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What is Comixpedia for?

I have just read the new article 'Beyond Journal Comics: Life-like Webcomics' and I must ask: what is the point of this article?

Okay, I'm being a bit unfair to pick on this article in particular because of something that is endemic across the site, but this is where my patience snapped.

When 'Comixpedia' launched, I was very optimistic; I thought that finally there would be a site covering webcomics in critical depth. However, instead we get numerous articles like the above: 750 words that skim the surface of a topic, patronising lists of obvious terms (does anyone, anyone really imagine that people need to have the difference between autobiography and biography explained to them?) with random words made into links and absolutely no attempt at analysis beyond a couple of throwaway questions. How much thought goes into creating an article like this? Ten minutes, maximum, with maybe another five to collate the links? It's lazy, that's all it is. Lazy and patronising, both in its condescending tone and in its assumption that people are so stupid as to find something so devoid of original thought interesting.

And the reviews are no better: mere descriptions of comics, again with random linked words. One single (pre novel-writing-month) article on http://www.websnark.com/ has more depth of analysis than every review Comixpedia printed in its first six months. So it's a good thing that Burns is now writing for Comixpedia, but it doesn't excuse the lack of substance that still abounds over the entire rest of the site.

I know that people aren't getting paid for Comixpedia work, but really, what is the point fo doing something if you don't do it properly? A real, meaty site dedicated to webcomics would be a wonderful thing but Comixpedia just isn't it.

So I suppose the question is, what is Comixpedia meant to be? Is it just a glorified news site for which people occasionally dash off articles form the top of their heads, articles that say nothing -- candy-floss for the eyes? Or is it a serious attempt to provide commentary on the emerging medium of webcomics? Because if it's meant to be the latter, you really need to shape up and start writing articles that assume your readers are intelligent, knowledgable people, not children who need to have it pointed out to them that there are 'many moments within journal comics and illustrated blogs that definitely fall within the slice of life category' as if it's some great revelation, rather than something which any webcomics reader with half a brain has already noticed for themselves. That assume your readers can understand basic critical terms like 'focalisation' and 'diegetic' and discuss such things in articles that provide real insight.

So which is it?

RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Absolutely nothing :)

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Say it again - ugh, good gawd!

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

dun dun dun - woooaahh wooooahh!

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Oh wait were we talking about Comixpedia or WAR?

Thank you for finally registering on the site today - amost two years after you you were so optimistic at our launch. To take your comment seriously for a minute - criticism works a lot better without exaggeration. If you really want to trash the entire run of Comixpedia on the basis of your dislike of Kelly's recent piece go ahead but I think the staff and most readers will disagree with you.

Now if you really want to just talk about Kelly's article - this isn't TCJ. I think the WE is trying to be TCJ to some extent (no offense meant Joe :) but we're not. There is a mix of articles here that range from serious and indepth thought pieces to reviews (both long and quick ones) to interviews with creators and business folks in this thing we call webcomics to lots of short news pieces.

And it is not treating people like children to have shorter pieces that lay out some general information - that's a standard practice of any general interest magazine or newspaper and while you may not like it is something that at least a significant portion of the readership has indicated that it appreciates.

And now back to our regularly scheduled 70's funk...

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

I also see ComixPedia as the Entertainment Weekly of webcomic news. Whoever made that comparison hit the nail on the head. Like many, I don't have much time so I cruise by and eyeball the news and article headlines. Then later, if I have time, I'll come back and read an article or review that caught my eye. I think there are a LOT of readers who are in the same boat as far as available time. Of course, I do the same with CNN and the "hard" news sites.

ComixPedia suits me fine as-is. If contributions from authors allow more in-depth writing then that's great. The editors can only post what they have.

[quote:d62c89c9d8="Websnark.com"]Now I'm craving cheese dip.

I *heart* you.

Also, John Allison? Groo reader.

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Man, I hate Comixpedia.

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

I agree with Megs and Zabel on this one: Comixpedia really needs more professionalism to deal with this kind of criticism. Xerexes's first response to this looks quite ridiculous after you look at the reaction of the rest of the staff, even though he made up for it later.

You guys could use an Ombudsman, I guess.

Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

[quote:2d135a6113="DJ_Coffman"]Digital Webbing.com, boomed years ago when it allowed creators who linked back to DW on their homepage to post news and announcements on their works. I LOVED that site. --- If i Had one little suggestion, it would be to do something like that in an update box. I love seeing people's news and stuff like that. Of course it can be edited on discretion by Xavier or the Comixpedia staff..... it worked out well for DW.

There are no limits to how much news can be submitted or forum links posted. (The submit news link is right below the cover) There is going to be a major overhaul of the site hopefully debuting in Jan so suggestions are welcome.

To Stark - I wish you wouldn't exaggerate to make your point - I never said we wanted to be "the tabloid of webcomics" and back to your original post I guess if you want to issue a sweeping condemnation of the entire publication run of Comixpedia it's still a free country. I disagree and believe that the articles published on Comixpedia have been informative and entertaining with a minimum of pretension which is what we plan to continue to do.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Wow - this has turned into the thread that won't die. Stark thank you for your follow up comments - they are informative and obviously there is some truth to them. For starters, let me say that I am actually proud of the work that we've done here. However, we love feedback here and get it all the time and it has often impacted the way things are done here. My initial response to your first post, frankly was based in large part on the sweeping generalization of it and the overwhelmingly negative feedback it provided.

