Sometime in the night, the marvelous Gail Simone went on Twitter and spoke thusly: Do We Need Tabloid And Gossip Comics Journalism? which Rich Johnston picked up at the above link. Simone is no stranger to the message board, so the debate continues in the link and its very own Twitter topic.
Now, I haven’t read all of the forum replies at Bleeding Cool, but I did read Simone’s first response and she writes:
And when you ask him about it, he always points to two or three helpful stories he’s posted (like Josh Hoopes) then goes right back to the gossip. It’s weird how Rich can say anything he likes about a comics pro, but if someone dares raise the question, without malice, of whether or not this stuff is worthwhile, that is somehow being ‘butthurt’ or some other dumbass accusation.
Oh my god! Erik Larsen has a disagreement with Neil Gaiman! Really? Mark Waid had a disagreement with a friend…really? I wonder who cares, but even more, I wonder why anyone who can actually write would waste their time pimping that drivel. And Rich CAN write.
Rich is one part of a big dumb cycle of gossip, of fake ‘celebrity’ news, but it is far from the only such practitioner, he’s just the one most visible and the one most desperate to make himself part of the story. The same rules apply, guys. If you laugh at the idiots who read the Enquirer and follow Perez Hilton, but love petty comics gossip, you are in the glassest of glass houses. It’s the same exact useless crap.
As much as I ADORE Gail, I find this awfully thin-skinned and lacking in a sense of the bigger picture.
Can anyone REALLY equate what Rich writes to Perez Hilton? I MEAN, COME ON NOW. I could spend 10 minutes googling around to people’s public Facebook photo pages and find more personal gossip, embarrassing photos, and scuttlebutt than Rich has posted in an entire year.
Erik Larsen posted some trash talk about Gaiman ON A MESSAGE BOARD IN PUBLIC VIEW. People were emailing and IMing that link within a few minutes…is that really “gossip”?
It’s a far cry from paparazzi stalking people getting lattes at Starbucks and personal gossip about who’s banging the babysitter that “real” celebrities are subjected to. Since even people on reality shows are now considered celebrities, comics folks are just lucky they haven’t come in for any level of scrutiny.
80 percent of the times a few comics pros get together they spend time talking about who got too drunk in the bar last night, who hooked up at the office, why editor A thinks freelancer B is a dumbass and so on. For hours. Because 50 percent of the time, business decisions are based more on pissing contests and personality conflicts. Given all the wack shit that has gone down in the industry over the last few years, I think Rich has actually held himself back from talking about the REAL reasons behind so much that has happened.
Of course that doesn’t mean it isn’t annoying when something you didn’t want posted on the internet gets posted on the internet. I’ve been zinged, so I know how it feels and it’s not nice. So I can understand how upsetting that is to Gail and Mark Waid and so on. In individual cases, Rich may have gone over the line and he certainly has his own little foibles and inconsistencies. But to say he’s the equivalent of gossip rags? Hardly.
And sadly, as his many defenders admit, he’s all we’ve got. For instance, it’s been an open secret in comics that quite a few “mid level” publishers are having a hard time paying freelancers in a timely manner. At one convention this year, I heard story after story about how people weren’t getting paid. I mused over whether to write about this or not. I was told by one — very established, very successful — freelancer that it was just “just gossip and the people who need to know, know.” I’m sure his attitude reflects the attitude of a lot of people who are working in this industry. In the event, I didn’t have what I felt was the proper amount of time to devote to these stories — talking to the publishers, and so on. Whose fault is that? Mine.
However, Rich was much better equipped to take them on. Zenescope Man Up and Dabel Brothers Productions – Over $27,000 In Debt To Just One Studio are — based on what I’ve heard — fairly reported accounts of what is happening at these companies. Stories that no one else is covering.
Is it really “gossip” to know what companies pay on time or don’t? I consider this business news not gossip. The freelancers grapevine is good, but not universal.
So while I’m sympathetic to Gail’s viewpoint, and Rich will continue to be attacked — and should be scrutinized as much as anyone — if he’s what passes for tabloid journalism in comics, I think we should count ourselves very very lucky at this kitten-like yarn ball batting. God forbid comics ever get subjected to real scrutiny.
Besides, Gail should have really jumped on the REAL problem with Bleeding Cool…how HORRIBLE ITS DESIGN IS. I know it’s based on the Gawker template, which attempts to make people click as many times as possible in order to give advertisers maximum impressions. That would make more sense if the site actually contained advertising — but it doesn’t, just one lone ad for FreakAngels. I guess they are planning to ramp up the ads some day? In the meantime, the bewildering array of top stories, sidebars and tiny pictures make the whole site really unpleasant to navigate, at least for this cranky old blogger.
Or maybe I’m just jealous, since his traffic is probably five times mine.