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Speaking of Blog@…


Chris Mautner, why have you forsaken us?

I digress, though those two possible introductions are in fact great indicators that you’re reading a pretentious list, I wanted to talk more about the lists themselves. I am not arguing at all that popularity equals quality. The problem is when things are seemingly shunned because of their popularity. It’s the same thing that largely happens with movies and awards. The tendency is to go strictly to ultra-serious, ultra-dramatic, and often obscure options that few have seen/heard of/read, just to show the nominator or organization’s amazing breadth of knowledge and experience. I am very glad that comics and graphic novels can be used and do get used for so many different kinds of stories. The fact remains that the majority of comics are superhero books, and some of them are very, very good.

That’s Lucas Siegel telling it like it is, yo, no one on the corner has swagga like him. He’s right; all these end-of-year lists include stuff like SKYSCRAPERS OF THE MIDWEST or TRAVEL while ignoring RANN/THANAGAR: HOLY WAR and VENOM: DARK ORIGIN and all those other excellent colon comics. Matthew J. Brady and Tucker Stone show up for some spirited debate with Siegel and Troy Brownfield. There was also talk in the blogosphere, as Dick Hyacinth went at it a couple of times.

I we actually going to refrain from commenting too much on the new Blog@ since it’s such a new crew — a Dirty Dozen as it were, of people quickly thrown together to undertake a dangerous mission behind enemy lines. Others have not been as charitable, however, and the general consensus may be that the Blog@ crew was shot loudly made sport of by the Nazis soon after landing in Brittany, and were subsequently so embarrassed that they could barely show their faces in the school cafeteria. Hyacinth again; Valerie D’Orazio pretty much declared the whole concept null out of the box.

Suffice to say that the new Blog@ hasn’t been a giant hit, although reading the thoughts of guest bloggers Paul Levitz and Jimmy Palmiotti has much inherent usefulness. And you should definitely check out Strangeways. I do think the new crew needs more time to shake out — the first week’s flood of disparate, unfocused posting has given way to slightly more opinionated fare, such as the idea that end-of-year “Best of” lists are snubbing superhero comics, which is a dubious improvement.

I will say, just to make one thing clear, J. Caleb Mozzocco is the Lee Marvin of the bunch, and would be welcome in any group blog. Russ Burlingame also seems to be a nice fellow, lives in New York and goes out a lot — and first person reporting can be valuable.

The rest are still in basic training, to put it kindly. In the larger sense, not to be tootling my own horn, but you know, good blogging ain’t as easy as it looks. You need writing skills, news sense, inquisitiveness, and knowledge. You can throw a bunch of raw recruits out on the beach, but that doesn’t mean they’ll turn into commandos.

As for the ORIGINAL Blog@ commandos? PopCultureShock reports, with little detail, that they are moving to Comic Book Resources. A smart move for both parties, we’d say.

UPDATE: Siegel has a clarifying post on Hyacinth’s blog.

  1. Hey Heidi. I put a long explanation over on Dick’s blog that I hope you read. The only other thing I’d like to put here is that, honestly, a killed-in-action metaphor in relation to myself is, well, offensive. You may or may not have read in our introduction post or in the comments section of the blog in question that I served in the Army for six years. I’ve served overseas, in a warzone, and seen people actually get killed-in-action. I assure you, it’s not something to be used as a joke under any circumstance. Thanks.

  2. Heidi,

    My grandfather died while “The Dirty Dozen” was playing on American Movie Classics, and I find your use of metaphor offensive.

  3. Okay so no war metaphors ever? What about Rann Thanager: Holy War? Is that offensive, too? Howabout if from now on I only make writing metaphors based on the films THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY and BEETHOVEN?

    Guess what, people in MY family were killed by Nazis, also, including a grand-uncle who died on the beach on D-Day. My grandmother keeps a picture of him on her table to this day. Luckily, she does not read this blog.

    BTW kids, being slagged comes with the blogging territory. Get used to it.

    Final, BTW: I have nothing but the utmost respect for anyone who serves their country and puts their life on the line.

  4. Heidi,

    My grandmother was killed by a Saint Bernard and my second cousin was killed by Charles Grodin, so I would find any Beethoven metaphors equally offensive, obviously.

  5. NuBlog@NuNewsarama doesn’t exist on my computer. I deleted the Bookmark when Brady screwed over the previous Blog@ crew.