I don't know why this thread has turned into the editors of magazines related to webcomics roundtable but my response to everyone is, please, stand down from your soapboxes. Nothing mean or personal or otherwise out-of-bounds was said to Stark and frankly there are times when humor is called for. When someone posts as negative and sweeping an initial comment as Stark did it is not clear whether it is meant as criticism or simply a derogatory and gratuitous slagging.

And contrary to statements on this thread - I and many others associated with Comixpedia have replied intelligently and calmly and I think most important of all - I listened to Stark's and others' comments. Ultimately that is what is important in a dialogue between a publication and its readers.

As to the last post from Stark, I disagree to the extent that I believe our review philosphy has been (and will likely continue to be) aimed at providing a service to the readers in helping make the decision "will I like this webcomic and why?" - for some reason that translates to you as opinionless. I don't believe that's the case - I believe almost every review has clearly indicated what we think are the strengths and weaknesses of the work reviewed are and tries to do so in a straightforwardway. Websnark is great for what it is. It's simply not the model for Comixpedia, nor is the other webcomic magazine out there. We've been pretty consistent here for our almost two year run.

As for your other comments. we're always digesting feedback and Comixpedia is always open to hearing it. I don't quite match up your characterization of features at Comixpedia with what I read in our archives but having heard a LOT of feedback over our 2 years I know that often reasonable minds can differ (you figure that out quickly when you get praise and condemnation for the same pieces). If this helps - we have offered a lot of opinion pieces, they are generally archived as columns and the features are intended to be more factual and less slanted. To the extent I can take one of your comments as Features should be more indepth with more creative and insightful approaches, well yes that is something I believe is a worthy goal and one that we continue to work on. As KJC mentioned - there has been and still is a gap between our intentions and our actual resources to accomplish those intentions.

Just for the record - I'm sure this thread will go on but I am going to have to let this be my last word on it - obviously if there is further constructive feedback on the thread I'll be reading it at some point when I find time, but I just don't have enought time to reply further (sadly, I'm probably getting myself in trouble by taking the time to write even this!!!)

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

scarfman's picture

[quote:27280ef10d="Stark"]In other words, put your money where your mouth is. If there have been informative in-depth articles, where are they?

I did. I said, "most of them". Your mileage may vary.

Eric Burns's picture

[quote:20fe28b877="Stark"]My comment about http://www.websnark.com also could have been made in a more accurate way; when talking about the articles there having more meat I meant to refer only to the reviews of webcomics, rather than the ones about sitting in lecture theatres with laptops.

There is something of the disingenuous here. It seems to be saying that the meatier stuff I write on Websnark has more meat than the lighter stuff on Comixpedia. While this is undoubtedly true, I don't think it actually... well, says anything. I don't think I've ever written something with as much meat as T. Campbell's history of webcomics, for one, or pretty much any of John Barber's Form as Function. My "reviews" aren't even reviews, they're short critical essays on, generally, single points of single strips. On the other side of it, look at Kelly's or Wednesday's reviews here -- broad reviews of webcomics covering wide range.

[quote:20fe28b877="Stark"]Having said all that, I still stand by the general thrust of my comments on Comixpedia: few articles say anything at all, and fewer say something new. The referenced articles on 'community' (well, the second and third; the first is fluff) are interesting as a collation of interview-type responses and anecdotes, but they don't really seem to have a point, a thesis, any analysis beyond simple observation. They say 'this is what has happpened'; they don't go on to ask if it's a good thing or a bad thing, why it happened, what might happen in the future. The articles are readable for the interview responses, because those are where the actual opinions are. The rest reads like an anodyne Wikipedia-type article, terrified of being found out to have a 'point of view', and as a result utterly pointless.

Semantically, you're saying, in effect, that you don't like Sequential Tart because it's not Graphic Novel Review, or that you don't like Wizard Magazine because it's not the Comics Journal. Or that you don't like Entertainment Weekly because it's not the New York Review of Books.

You seem to prefer Websnark because I tend to apply certain critical analyses to strips. Except, of course, for the strips that I don't. You decry Comixpedia because they do not tend to apply critical analyses to strips, but instead report the industry news with a degree of objectivity, save for very clearly noted columns and features. This reminds me of the little girl who pointed out the flaw with fig newtons. She was told all the ways fig newtons were good, and why people liked them, but replied "yes, but they aren't Oreos." This is incontrovertible, but also doesn't actually help the discussion. Fig Newtons aren't Oreos. Asking Nabisco to change them so that they're chocolate cookies with cream filling won't improve Fig Newtons, they'll just make for bad Oreo knockoffs and won't change Oreos in the slightest.

[quote:20fe28b877="Stark"]My overwhelming memory of the early reviews is that they suffered from a similar flaw, whereby you could read the article and have lots of observation and description thrown at you, but no judgement would be made on whether the comic being reviewed was actually any good or not. Which is not to say that I want a simple 'read it' or 'don't read it', or even a rating system; rather just some deeper analysis. The articles on http://www.websnark.com about MegaTokyo and It's Walky! are exactly the models to follow.

As of this writing, there are three hundred and thirty posts on Websnark. Which, quite honestly, scares the dickens out of me. You've mentioned two of them. And I truly am flattered. But I also write a lot of things about my cat. It's a blog. It plays by the essential rule of me blathering on about whatever catches my interest.

