Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Question Time II: Back By Popular Demand

Matthew E asks: "Have you read _Bandette_? What do you think?"

I do not read books that glorify Crime or the Crime Lifestyle.

theotheradamford asks: "I have a couple-few:

- What did you think of Rebirth (a little obvious I know), or more broadly the circumstances around the leak?

- Another kind of obvious one, but dovetailing on your recent blah, what do you think comics blogging will look like in the next little while? Is podcasting the new blogging? Would you ever podcast about comics?

- I would love to hear your thoughts, if any, on Green Lantern: Mosaic."

I answer your first question at length here, as a matter of fact. There is the possibility of me doing something more long-form for the AV Club about the actual titles they've released to date - but it's been such a busy few weeks I am desperately behind and need to catch up before I could say anything at all.

The next one is complicated. Comics blogging, as I (and possibly you?) think of it, is basically dead. There will always be single-proprietor websites offering commentary on every little thing, and recently the number seems to have stabilized after dropping pretty drastically. Group blogs, especially ones sponsored by larger sites, became the next big thing, but who knows how much more juice they have them. Together, the two types of blogs don't really resemble the world of blogging of a decade ago - it's far more streamlined, with far less interblog chatter. Individual writers are more or less left alone to follow their personal whims and interests.

(Come to think of it, I was actually one of the pioneers of using my personal comics blog for slightly more formal essay and op-ed writing, so if you want a culprit for comics bloggers turning inward and engaging less and less with any kind of "community," I'm as guilty as anyone.)

More and more people with interesting things to say find themselves tossed into professional or semi-professional status, where they use some kind of early attention as a writer as a way to gain entry into some facet of the industry. This type of move almost always leads to a precipitous fall in productivity as a comics blogger (unless the job is specifically one that includes writing about comics), if not just a hard stop altogether. I can understand the reticence not to want to write about comics online when you draw a paycheck from a company that works in the field. There's also the more quotidian fact that if someone used to write about comics for fun they might not want to spend their free time writing about them anymore if they also spend their work time thinking about them. They probably have lots of non-comics hobbies to fill the time.

I admit I feel a little bit of this last one myself. No one is ever going to accuse my writing for the AV Club of redefining the face of comics commentary, but it's fun, remunerative, and occasionally I even get to say something of merit. (Not that almost 3,000 words on the soundtrack to Batman Forever isn't worthy of merit.) Sometimes after I fulfill my commitments to the site, I just don't want to write even more about comics for free.

And this is the problem with comics blogging, in its classic form: you make no money doing it, your audience is minuscule compared to what you get at even a middle-tier pop culture site, and your only satisfaction comes from the work itself. Blogging was big for a while as the hot new nerd hobby, but that was a long time ago. I still talk about comics a lot on Twitter, which you guys probably know. I love Twitter. But Twitter is showing its age, too. I have a Tumblr which I never update, and I never bothered with Instagram. I don't know what Snapchat even is.

All of which is to say: Twitter isn't going anywhere, even if the clientele and business model might change as the platform evolves. Same for blogging: there will always be "bloggers" paid and amateur, but what they may look like in just five short years from now is impossible to say. For all we know, the next evolution in micro-blogging is just about to sweep the internet and I'll find my greatest ever success as a writer using Hurkle-Durkle.

Podcasting? I tried that a couple times a few years ago. I didn't really know what I was doing and even though I got some good feedback I was dissatisfied with the experiment. But the format didn't go away (which I didn't see coming), and actually seems to be sticking around for a while, so . . . who knows. We'll see. Sometimes the future brings us strange and unexpected gifts.

And Mosaic? I think I read part of an issue, which I should remedy at some point. But do you remember how bad the Green Lantern books were at the time? There is a reason why the series was given a hard reboot with Emerald Twilight, and that's why I passed on giving the spinoff a chance. I think in hindsight Mosaic was a few years ahead of its time: it's the kind of book you could imagine seeing shelved next to Starman and Chase more easily than the company's frankly uninspired early 90s midlist. But I'll put it on The List (it's a very long list).