Saturday, February 25, 2006

Terrible Twos. 

(Is that how you spell "Twos"?)

It's been two years since I made this rambling, largely embarassing post. I don't know that I had any real concept of what I was doing, and at the time I knew more about comics blogs than I did about comics. (It was easier, then; there were, like, five worth visiting, out of about ten total. Only one of those two numbers has changed in two years' time.)

So technically Ringwood is two, despite the fact that more than half that time I've been updating about once every financial quarter. (Props to David Lawson for that particular phrasing, though I can't find the exact post he made it in.) Whatever. This place is two, even if the business hours have been wonky.

I don't know what people do on these anniversary posts. Talk about what they've learned? Somehow, "learned" seems like the wrong word. Maybe a more literal phrasing: What, in two years, have I observed and internalized?

Certainly my blogging friends have given me better instruction in comics than ten years of visiting comics stores ever could. They have likewise been expert in provoking me to care, passionately and vitally, about this artform, whether they did so by making me laugh, making me pause, or pissing me the hell off.

Not that it's all been shiny hearts and flowers. Like most I've simply lost interest, which led to the steady decline in posting frequency you longtime readers are all too familiar with. (Can you believe there was a time I'd make seven posts in a day?) Predictably, I don't pull down nearly the amount of hits I did in my prime, and and where I used to pull down 10-15 comments per post, now it's more like... well, scroll down a bit.

Even updating on the comics weblog updater thingy doesn't pull in the hits like it used to; there are now so many voices screaming to be heard that I simply get lost in the mix.

You see, I've got this idea in my head. This idea that there's a whole new breed of comics blogs readers that have no fucking clue who I am and find me a completely unnecessary stop on the whole 'sphere. Simplistic and self-centered, I know. But there it is. I wouldn't be a blogger if I didn't angst like fucking crazy.

Rose and Rick, two of my dearest partners in blogger angst and two people I consider good friends, have heard me go on and on (and on) about My Place in the Blogosphere. What purpose do I serve? What voice do I have? What unique spin or angle do I bring to the discussion? This isn't mere tempest-in-a-teapot vanity; I despise useless hangers-on and me-tooists and would sooner hang than become one myself. If I'm not serving a genuine purpose, the theory goes, I should get the fuck out of dodge and stop wasting everyone's time.

I ask these questions a lot when talking to those two. Rose has been pretty sage-like recently, offering sound advice to a guy who frankly needs some fucking direction. As a result, I won't be closing the doors here. There's no shame in letting the blog lie fallow, she said, until inspiration strikes. Fucking A right, Rose.

Anyway, "closing the doors" is the kind of vanity only permissible to those moving on to better things -- such as Rick going from EMP to DBS -- or for those who are genuine goddamn rock stars, like Graeme or John. I don't qualify.

Not that I've found my place, even now. There's a lot of sloppiness in blogging now; we seem to be going more for entertainment than edification, and as you'll see in the comments for the previous post, I'm leery of those situations. God bless you comedians for your recaps of old comics, for your "remixes" of current overblown hype comics, for your fond ribbings of silver and golden age lore. You have obvious talent and a smart fan's grasp of the material.

But the more of that shit I see, the more I feel like we're all extras in a Kevin Smith movie.

On the other side are the rare handful who post consistently insightful material all the time, who reach a level of constant analytical genius that's almost obnoxious. I can't compete with those guys, no fucking way. I'm not smart enough. Nor can I churn out the entertaining material that makes up the bulk of the "funny" blogs. I'm not funny enough.

I'm not in either category, and I don't know that I want to be. The "funny" guys offer safe, unchallenging material that fills the stomach without providing any nutrition. The "smart" guys preach to a small group of the converted, often confusing overanalysis with good criticism.

And that, to my eyes, is all we have left.

The blogosphere has lost all ambition.

Everyone's very comfortable, and the current Rock Stars of the comics blogosphere got there by doing safe material. No one's trying to change much of anything. The ones who "go places" use their blogs as launching pads into careers in established arenas... something comics professionals are often criticized for doing when they launch into movies or TV.

So, I will withdraw for a little bit. I will plot Ideas. I will see if I can, as has so often been suggested, put my money where my mouth is and lead by example. This isn't a battlecry or a manifesto or anything tiresome like that; fuck, it's not even a decent State of the Union.

But I did used to do stuff like the GREAT LOSERS GIVEAWAY, which kicked off a giveaway trend that lasted well over a year. (It may still be going, I don't know; all I do know is that no blog had tried anything like it till I did. Call me egotistical if you want, but it's the fucking truth.) I got something like 5,000 unique hits (you read right) in one day for that contest. A dialogue was created, by which I mean the formula of "I Write, You Read, That's It" blogging went out the window and communication became two-way. I put a comic I love in front of 5,000 people who may have had only an incidental awareness of comics at all.

Who the fuck is even trying to do that anymore?

So. Time to rebuild.

Happy birthday. I'll let you know what I come up with.

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