Speaking as a writer, a critical theorist, and as someone who cares quite a lot about the development of the cartoon art form... I want to make something perfectly clear. It is harder to write for Comixpedia than it is to write for Websnark. The requirements are more rigorous, the examples more necessary. I'm doing my level best, and I hope with time to become good at it. I am also inordinately proud of being allowed to do so.

I think the features, the columns and the reviews all suit their intent perfectly well, and show skill and insight. I think the news items are just that -- news items, and I don't want even a hint of editorial bias in them as possible. Among other things because I need news sources I can trust in this field, or Websnark becomes functionally impossible for me to continue. That's just the way of it.

[quote:20fe28b877="Stark"]The article on geek women in webcomics is better in that it has a thesis, but that thesis is pretty damn obvious.

You think a detailed examination of the different archetypes of "geek women" in webcomics is obvious, but extol the virtues of my essay saying Megatokyo is overly dense, doesn't update on time and needs a cast page? I'm sorry, I don't follow.

[quote:20fe28b877="Stark"]It also suffers from the disease of having random words as links, but that hideous style seems here to stay and there's little point in trying to do something about it. 'Depth' is not the same as 'having a lot of links'; depth requires that it make points that an intelligent reader had never noticed, or thought about, or (the ultimate goal) always known but never thought about in that way, before. The article on geek women in webcomics merely reiterates ideas that are familiar in other areas of criticism (the reference to television at the end of the article, for example, shows that the writer must be aware that the article's conclusion has long been recognised there) and links to some examples from webcomics.

If you feel that every piece of critical work in Comixpedia (or any other webcomics criticism, for that matter) somehow has to divorce itself from the body of general critical work that came before it, I have to wonder how feasible that goal even is. Of course a feminist critique will reference feminist ideals versus faux feminist ideals -- that doesn't diminish the application, that supports the thesis. That's English 101.

[quote:20fe28b877="Stark"]I can't disagree with the 'geek women' article because it says something so obvious that it didn't need saying. There are no articles that bring new ideas to the table; either they bring no ideas at all and are merely observation pieces / 'define terms' pieces that you you can no more agree or disagree with than the statement 'water is wet', or they bring well-worn, accepted ideas that everybody knows and, upon reading them, nods their heads sagely and says 'I agree'.

Considering the outcry that accompanied that article's publication, I'd say the automatic "I agree" you're referring to is personal to you, not innate to the article. Hell, I don't agree with everything in that article -- but I find it insightful enough that I've referred back to it as a secondary and even primary source in Websnark articles. In fact, one of my best received pieces of criticism -- comparing Jade and Miranda Fontaine from PvP -- made extensive and explicit use of that article. So, not only didn't I find it self-evident, I found it useful to backlink to it, and used it as foundational work for the construction of a more detailed thesis. That's the very basis of most critical theory.

[quote:20fe28b877="Stark"]What is needed is articles meaty enough to say something, and novel enough to say something that isn't already so familiar as to be universally accepted. Something to get one's teeth into; something to disagree with (Like the It's Walky! article referred to earlier: it has real content, and some of the points I agree with, and others I don't. Nothing on Comixpedia has provoked that reaction).

Which, in the end, makes me feel good that you like my work... and also makes me feel that you're not so much identifying areas Comixpedia should change, but instead reasons why you're not its target audience. There's nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't form a driver for general change.

[quote:20fe28b877="Stark"](As to why I don't write these articles myself, I think people should in general stick to what they're good at. I'm not a critic. If anything, I'm a writer (though even there my credentials are not wonderful; my Graphic Smash series was not exactly the site's runaway success) and, having seen both the embarassing results of critics trying to move into my domain and other writers trying to be critics (not to mention discarded more than my fair share of unsuccessful attempts at critical insight) I think it's best at least for the moment if I stick to that.)

So... you're a webcartoonist....

...and you don't have any use for any of the industry news on Comixpedia?

Huh.

Well, okay. Thanks for reading Websnark!

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

I don't know who guest is either Joe. Please refrain from making any unnecessary accusations on the boards. I have to say having come back and skimmed large parts of this thread that while there have been nuggets of intelligent discussion it seems to have devolved into a strange sort of virulently pro and anti Comixpedia discussion.

I'd appreciate everyone remaining civil in discussions on the Comixpedia board. I think this one has run its course and is becoming a flamefest. If there is a need for continued discussion of this topic someone can start another thread.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

kjc's picture

I don’t think that there’s anything we’ve done that would please Stark and so it’s probably a waste of time to continue to ask him his opinion on any given author’s work or any particular article.

We made an editorial decision early in the life of Comixpedia to minimize personal opinions in features, reviews, and interviews. The aim was to try and be as objective as possible. It had nothing to do with being “terrified of being found out to have a 'point of view'” or what-have-you and Stark’s assumption about our reasoning is asinine. It was a conscious decision and seems to be at odds with Stark’s expectations.

Expectations and assumptions are all fine, just like opinions and criticisms are fine, but when we don’t happen to meet those expectations and assumptions, it doesn’t mean we have failed in some critical way. We do excellent work and we have fun at it. We simply have different priorities.

I also disagree that with Stark’s assertion that he’s not a critic. I think if anything this thread had proven that he is a vocal and prolific critic.

Regards,
Kelly J. Cooper
Comixpedia Features Editor

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

kjc's picture

With regard to editorial policy, we haven’t really documented it, though we should.

