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CandidGamera said on October 8th, 2007 at 3:24 pm

Objection – presumes the goal of the webcomic artist is to improve technically, rather than to simply express.

You can give a damn about your work without giving a damn about the quality of the work. Or perhaps you wish to improve as a writer, but not as an illustrator, or vice versa.

And on the subject of the webcomic review site in question : One can craft a uniformly negative review of something without being a dick about it. That author seems to be incapable of that feat. Any valid points he may make are outweighed by the jackassery surrounding them – what kind of masochistic webcomic artist would subject themselves to that kind of abuse – and make no mistake, much of the reviews are abuse and not criticism – just for the occasional crumb of insight?

If his goal was truly to improve these webcomics, he’d offer straightforward criticism without abuse. The fact that he does not suggests his goal is to flame and to troll and to entertain, not to criticize. Whether or not he is entertaining is in the eye of the beholder, but any webcomic creator would be fully justified in dismissing the site out of hand, because of the out-of-whack abuse-to-criticism ratio.

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Objection – presumes the goal of the webcomic artist is to improve technically, rather than to simply express.

The goal of the artist generally should be to improve technically. If you have a gift (or simply want to believe you do) of creative expression, along with said gift comes the responsibility of using it properly. Spider-Man was entirely right.

In specific, the webcomic artist rarely if ever wants to “simply express” due to the explicitly public nature of the forum provided. They could cheerfully express themselves onto a simple sketchpad and put the sketchpad away, but somehow they never do that, because they want public comment (and mostly they want praise).

If his goal was truly to improve these webcomics, he’d offer straightforward criticism without abuse. The fact that he does not suggests his goal is to flame and to troll and to entertain, not to criticize.

Er, yes, Solomon himself has said as much, but that’s hardly the point; the point is how one can respond to his article and the discussion generated by it most effectively.

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CandidGamera said on October 8th, 2007 at 3:44 pm

“Er, yes, Solomon himself has said as much, but that’s hardly the point; the point is how one can respond to his article and the discussion generated by it most effectively.”

I seem to recall his posting on your blog, the last time this came up, that he did, in fact, want many of these strips to improve. Then a little halo appeared over his head and tiny angels flew out of his ass.

The proper response to verbal abuse is either A.) verbal abuse, or B.) ignoring it. Can’t blame people for picking B.

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In this context, nobody never actually picks B, though. They’ll talk at length about how they’re too good to indulge in verbal abuse, or that they’re disappointed in the original poster for being so uncouth, or something like that. This is just the passive-aggressive version of responding with verbal abuse.

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CandidGamera said on October 8th, 2007 at 3:55 pm

“The goal of the artist generally should be to improve technically. If you have a gift (or simply want to believe you do) of creative expression, along with said gift comes the responsibility of using it properly. Spider-Man was entirely right.”

Pardon the double-post. The more I re-read your response, the more I took issue with the first part.

Who died and made you Art-God? Seriously, man. I’ve known you online for, what, a year and a half? And you still manage to astound me with some of the arrogance you display. Working with you on Watchtower, you’d routinely power-pose stuff without consulting the other players involved – apparently because “I know best! They will be grateful for my insight.” While you’re usually a fairly entertaining writer, you’re not quite as good as you seem to think you are – Five Faces of Fury had internal consistency issues, and a number of direct plot-lifts from recent comics plots and other sources.

Don’t get me wrong, I like you just fine, you just really baffle me when your ego is cranked up to 11. You come off as “I’m right and everyone who disagrees with me is dumb.”

Long rant made short : The artists have a responsibility to use their gifts in a manner they think proper, yes. But their value of proper may differ from yours.

If you want to delete this from your blog comments, feel free to do so – I’m happy to elaborate my points here, or via private email, or not at all, at your option.

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The proper response to verbal abuse is either A.) verbal abuse, or B.) ignoring it. Can’t blame people for picking B.

It would help if they were a little less self-righteous and self-congratulatory about that choice. Responding to blisteringly negative (but well-written and well-conceived) criticism by saying “la la la, I’m not answerable to you or anyone, and anyway I don’t care what you think!” doesn’t make a great case for artistic maturity, and would indeed be responded to with mockery and dismissal in pretty much every other art medium under the sun. The web comic artists in question can’t seem to decide if they’re actually striving to contribute to an art form or just (essentially) masturbating into MS Paint, and, indeed, they choose one side or the other depending on which defense is more convenient to them at the time. I’m sorry, but no. That shit won’t fly, and Solomon is doing a great job of calling that behavior out.

As Solomon himself has clarified in comments threads on his blog, his targets aren’t just those strips that are of obviously inferior quality — otherwise he’d need to post about ten strips a day for the rest of his fucking life to even make a dent. No, artistic ego is a big part of the equation when he picks his targets, which goes a long way toward explaining why he goes for “personal” attacks. He is ultimately interested in attacking and correcting artistic apathy and arrogance, and to do so you must eventually and necessarily address the artist as well as his/her work.

Look, sometimes the only response to really shitty work is the scorched-earth policy. Sometimes you have to amputate the limb to save the body. Is it necessary to make fun of the limb while you’re working the bone saw on the joint? No, but why the fuck not, right? If these people want to be allowed within ten feet of the words “Creator” or “Artist,” they need to realize, and realize fast, that not everything they produce will be a flawless gold egg. A lot of times it’ll just be shit, or shit with gold flecks in it… especially if they’re just starting out. They have to learn, and sometimes the only way to learn is to pass through scorching crucibles that shakes off the pretenders and hones the truly devoted.

