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Why You Should Care What I Have to Say

I know Xerexes said not to expect me until Tuesday, but since I had this ready, I figured it was worth taking a minute to introduce myself. But there will certainly be more news and information about the Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards as the week progresses...

Hello, I'm Mark Mekkes and I'll be your guest blogger for this week.I was incredibly honored when Xerexes asked me to do this, but I was also a bit apprehensive.I know that having blogs has become incredibly common among webcomics (among other places), but I've always shied away from it. I couldn't see why anyone would want to hear about anything I have to say. My comic isn't the type that projects my point of view, it's meant to be an entertaining distraction, a bit of escapism. So why would anyone care what I have to say about anything else? I didn't want to become just another celebrity using their fame to promote their personal agendas (as much as you can apply the word celebrity to a webcomic artist).

But I've also come across another revelation lately, and that is that ego is important. Ego is not a bad thing. Popularity is part of the game, and that requires the ability to promote yourself, which mean you have to be willing to blow your own horn, sing your own praises, pat yourself on the back. Look at the most popular figures in webcomics (or any artistic field really) and you'll find people that aren't afraid to tell you how great their work is. Sure, there's a fine line where it goes too far, but I've come to realize that the line is much further away than most of us tend to think.

Self promotion is something that I'm as bad at as anyone, and the main reason for that is my unwillingness to pat my own back publicly. I can promote Tiffany Ross great art work on Abby's Agency, or the incredible accomplishments of the WCCA Committee and it's winners, or even Keenspot as a whole. But talking about my own accomplishments just doesn't seem like something that I should be doing. However that;s what self promotion is. If I want you to check out my work, I have to be willing to tell you how great it is. I'm doing something that I haven't really seen anyone else do; parody is fairly common, but the kind of rapid-fire parody meshing that I do does seem to be unique and worth checking out. So I'm going to say it...

The kind of rapid-fire parody meshing that I do does seem to be unique and worth checking out!

So I'll be following this up with a brief introduction to who I am and why I may be of interest to you, after that you can choose for yourself if you care about what I have to say

Reader/Cartoonist Communication

Scarybug's picture

I think it's important for the creator to communicate who they are to the reader in order for the reader to feel like the ice has been broken, and it's okay for them to provide feedback to the creator. Readers who feel like they are participating in the community surrounding the comic are more likely to keep reading.

___ Nerdcore: The Core Wars

Well, I think that most

Gianna's picture

Well, I think that most readers are interested in us as the artist, not in us as the person. Actually, a reader who was very keen on finding out about us as the person would be rather creepy. Maybe I am negatively biased, but when I get emails that ask me too many personal questions I suspect that it's someone trying to get in my pants.Â

People who stand out not just for their comic but for their personality, like DJ and Kurtz (I'd add Ghastly to that), very likely don't have an agenda - it's just that they have a personality that naturally stands out and if they're smart they make the most of it. I don't think that us introverts should go out of our way to try and imitate them though, because not only it would ring fake, but I doubt that it'd be linked in any way to how successful a comic is.

-------- Gianna Masetti thenoobcomic.com

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Gianna Masetti
thenoobcomic.com

it's important to develop

oolong's picture

it's important to develop early on a distinction between being prideful and having pride in one's work. sometimes when we put so much into our creations, it's hard to always remember that our creations aren't us. it's the same reason new artists (and some overly sensitive experience artists) get upset at recieving critique because they interpret it not as "in this picture, such and such is wrong" but as "i am not capable of doing ____ correctly". know that saying "i have produced a comic that is funny, well drawn and worth reading" is not the same thing as saying "i am funny, a good artist and popular". sometimes the things that will draw in new readers and what politeness dictates don't overlap. airsickmoth pretty much hit the nail on the head - the reason why some well-drawn and funny comics are popular and others are not depends largely on the creator's willingness to put themselves out there. and really, if you become popular, there will be people who will accuse you of being egotistical no matter how humble and virtuous you act, because they're jealous. so, err on the side of bragging too much rather than too little :)

on the subject of blogs: i've had a personal livejournal for almost 5 years, in which i post art, rants, interesting links, stories about my life, and pretty much everything i feel like posting. and while a lot of people who read my journal also like to read my comic, i'm not sure if the converse is true - having the stomach flu or buying new pants or being upset at local politics are not things that have any relevance to my strip. my comic page has a spot for text entries but i find myself struggling to think of anything important to say in them. my comic should speak for itself, you know? so sometimes i just bang on the keyboard.

