Former retailer and current CBLDF director Alex Cox pens a piece called How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Ignore the Internet with a quick look back at the last ten years of online comics discourse…and how it doesn’t really affect actual consumers that much:
But mostly the REALITY of making, selling, and working with comics took precedence over the bizarre parallel universe of the comics internet. When I owned my shop, and previous to that, when I worked in another high-traffic NYC store, I straw-polled customers from time to time, and found that an astonishingly low number of them spent any time reading about comics online. And even fewer still actively participated in any sorts of discussions. The percent that did read the comics internet was divided further by the percent that used it as anything past a casual scroll. I realized that the numbers of comics sold were not reflected in the amount of online chatter about any given comic, and vice versa. In other words, if two worlds existed of comic fans, the people shopping every Wednesday and the people on twitter all night, the twain were not necessarily meeting. There is a great value in sites like CBR, and the myriad of other news outlets, but too often people convince themselves that comics begin and end on tumblr, and the world is a much bigger place than that.
While I don’t doubt that Cox is correct with the vast majority of readers being immune to the passionate arguments on ComicsSpecialSauce.com, it’s also true that social media enables creators who are good at it to capture and hold a fanbase. I’d point to Matt Fraction and KellySue DeConnick as two of the best, and certainly Chip Zdarsky, Fraction Sex Criminal co-conspirator, as models of this. It’s not entirely clear how much of their audience came for the social media inetraction, but it’s a good bet that some STAY for the brimping and Carol Corps.
BUT MEANWHILE, there is still good writing about comics on the internet, against all odds. Steve Morris, no stranger to good writing himself, has rounded up some examples in The Best Comics Commentary of 2014 with nods to David Harper, Zainab Akhtar, Paul O’Brien, Robin McConnell, Claire Napier and many more. Just head over and click the links and do exactly what they say.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.