If they don’t want to put up with that? Fine. But don’t act like shirking growth is some kind of virtue.

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Nick Shogun said on October 8th, 2007 at 4:01 pm

But how do we justify his outright slanderous assumptions about the authors themselves? For example:

“He reviews everyone. And you just know he’s only doing it for praise and maybe to get into someone’s panties, or, since he can’t afford to be picky, boxers.”

This is the entertainment, right?

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But how do we justify his outright slanderous assumptions about the authors themselves?

I don’t know, read the material he’s talking about? I did, and I have to say, it’s a pretty compelling case.

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CandidGamera said on October 8th, 2007 at 4:04 pm

“As Solomon himself has clarified in comments threads on his blog, his targets aren’t just those strips that are of obviously inferior quality — otherwise he’d need to post about ten strips a day for the rest of his fucking life to even make a dent. No, artistic ego is a big part of the equation when he picks his targets, which goes a long way toward explaining why he goes for “personal” attacks. He is ultimately interested in attacking and correcting artistic apathy and arrogance, and to do so you must eventually and necessarily address the artist as well as his/her work.”

If his target is arrogance, then he is a hypocrite. And his rants about Shortpacked would make no damn sense, as David Willis seems neither apathetic nor arrogant.

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Who died and made you Art-God?

I can see where articulating one’s opinion on a blog qualifies as commandment.

While you’re usually a fairly entertaining writer, you’re not quite as good as you seem to think you are – Five Faces of Fury had internal consistency issues, and a number of direct plot-lifts from recent comics plots and other sources.

Uh, that’s because it was part of a roleplaying game based on a licensed concept, and a group-written one at that. I don’t qualify anything I’ve done on Watchtower as being even remotely close to what I can produce when I’m working at full steam, because it’s supposed to be fun and something I can kick back with. I didn’t even rewrite posts on it, as I know other people do, even when I saw after the fact that I’d jumped back into one of my writing tics.

If you want to delete this from your blog comments, feel free to do so

Dude, that is SO not how I roll.

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If his target is arrogance, then he is a hypocrite. And his rants about Shortpacked would make no damn sense, as David Willis seems neither apathetic nor arrogant.

You may not have followed that whole ordeal very closely. Shortpacked is a strip Solomon (and the others on the blog, I believe) liked very much before it got mopey and emo, and respect has been given to Willis for responding in a tactful and thoughtful way. It was a dialogue. Crazy stuff, I know.

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CandidGamera said on October 8th, 2007 at 4:39 pm

“I can see where articulating one’s opinion on a blog qualifies as commandment.”

When it’s phrased “Thou shalt not..” it does tend to come off that way. I exaggerate, but only slightly. Your word choice is, in a word, imperious. And I’m not using it as my sole basis for calling your out as arrogant – this has been my experience with you for as long as I’ve known you.

As for the WT not being the best example of your writing – well, I’ve also read your blog. And your entries as moderator of Improved_Archie. And your Legion spec script. So it doesn’t seem to be an especially narrow view of your work – then again, maybe some of those webcomic artists out there just do their webcomics to blow off steam, saving their best stuff for more serious projects. My point is that based on the evidence I’ve seen, you’re not Canada’s poet laureate.

“Dude, that is SO not how I roll.”

*shrug* I’m flexible. Just happens to be something I’ve meant to bring up with you for a while, and didn’t know if you’d object to using this forum for it.

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CandidGamera said on October 8th, 2007 at 4:41 pm

“You may not have followed that whole ordeal very closely. Shortpacked is a strip Solomon (and the others on the blog, I believe) liked very much before it got mopey and emo, and respect has been given to Willis for responding in a tactful and thoughtful way. It was a dialogue. Crazy stuff, I know.”

I read the part where he savaged the writer/artist for taking a creative direction he didn’t like. And in the post acknowledging the creator’s well-thought-out reply, savaged it some more. I guess that’s sort of like a dialogue. But with one person.

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I read the part where he savaged the writer/artist for taking a creative direction he didn’t like. And in the post acknowledging the creator’s well-thought-out reply, savaged it some more. I guess that’s sort of like a dialogue. But with one person.

He “savaged the writer/artist for taking a creative direction he didn’t like” because he felt the writer/artist was bowing to outside interests and letting those outside interests dictate his output, to the detriment of material that was pretty good and getting better. As a critic and/or member of the audience, that’s a pretty good reason to get pissed. (And here I make a pre-emptive plea to avoid clumsy comparisons between “outside interests” and critics. It’s not even remotely the same thing.)

They lay off him in the comments now, though. For the reason cited above: he responded like an adult.

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CandidGamera said on October 8th, 2007 at 5:04 pm

“He “savaged the writer/artist for taking a creative direction he didn’t like” because he felt the writer/artist was bowing to outside interests and letting those outside interests dictate his output, to the detriment of material that was pretty good and getting better. “

I’m sorry, I don’t buy that.

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Don’t buy it all you want. I’ll just link you to the relevant post: http://badwebcomics.blogspot.com/2007/06/more-shortpacked.html

Key points revisited:

Respect earned.

Drama = bad. Comedy = good.

People are saying MORE DRAMA. This is still bad.