In the mean-time, I will say this. In features & reviews, we attempt to be objective. In columns, the author may say whatever s/he feels like saying. Since moving soapboxes under the feature fold, people are given the option to rant on whatever they want (the traditional soapbox form), but now they need to support the opinions with some examples. Interviews don't really fall in any of the above categories. The interviewer has a fair amount of leeway to ask what s/he wants of the subject. Other works – illustrated features and articulate rants – are are strongly encouraged (but not often received) and handled on a case-by-case basis.

In features, research and linking to sources is encouraged. With reviews, reading the entire archives and looking at all aspects of the webcomic and its presentation are emphasized. Intelligent commentary and wit are encouraged, but solid work is all that's required.

We haven't really worked out an official swearing policy. Mainly we were aiming toward professionalism. The site had automatic editing software that killed rude words for a while, but I think it's been turned off.

Word count ranges from 750-2,000 words, although with pieces longer than 2K we've run them as multi-part works. The idea is to be easily read online, which means limiting eyeball-breaking lengths.

That's about it. This may be the first time it's been articulated all at once, because we're often too busy actually doing work to deal with the non-urgent stuff like making the process more transparent. I apologize if that's alienated our audience.

There’s more detail in the guides to writing for CP, which should go up sometime soon. We’ll make sure we announce it when that stuff goes up so ya’ll can read through and comment.

Thanks,
Kelly J. Cooper
Comixpedia Features Editor

Eric Burns's picture

[quote:50b0fd7205="William_G"]And I gotta agree, I've never noticed the Websnark being anything more than, "I like this comic, and here's why" Which is about the same you see here at the Pedia. He just seems to be able to TYPE A LOT,and REAL FAST.

Sort of a blog version of Sergio Aragones

Now I'm craving cheese dip.

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

kjc's picture

Hi,

Sorry for the delay in responding, but I was offline this past week traveling.

As the author of the article which caused Stark's patience to snap (article here: ttp://www.comixpedia.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1947) as well as the Features Editor AND interim Reviews Editor, I feel obligated to respond.

Stark – you are right in that the article I wrote was too thin to post. When I initially conceived of the idea about doing an overview of subsets of journal-like comics, I thought there would be more meat available. But there just wasn't as much THERE there as I'd hoped and the resulting article reflects that. I should have killed it then instead of posting it, but I was rushing out the door (heading to D.C. on my trip) and decided "what the hell, perhaps it'll spark some discussion and I’ll find out more about what people are doing."

However, researching and writing the article did not take "Ten minutes, maximum, with maybe another five to collate the links" - it actually took me several hours, across several days, googling phrases like "journal comics" and "autobiographical comics" and all the various subgenre terms I use in the piece. I also spent a lot of time at http://www.bentcomics.com/JCJ/ looking at every link and reading a handful of comics for every single link that was 1. working and 2. in English to see whether they were relevant to my piece. And I poked through various lists of comics, looking for subsets of comics in this subgenre. I did not find all that much to talk about. The vast majority of work out there is journal-comic style, semi-regular commentary on day-to-day life. I didn’t find the seething hotbed of experimentation I was hoping for nor even a wide variety of work.

And as for being “patronising[sic]”– that was never my intention. There’s nothing in the piece that intentionally speaks down to the readers. Granted, defining well-known terms might be simplistic, but it’s mainly to establish that the writer and the reader are using the same definition in their interaction. If you found that condescending, then it is my opinion that YOU brought that to the table with you. Growing up a shy and quiet person, I often found people projected their own hang-ups onto me, assuming I was aloof when I was really frightened, or attributing a bad attitude to me when I was too nervous to speak.

Next, no offense to Websnark, but I also have to take issue with the statement that “One single (pre novel-writing-month) article on http://www.websnark.com/ has more depth of analysis than every review Comixpedia printed in its first six months” because I wrote many of those early reviews as well. I read years and years worth of archives. I stayed up late and got up early to meet deadlines. I looked at genre, format, presentation, art, writing, lettering, affiliations, fan communication styles, availability and navigability of the archives, as well as overall feel and general impressions.

I also went to libraries and bought comics reference books to write many of the early features, including a three-part feature/overview of fan movements in comics and how they relate to fan movements in webcomics (here: http://www.comixpedia.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=142 here: http://www.comixpedia.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=174 and here: http://www.comixpedia.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=215).

And as for what Comixpedia is, that’s a thing that’s in flux. We run the gamut from in-depth evaluations of particular works to light-hearted humor work. We try stuff that includes experimental formats (like illustrating the feature instead of writing it) and cranky opinion-mongering like the Dalton Wemble columns. We report on news that we consider pertinent to the community and we blog stuff that might be interesting to our readers. We are always trying new and different things, inviting webcomic creators and readers from everywhere to contribute work. We’re not trying to be any one thing or meet any one person’s expectations. We are reviewing and commenting and discussing and laughing over the wonderful world of webcomics.

Now perhaps I’m doing the wrong thing by responding to various points of the original posting, I have no idea. I know that I found it pretty painful to have all the work I’ve done on the site, both writing and editing, to be dismissed so casually and rudely by someone who let his annoyance build for two years before finally actually speaking up. I think when people let loose with flamage on the Internet they forget, perhaps intentionally, that there are actual human beings on the other end of the criticism.

It would have been nice if Stark had regularly participated in the various forum discussions where we’ve had asking for feedback and recommendations for improvement instead of building up steam and then letting it rip. It would have been more constructive if Stark had actually volunteered to write some of the in-depth examinations that he’s clearly craving.