    But at least Brady got HIS money.

  6. I have friends and relatives who served on BOTH sides of the war (my mother still has the Nazi fertility cross my grandmother earned for having four children, of which my mother was the fourth). So I guess *I* can make sport of it all, except the Holocaust, because genocide is never funny.

    So, to continue your metaphor, we’re hoping that the new crew turns into Kelly’s Heroes, a mixed bag of characters who do a crazy job well? Or is it Saving Private Ryan, where almost everyone dies, then we realize that the flashback makes no sense, because the guy doing the flashingback wasn’t there? Or will it be something totally unexpected, like The Fighting Seabees or Operation Petticoat? Or maybe something REALLY gonzo, like Apocalypse Now? (I love the smell of rotting newsprint in the morning.)

  7. So I sat down to enjoy a pile of recently purchased comics and graphic novels. I got about 80 pages into “Skyscrapers of the Midwest,” and while I enjoyed its skill, there was something about reading yet another tale of self-loathing, alienation, and angst in an indie comic. Didn’t Wares and Tomine cover this ground already?

    So I opened up “X-Men: Ghost Boxes” #2 and had to laugh. The first half dozen pages were all Scott “Cyclops” Summers serving up the self-loathing, alienation, and angst.

    Obviously I can spot the diff between the two, but the vibe had so many similarities that it cracked me up. I did go back and finish “Skyscrapers,” and I sure do respect the mix of stories and symbols and wordless storytelling and irony and grit, all while using mauses, er, I mean cats as the characters. Still it does re-visit what that “Not Funnies” article in the New York Times Magazine a few years back called the ur-narrative of graphic novels – the trials of the misunderstood sensitive adolescent (who tends to turn to comics). I’m off to read “Nat Turner” with the hopes that he doesn’t mope too much about not getting the girl.

  8. Heidi you flatter me unduly.

    Fear not, I have not abandoned you. I’ve just gone underground. I have a secret bunker and everything.

    Also, my great-uncle was killed by a special edition DVD of the Incredible Journey, so watch it.

  9. Two responses to the original argument about “Best of” lists…

    1) If there are good, popular titles, let us know. (The “Put Up Or Shut Up” argument)

    2) Many other “Year’s Best” lists are also full of great fiction which, aside from the initial reviews, the year-end lists, and the occasional award, become obscure backlist titles. Some may become popular or perennial sellers (like Murakami) but most will turn out to be like Rushdie or Oates.

    Of course, many bestselling titles also become middling backlist or vanish into obscurity (Bridges of Madison County, The Shoes of the Fisherman).

    One last question: Does the selection of Eisner and Harvey Awards since 2000 prove the thesis? Do Superhero and popular titles get nominated? Honored? Have “event” books ever made the list, either as individual issues, stories, or collections?

  10. Re lists, nobody who complained about Steven Grant’s column the other week said “Well I liked Secret Invasion and Final Crisis.” It was all the art-comix indie bunch getting pissy and counting off the lists of their favoured titles like beads in a rosary.

  11. My criteria for my personal best comics of 2008 was clear and simple: 1) What comics did I anticipate the most, and 2) did I subsequently enjoy them so much after actually reading them that I was once again highly anticipating the next issue. Four titles made the grade: Scalped, 100 Bullets, Fables, and Tor. All published monthly, all high quality, and hardly any delays in regard to their scheduled release dates. Two books — Scalped and Fables — are still going strong; I’ll lament the end of 100 Bullets, but look forward to reading the series as a whole; and if Tor gets a sequel I’ll be there. Sure, there were at least two dozen other titles I enjoyed reading during the year (including Final Crisis, despite what’s happened to Mary Marvel), but those four outstanding books were head, shoulders and top hat above the rest.

  12. One way to demonstrate that you’re not an elitist, I think, would be to do a “Worst of 2008” list. After all, storytelling problems and outright errors that make stories bad aren’t unique to superhero comics — and stories about superheroes aren’t inherently bad.


  13. I like the enthusiasm and positiveness of some of the new Blog@ crew…but it’s just lacking all around, way too much focus on capes.

    Did Brady, or more likely Imaginova actually screw them over though? I heard they left to follow the creedo of Kirkman of their own will…maybe there was a sudden mandate to do more articles on Scott Summer’s family, superhero centric stuff in general, but I heard their leaving had more to do with changing the tone of the blog dramatically, and realizing Newsarama wasn’t the place to do that.