I’m not sure what about this is unclear. Considering his tone throughout the rest of the blog, posts and comments alike, I think it’s safe to say Solomon is being respectful here.

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Or, for bonus points, the original post/review: http://badwebcomics.blogspot.com/2007/06/shortpacked.html

Relevant parts:

“Drama is when you are a webcomic creator, and some time into a strip that makes some rather decent comic book-related and general nerd jokes you suddenly decide that your strip needs a change in direction. It needs to stop relying on this “humour” thing so much. It needs to start trying to push issues and serious business and deep, dramatic content like you wouldn’t believe.

[…]

Second, if I wanted to read something serious, I’d read something serious. I started reading Shortpacked! because I thought the Batman jokes were pretty rad. I stopped reading Shortpacked! because of “Let me cry, Daddy.” Because of all the boring shit that does absolutely nothing for me but make me feel like finding David Willis and forcing him to realise that this kind of mawkish sentimentality just fucking fails to work when you are simultaneously trying to make with the jollies.”

[…]

Nothing pisses me off more than wasted potential, because that’s the saddest story every told. To have the potential to, well, maybe not create the greatest webcomic in the world, but certainly do a damned good job with what you’ve got. Shortpacked! could have been a regular fixture in my favourites list, and I’d faithfully tune in every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning for a nerd joke that’d have me grinning. Instead it’s like Russian roulette – maybe I get a Batman joke. Maybe I get someone sobbing that they were raped.

[…]

But it’s still fucking awful, Willis is still a fucking hack and the sooner he stops listening to whatever fucking morons are telling him that this shit is rad the better. Sure, he might not be able to sell so many books, he might lose a few hundred people who were only in it for to watch people cry like so much melancholy pornography, but… fuck ’em. Who’d miss them? Who could honestly say that they want to keep the kind of fans who believe that they deserve a degree of control in the webcomic and will throw a major hissyfit if they don’t get their way?

[…]

Grow some fucking balls, man. It might seem like you’re pleasing the majority with your drama shit, but you’re attracting the Wrong Crowd. Have some fucking dignity and return your webcomic to its roots.”

So… which parts aren’t you buying?

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I’m sorry, I don’t buy that.

Were we reading the same review? Please, can you clarify for me, do you feel that this is not an accurate summation of the shortpacked review, with respect to the content of the strip? Or do you feel that this is an accurate assesment of what was said, but that Solomon was merely putting those statements in to pad out a generic rant.

It may be just because I’ve got some of the same views Solomon has about the drama that I noticed the positive elements of the reviews. I like the jokes. I think Willis writes some funny funny stuff. I even laughed genuinely at the first couple of drama strips, because willis took the effort to dress them up in a joke. And then he started pressing with the drama, and ignoring the jokes, going with weak gags merely cause they fit the drama, and even using the same joke as window dressing on the drama. And I thought “Oh shit, here we go again”. I’ve read far to much of willis’s stuff, cause he writes pretty well. And I’ve stopped part way through every series, because he cannot seem to resist pouring on the drama like hes writing Days of Our Lives.

Unlike Solomon, I dont think Willis is letting outside interests dictate his output, I just think he can’t help himself. I think he litrally cannot plot out a comic without his brain going “well this series won’t be any good until I add some incredibly shitty drama to it”. But Solomon’s review certianly suggested, to me, a belief that Willis is bowing to outside interests, because when I read the review, it was the only thing I disagreed with.

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Your word choice is, in a word, imperious.

Short of prefacing every comment with “It’s only my opinion but” or “Well I think” – which is just plain old passive-aggressive shitty writing anyway – there isn’t much of an option. I’m not going to dumb down my writing style for the sake of a comfortable tone, and I like my beliefs and arguments to be as clear as possible. If that comes across strongly, good. People know where I stand.

So it doesn’t seem to be an especially narrow view of your work – then again, maybe some of those webcomic artists out there just do their webcomics to blow off steam, saving their best stuff for more serious projects. My point is that based on the evidence I’ve seen, you’re not Canada’s poet laureate.

Sure, but I am a freelance writer with more than one regular gig and a fair amount of experience script-doctoring. The stuff that goes on my blog gets a little more attention than stuff I do for fun (although it’s still for fun, but it’s a more serious kind of fun, if that follows). I understand how to shift tone, write in different voices (both dialogic and narrative), and self-edit, and I know it fairly well, and I understand the value of professionalism because I’ve actually had to live off the proceeds of my creative work at times, and even though some of the stuff you’ve seen isn’t my grade-A level work, it’s still stuff I’m not ashamed to include as representative for the most part.

I’m not Robertson Davies or anything, but so what? Arguing that I should be in order to “proclaim” upon this topic is nothing more than your traditional appeal-to-authority fallacy.

And again, the “maybe they’re just doing it to blow off steam” argument is such patent bullshit it can fertilize plants all by itself. I have non-public projects I work on to blow off steam that I return to when I feel the need, including a screenplay entitled Vampire Hitler. You know why they’re not public? Because I don’t need fucking public acclaim to “blow off steam.” When I post something here, it’s to entertain or to provoke discussion or invite comment. That’s why it’s a publicly readable blog.

The moment Shitty Webcomic Author X put up his shitty webcomic, “I’m just doing it to blow off steam” stopped being a reasonable excuse, because SWA-X patently isn’t doing it for that reason. Maybe he wants praise, maybe he wants money (and if you notice how many webcomic artists include their commission info onsite, you learn how prevalent a reason that is), maybe he wants to be INTERNET FAMOUS, who knows. But he sure isn’t doing it just to doodle his frustrations away any more.

