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... le sigh
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hardartist
Recent events have given me little motivation to pick up a pencil and draw a comic. I'm going to step on my soapbox for a moment and vent. You can turn away if you like, you don't have to read this entry.

I don't think reviews have any place in the webcomics community. Period. Why?

1) Because they're FREE. If you complain about something that is free, you're being ungratuitous. If you critize people who are essentially doing unpaid volunteer work, you're a jerk. Reviews exist so that people gather opinions about something before they buy a ticket, or buy a product.

(One may argue that TV reviews are similar. Well, you don't see a lot of TV reviews, and the people who make TV shows get paid for what they do. They get PAID to entertain you. Webcomic artists do NOT.)

In general, I try to stay away from posting hotly negative things about other people's comics. In the interviews and such I am more apt to point out comics I like than comics I don't like. It's because I know that most people, like myself, are doing the strips for little money or no money at all. Simple manners tell you you don't slag on people who are doing their best with no tangible reward in what they do.



2) People often post reviews to get the attention of the comic artist. It usually works too. I don't link to reviews -- I link to interviews, but not to reviews. Why? Because, if you're reading the links page you've already formed an opinion of my comic. What someone else has to say is irrelevant. So why give reviewers hits?

I've always thought that people who want to get popular in a chosen field but don't have the skills to become popular in that field will become critics instead. It's a cheap and transparent way to become an "authority" in that field, without having the skills to master that field.

Anyways, I'm still pissed at Comixpedia and refuse to read it anymore. Checkerboard Nightmare hit the nail right on the head.

------------

Speaking of which, the entry for SL at Wikipedia felt it necessary to define the comic in terms of the "controversy" around it:

This has caused some accusations of repetition, though most fans who have expressed an opinion seem to agree that the constant variations on the set themes keep the strip from going stagnant.

Actually, it has caused ONE accusation of repetition.

In 2003, Sexy Losers became the center of a major controversy in the web comic community, when a coalition of KeenSpot artists successfully blocked the comic's entrance into the community because of the sexual content, despite its large number of readers.

coalition = two artists.

they didn't "successfully block" the comic's entrance, I retracted the application for the comic's entrance after a bunch of private messages regarding the comic were posted publically. This version of events is reiterated by Josh Lesnick of Girly and Ian of RPGWorld. I even said as much in my own journal. KEENSPOT DID NOT BLOCK ME. I WITHDREW OF MY OWN ACCORD.

I guess this story is doomed to be repeated. Sorry Josh, Ian.

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We all still love you, you know. Your work lights up lots of faces - hundreds, tens of thousands!, every year. You are doing good work and you are well loved. You might not have met us all, but we are all out here, and we wouldn't keep coming back if there weren't something fabulous to come back for each time.
Another webcomic I read, Penny Arcade, appeared to be offering it's usual free strips plus a second strip accessible only after donation each month. Just the one a month, I think it was. I can tell you right now, if there was any chance that I'd miss one of your strips because I didn't cough up my $2/$5/whatever I could afford that month (usually based on how much I enjoy something - buskers often find $50 notes in their hats if I've had a good day at work), well. You'd be a happier man, I'm sure. Tangible results for your efforts are nice, I must agree. Incentive! Give these kids incentive to interact/cough up cash. You can do it :)
(and one extra strip every month or two - maybe with twice the panels or with a secret plot twist... voting to determine which characters you might use in said paid strip... who knows. Many options - you are the master of all decisions regarding your work and.. I'm rambling. We love you. That's all :)

I was never into the comic for money, as long as it paid its own bandwidth so I wouldn't have to is OK by me. As long as I live in Japan, this can never be a job.

can't you edit the entries in Wikipedia? Go for it, I say.

I think if George W. Bush got to edit his entry in an encyclopedia it would be far more charitable than it should.

i'm sure you know this already, but you can of course edit the wikipedia article to make it more accurate. that is the beauty of wikipedia.

in fact, it seems someone has already done so. anonymously though. regular wikipedians sometimes revert edits that are done anonymously...

I find it disgusting that a fucking urban legend made it into Wikipedia without verification (or even, god forbid, having recourse to the artist responsible for the work). I expect that sort of thing from Everything2... Fuck'im. Wikipedia's off my resource list.

