August 22, 2001
I don't read a lot of comics related commentary. In fact, op-ed pieces really
aren't my gig. Outside of Paul Riddell and Rick Klaw (both of whom grace the
pages of RevolutionSF, although I assure you that that is happy coincidence),
I find the entire 'internet columnist' idea masturbatory, at best. Hey, I'll
be the first to admit that this weekly column is my way of getting things off
of my chest, pushing buttons, and hearing myself talk.
It's good to be the editor.
I'm not a big fan of bulletin boards or newsgroups, either. I'll read them
- particularly the Warren Ellis forum and the Bendis board - but I rarely if
ever post. Not coincidentally, it was Ellis himself that got me worked up yesterday
I read his forum daily, usually twice. I find that it's a fair source of news,
and a really good way to get a feel for the industry and its attitudes, as the
forum is frequented by both fans and professionals - guys like Larry Young,
Gail Simone, and others. Ellis himself is apt to chime in with his brilliant
(and I don't say that with anything but sincerity) personality.
This time, though, I think he generalized, and badly. He makes mention in one
of the latest threads about internet columnists, saying, "Internet 'columnists'
are a plague on the face of comics journalism on the net. Anyone who can spell
-- and several who can't -- can become a 'columnist' just by shoving their jabber
into HTML on a semi-regular basis."
I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this - after, of course, you suffer through
Well, Warren, yes and no. I would argue that the same can be said of writers
of any ilk and genre - but the jabber is filtered out on a scalar basis by the
size of the publishing entity. For instance, RevolutionSF is obviously
(I hope) a professional site. We have on our staff known individuals, as well
as creators of varied and strong talent. Our site does not redirect to an address
at Geocities or Angelfire. To make an old media analogy, we are a new magazine,
with professional standards and goals. We are not just another fanzine printed
in someone's basement on cheap newsprint. We're building our circulation, doing
our best to grow and compete, and we're not on the level of a Time or
Cosmopolitan - yet.
Now, allow me to take this further, and ask why the Internet is the devil?
Were there not terrible 'indy' movies passed around on videotape before the
Web was commonly traversed? Were there not some absolutely abhorrent bands passing
themselves off as the next big thing because someone's parents could afford
to put out their tape? What about independent comics?
I hope that one hits home.
Yes, the Internet has given voice to more people than ever, because no longer
is distribution an issue. Money is no longer a road block to showing the world
your movie, or your new short story, or your screenplay. But you know, I think
that there was just as much crap out there pre-1990; it was just easier to avoid.
There were - and still are, arguably - plenty of incompetent, uneducated, talentless
writers given opportunity to see their words in print. There are editors who
hire family and friends, and dreamers who buy their way into their dreams. And
then, a lot of it comes down to taste, eh?
Peter David was and remains one of my favorite columnists. Though I often disagree
with him, he was concise, witty, and provocative - entertaining and educational
at once. My buddies at the comics shop where I worked found his columns to be
- and I quote - "Shit." Now, while it should be obvious that the people
I know are ignorant fools who are better off in their parents' basements, it
illustrates my point.
Yes, these columns are masturbatory and egocentric. Yes, I like to hear myself
talk. Yes, I enjoy provoking people. That's inherent to my nature, and the op-ed
column just happens to fit me like a glove. But is that limited to the internet?
Maybe I'm just jealous that Riddell got mentioned on the Forum and I didn't.