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GoatToucher said on October 8th, 2007 at 8:58 pm

Solomon articulates himself well. His points are good. Webcomic artists and writers would benefit from taking his advice.

His methods, however, are self-indulgent, to say the very least, and detract from any positive impact he might have.

Many people dislike criticism. That is a flaw in their character, I feel. Even more dislike abuse, and why shouldn’t they? What Solomon doles out is worthy criticism doused in so much crankish abuse that it makes me think of fillet mingon doused in catchup… catsup… katsu.. you get the idea; quality ruined by overindulgence.

It is not passive agressive to not be a dick. I always hear the douchebaggery of the “British Reality Show Judge” ™ mitigated by claims of “He’s just saying what they need to hear.” Shennanigans. We like to see people get abused. The audience eats it up when people more talented or motivated than we get taken down a peg with a bit of abuse (we also like to watch total incompetants abused, and that’s not really any better).

Now I’m not going to front and claim that I am above any of Solomon’s tirades. Already disliking Ctrl Alt Del, I was intensely amused by his treatment of it, but I don’t misapprehend that Tim Buckley is going to learn anything from it, or that Solomon means him too. Solomon is being a dick for his and our amusement. Let’s not couch it in the pretension that it is criticism so scathing that smaller minds just can’t handle it. He is a dick first and by design, and a critic second and incidentally.

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GoatToucher said on October 8th, 2007 at 9:12 pm

Also: The poet laureate of the Canadian parliament is John Steffler.

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Mmm, the sweet, sweet smell of controversy.

Whatever – Solomon is a dick, but that’s his thing. It’s why people read his blog in the first place. I’d be the first to agree with you on just about every point here, though – especially that artists NEED to be able to separate themselves from their work enough to be able to take harsh criticism like Solomon’s. When you publish something, you open yourself up to the possibility that someone, somewhere, will have that reaction. If you can’t handle that, don’t publish. Simple as that.

The fact that Solomon is a dick is pretty much a moot point, since, as I’ve said, that’s his schtick. Sure, not every reviewer will be that harsh. But my initial point still holds – obviously, someone could. Get over it. It’s something you need to learn to deal with effectively if you ever, ever want to get anywhere with any sort of creative work.

Art is a marketable skill. Acting like it’s some lofty thing above criticism is STUPID. It is not. People pay their rent with it. It’s WORK. Granted, the majority of webcomic artists aren’t making their living from it, but I’m sorry, you just don’t get to have your cake, eat it, and not take on any of the calories like that. If you have a webcomic, you are still PUBLISHING YOUR WORK.

In conclusion: I am pedantic. And also, word.

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I always hear the douchebaggery of the “British Reality Show Judge” ™ mitigated by claims of “He’s just saying what they need to hear.”

Because more often than not – at least with regards to the untalented contestants – they are. Seriously, allowing someone who is frankly crap to go through life with the belief that they are good isn’t particularly kind. Yes, telling them they suck may hurt, but it’s the pulling-the-bandaid-off kind of necessary hurt in the long run.

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GoatToucher said on October 8th, 2007 at 11:12 pm

The point is that you can communicate that point in a constructive manner that is likely to have a positive impact -without being a dick-.

The criticism is hard enough to take without the cheap shots. Being a dick never helps.

Well, it never helps -them-. It might amuse the hell out of you, but that’s where criticism becomes cruelty, isn’t it?

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“The point is that you can communicate that point in a constructive manner that is likely to have a positive impact -without being a dick”

You often can’t, though, because to be talentless and persevere requires a high level of self-delusion and an extraordinary ability to brush off criticism. To reach these people, and to stop them deceiving themselves and lowering the quality threshold, you need to be brutal and direct. Hell, as we’re seeing, even with someone like Cowell or Solomon you’ll see people contorting themselves to dismiss the critic. Yes, Cowell and Solomon are nasty people, and they’re grandstanding for the crowds, but they’re also part of the ecosystem – they exist precisely because of the preponderance of criticism-immune hacks in the world. I’m very glad they’re around (inevitably flawed by hubris though they be), because I think they do some small part to diminish the virulence of mediocrity.

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CandidGamera said on October 9th, 2007 at 9:03 am

“Short of prefacing every comment with “It’s only my opinion but” or “Well I think” – which is just plain old passive-aggressive shitty writing anyway – there isn’t much of an option. I’m not going to dumb down my writing style for the sake of a comfortable tone, and I like my beliefs and arguments to be as clear as possible. If that comes across strongly, good. People know where I stand.”

I disagree – there are plenty of options to express one’s opinion firmly without sounding as if one is delivering a gospel from on high.

“And again, the “maybe they’re just doing it to blow off steam” argument is such patent bullshit it can fertilize plants all by itself.”

And the supposition that they’re publishing a webcomic to improve themselves as a serious artist is credible? It’s a fucking webcomic. I’ve come within an inch of publishing webcomics at various times, and let me tell you, my motivation in each case was :

1.) Make myself laugh.
2.) Share the stuff, in case it might make someone else laugh.

No self-aggrandizement, no profit potential, no serious aspirations as a writer. It’s the visual equivalent of sharing a joke with your friends. The internet has such a low effort-to-exposure ratio that the decision to “put something out there” is not nearly the momentous endeavor you’re trying to paint it as.