I’ve been taking constructive criticism for going on twenty-two years, and I’m ok with it. You can ask the various folks (many of whom read this board) who have edited me, that I’m fairly easy-going to work with and that I appreciate criticism that’s helpful and makes my work better. And although I appreciate it when readers speak up, I gotta say that I prefer constructive criticism to insults and abuse.

Finally, one of the main obstructions to consistently posting absolutely the best possible work is a lack of writers. So, Stark and anyone else who might be interested, you are formally invited to send me mail or email submissions AT comixpedia DOT com and offer articles that you wish to write or request assignments from any of our departments. We will do our best to get back to you and involve you as soon as possible.

Regards,
Kelly J. Cooper
Comixpedia Features Editor

Excellent! Webcomic magazine war! The only way to settle this is to do it like they do here in Korea:

ALL NIGHT STARCRAFT AND SOJU DRINKING COMPETTITION!

Vive le Examiner!

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

kjc's picture

Glad it's useful, Alexander.

By asking for more detail, what do you mean? What's our policy or how do we handle the extended opinion pieces?

Some features are a collation and recitation of facts to provide a larger picture of a situation. Others propose a thesis and then work to defend it. Still others are reportage on an incident or profiles of organizations that are significant to the community. Still others are something else altogether.

There's no hard and fast definition of what exactly constitutes a feature. It's more detailed than a column, less q&a than an interview, and broader than a review.

I did hold forth on the topic of features in an actual feature when we had our one-year anniversary & looked at how Comixpedia does what it does...

http://www.comixpedia.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1389

Maybe that provides more of the detail you seek? If not, let me know a little more about what you want to discuss.

Kelly J. Cooper
Comixpedia Features Editor

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

kjc's picture

Oh fer… ok, listen Stark. I’m a person. If you could take a break for just a moment from playing to your audience to address me directly or at least refer to me by name I’d certainly appreciate it.

It is exhausting to respond to you, because you shift your complaint around. It is tempting to ask the default question – if you don’t like what we’re doing, why do you linger? - but I don’t want to discourage criticism. Yet not all criticism can be responded to effectively. You disagree with what we choose to present and how we present it. That’s fine. However, no matter how long you continue the debate, you are not going to force us to change our ways nor comply with your demands.

I will happily admit that you have forced me, at least (I will not speak for the other editors), to look at the writing given to me for editing more carefully and to consider my own writing in a new light. But I doubt that it’s going to affect the overall presentation of Comixpedia, and honestly I wouldn’t want it to.

Responding to you is also tiring because, although I can describe in general our editorial policies, implementation over the past two years has been at the hands of eight separate editors. Each of these editors has brought their own perspective and opinions to the editing of the work of dozens of writers and artists, who each also have their own style of presentation.

Perhaps professional writers, editors and publishers who are paid to spend every day deliberating over the feel of a given magazine achieve a higher level of consistency in message and presentation. But I enjoy the wide variety of news we cover and amusing stuff we blog. I like the lack of conformity. I appreciate being surprised by some new bit of information. It’s fun. FUN, DAMMIT! And that’s a big part of why we do this work for no pay and loads of abuse. Because we like webcomics and making a webzine is pretty fun…

Kelly J. Cooper
Comixpedia Features Editor

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Sleep still for losers, Mr. Confusion? ;)

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Not to mention dangerous amounts of stimulants...

RE: What is Comixpedia for?

As a postscript, and in the interests of fairness, I should mention that there have been the occasional lapses into interesting, informative and generally worth reading articles, At the moment I can only think of Campbell's excellent 'History of Webcomics' series, but there may have been others.

This does not excuse the vast majority of articles, though.

A word to to the wise, Stark. Taking a holier tha thou attitude toward people is not going to make your opinions become the ultimate truth. You are very welcome to your opinions, but they are just that. You don't feel comixpedia serves it's purpose. Fine. Don't read it then. Go somewhere else for the information you seek. Just don't go around expecting people to transform an organization into something you want it to be when you yourself are doing nothing to promote, support, or enable it.

Saga of the Ram

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Comixpedia blows when it comes to covering webcomics about making bridges out of toothpicks. And CP failed miserably all these years when it should have been discussing webcomics centered on squirrels without tails, unrolling spools of thread to earsplitting ragtime music, or groundbreaking comic-sites that are how to's on using profanity in public spaces to get what you want. But we live in a crazy crazy world, and nothing is perfect, or even close to being plumb-level. Not even goddamn Comixpedia.

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

dunk's picture

Sorry, that post was mine... I was logged out and didn't notice :-)

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

dunk's picture

I think that you may have read a very different post than I did Joe. A "sincere and conscientious attempt to coice criticism" would have come off somewhat less hostile.

I'm surprised that you would bother to comment on this thread in the first place, andeven more so by your tone. onsofar as I am aware Xerexes has had nothing but kind words for the Examiner. He may have responded to Stark's comments with humour, but it seems to me that he only wanted to avoid falling into a senseless argument (which would have been neither sweet nor reasonable).

Far be it for us, or anyone else for that matter, to take our ideas or opinions so seriously that we can't see the humour and the irony in what we do.

Neal Von Flue's picture

[quote:13788facb9="Stark"]One of today's articles, by Dalton Wemble, provides another case in point.

