Saturday, November 1, 2008

Remember "Review of Reviewers?"

A fair bit of turbulence in the webcomic news blog world lately. For those keeping score:
  • Webcomic Witchfinder was killed. Owner Mike P. is off to find a more satisfying outlet for his creativity;
  • Tally Road was added to the list, even though it's a bit unique. Still, there are webcomic reviews right up top, and if the author chooses to continue, we'll keep the listing;
  • Webcomics Overlook was down, as you must know, as mission control chief El Santo got married;
  • Red Right Hand's reviewing future is uncertain;
  • Does anyone still read WebSnark? Does anyone still write it? The historic blog has drifted away from webcomics and regular postings of interest to more meandering content;
  • Read My Complaints, another fledgling effort, has apparently croaked;
  • As much as Fleen continues to print false stories, engage in unseemly hero-worship and stoke the trend toward webcomic micro-celebrities, it's tough to criticize author Tyrrell without sounding like a bully, because he flees instead of sticking up for himself. He reminds me of those arsonist-firemen who are arrested from time to time, because they were weak, knew it, and wanted to be heroes. Even the cops look sick hauling those types away.
As always, a list of active blogs is in the bottom right of this page, or bookmark the Webcomic Blog List master link
Where are we? There seems to be more mutual communication and support among most webcomic blogs. People are reading and commenting on each other's work, trading tips and ideas. Except Fleen, who seems to despise the rest of us.
The list is getting regular updates, and circulating around the web, with some major traffic spikes. There have been calls to delete Fleen, but everyone goes on as long as I'm doing the work, or until I actually hurl from reading it. I think most readers, even the polite ones, are aware of the author's practice of minting webcomic micro-celebrities only to bask in their reflected glory. Maybe that's why he "forgets" to print retractions of his erroneous stories.
ComixTalk remains isolative, oblivious of the conflict-of-interest appearances of judging comic contests for hooligans. Xavier Xerexes has left the web full of worthy research and articles, but his failure to unite them leaves them scattered and largely unknown. His best work takes hours or days to uncover, a strange fate for such accomplished writing. The time has come to decide whether he is too cool for school, or if he is going to interact with his peers and sort out his navigation. He might also remark on the decay of his opus, Comixpedia, under subsequent administrator Josh Roberts.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment is self-styled journalists failing to investigate stories they cover, where it practically required a half-nelson to get staff reporting on Bomb Shelter Comics to reveal their links to the collective, and that was only after derelict reporting. If journalists put themselves above the fray every time an argument broke out, we wouldn't even know who is running for president. Undisclosed connections and spinelessness cost the public comprehensive coverage of the Bomb Shelter Story, and today I found evidence that berserk cartoonists harassing their imagined enemies is not a new phenomenon. I don't know which is the more important story: the journalists asleep on the job, or the fact that this behavior has been tolerated in comicdom for something like five years.
I'm not a professional level journalist any more, and I won't become one without a paycheck. But there are some folks using the term to describe their work who ought to drop it now, before it becomes a repeat gag in a story. Either that, or do some real journalism. There are two big stories breaking today, and if I don't cover them, nobody will. And I ain't gonna.
Our news is even being picked up in Daily Cartoonist, which is cool. See their Wednesday Webcomic news summary.
It's true, comics media is a bunch of eccentric and journalist comic fans, but last year we were lost in the crowd, and this year people are receiving the notice our best work deserves. I wish my blog was better, but it is better than it was, and I think most writers are improving. 
Of my colleagues, some have fewer readers than they deserve and one has more. Shop around for your news and information, and you may find some sources are particularly good for your needs. Make a few webcomic blogs part of your beat.