Fleh. As I said to GD-Kun last week, unfounded, facile criticism seems to be at a high, and web artists seem to be dish du jour. Hopefully it'll peak, peter out, and the dicks will find more deserving targets to vulture over.

You've been through worse, H., and you've got a damn faithful fan base. Don't let the trolls get you down.

Re: I remember that...

paulsoth

2004-05-30 08:49 am (UTC)

It's open source, man. It's not like there's some sort of committee that examines every article that gets edited and submitted. That would be an impossible and mind-numbing job. It's totally dependant upon user submissions and corrections. Yes, incorrect information sometimes gets posted, but it can easily be corrected, like it did here. Thankfully, most readers keep an eye out for this sort of thing and fix errors when they become known.

If anyone is to blame, it's Carlmarks who edited the article to include that in the first place.

People will continue to only believe the truth that is fed to them as long as humanity's around. You have a gigantic, loyal fan base who defends and supports you, though, and that's all that really matters. SL is one of the two webcomics I read- It's consistently witty, has good characters, and is far more developed than most of the other ones out there.
The idea of "posting a comic when the artist and writer have a great idea" far beats "I update three times a week because that's how I keep my readers coming back!"

Thank you for the years of entertainment, H.

You'd be surprised how many people think the secret to comic success is not the quality of work, but the frequency of updates. And think comic publishers will be all over you if you update consistantly.

I liked the point you made in ian_j's journal comparing the situation to overhearing snide remarks during an interview. Even though the conversation was private, having everything in writing makes it too easy to reproduce in public to be careless wtih words. I hate it when people are so uptight about something they consider "inappropriate" that they engage in behavior that is hurtful and socially unacceptable.

It's all so very annoying. I'm sorry you had to go through that. I definately enjoy your comic and force my friends to read it. Usually after one or two strips I can untie them without escape attempts. ^_~

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Re: It's nice to find someone else who also says "Le Sigh"

hardartist

2004-05-30 09:04 am (UTC)

If you're selling things on EBAY with my name on it, then I want a cut.

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1) Because they're FREE. If you complain about something that is free, you're being ungratuitous. If you critize people who are essentially doing unpaid volunteer work, you're a jerk.

If you complain and just criticize... it's not a review.

You're right, reviews are best for movies and books and stuff where you can read something short about it and decide if you want to put some money down for it. For webcomics, instead of money, it's time. Reviews are almost more promotional. At least, they should be promotional in the sense that if someone who would like a comic reads a review about it, they should feel like they NEED to go read it. And everyone else shuold get the same feeling they'd get anyway after reading the thing themselves - all it would save them is the time they spent reading it. Reviews aren't about opinion, they're about communicating to an audience what the comic IS.

Of course, no one listens to me. So I did my own review according to my standards.

People often post reviews to get the attention of the comic artist.

Really? I thought people did reviews because they thought they know better. At least, that's for the opinionated reviews, not a real review. But they seem to dominate. It's all Siskel and Ebert's faults. Anyway, good idea not to link to them anyway, it doesn't make any sense!

Anyways, I'm still pissed at Comixpedia and refuse to read it anymore.
Don't give up on Comixpedia yet, my column goes up tonight. Just read it selectively. Heck, I don't read all of it, because not all of it is worth my time. Maybe I should write a review of comicxpedia so people would know what not to waste their time on...

Checkerboard Nightmare hit the nail on the head for about 10% of the reviews. He also didn't even GET that one column was supposed to be a joke (the Dalton Wemble one) and Straub is his funniest when he's being a jerk. So that's really funny, if wrong. And jerky.

And Holy Smokes, when are people going to give up the Keenspot thing? How long ago did that happen and where is your comic now? It's just fine. Without Keenspot.

Theoritically, I like the idea of keeping some sort of catalogue of the best or most influential webcomics, and that requires some element of criticism. On the other hand, it seems like it could be done a lot more tactfully - and intelligently - than comixpedia is doing it.

(Deleted comment)
Well, we all know that what I'm really pissed off about is I can't partake in all the evil satanic Keenspot orgy rituals.

2 can SO make a coalition

Just look at Iraq!