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No self-aggrandizement, no profit potential, no serious aspirations as a writer. It’s the visual equivalent of sharing a joke with your friends. The internet has such a low effort-to-exposure ratio that the decision to “put something out there” is not nearly the momentous endeavor you’re trying to paint it as.

And did you ever get the urge to call yourself a “Creatrix,” as one of Solomon’s targets has? Again, I point that it’s not just putting out bad material that he hates — it’s putting out bad material and then putting on airs like you’re the William Shakespeare of transgender furry comics that he hates.

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CandidGamera said on October 9th, 2007 at 11:01 am

“And did you ever get the urge to call yourself a “Creatrix,” as one of Solomon’s targets has? Again, I point that it’s not just putting out bad material that he hates — it’s putting out bad material and then putting on airs like you’re the William Shakespeare of transgender furry comics that he hates.”

Your argument seems to be “They deserve this abuse, so it’s okay” – which I’ll disagree with in general, and disagree with in the specific cases of many of the other creators. Again, David Willis of Shortpacked didn’t put on any arrogant airs – he just had the audacity to mix in some storylines amidst the Batman jokes.

And to clarify some side points : Yes, I believe that anything one creates is subject to criticism, and enduring criticism is a vital skill not just for artists, but for people in general – but what this guy does on his blog isn’t criticism. It’s just abuse. Therefore, it can easily be, and probably should be, dismissed out of hand. Unless you find the site in question entertaining, it is irrelevant.

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So if I should ignore Solomon’s criticism because of the method in which he takes an author of a webcomic to task, who should I listen to? Especially given that his sense of humor is pretty appealing to me, I ask you who should I read that has an acerbic wit, compelling criticism, doesn’t make me cringe when I read his posts, and manages to do all of this without “sending abuse” the way of these so-called “authors” you’re defending?

Unless you’ve got a few URLs to offer to us, Solomon IS relevant.

Also, as far as the effort-to-exposure ratio of the internet, I think that’s the entire goddamn problem. Meatspace requires analysis based on potential profit, even if all you’re trying to do is recoup expenses. The first question in the minds of most of these authors is not “Will I have to eat ramen noodles to get my webcomic out there?” but more “Why aren’t people aware of how awesome/emo/single/cute I am?”

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CandidGamera said on October 9th, 2007 at 2:27 pm

“So if I should ignore Solomon’s criticism because of the method in which he takes an author of a webcomic to task, who should I listen to? Especially given that his sense of humor is pretty appealing to me, I ask you who should I read that has an acerbic wit, compelling criticism, doesn’t make me cringe when I read his posts, and manages to do all of this without “sending abuse” the way of these so-called “authors” you’re defending?

Unless you’ve got a few URLs to offer to us, Solomon IS relevant.”

There’s a logical fallacy. And you’ve misread what I said, but I wasn’t entirely clear, so I will clarify :

Solomon’s site is devoid of value other than entertainment value for those who enjoy cruelty inflicted upon others. If you are a webcomic author, unless you find his abuse entertaining, his site is irrelevant and may be ignored entirely.

“Also, as far as the effort-to-exposure ratio of the internet, I think that’s the entire goddamn problem. Meatspace requires analysis based on potential profit, even if all you’re trying to do is recoup expenses. The first question in the minds of most of these authors is not “Will I have to eat ramen noodles to get my webcomic out there?” but more “Why aren’t people aware of how awesome/emo/single/cute I am?””

Gosh, a mind-reader! That’s a rare gift you have there, able to ascertain the motivations of an entire collection of anonymous people whom you’ve never met. Go Go, Gadget Sweeping Generalization!

To respond to you less sarcastically : some people see the internet’s low barrier to entry as a problem. Others appreciate all the awesome things that low barrier has brought about that would not otherwise exist, and ignore the things they don’t like.

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I see what you’re saying; Solomon is aiming his criticism at the authors, who are then likely to ingore him because he insults them. However, criticism is also an evaluation; if a webcomic suddenly gets reviewed on Solomon’s blog, chances are that I’m not going to want to go near it (assuming I have the same tastes he does).

I dunno, seems relevant to me when I want to avoid wasting hours on shitty webcomics.

Is Ebert a hack? I mean, some of these arguments get applied to him when he gives a really bad review (and sometimes a really good review), but is he somehow more relevant because he doesn’t insult somebody as vehemently?

I think we can all appreciate the awesome stuff that we see via the internet, however I don’t really want to sift through all of the crap to get the diamonds. It’s not a binary situation; with the proper tools, like ratings systems or review sites, etc, I can have my cake and eat it, too.

As for my ESP, I thought we all got issued a tinfoil hat for just these purposes when we signed up for the internet… I see you got yours, but it’s tuned to individuals instead of large groups.

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CandidGamera said on October 9th, 2007 at 3:21 pm

“I see what you’re saying; Solomon is aiming his criticism at the authors, who are then likely to ingore him because he insults them. However, criticism is also an evaluation; if a webcomic suddenly gets reviewed on Solomon’s blog, chances are that I’m not going to want to go near it (assuming I have the same tastes he does).”

And as far as that goes, that’s probably safe enough. As I said, the perspective I’ve focused on is the authors themselves.