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There should probably be a

There should probably be a distinction between promoting yourself in a blog, which is your 'home' and other places and communities. It's easy to do a blog. I update my blog half a dozen times a day on average to give my readers a constant view of what I'm working on and my daughter and my dog's hurt leg and the cat that torments him. :D Occasionally I might venture out a comment that I'm proud of a page I've done, but even posting a news item here or anywhere else is the most painful/excruciating job I can think of, because I have to talk up myself and it's exactly for the reasons the moth stated.

 I'll work on it.

~

Shivae Studios - http://shivae.net

~

Shivae Studios - http://shivae.net

Nothing Wrong With a Blog

Sean C's picture

Occasionally, the blog can be just as big a draw as the actual comic - the personality of the cartoonist can be that powerful an element; look at Scott Kurtz or DJCoffman. They can generate some buzz from just the front page posts. (True, Scott is the master of the debate-launching post among cartoonists, but anyone is capable of it.)

The blogs give the cartoonist a better connection to the reader. They can identify with you, and as such, better understand his or her work. It really adds that human element to the escapism of the cartoon. That kind of balance can bring both positives and negatives, but in the end, it brings the creator closer to the audience.

Don't hesitate to procrastinate. See my stuff at http://www.cuteninjagirls.com

Don't hesitate to procrastinate. My brand new comic: http://cain.bombsheltercomics.com

Self-promotion does feel

Scott Story's picture

Self-promotion does feel uncomfortable--I've never been good at it, and for that reason I've really worked to get better at it. In the world of webcomics, there are so many good comics out there, and so many talented creators, that if you don't stand up for yourself than you are likely to get lost among the shuffle. Shoot, even if you promote yourself like crazy, the competition is just as crazy!Â

 Â

http://www.komikwerks.com/comic_title.php?ti=117

I feel really strongly about

I feel really strongly about this, because at different times in my life, I have felt both ashamed of and proud of self-promotion.

Webcartoonists do themselves a disservice by not having a blog. I mean... if you don't have anything to say, it's one thing, but I used to feel the same as you, in that I thought "who cares what I have to say?"

But people do care what you have to say. They're your readers. They're not there because there's a gun to their heads. They're there because they like your work, and wanting to know the creator is a natural progression of that.

Let me tell you about me and self-promotion. I don't know where I got the idea, but growing up, when I was starting to draw, I got it into my head that it was important to be humble (true), and that the way to do that is to downplay your work (or your involvement in your work) as much as possible. So I shied away from compliments, didn't tell anyone what I was doing until it was done (not even then), offered to do work anonymously.

Two things resulted from this.

(1) No one knew it was me, so ultimately no one knew where to find it, or to give me credit for it.

(2) I was so distanced from my work that people took it for granted, and in some case actually claimed responsibility and credit.

This is the paradox of the webcartoonist, and of a lot of artists in general. They want to entertain, they want to tell stories, they want to reach as many people as possible -- but we're all introverted, and we shy away from the limelight. But there's a wide chasm between keeping everyone up to date on your projects, and being a self-important ass.

There are enough people in the world who can barely do anything, and stand up and claim they're geniuses. And a lot of times, they're the ones who end up making it. Don't be a great, worthwhile talent and hide it away because you're afraid of becoming an egomaniac.Â

Webcomics can be an embittering business. You look at some guy with a simplistic idea or some soulless commercial execution, and his readership is ten times yours, and he's selling shirts left and right. But chances are he's one of the people who stood up and said "yeah, I made this. And I'm going to tell you all about it."

I mean, the very act of exhibiting at a con is the opposite of introversion. You have to tell people about what you're doing, and why it's worthwhile. Otherwise you might as well draw in your notebook for your eyes only.

I also think it's this shoegazing mentality that ends up getting a lot of creators burned by syndicates or other larger interests. You have a guy plugging along, not wanting to make a fuss over his work publically, yet hoping that he'll get discovered somehow. Then a publisher or developer will wave a flimsy contract at them and say "hey kid, we want your work. It's great. We'll give you five whole percent!" And the introvert hears "we want your work" and they get starry-eyed. And so the publisher screws them over.

I didn't mean to lecture. I just see a number of great, great cartoonists in that place where I was -- stuck, and perpetually disappointed, and bashful, but eternally praying that someone important would stumble upon their work and make their dreams come true. You have to get out and push. I think part of that is communicating to/with your audience.

Even if you're not promoting yourself in your blog directly, you're there, you're talking. You're present. You become a living person associated with the work they enjoy. And it's the living person who needs to make smart decisions about the work. The work can't do it for you.

Kristofer Straub www.starslip.com

Kristofer Straub www.starslip.com

Supporting!

I care! But I'm in the same boat. I'd rather let someone else promote me and just work. That's why I get partners lately and give them accolades for their writing or coloring. ;)

~ Â

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Shivae Studios - http://shivae.net