I Hate You All by Dalton Wemble
Hey there, seniorita, that's very astute
Why don't we get together and call ourselves an institute.
Well, I think that's sort of how it goes, anyway. I can't really remember. But what I do remember is that later in that same song – Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al", by the way – somebody walks on down the alleyway with a roly-poly little bat-faced girl.
"So what," you ask, mouth agape and eyes quickly glazing over in the benighted absence of some sort of fast-moving things you can zap with your BFG?
So, that's the big trend in online comics today.
People are getting together. People are joining hands and waving arms and becoming a big goddamn happy family, and they all wind up ducking down the alleyway with the roly-poly little bat-faced girls of online comics.
Think about it for a second and you'll see what I mean. How many online collaborative "chunnel sites" have popped up in the last few months? I can think of four or five, easy, and I'm not even paying attention. And it's not that these are the crème de la crème starting to hang out and snoot down their collective noses at us. It's the stuff floating on la crème that's been sitting in the fridge too long that are finding new ways to pollute the bandwidth.
Not only does suck exist, suck thrives and flourishes here on the intermawebber. And not only does suck thrive and flourish, suck spreads and corrupts. And not only does suck thrive and flourish and spread and corrupt, but suck teams up with other suck to form these Black Hole Portals of Suck that not only present Bad Art themselves, but bond with other pieces of Bad Art to create a sort of mega-Bad-Art thrombolysis that throbs out there on the Internet like a great black heart, each beat pulsing more spew of poorly conceived ideas badly executed through the channels of the system, clogging the arteries of our beloved medium like fat from boiled cow brains coats the arteries of Hungarians.
Or the Swiss. Or whoever the hell it is that eats head cheese. But I digress.
As much as I hate making rules, and I love to make rules, I am going to make another rule here. This is sort of a broad rule. It can apply to life as much as webcomics, and we know how little those two things cross over. The rule is thus, and you can call it Wemble's Rule of Teammaking:
IF YOU'RE TRYING TO FORM THE BEATLES, YOU CAN ONLY HAVE ONE RINGO.
A clarification, and perhaps a collorary to that rule, would be:
AND HOPEFULLY NO PETE BESTS IN THE FIRST PLACE.
The point, for those of you scratching your heads and wondering if Ringo is maybe the sequel to that rilly scary movie with the kid in the well with the hair, is that there should be some sort of golden mean for teaming up. And there is, in the standard world, where rules apply. Let's run through a few:
The Super Friends only had one Aquaman. The Who only had one Keith Moon (talented, yes, but criminally stupid and very soon dead). The United States only has one Wisconsin. Cubs fans only have one Steve Bartman. The Star Wars movies only have one Jar-Jar Binks.
Get the picture? To succeed in webcomics – as in life – you should have at least a 3/1 winner/loser ratio. Who cares how that fourth guy got on board – maybe he's related to somebody, or he's the guy that buys the pizza after every bowling match. But you should have at least THREE SOLIDS to every ONE LIQUID, or your sandcastle, chum, it ain't gonna hold.
And the sandcastles are crumbling, friends. They are disintegrating like Janet Jackson album sales at a PTA meeting.
Even the hoary old men of the webcomics world – Keenspot and Modern Tales – are weakening at the knees as time goes by. Keenspot seems to be flailing for anything that brings a fresh audience to the withering empire, and MT has developed a distressing tendency to just keep creators on board with whatever projects they toss off, regardless of the merit of the work at hand.
And every day, another "collective" hungry for a piece of the Keenspot/Dumbrella/MT pie builds a float out of milk crates, baler twine and that smelly hobo that sleeps behind the 7-11, clambers on board it, and shoves it out, reeking and disintegrating and a hazard to all who behold it, into the wretched stream of the webcomic parade.
What's to be done? What power do we, the small yet vocal minority of sensible people, have to prevent this? None, really, except the same old thing we've always done: vote with our hits. Resist the impulse to click that glittering "read my friends' comix" banner, friend.
The only thing that lurks behind it is tragedy.
And possibly Pete Best.
Dalton Wemble is a contributing columnist for Comixpedia. We still aren't sure why.