    I can’t wait to check out Alexa.com as soon as the new blog crew starts up at CBR, should be interesting.

  14. Oh…and I hope that at least on some list, Young Liars gets at least a nod for best new ongoing…some recognition somewhere.

  15. @ejulp: I too can’t wait to see how many people who have alexa spyware on their computers visit different sites.

    what a useless statistic.

  16. @Kevin R


    The numbers themselves might be off for all I know, but not the relative increase or decrease of hit counts when compared between two sites…look at how closely (I think Tucker posted it originally) CBR and Newsarma follow each other based off of spikes in comic news, suggesting at least that they have the majority of the comic crowd nailed down as to who goes to what when…I dunno maybe I’m wrong?

    But, it’s a better judge than most anything else I know of. So, if there is a sudden split between the two, CBR taking a jump up around the time the new crew comes to the site, no it wouldn’t be such a useless “statistic.”

    And as far as I knew about their spyware, you just needed to avoid downloading their searchbar.

  17. “So, if there is a sudden split between the two, CBR taking a jump up around the time the new crew comes to the site, no it wouldn’t be such a useless “statistic.””

    But there are many, many factors that determine why people with the Alexa toolbar installed go to different sites. I mean, according to alexa, Newsarama had a spike at the beginning of December, when the new Blog@ team started. By your reasoning, that means that the site took a jump because the new crew came on. You’re doing the B follows A, therefore A caused B thing, when there are dozens of causes, not to mention, Alexa suggests that the blogs make up 6% and 4% of CBR and Newsarama’s total traffic. It’s hard to see how a chance in single digits’ worth of traffic will make that much of an impact.

    Plus, to invoke Tucker, your feeling that CBR may see an spike or increase with the new team…but didn’t Tucker suggest that between the two, the sites probably have the bulk of the comic book audience visiting both? I know that there were a few hyperbolic, “I’m never going to Newsarama again!” posts, so really, when it comes down to it, you’re saying that those few, “I’m never!” people are going to a) stay true to their word, and b) be a large enough group of people to influence traffic?

    I think we’re down to a fraction of a fraction here.

    Sorry to be long-winded, but I’ve worked on enough websites and compared enough actual traffic numbers with alexa to know that quoting alexa numbers gets you chuckle – not to mention some questions about how easily alexa can be gamed, and if the sites are in fact gaming the system, since it is so easy to do. Compete, quantcast, alexa, they all are nice thumbnails – and are often telling you completely different things.

  18. Young Liars should really not be on any kind of best of list other than best waste of talent. There’s nothing going on in that book that can’t be found executed elsewhere better.

  19. “You may or may not have read in our introduction post or in the comments section of the blog in question that I served in the Army for six years. I’ve served overseas, in a warzone, and seen people actually get killed-in-action. I assure you, it’s not something to be used as a joke under any circumstance. Thanks.”

    You using your own combat experience and that of your fellow soldiers as a club the first time sombody criticizes your Internet writing on comics is perfectly appropriate, however, and doesn’t betray a lack of decorum at all.

    Only jokes made by strangers with absolutely no connection to your personal background do that.

  20. @Kevin R.

    I thought that maybe since it WAS the same crowd (the numbers being consistent in the upward and downward trends between the two sites) that meant if there was a sudden (and I should have said and long lasting) spike in site hits in CBR, that it’d mean something…kind of like when Kirkman was talking about direct sales numbers.

    But honestly, I spent some time at work reading up on Alexa, and now agree a bit with you and retract some of the opinion I was defending. Also, I thought Alexa cgathered more information than just those they tracked through the those who downloaded Alexa (sounds like they did at some point, collaborating with Google and such), but reading up on their history, and how Wiki (and etc) described their current method of gathering hit information, I see what you mean by useless numbers. I thought maybe they were the Nielson readings of the web.

    @ Kenny
    Lol, I guess I really shouldn’t be talking at all on this thread today…I feel completely invalidated :)…but I get where people may feel that, and won’t argue, but I dunno, there’s something about Young Liars, that despite it eliciting such a “potent” response from me while reading, of disgust, or uncomfort, extreme anxiety, that I can’t help but to admire a book, that despite this reaction, I can’t put it down, and am intrigued by what unexpectedness happens the next issue. I like non-linear storytelling mixed with spans of narrative clarity inside spaces of discomfort.

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