I gotta agree with this point. unlike Stark, I enjoy most of the stuff that comes out on Comixpedia,and have no trouble with your editorial direction. But Wemble's column is exactly the kind of thing Stark has been trying to talk about, IMO. It's a column that has become a lampoon of itself, in ways. Each month you can check back and see what ol' cranky Dalton's on about... But none of it seems to contribute to ANY discussion outside of the pet peeve of the month (and this is coming from another webcomics crankpot, mind you.)

I wonder how well Wemble's column does on Comixpedia? does it get read more than say, John barbers columns? If so, you guys shouldn't be blamed for running it. Clearly the audience has spoken and prefers empty ranting over insightful comments. But if it rates lowly, then maybe it should be pulled or restructured? I just don't see how it contributes.

Neal

Brian's picture

[quote:d13097625b="Anonymous"]A word to to the wise, Stark. Taking a holier tha thou attitude toward people is not going to make your opinions become the ultimate truth. You are very welcome to your opinions, but they are just that. You don't feel comixpedia serves it's purpose. Fine. Don't read it then. Go somewhere else for the information you seek. Just don't go around expecting people to transform an organization into something you want it to be when you yourself are doing nothing to promote, support, or enable it.

Saga of the Ram

*Groan* That was me, misspelling "than." I've got to start remembering to check if the system has logged me out before posting...

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Stark-- Various posts above have referred to The Webcomics Examiner. You might want to give it a look-- the url is http://webcomicsreview.com . If you don't like what you find, by all means drop us a note at our forum and tell us what you think. If you do so, we may not agree with you, but we will not ridicule you with stupid references to WAR.

--Joe Zabel

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Let me revise the above, because it occurs to me that The Examiner has not always been sweetly reasonable in responding to criticism. But I feel that Stark was making a sincere and conscientious attempt to voice criticism, and he was treated pretty rudely for his trouble. The standard for both Comixpedia and The Examiner should be to treat conscientious critics with the courtesy they well deserve. And when we do not, shame on us.

--JZ

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

PS: The above was by JZ

It's a matter of taste, I think. Some people like articles (like reviews or straight-up journalism) where the author blends into the background, while others like articles (like Op-ed/features pieces), where the author is clearly recognizeable (and in a case like Burns, even has their own lexicon).

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

The last paragraph damages the first three, in my opinion. It comes across as a "Love it or leave it" argument, and that only works if you're a Bush supporter.

- William G @ a PC bang

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Anonymous wrote:
Stark wrote:
My aim was not mainly to Okay, that last one (on the Webcomics Examiner) is from Eric Burns of Websnark. Not sure why 'Pedia's not letting me log in right now.

RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

I've always thought of Comixpedia primarily as a trade journal -- at its best when offering practical creator-targeted articles. Of course, I'm somewhat biased there -- the articles I've written for Comixpedia have pretty much all been practical creator-targeted articles.

PictureStoryTheater.com:Fables & Fairy Tales

TwentySevenLetters.com: Experiments

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Personally, did find Stark's tone to be rather needlessly hostile. But then again, as a Comixpedia contributor, I'm one of the many writers being dismissed en masse as "Lazy and patronising, both in its condescending tone and in its assumption that people are so stupid as to find something so devoid of original thought interesting." Perhaps my articles didn't acheive the level of depth that Stark is looking for -- I'm certainly not above having the results of my work criticized. But however successful the results were, I certainly put in considerably more thought, effort, and time than the "Ten minutes, maximum, with maybe another five to collate the links" that Stark attributes to the typical Comixpedia article. And I think the same can be said for, just off the top of my head, Wednesday White, Neil Cohn, and John Barber.

That said, Stark's criticism isn't wholly lacking in substance -- I may find his tone hostile, but that doesn't automatically make his post a hate-filled invective to be dismissed and ignored. Even if his complaints are exaggerated -- that there's something to exaggerate in the first place is indicative of issues worth giving serious discussion. It's probably not unfair to assume that if one person is loudly voicing these concerns, then there are likely considerably more people with similar concerns, who just aren't saying anything. And by dismissing Stark's concerns, you dismiss the concerns of all those other readers as well.

My own philosophy on responding to criticism is that you have two options -- respond seriously and respectfully, or don't respond at all.

Of course, I believe I recall giving similar advice to some folks on the Examiner staff, back in the day... =)

PictureStoryTheater.com:Fables & Fairy Tales

TwentySevenLetters.com: Experiments

I apologize if I was soapboxing -- that was not my intent. My criticism comes from a place of genuinely caring about Comixpedia's future -- as a past and (hopefully) future contributor, I do feel a personal investment in Comixpedia. I wouldn't bother comment at all if I didn't.

Well, that and I actually do find these difficult questions of how to run a magazine interesting in their own right. But then, I'm a publishing junkie. Seriously. A year and a half ago, I swore off editing magazines altogether. And I've edited two since then. So a discussion of editorial policy is difficult for me to resist jumping into.

PictureStoryTheater.com:Fables & Fairy Tales

TwentySevenLetters.com: Experiments

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Thanks, Kelly, that's very helpful!

The one area it occurs to me to ask for more detail on are features in the Theory category. It seems unavoidable that these pieces are going to be extended opinion pieces, since they generally argue for one unproven idea over another -- though ideally with evidence and logic. I'd point to my own essay on the role of editors and Cohn's essays on Visual Language as examples.

PictureStoryTheater.com:Fables & Fairy Tales

TwentySevenLetters.com: Experiments

[quote:fa809d3577="mequinn"]I don't believe many publications, except niche ones, make availible a mission statement.

