Monday, April 14, 2008

I Touch the Third Rail of Web Comics Blogdom

Pug* pointed out that everyone she knows who draws well now drew pretty badly when they were 14. This raises the question of whether the fury of the blog Your Webcomic is Bad and You Should Feel Bad should be restricted to people old enough to have received a little training.

YWIB is a savage, foul-mouthed autopsy room, ruthlessly dismantling comics it dislikes, using a sort of intellectual boot camp argument to assert its brand of social Darwinism. It's also smart, and when it doesn't run wild, well-written. Reading it, I gleefully envision their staff taking on my nemesis, the new-style furry comics, which block the sun for old-style versions like mine and Pug's. The fact that the genre overlaps with fox-tailed elves and people who like to fornicate while dressed as donkeys makes them a fat, ripe target to my eye.

But what if it's your friend, or a comic you like, being hacksawed, dipped in acid and burned? I barely know Tangent's Robert A. Howard, but he contributed some essays on web comics to my Psychedelic Tree House site, which I thought was decent of him. YWIB has no use for Howard, attacking him on multiple occasions. His writing style is different from mine, but I read him because I find he authors thoughtful pieces, and I've learned from him. Journalistic coverage of web comics, on blogs and such, is thin, and we need every decent writer we can get. Internecine salvoes seem short-sighted to me.

I'll be the first to say that of the 75,000+ web comics circulating, only a few hundred are exciting, and well under a hundred truly dazzle me. But of the other 74,000, how many will evolve into something of merit? It seems we can divide them into those that might, and those that function as unifying activities among a small bunch of kids, or people too blind to change no matter what YWIB has to say. After a point, it's puncturing them for sport.

YWIB is at its best when it documents the critical flaws of a comic, with examples, and could be forgiven some righteous indignation about some of the stuff that passes for great. The swaggering and bloated also make for good take-downs, and in this I'll egg them on. Unfortunately it's often the sickest and the weakest who get devoured.

*My wife and creative partner. Her blog: Dog Toys and Dried Blood. Her nickname, Pug, has zero to do with alternative furry lifestyles.