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29 July 2012

Other Comics News Parade-O-Links 07292012

(Yep. Marvel made a Laff-A-Lympics comic.  Image stolen from Comic Vine.)

Here are some things I found interesting in the world of minicomics, comic books, graphic novels, small press, self publishing, zines, webcomics, cartoons, digital comics, other, etc. during the week ending 07292012:

  • The only Olympic games I ever cared about were the Laff-A-Lympics and Bullets and Bracelets.  (Hat tip to Noah Berlatsky.)
  • R. Crumb and some other old rich guy from France made a cartoon.  R. Crumb is "down wit dat". 

  • I wrote a report on RobCon.
  • I wrote a review of Dracula the Unconquered.
  • I tried to mow my yard but the blade got bent so I guess my days of giving an F what my yard looks like are over. 
  • Grant Morrison is going to stop making superhero comics (exactly like he did when he left X-Men and made some more personal stuff for a while) and then eventually, I'm positive, he will make superhero comics again because of course he would and he is totally not leaving superhero comics, he is just leaving those superhero comics. 
  • In other things that are totally not news I'm going to stop eating Fritos.
  • Until tomorrow when I start eating Fritos again.
  • With Morrison out of the way, I'm ready to write Action Comics.  Email me. 
  • Marjane Satrapi's Chicken With Plums is a wonderful book and it looks like it will be a wonderful movie.
Kickstarter, Kickstarter, Kickstarter.  Dan Nadel finally reached the breaking point and used one particular project as a target for a bunch of anti-Kickstarter arrows he had been sharpening up.  Oooh ranting!  Don't mind if I do!  

Kickstarter is today the same thing that I thought it was on the first day I ever heard about it.  A crowd funding tool with a social networking feel.  And I'm okay with that 100%.  Or, maybe 95%.  Let me break it down.  Here is what I like about that.  I like that it has made it very easy to help creators in completing and producing new work.  I like that you as a reader/customer can get in on the "ground floor" and pre-order the work and get special exclusives and junk.  That is neat.  That is like getting issues of Bantha Tracks in the mail as you wait for Return of the Jedi to be released.  I dig it.  I also like that some crazy stuff that “might not exist without it” can exist.  Yayyy crazy stuff.  I also like that it seems to help make books available faster than the normal 18 month to three year turn around we see with publishers. 

Now, let me break down what creeps me out about Kickstarter.  Dan Nadel touches on one part of it.  Amazon.  Maybe this is my years in book retail talking but Amazon is not a friend to be trusted.  Amazon is the nuclear power plant you don't want in your back yard.  Its power is undeniable.  It is more efficient, cleaner and less expensive but it may leave you pissing radioactive blood.  So you run down the street to where the hospital used to be and there is just an ugly zit faced kid there now.  He holds up his cell pad pod phone and tells you that if you want the medicine to get rid of the "glow piss" then you are going to have to order it from Amazon.  

But the Amazon problem is a part of the cost of capitalism right?  I know that is an over simplification but if you are going to use a tool you probably have to pay for it sometime right?  And that’s what Kickstarter is.  It is a tool.  And my biggest problems with Kickstarter are not with the tool but how people have chosen to use the tool.

When Kickstarter began I think that a lot of people, myself included, saw it as this great way of crowd funding projects that the publishers could not presently invest in.  These were underdog projects that “would not exist without it”.  There was a feel good story vibe about it and the comics community got behind it.  And not just in comics.  The New York Times called it “the people’s NEA”.  We collectively granted it the kind of goodwill a great charity would deserve.  We liked, we shared, we tweeted, we re-tweeted, we backed etc. etc.   

All the bloggers got behind it and started giving different Kickstarter projects free publicity.  Free PR.  And that my friends is probably where it got a little bit gross.   That is when it became no longer just a crowd funding tool but it became a PR tool.  That my friends is when existing publishers and existing successful creators that don’t need crowd funding started paying attention.  And now, it is not a crowd funding tool for those guys.  It is a new publishing model with a built in free PR machine.  

And I’m not against new publishing models.  And I guess a new PR machine is no worse than an old PR machine.  But it is important to remember why that free PR machine is there.  The comics community got behind Kickstarter in a big way and gave it free PR because of what we thought it was.  Because it was the little guy.  It was all of us in it together.  Because it was someone taking a chance and trying to make something that “would not exist without it”.  That free PR machine was built on the backs of the little guys and the crowds they created.  The crowd part of that crowd funding was built on a well intentioned community that wanted to be a part of something new and positive.  

And now, we have this.  And it is gross.  That is Michael Phelps showing up at your kid’s swim meet.  At first it is a big deal and the news vans show up and everyone gets their picture in the paper.  All that attention can’t be bad right?  But then you notice that Michael Phelps took all the kids’ medals and trophies home with him. 

    Oh, and one more last thing!  Did you know you can leave comments on these posts here at file under other?  It's true!  And, I'll probably respond.  Twitter and facebook killed the message boards but that's no reason why you can't argue with me, praise me or leave me recipes.  It's your intronet.  Have fun!

    And that's just a taste of some of the interesting things going out there in the wonderful world of comics and things. I can't keep up with it all but I do keep up with a lot of it on twitter and I try to re-tweet the good stuff. You should probably follow me there. If you did something to make comics better this week then high-five!

    Your best pal ever,

    Shannon Smith

    p.s. Say you want a leader but you can't seem to make up your mind. I think you'd better close it and let me guide you to my twitter feed.
    p.p.s. Let's pretend we went to high school together on facebook.
    p.p.p.s. Google + is another place you can read the same thing I posted here.
    p.p.p.p.s. I'll tumblr for ya.
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