This is certainly becoming truer every year, although it's actually a somewhat recent development. It used to be that just about every magazine included its mission statement somewhere in the masthead. Then they started migrating that detail to the magazine's web sites -- and then the websites started dropping it entirely.

That said, most magazines do have a mission statement, if not easily accessible, then at least accessible -- it's still a standard element in most media kits. (I'm in a writing and publishing program -- and one of the things that the teacher here still work on beating into our heads is the importance of writing a mission statement for any publication we publish, as well as getting ahold of the mission statement for any magazine we intend to write for. And before I get called on it, I'll point out that yes, I did write a mission statement for GNR -- I just haven't posted it on the website yet.)

That said, Comixpedia actually did add something akin to a mission statement to its writers' guidelines not that long ago:

Quote:
Comixpedia aims to provide comprehensive coverage of the emerging medium of webcomics through reviews of new work, interviews with creators and other personalities, feature articles examining the medium and columns from creators and other members of the webcomics community.

At Comixpedia, we define webcomics simply as "comics published on the web." We recognize that the advent of the web as a publishing platform for comics is both an evolution of distribution and artform. We are interested in exploring both the business and artistic implications of the migration of comics to the web.

The key detail that's missing is a sense of who Comixpedia is primarily intended for -- webcomic readers or webcomic creators. The simple answer is "both." Which seems sensible on the surface, but is actually an extraordinarily difficult goal to acheive without resulting in a magazine with a somewhat confused identity. Especially since you end up with your own writers trying to pull the magazine in conflicting directions (and I'm as guilty of that as anyone -- every feature I've contributed has been geared toward pushing Comixpedia in the creator-focussed direction).

If I recall correctly, the original goal of Comixpedia, as discussed the original forum discussions that led to the creation of the magazine, was to create a hub that would foster a more cohesive webcomics community. Which, I might add, I think it's acheived admirably. In fact, articulating that goal would make a great foundation for a mission statement.

Of course, Meaghan also has a good point in commenting on the lack of sufficient contribution that's likely to be a persistent problem for *any* magazine that isn't able to pay its contributors, and it pretty much always results in facing the question of whether to run light or to fill out the issue with sub-par work. Back in my school days, I generally felt an obligation to fill out at magazine, even if I couldn't get work that met my standards, but these days I find myself leaning more and more toward running light instead. But there isn't always a consistent answer to that question, though, since it varies with the particular magazine, and with the varrying degrees of light vs. sub-par. Either way, it's impossible for *any* publisher to produce the magazine they want if they can't get ahold of enough writers to produce the needed work.

PictureStoryTheater.com:Fables & Fairy Tales

TwentySevenLetters.com: Experiments

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

You know, looking back on your post, I don't see the line that concerned me -- must have read it somewhere else and confused myself. It was something about features being factual and objective, rather than opinion based. All I was really looking for was avoid having this discourage people from writing theory pieces. Just seemed worth giving them special mention, since the method is a little different. But I've been really tired lately, and not entirely coherent. Sorry about that.

PictureStoryTheater.com:Fables & Fairy Tales

TwentySevenLetters.com: Experiments

RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Yes! Believe it or not, the problem is I've been sleeping hours most people would consider "normal." That always leaves me exhausted. If I could get back onto an irregular sleep schedule, mixed with the occasional all-nighter, I'd be fine!

PictureStoryTheater.com:Fables & Fairy Tales

TwentySevenLetters.com: Experiments

I think the point here is not about how comixpedia of its staff takes criticism, but the knowledge and thrust behind the criticism.

If Matt Trepal had written that after only skimming the archives, then it would be hard to listen to what he said, whatever the validity.

I get the feeling that Stark has really only skimmed the magazine. Therefore, Comixpedia should wonder why it is giving off that impression and if anyone else feels the same. Unfortunately, Stark has discounted his criticism by comparing Comixpedia to Websnark, which is quite a different animal.

I don't believe many publications, except niche ones, make availible a mission statement. Comixpedia doesn't need one, since its editors seem to have a good idea of what they want, even if there is not enough contribution to realise that goal. They want to cover pretty much everything in webcomics, if not with columns and articles, with the blog and the forums.

And seriously [JOE ZABEL, this means you], if you don't know by now that if you know of good comics that you'd like to see reviewed and Comixpedia has not done it you can REQUEST a review in several ways.... come on people, this is interactive. You gotta complain. (If you wait and complain after a year, your criticism might get ignored!) And Comixpedia needs to at least put on a face of accepting criticism, even when it's illfounded and stupid, because you can learn from even the stupid stuff. And we really should show a little more professionalism. We'll let the non-staff call a duck a duck. ;D

Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Al Schroeder's picture

[quote:3018e91e57="William_G"][quote:3018e91e57="xerexes"] I think the WE is trying to be TCJ to some extent (no offense meant Joe :)
Except we're MUCH more sexy than they are. Groth has to be what? 2000 years old now?

But I personally agree. You guys cover things, we dig in. No website can be everything to everyone. Or, more importantly, everything to one guy with the handle "Stark". I think you're doing a good job covering a medium with a few million webcomics. The more there is to cover, the less in depth you have to be. I guess Stark forgot you all have jobs or something.

If Stark wants in-depth material, he should shut up and hit the word processor.