However, I will say that Solomon’s diatribes have included a couple of strips that I think are pretty funny. Sluggy Freelance, ShortPacked, and yes, despite it’s plagiarized nature, Ctrl-Alt-Del. If I had relied on him as a kind of barometer of good and bad, I would’ve missed some things I enjoyed.

Of course, there’s also the issue that you can simply go to the comic’s site, and spend fifteen minutes less reading some of the strips than you would reading Solomon’s overblown, rambling ‘reviews’, and make up your own mind as to whether or not you like it.

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Your argument seems to be “They deserve this abuse, so it’s okay” – which I’ll disagree with in general, and disagree with in the specific cases of many of the other creators. Again, David Willis of Shortpacked didn’t put on any arrogant airs – he just had the audacity to mix in some storylines amidst the Batman jokes.

We already had the discussion about Willis, but you seem to have dropped it. Going after people vary between “well I’m above this, I’m an artist” and “come on, I’m just fucking around” — whichever is convenient at the time — is his M.O., with Willis as the very rare exception (he was also the first, so it would be safe to say Solomon hadn’t quite gotten his “mission statement” clear in his head yet.

but what this guy does on his blog isn’t criticism. It’s just abuse. Therefore, it can easily be, and probably should be, dismissed out of hand.

No, not quite. He offers abuse, but he provides reasoning for his abuse — and it’s solid reasoning, grounded in realistic expectations. The “Seven Deadly Sins” list is a pretty good primer on what NOT to do, and all of it provides an object lesson for the aspiring web comic creator and discerning audience member alike. That’s pretty much the definition of useful criticism.

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madhouse_city said on October 9th, 2007 at 3:50 pm

3 thoughts:
1. CandidGamera Says: If you are a webcomic author, unless you find his abuse entertaining, his site is irrelevant and may be ignored entirely.
For the generic webcomic author (both the active and the aspiring), Your Webcomic is Bad presents the Papa (Berestain) Bears of the internet. Strips such as CAD, Dominic Deegan, or Shredded Moose repeatedly showcase What Not To Do, information that’s readily apparent when reading the comics themselves or presented as kernels of observation driving the long, entertaining rants on Your Webcomics is Bad.

2. Webcomics are seldom subject to “academic” observations (both from creators and fans). Talk about webcomics is often not scholarly, well organized, or restrained; talk about webcomics exists in informal message boards and news posts. Hyperbolic, ranting, personal writing is what comes out naturally from webcomic creators and fans, and as such Your Webcomic is Bad appropriately follows suit.
I had a friend describe Dominic Deegan as “It’s as if Neil Gaiman decided to write and draw a webcomic.” A very proper response to such bullshit is the intensly angry rants of Your Webcomic is Bad. That blog is the writing equivalent of a smack up the head, and fans and creators of bad webcomics (much like newborns) need such a smack in order to get them to stop! and give more restrained, constructive observation and criticism to come in.

(PLEASE NOTE: Dominic Deegan, an amateur affair that excitedly wallows in its lack of quality and professionalism, is not as if Neil Gaiman, a fucking professional who takes his work seriously and wants readers to take it seriously too, decided to draw a webcomic. It took a lot to stop myself from angrily strangling my friend the moment those words exited his lips.)

3. MightyGodKing said: I have non-public projects … including a screenplay entitled Vampire Hitler.
You TEASE! Now the question is whether we start a petition asking you publish Vampire Hitler or the sequel where Universal Studios decided to throw all of its WWII movie monsters together, Vampire Hitler, Wolfman Mussolini, Mummified Franco, and the Minster Tojo from the Black Lagoon meet Abbott and Costello.

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I had a friend describe Dominic Deegan as “It’s as if Neil Gaiman decided to write and draw a webcomic.”

Now you’re just making shit up.

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CandidGamera said on October 9th, 2007 at 3:59 pm

“We already had the discussion about Willis, but you seem to have dropped it. Going after people vary between “well I’m above this, I’m an artist” and “come on, I’m just fucking around” — whichever is convenient at the time — is his M.O., with Willis as the very rare exception (he was also the first, so it would be safe to say Solomon hadn’t quite gotten his “mission statement” clear in his head yet.”

You weren’t saying anything useful, so I decided to stop wasting my time. Your perception of his rant on Shrotpacked is obviously different than mine.

“No, not quite. He offers abuse, but he provides reasoning for his abuse — and it’s solid reasoning, grounded in realistic expectations.”

Not always. Nor even usually.

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GoatToucher said on October 9th, 2007 at 4:23 pm

I’m afraid I cannot proceed from any thesis wherein abuse is considered helpful. It undermines the critical aspect of what Solomon claims to be doing.

If he were like Roger Ebert, he would not be offering advice to film makers, but to the viewing public. If YWCIB… were a review site, I would say mission accomplished and that quite well, because the guy does amuse the shit out of me. However, he makes the claim that he is trying to help, not us, the viewing public, but the authors and artists themselves. In that, he has failed, and that tragically, for his critiques are good, but they are delivered in such a way as to almost guarentee that they are dismissed.

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mygif

You weren’t saying anything useful, so I decided to stop wasting my time. Your perception of his rant on Shrotpacked is obviously different than mine.

I’m not sure what you mean. You disputed my claim about Solomon’s take on Shortpacked, so I provided mountains of evidence to back myself up. Was that the part that wasn’t useful? Or was it that you disagree that Solomon’s aim is to go after the bad and pompous, instead of the merely bad? Would you care for another mountain of evidence for that?

