Loose Cannon: Issue #59

Thu, September 16th, 2004 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Larry Young, Columnist

I READ THE NEWS TODAY, OH BOY

For the third question I've asked my Loose Association of Like-Minded Individual Bloggers, I decided to go with a pithy exploration of content: What sort of priority do you give to "news" in comics, however you define it?

Mike Sterling, that respected comic book retailer, writes Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin. Mike leads us off with: "If I think I have a particular angle on the news that I hadn't already seen discussed to death on other weblogs, I might chime in... otherwise, depending about how I feel on the issue, I'll either just post a link to it or ignore it entirely until I think I have something to say. One notable exception was during the Micah Wright scandal... by the time I got around to posting after the news broke, I was pretty much tired of hearing about it. However, given the military angle I knew my father would like to read about it, so I made sure to post a link to one of the news stories in my weblog. Since my dad reads my weblog every night, I knew he'd catch it. By the way, his thoughts on the Micah-matter: 'Very, very sad.'"

Graeme McMillan writes the Fanboy Rampage blog. "Whatever seems an 'important' story to me, I'll run with... Something that has more importance than just a new artist on Amazing Spider-Man. The Bendis Batman/Daredevil thing, for example, seemed important because it was something out of the ordinary, something that you knew would catch the imagination of (online) fandom at large despite - or maybe because of - it seeming like a transparent publicity ploy. With manufactured 'events' like Identity Crisis or Avengers Disassembled, where the publishers are desperately trying to get people talking about their books, the books themselves aren't as interesting to me as what people are saying about them. The 'news' might be that Spider-Man and Wolverine are going to be Avengers, but it's more fun to me to see the fans bitch about that than read why Joe Quesada thinks that that's a good idea, you know?

"Sometimes, though, whatever the news of the day is doesn't interest me at all, so I'll ignore it and look for something that does. Most of the announcements from Wizard World Chicago seemed dull, so I thought that I'd link to someone on the Bendis board saying that Alan Moore seemed like a conceited prick instead. At least that was funny.

"Basically, I'm a gossip/scandal whore. If the news is juicy enough, I'll link it. But if it's just the usual going-through-the-motions, then there's usually something else worth paying attention to."

David Allen Jones writes the Johnny Bacardi Show. "In the context of my blog, the news is not a high priority, at least not a thorough reporting of it. Like I said earlier, if I'm moved to comment on an issue du jour, then I'll do it... but I don't feel like I absolutely have to."

Kevin Melrose, of Thought Balloons responds thusly: "Thought Balloons is news-driven. With the exception of the rare review or even more rare interview, it's entirely link-blogging. So, in that sense, comics 'news' is my top priority."

Tim O'Neil writes the blog When Will The Hurting Stop? and doesn't give "news" much of a second thought: "None whatsoever. As I said, these days I don't comment on something unless I feel the need to, which, in case you haven't noticed, isn't very often. I am content to post my reviews and satire pieces, with the occasional commentary thrown in."

Pop Culture Gadabout Bill Sherman says: "My view of the importance of new stories is characteristically idiosyncratic and generally focused on those works and creators who I particularly enjoy. But basically, to my eyes, word about the reprinting of Charles Schulz's comic strip outweighs this week's story about writer changes on any of Marvel's X-titles..."

Shane Bailey, of Near Mint Heroes answers with typical straightforwardness, "Well news in comics is much like 'news' anywhere else. A controversial opinion on a new series in the latest comic magazine can be news, just like it's technically news when a political correspondent has a controversial opinion on the latest political fiasco. News isn't easily definable and there is a fine line between news and marketing. I don't think the majority of comic news sites have found it yet. I think blogs in general are helping define what constitutes news in the comic book business. I would like to see more in-depth journalism on the actual business of making comics, but I don't feel that right now Near Mint Heroes is the place for that. Like I said earlier I want Near-Mint Heroes to be a place that people can come to see a broad overview of what is currently going on around the web. What are people talking about? What is coming out? That kind of news."

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag, possibly the world's biggest Aquaman fan, writes the well-named Bloggity-Blog Blog Blog. She rates comics news "pretty low, unless it's about Aquaman or another good comic book. Early on I tried to report news quickly and scoop the rest of the comics blogosphere, but I realized that I wasn't very good at it, nor did I enjoy it the one time I did break a story. I'd rather leave news to the people who want to be reporters, and concentrate on pushing my opinion on people instead."

Ken Lowery, of Ken Lowery Presents: Ringwood, responds: "I don't really give much of a rat's ass about the gossip end of it. Who said what bitchy thing to who on what message board or at what con, why Quesada's a big old douche in person, did you hear what Diggle said about Millar three years ago -- who cares? What I want to know is, are you putting out some good books next month?

"Solicitations are important. Who's writing what book for who. Exclusivity contracts are getting old, though; getting one with Marvel means next to nothing except a new press release, and DC's already locked up whoever they want to lock up. There's not much else that we get. News in comics is a pathetic, wasted, passive thing; we get what they give us and we're happy for it.

"What really goes on, how deals are really made, the market research the Big Four rely on& the important stuff? We never see that. So 'news' is pretty scant."

Our last respondent is a newcomer on the scene, Matt Maxwell. Matt writes the excellent Highway 62. "But really, most of what gets announced isn't worth really even making fun of. 'Hey, look! We sold out of a comic and you can't get it anymore! Woohoo!' That's not news: that's bad forecasting and taking glee in hosing your market. Conversely, announcing that you needed four printings to match demand is only a little better, but at least you're trying. But really, a lot of the rest of what's printed on news sites is pre-solicitation materials, which is fine from a purely informational standpoint: I want to know about interesting projects as they come out. But stating that Writer X and Artist Y have teamed up to bring you the next story arc of Character Z that's going to be the definitive take like you.ve never seen it before? Not news to me."

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