What William G. said. Personally, I don't see us as a tabloid, but I do see us as more...ummm...ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, perhaps, only for webcomics. We have a weekly schedule, we try to get something fresh here for you guys every week. We're great on news, we're pretty good on articles and interviews, but we're not extremely serious---we like to have fun with it---or extremely pompous.
The Webcomics Examiner is a monthly, with more time for critical examination and deliberation. And a truly criticial voice is needed for the medium to evolve. They're more, I dunno, a film review magazine which really examines every possible angle and nuance---only applied to webcomics.
There's plenty of room for both approaches---
And for parody sites like MODERN HUMOR AUTHORITY as well.
This is not to discourage Stark. Indeed, we'd LOVE more submissions of articles, especially. We try to fit them into the "theme" for the month, but that's not always possible...and I wonder if some more how-to type articles in what some webcartoonists excell at might be more appreciated.
Perhaps a columnist devoted to art tips in digital medium and web graphics, or another on the writing and pacing a story, and a third on comic timing and how to make--or kill--a joke? Or a continuing column, similar to what Campbell started, about how webcomics is establishing its own genres, cliches, and stereotypes...
---Al

 Al Schroeder III of MINDMISTRESS---think the superhero genre is mined out? Think there are no new superhero ideas? Think again.

Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

scarfman's picture

[quote:a1c5c2b0c7="Stark"]I don't know why there's an issue with me registering today -- it was today I finally lost patience and decided to write in. Why would I register before I wanted to write?

When someone starts out by saying, "I've been reading here for forever and it sucks!", the question that comes to my mind isn't, "Why haven't I noticed it sucks?", it's, "Then why do you keep coming back?" Or in this case, "Then why did you register here?"

[quote:a1c5c2b0c7="Stark"]I thought I made it clear that my comments were nto on the basis of the recent piece, but rather that that particular article is typical of the problems with Comixpedia (though explaining what 'autobiography' means is particularly patronising).

I found that article disappointingly superficial too, precisely because I don't find most of them to be superficial.

Re: What is Comixpedia for?

Eric Burns's picture

[quote:6b9bf605ff="Stark"]When 'Comixpedia' launched, I was very optimistic; I thought that finally there would be a site covering webcomics in critical depth.

(...)

One single (pre novel-writing-month) article on http://www.websnark.com/ has more depth of analysis than every review Comixpedia printed in its first six months. So it's a good thing that Burns is now writing for Comixpedia, but it doesn't excuse the lack of substance that still abounds over the entire rest of the site.

Well, let me first off say I appreciate the compliment. However, I have to also say I disagree with your impressions, both about Comixpedia and about Websnark. Sure, I write some good stuff here and there, but I also write some eight word blather posts and plenty of obvious stuff.

Comixpedia, on the other hand, has had John Barber and Megs Quinn and T. Campbell and the unparalleled Wednesday White. They have done analysis and news and reviews. And look at any given Wednesday White review -- she has enough links to support her argument to choke a horse, typically. You can't ask for more substance in a review.

I'm very, very proud to have been asked to write for Comixpedia. I never take it for granted, because I know there's a standard of professionalism expected of Comixpedia's writers that, quite honestly, no one expects of Websnark. It's a blog. I can do pretty much whatever I like there.

You're entitled to your opinion, of course, but I think if you examine Comixpedia more closely, you'll see a lot more depth than you're giving them credit for. And if you look at Websnark more closely, you'll find I'm more than capable of fluff.

Eric Burns's picture

Oh, and if you really do want "just one" article you missed in the run that epitomizes depth and considerable analysis, you should have a look at Geek Women -- Your Little Standards-Compliant Fantasy by Wednesday White. You may end up disagreeing with parts of the thesis (I don't, but I recognize mine isn't the only opinion out there), but there's no way you can claim this isn't a well supported piece of analytical and critical work.

Of course, this one isn't the only "one," but you only asked for one and my arms are beginning to ache after writing rather a lot of novel today, so I'm going to leave it here.

Re: RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

Eric Burns's picture

[quote:3431907b08="kjc"]Next, no offense to Websnark, but I also have to take issue with the statement that “One single (pre novel-writing-month) article on http://www.websnark.com/ has more depth of analysis than every review Comixpedia printed in its first six months” because I wrote many of those early reviews as well.

Hey, no offense taken. I took issue with the statement too. :wink:

Part of the problem is, Stark is mistaking a review for a critical essay. They're completely different animals. Which I know you know, but it's quarter of six in the morning so lucidity is out of the question.

Re: RE: What is Comixpedia for?

[quote:02d52dadd1="xerexes"] I think the WE is trying to be TCJ to some extent (no offense meant Joe :)
Except we're MUCH more sexy than they are. Groth has to be what? 2000 years old now?

But I personally agree. You guys cover things, we dig in. No website can be everything to everyone. Or, more importantly, everything to one guy with the handle "Stark". I think you're doing a good job covering a medium with a few million webcomics. The more there is to cover, the less in depth you have to be. I guess Stark forgot you all have jobs or something.

If Stark wants in-depth material, he should shut up and hit the word processor.

[quote:7c95082fe4="xerexes"]
I don't know why this thread has turned into the editors of magazines related to webcomics roundtable but my response to everyone is, please, stand down from your soapboxes.
Fuck!

I was looking forward to "taking out" Damonk tonight. Now I gotta return the poisoned blowdarts to the ninjas...

And I gotta agree, I've never noticed the Websnark being anything more than, "I like this comic, and here's why" Which is about the same you see here at the Pedia. He just seems to be able to TYPE A LOT,and REAL FAST.

Sort of a blog version of Sergio Aragones