Picking A Path
(Another piece by David Herbert!)
So last week I took a few shots at Blind Ferret Entertainment and after I sent it to El Santo, I started expecting people to call hypocrisy since my own comic, Living With Insanity, was inspired by LICD in its early days. And I freely admit that back in the day Sohmer was everything I wanted to be as a creator. He did two comics that were popular and never missed a deadline. I liked the humour and thought Looking For Group was progressing well as a story although I changed my mind there.
But as I got older, a combination of things caused me to re-evaluate my choice of idol. Last week’s column has a few of those reasons. The Straw Man and Marty Stu articles have some of the others. This arc was probably the final straw. I’m not fond of who I was and wanted to be back then, but that’s life. You make decisions and then later change them if they no longer work for you.
So, who is my idol now? The one person I aspire to be? Well, really it’s no one person in particular. I still have creators I look up to, I’m sure everyone does no matter how long they do their craft or how successful they get. But there’s no one I look at and say “I want to be you.” It’s more a case of cherry picking specific parts of various creators like little puzzle pieces that go together. The obvious answer being that they all have parts that I don’t agree with.
Let’s take Scott Kurtz for example. I like his comics and have a lot of respect for him. But he does have a few views I don’t agree with, one of them being about old work. On a Webcomics Weekly episode, he talked about pulling his old comic, The Dork Ages, out of print even though it still made money. His reasoning was that he no longer wanted it to represent him as a creator, much like his other old strips. He has a “Judge me as I am now, not who I was then” sort of mentality, is my understanding.
It’s an understandable view and one I can see the logic in, but it goes against how I would deal with the situation. My belief is that as long as the fans want something and you can afford to put it out, I don’t see any reason in denying them your work. I’m not fond of the writing in the early LWI strips but many people want to see them so I upload them. In fact people have commented on the site asking me when I’m finally going to put up the ones I drew before Paul came back since they’re the ones that properly introduced the characters (I’m getting around to it).
I don’t think Kurtz is wrong and this isn’t me bashing. It’s his comic and he’s free to do whatever he wants with it. But that’s one example of what I exclude when I look at him when I think about where to go next.
And it’s not just PVP. I like Penny Arcade, as many do, but I find much of the humour to be a little too ‘inside joke’ driven for me. Since I don’t play many current games, I’m sometimes lost on what the comic means unless it’s related to something I’ve been through (Replace toy store with video rental). I actually liked the 4th Panel episodes of the Penny Arcade reality series because it allowed me to see the logic behind the jokes and their construction.
I love Something Positive but the art can be a little stiff and limited at times, plus the evolution of the art style has been slow over the years. And then you have something like Misfile, which tends to jump around from scene to scene without finishing the previous one, to the point where on the boards I’ve made jokes that Chris Hazelton shouts “BORED!” before switching scenes.
But when it comes right down to it, you just read me nitpicking little things. And it doesn’t make any of those comics or creators bad. But that’s the kind of thing I tend to look for when I think about trying new things as a creator. I think everyone who wants to make comics should look at the bad as well as the good so not only can they decide what they want to be, but most importantly they can figure out who they don’t want to be as well.
And thanks to the internet, it’s so easy to see the mistakes of other creators and work on avoiding those since you can also see the consequences. But just remember to focus on all of their accomplishments as well, since that can help you achieve success too.
But when you are doing comparisons, don’t take a look at their page views. Trust me, you can easily get discouraged when you compare someone popular to your own comic. It can also make you obsessed with gaining more hits. Speaking of which, Domain Tnemrot could use some love (hah).
I’ll see you guys next week when I finally tackle the elephant in the room. Yep, I’m finally doing an article on Sinfest. That’ll be fun.