Not always. Nor even usually.

We must be reading different reviews. He never comes out and says “This sucks because I don’t like it” and calls it a day. He provides clear, lucid reasoning for disliking everything he addresses, be it horrible art, clichéd storytelling, glacial pacing, or the like.

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CandidGamera said on October 9th, 2007 at 8:45 pm

“I’m not sure what you mean. You disputed my claim about Solomon’s take on Shortpacked, so I provided mountains of evidence to back myself up. Was that the part that wasn’t useful? Or was it that you disagree that Solomon’s aim is to go after the bad and pompous, instead of the merely bad? Would you care for another mountain of evidence for that?”

And when I read the ‘mountain’ of evidence you provided, I just saw more support for my point. You made guesses as to his motivation. The text doesn’t support your guesses in my view – while Solomon makes claims similar to what you’re claiming, his tone is completely at odds with the motivation you try to ascribe.

So you can cut and paste all you like, you’re just supporting my point.

“We must be reading different reviews. He never comes out and says “This sucks because I don’t like it” and calls it a day. He provides clear, lucid reasoning for disliking everything he addresses, be it horrible art, clichéd storytelling, glacial pacing, or the like.”

Clear, lucid reasoning for not liking drama? Nnnnno. Or a clear, lucid reason for not liking Sluggy’s continuity? Not so much.

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mygif

Clear, lucid reasoning for not liking drama? Nnnnno.

He’s gone into detail about this many times: most webcomics artists are just simply bad at writing drama. Cliched plotlines, poorly characterized responses to situations, atrocious dialogue, the trivialization of actual serious issues (like rape) so a given half-orc can have a motivation; he’s got as many reasons as he does fingers at a minimum.

Or a clear, lucid reason for not liking Sluggy’s continuity?

It’s needlessly complex, by his own words. How on earth is that not clear and lucid? It’s a comic strip about two slackers and their asshole magic bunny. It does not need seven years of backstory, all of which is required to follow the increasingly inpenetrable plotlines.

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CandidGamera said on October 9th, 2007 at 9:36 pm

“It’s needlessly complex, by his own words. How on earth is that not clear and lucid? It’s a comic strip about two slackers and their asshole magic bunny. It does not need seven years of backstory, all of which is required to follow the increasingly inpenetrable plotlines.”

Complexity is in the eye of the beholder, and needless? It’s kind of the point. So that makes no sense.

“He’s gone into detail about this many times: most webcomics artists are just simply bad at writing drama. Cliched plotlines, poorly characterized responses to situations, atrocious dialogue, the trivialization of actual serious issues (like rape) so a given half-orc can have a motivation; he’s got as many reasons as he does fingers at a minimum.”

I couldn’t be bothered to read each of his reviews – however, the complaints about Shortpacked’s drama come across as ill-thought out and boiling down to “drama bad”.

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mygif

Complexity is in the eye of the beholder, and needless?

I can describe Superman’s history with all significant elements in about a paragraph. I can’t do the same for Torg, and bear in mind I read Sluggy faithfully for the first six years or so. That’s pretty much your standard for needless complexity right there.

I couldn’t be bothered to read each of his reviews

Then for god’s sake stop arguing about them from a position of ignorance.

however, the complaints about Shortpacked’s drama come across as ill-thought out and boiling down to “drama bad”.

They’re quite simple: Willis chose to try and go the “drama route,” and he’s just not (or, at the absolute least, wasn’t) very good at writing drama. Again: “let me cry, Daddy” is just not very good writing. It’s overblown tripe. If you disagree – god, I have no idea how anybody can disagree with that particular sentiment, because the example in question is so obviously, blatantly stinky-cheese.

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CandidGamera said on October 9th, 2007 at 9:52 pm

“Then for god’s sake stop arguing about them from a position of ignorance.”

I’m arguing about the ones I’ve read.

“I can describe Superman’s history with all significant elements in about a paragraph. I can’t do the same for Torg, and bear in mind I read Sluggy faithfully for the first six years or so. That’s pretty much your standard for needless complexity right there.”

I’ll let DC Comics know the Chris-Paragraph should be their new standard, in case they’re not aware. Sluggy is a comic where increasingly bizarre things happen to the main characters, and continuity that builds on itself is a useful tool for creating increasingly bizarre scenarios. At least Pete footnotes generous, which is more than I can say for DC when they base something on a forty year old story.

“They’re quite simple: Willis chose to try and go the “drama route,” and he’s just not (or, at the absolute least, wasn’t) very good at writing drama. Again: “let me cry, Daddy” is just not very good writing. It’s overblown tripe. If you disagree – god, I have no idea how anybody can disagree with that particular sentiment, because the example in question is so obviously, blatantly stinky-cheese.”

One off moment does not a bad writer make – I found Shortpacked’s dramatic turns perfectly acceptable.

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CandidGamera said on October 9th, 2007 at 11:07 pm

“I’ll let DC Comics know the Chris-Paragraph should be their new standard, in case they’re not aware. “

The more I think about this, the funnier it is.

“You can’t publish a new Hawkman series! He has five kilo-Chrises of background information!”

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See, if you had called them “kilobirds” that would have been funnier. As it is, solid B- effort, with room to improve.

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Also, anything that would prevent a new Hawkman series from being published is fine by me. Why? Because Hawkman’s kinda boring!

