fine, but I didn't invite that kind of criticism. I just sent it to people. You're welcome to criticize it whatever you want, but it was people telling me what I should do.
I like to be aware of whether or not I'm doing criticism - trying to talk about a given art/culture object/experience - or doing something else that may just look like criticism - offering suggestions on what would make a given arts/culture object/experience work better for a specific audience, for example. It's this latter thing that Frank is describing to Tom. It reminds me a lot of the practice of "giving notes" from my days as a theater student. It assumes that the note giver is coming from some kind of position of authority (i.e. he or she "knows better" in some way), which works pretty well within certain pedagogical frameworks (i.e. an acting class or a writing workshop), but, IMO, doesn't work as well in other contexts.
I'd point to Jim Emerson's post on The Happening as an example of this "not working well". Jim goes into great detail and makes a persuasive argument for why Shyamalan should have made different filmmaking choices, but Jim's argument only makes sense if you assume that Jim knows what Shyamalan wants out of his movie more than Shyamlan himself does. The changes Jim suggests would turn The Happening into a different movie - maybe one that Jim would like more, maybe one that a lot of other people would like more, too, but, nonetheless, a different movie from the one Shyamalan actually made.
Criticism needs to look at the given object/experience itself. That's not to say that people shouldn't engage in other kinds of discussions about arts and culture, including speculations on the kinds of changes that might have made a given object/experience work better for us or for some other kind of audience (like, commentary along the "Here's what DC should do to make their comics more kids-friendly..."-line). It's just that by taking the position of "knowing better", you put yourself in danger of closing yourself off from art/culture objects/experiences that work differently than you expect them to.
Also, it seems to me that there's more temptation to "give notes" when you're (a) talking about pop art/culture and (b) talking about it on the internet.