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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The question of blog relevance. 

David Fiore links to an article on the Comic Treadmill, regarding a column by Heidi McDonald at the Comic Buyer's Guide on the relevance of blogs.

(Boy, was that one longass list of citations, or what?)

The Heidi quote:

I have been reading a lot of blogs lately. And I have to say a lot of them are really dopey. (No names.) Give 1,000 monkeys 1,000 typewriters and eventually they’ll write an issue of Night Nurse or create a blog. And, except for a very few sites, I realized they can pretty much be safely ignored. When you give everyone a voice, no one can hear everything.

H responds to this point by point (and quite well), and nails in one sentence precisely what I like about blogs and blogging so much:

My daily blog trips are the equivalent of my custom made comics magazine written by people whose writing I know I’ll enjoy.

How true. I would take the blogs I read on a daily basis over CBG, Wizard, or TCJ any day of the week. Why? Perhaps it's the general appeal of the internet -- a sense of immediacy and a nowness that the print journalism simply cannot compete with.

In "regular" media, newspapers and magazines have to compete with more immediate online journalism by offering more in-depth and informed material than can be offered on the internet. In comics journalism, this simply is not the case. I find out more about the movings and shakings of the comics world from Graeme, David, Marc, Kevin, and Shane in one single day than I would find in an entire issue of any of the above-cited magazines. Every single one of these gentlemen posts with more wit, insight, and candor than any of the "professionals" who get paid for it.

(And as to the question of "professionalism" among these bloggers: Graeme's column is proof enough that he is a gifted writer, Kevin has journalistic training as evidenced by his excellent interviews, Marc and David are easily the smartest kids in the class, and Shane has a nose for news like no one else. I myself have quite a lot of journalistic training, believe it or not, and a wall of awards to back it up.

By the way, this isn't to suggest that the others on my linklist aren't equally as worthy; those five are just the guys who popped into my head first.)

I'm loathe to say that Heidi's speaking from a mean, petty place, because that would be... mean and petty of me.

But attacking the professionalism of a large, faceless group of strangers is precisely that. It smacks of resentment of "those durn amateurs" springing up and thinking we have a right to an opinion, and that we need to be put back in our place. Worse, I believe her column is aimed at people who are not quite familiar with bloggers yet, so Heidi is attempting to downplay our signifigance before the reader can form his or her own opinion on the matter.

Which would be... you guessed it, mean and petty. Sure, a lot of us could be safely ignored, but you know what? I've never really needed the CBG, the TCJ, or Wizard to find out what's going on with comics, nor to find interviews or in-depth news. I get all that already, on a daily basis. Oh, and it doesn't cost me anything.

That's the other thing. No money is changing hands anywhere. The only currency is linkage -- and that's given freely enough between the bloggers, because we're all a pretty good bunch and we want to do something positive for comics, and why not help each other in the process? Heightened awareness and participation can only benefit comics.

None of us do this for money. None of us see a dime for our efforts (most of us, in fact, pay out of pocket), and our output is at least twice the volume of any given paid comic magazine writer by sheer virtue of the fact that most of us post at least twice a week. We don't get paid. But we do it anyway.

Because we love comics.

I'm not going to suggest that the comics bloggers are the créme de la créme, the best and the brightest, and the rest of you can go to hell while we idle away the hours in our ivory towers. But we are a steadily growing group of comics fans who care enough about the artform to write and track it on a daily basis, who care enough to put our attitudes and opinions in line of sight of anyone who wants to snark us mercilessly. A message board grants some measure of anonymity, because you're just one voice among hundreds in a single page, but writing for your own blog... you put yourself up there to get ripped to pieces with every opinion piece you post.

So what we have are comics fans who dedicate countless hours a week to finding the stories and quirks and humorous anecdotes and nostalgia and generally interesting shit about comics and write about them. Sometimes you get slice-of-life, sometimes in-depth critical analyses of series both old and new, sometimes you get some guy just screaming vulgarities at you in a humorous fashion. I don't know about you, but the sheer variety of comics commentary available on the comics blogo-sphero-googelplex makes me fucking giddy.

We blog because we love it. We do it for no money and can only hope for the faintest wisp of praise. And that is enough.

Don't you think that's worth something, Heidi?

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