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Complexity is in the eye of the beholder, and needless? It’s kind of the point. So that makes no sense.

Complexity is in the eye of the beholder? Are you arguing that there are people who don’t find sluggy complex? Cause if so, it’d be nice if you’d come out and say it. You can debate over whether that complexity is a bad thing, but if you can successfully convince me that sluggy aint complex, you should probably be over in the middle east, selling sand to the arabs.

Also, “its kind of the point”? Are you seriously arguing that Abrams sat down and started out his writing of sluggy with the thought “I’d like to make a setting where people will need a couple of pages of character guide for every single character.”?

One off moment does not a bad writer make – I found Shortpacked’s dramatic turns perfectly acceptable.
Is that perfectly acceptable as in it improved the comic, or as in it didn’t make you throw up in your mouth a little bit?

I couldn’t be bothered to read each of his reviews – however, the complaints about Shortpacked’s drama come across as ill-thought out and boiling down to “drama bad”.
To a large chunk of webcomic readers, thats all the argument you need. “Webcomic drama shitty”. More to the point, taking a perfectly good gag strip and deciding to throw a big pile of shitty drama in is very very bad. (the drama in most purely dramatic webcomics is shitty as well, but there’s not the addition of the cruel bait and switch. from a more selfish perspective, I won’t be have them on my reading list when they start with the shitty drama) But you are correct. Solomons review could have been improved, as a critique to inform the artist, if he had done a little more explanation of why most webcomic drama is shitty, and why Willis’s drama, in particular, is shitty.

Just for the record, I loved narbonic and I’m a big fan of Girl Genius, both of which are have lots of drama and complex references to backstory. I don’t hate webcomic drama on principle, but most of it is very shitty. And the complexity is used to add an extra level to the story with foreshadowing and back references. You can miss a reference or a detail, and still understand whats happening, and find the gags funny. This is good complexity. Sluggy, not so much.

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Also

“You can’t publish a new Hawkman series! He has five kilo-Chrises of background information!”

That would be 5 thousand paragraphs of information. I’m a little worried that anyone would think thats acceptable, no matter who is doing the summarization.

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CandidGamera said on October 10th, 2007 at 10:32 am

“See, if you had called them “kilobirds” that would have been funnier. As it is, solid B- effort, with room to improve.”

I didn’t want to reveal your secret identity! 😉

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CandidGamera said on October 10th, 2007 at 10:40 am

To Michael : I’m not gonna do intricate c&p of your post for responses, but let me address the salient points.

Sluggy continuity is not especially complex. How can I claim this? Well, I’ve been reading superhero comics since I was three, so maybe I have an especially high threshold for that kinda thing. Yes, a lot of stuff happened in Sluggy, but no, for a given story, you don’t need to know 90% of it. And, as noted, Pete Abrams is kind enough to footnote when something is particularly relevant. I don’t find it a hindrance, or hard to follow at all.

As to the ‘kind of the point’ comment – no, that’s not what I’m saying, and that’s not what he’s doing. I can write a summary of Torg’s life that passes the paragraph test and tells you everything you need to know to understand Torg’s character. What I mean about it being kind of the point is that the stip is about two slackers who have increasingly bizarre things happen to them, and continuity is part and parcel of that.

As for the drama of Shortpacked – I typically find it entertainingly balanced with the humor elements of the strip. Shortpacked has a good drama-to-humor ratio. (About 1 : 4. I only wish Joss Whedon would use the same ratio.) I think that the presence of the drama improves the comic by offering contrast and context for the humor elements.

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As an art student I very much agree with this post.

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http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail181.html

Strong Bad insults webcomics too.

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Doug McKeown said on October 11th, 2007 at 4:59 pm

I had this verbal explosion in the last post about YWiB. You bring up a good point about it being inflammatory rhetoric. I guess my problem with it is that I bloody HATE inflammatory rhetoric. I’ve also realized that, on further review, the other writers on YWiB are kinda funny. For instance, the once-mentioned Seven Deadly Sins article wasn’t written by him, it was written by Lilith Ester, one of three writers on YWiB that don’t suck. So it’s just Solomon that takes my face in his hands and physically grinds my teeth for me. He’s a damn bully, but hey, maybe in the future the writers of those crap webcomics will look upon him fondly for being rough on them. Or not, considering how I feel about people who chased me with sticks when I was little.

MGK is right, it’s a matter of taste. A lot of people seem to like him because he’s a dick. I don’t like him… because he’s a dick. Yeah, he’s being a dick to a cadre of webcomics writers/artists that may or may not be dicks, but in the end he’s still a big, honking dick. He gets on his targets’ backs for masturbating with MS Paint, but just what the fuck does he think he’s doing? Just because flaming people excites him and he fondles Notepad when he thinks it’s sleeping, instead of getting it on with webcomic tripe, doesn’t mean he’s not doing the same thing. I’m not saying he’s doing the exact same thing, that’s a ridiculous notion. But just because he’s not wasting Kleenex at the same alarming rate his targets are doesn’t suddenly make it not self-masturbatory.

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Anne Nonymous said on October 16th, 2007 at 12:39 am

So, Solomon shouldn’t have taken Mookie to task for trivializing rape?

He’s not just a big, honking dick, he’s a big, honking dick who’s right!

The thing is . . . the reasoning that people use to attack him should protect him. You think Solomon’s ways are wrong and no one should do them? You’re undercutting your own position by gunning for Solomon.

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