About TV reviews vs. webcomic reviews: Whether the artist is getting paid or not really has nothing to do with whether people should be critiquing the art or not.

The reason TV reviews have a point is because even though TV is free, there is still a cost to watching it: time. As in, if I'm watching a TV show, I could very well be watching something on another channel or doing something else time-sensitive. I would like not to have to wait until after I start to watch the show that it's not something I'd be interested in at all.

With webcomics on the other hand...I could probably read at least 5-10 comics in the time it would take me to read a review about them, especially when they're both on the Internet. Which is going to give me a better idea of whether or not I'd like it? The only purposes in reviewing something online that you don't like are:

-If it's so bad it's funny
-If the review itself is entertaining

You're spot on that negative reviewers are mostly just calling attention to themselves; unlike critics in other arenas, they serve no real purpose whatsoever. Good critique focuses on the subject's intended audience. Bad critique focuses on the critic.

Whether the artist is getting paid or not really has nothing to do with whether people should be critiquing the art or not.

Yes it does. You're basically critiquing someone's charity or good will. If you have the bad manners to critique someone's good will, then you do not deserve to view that person's good will. The exception is when a critique is solicited by the creator.

I have done a great deal to keep this comic free for everyone. I am not alone in this -- a lot of comic artists have faced a lot of problems in order to provide people with free entertainment. The very LEAST readers can do is not throw their negativity at the artists. They don't deserve it. You want more comics? Be positive towards the artists. You want less comics? Be negative towards the artists. It's that simple. They don't get money --- but they don't want bullshit either.

And that's why getting paid makes a BIG DIFFERENCE in whether or not you should critique them.

Personally I rely on word of mouth to discover webcomics I'd enjoy reading, not reviews.

Likewise. I started reading SL because several of my friends told me I absolutely HAD to. Word of mouth spread so quick, pretty much everyone I know reads and enjoys it.

i just wanted to say...
"Thin H Line" was the very first webcomic i ever read, and i still don't read very many. please don't get discouraged by yet another "tempest in a piss-pot". don't let the bastards grind you down, and fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.


*sigh* I just had to go through that whole 'he didn't get blocked, he withdrew his application' on the PvPForums the other day. People *still* don't know exactly what happened there, and it's like they'll automatcially go to whatever reason is the most 'sensationalist'.

There is another purpose to a review, as such -- although this has little to do with awards and whatnot. Ideally, a review is a critical piece, which helps to explore a piece; what it tries to do, how it succeeds, how it fails in its mission, what all of this might or might not mean. It exists as a go-between point of communication between an artist and the audience. It helps both the audience and the artist to understand the work more well; it helps the audience to understand what the artist is trying to say, and it helps the artist to understand the concerns of an audience.

Since all art is a dialogue, and yet since there is so often a divide between the two sides of the exchange, leading to misunderstanding or dismissal, the role of an interpreter can be a valuable one, ensuring that both sides come out ahead -- more informed, more inspired, more interested -- in the end.

oh checkerboard nailed it... when i read the comixpedia thing, I imagined a sexy losers strip with "a reviewer" spouting off about how dissing webcomix got him chicks cut to a madame X scene..some sort of painful humiliation ensues

the sad truth is that the old adage is usually true.. a critic is one who can't do the work themselves

essentially you are the lenny bruce of the webcomix world.. a genius persecuted for "obscenity" Hopefully you will be fully appreciated before you are dead though!

Imagine decades from now when dead tree comics are gone and the webcomic reigns supreme(hey it could happen.. seriously)..

All the edgy comic writers will say they got their start and inspiration from a SL strip! (hey it's a hell of a lot more likely than taking inspiration from *insert your favorite unfunny 'spot comic here*)


Hell, it's already happening. Sexy Losers, in particular Hard's "The Lighter Side Of Tentacle Rape" strip directly inspired me to try my hand at this whacky webcomic thing. I'm sure his work has inspired many others to take their hand at it.

"I don't think reviews have any place in the webcomics community. Period."

Maybe the problem is that you consider the creation of art as community-based endeavour, as opposed to a personal one?

I can go to a museum on the pay-what-you can day, get in for free, and see a great work of art. Or a mediocre work of art. Or crap art. And because I didn't contribute any money, I'm not entitled to express a critical opinion as to the quality of the work...? I'm not allowed to review a book from the library or a borrowed DVD? I'm not allowed to express an opinion on art because it might be considered ungracious?

Are you really sure you've thought this through?

- Christopher
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Are you sure you read what I said all the way through? Especially where I talk about TV reviews and volunteer work?

Are you allowed to express an opinion? Yes, it's a free country. Am I allowed to think you're an ungrateful bastard for complaining about something that's given for free? Most definately.
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If you can't do, teach...or critique

ex_awed819

2004-05-30 08:45 pm (UTC)

I always thought critics of any variety are embittered, restless and untalented souls taking out their misery on those that are experts in their own respective fields; something they could never accomplish.

Just a thought.

Laffo! The Keenspot coalition has successfully blocked you! From the community! The entire webcomics community! You'll never work in this town again as long as Keenspot hates you! We own the interweb! We will destroy all who oppose us! We'll kill you! We'LL KILL YOU!

I edited the entry further, because I was bored and can't sleep. Frankly, I'm surprised I was allowed to do it. What's the point of that site if everything can be changed so easily? I could have deleted the entry completely and wrote the message "HARD HAS A BIG, FLOPPY COCK" in its place if I wanted to.

EDIT: Ohh... upon further inspection, I see that the original author can revert edits if they want to. Now I know.

It makes a little more sense now. To be perfectly honest, I don't even understand why the whole Keenspace/Comixpedia thing needs to even be mentioned. Almost a full third of the article is dedicated to it. The only reason I could see mentioning it at all is to stop the fucking "KeenSpot artists banded together to stop me from joining" rumour. I wouldn't even bother with the whole letter reading thing -- I'd just say that I withdrew the application because it wasn't worth all the drama. Ironically, there's possibly more drama as a result.

A thing I want to ask you: do you think that people ACTUALLY relies on some review site's articles? I don't think so.
Expecially because, as you wrote, Webcomics are free.
Now, I will browse 100 reviews before buying a new electronic device or a new car, but a webcomic? Something that's free? Something I can sample by my own whenever I want?

And then, if someone is actually conditionated in any way by a review, on a subject that's CLEARLY a matter of personal taste like a comic, well - that particular someone doesn't deserve your attention. Or your *free* comic strips.

You can alter the information about Sexy Losers on Wikipedia by submitting new information.

Wikipedia is a user submitted website, so there are actually lots of information about other things that aren't true...

This is a base already well-covered in this thread, as well as why I shouldn't alter it myself.

"In 2003, Sexy Losers became the center of a major controversy in the web comic community, when, in a private mailing list discussion, two KeenSpot artists attempted to block the comic's entrance into the publishing company because of the sexual content, despite its large number of readers."

It doesn't say a coalition, it says 2 artists.

"Ultimately, the entry was withdrawn by the author. In Hard's own words: "I retracted the application for the comic's entrance after a bunch of private messages regarding the comic were posted publically."

The article says that you withdrew your application. So am I missing something here? Anyways, I love your comic, and I could care less what reviewers say. I don't even remember how I found it, but I check every day for updates and occasionally read your blog when there aren't any updates to the comic. Hope things turn out for the best for you. I'll be here happily enjoying your comic. :)
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Re: Did I miss something?

hardartist

2004-06-01 03:51 am (UTC)

Yes you did miss something. You missed READING THE REPLIES TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY TO WHICH PEOPLE SAID THEY WENT IN AND FIXED IT.

Please people, read the replies FIRST before replying yourself, or else you will find yourself covering old ground, and looking quite stupid.
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My problem with the whole "critics are just failed writers" attitude is that I wouldn't really call Harold Bloom, Walter Benjamin or even Roger fucking Ebert failures in any sense of the word.

Every rule has its exceptions to the general rule, and you've listed them. Listing rare exceptions to the rule does not minimize the general applicability of the rule. It's like me saying air travel is generally safe, and you pointing out specific instances of fatal airline crashes.

NOt that I think all reviewers are failed writers or anything. (Bullied at school and feel a need to lash out at things more popular than they are to make up for their insecurities, maybe.) I just wanted to point out that making references to the few exceptions to a rule does not make for a solid argument.

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