148. THE PUBLIC CASTS THEIR VOTE: JUST HOW PATHETIC AM I?

diary entry, December 21, 2006

I check my tabloia.com emails every day. Every day there are ten or twenty goddamn email-clogging spam pieces of shit in my inbox to sort through. Usually, I get about half a dozen from different ‘people,’ with the EXACT SAME HEADER, suggesting I buy Viagra or Microsoft or write back to some ‘girl’ who would like to send me her ‘pics’. Regularly, I get two or three emails FROM THE EXACT SAME PERSON WITH THE EXACT SAME HEADER. The reason for this is my own fault: they send one to me, one to ‘Dr. DeBunko,’ and one to ‘Cleanie’ Santini (because I thought it would be fun to have all my different fictitious characters have their own emails). For this reason, I want to apologize if anyone’s sent me an email and never heard back from me. If your email name is only a first name, or if it’s not even a name at all, or if you leave some kind of vague heading, such as ‘hi,’ or nonsense sentences or a series of nonsense letters and numbers, I probably accidentally thought it was spam and deleted the message. But if I didn’t think it was spam, I try to write back to everyone, so go through your emails you’ve sent that I never replied to, and please resend them with a comics-related heading.

So while I check emails, I also check each day to see how many visits I’ve gotten to my website, and where these viewers came from. This is the equivalent of an ego search on Google, where I am scanning to see if my comics or website have been mentioned somewhere. And this is how I find out if reviews have been posted (since reviewers often don’t let me know they posted anything about my work). And this month, I kept getting all these hits from Warren Ellis’s The-Engine.net.

Now I recognize that I discussed this event in a previous diary entry, but it was something that moved and unsettled me in a way I am going to work my mind through it again here. (Not to mention I forgot I wrote about it and just rewrote it again here).

I would click over to the Engine, however, and it’s set up to only show the most current page and not where I was mentioned. So I would do searches for ‘Chris Wisnia,’ ‘Wisnia,’ ‘Doris Danger,’ ‘Dr. DeBunko,’ ‘Tabloia,’ but NOTHING would come up. I was dumbfounded. And meanwhile, more and more click-overs, every day, continued piling over to my website.

Finally, after a week of this, I started getting a ton of hits from ‘Newsarama.com.’ So I clicked over to see what was causing people to send THIS site to mine. Here I read about how Larry Young of AIT-Planet Lar has been generating a lot of heat at the Engine, due to an argument he’s been in with someone about self-publishers doing their own thing, instead of doing superhero comics.

The article then mentioned that it’s worth reading this argument, if nothing else, to get the link to ‘the interesting and sad story of Chris Wisnia,’ which was linked to my diary. Ah HA! THAT’S why everyone is linking over to my site.

But wait a minute. ‘Sad?’ Everyone is reading my blog because they want to hear a ‘sad’ story?

So then I began thinking back. I had gotten a few emails to my website, saying people were enjoying my blog. And THEY were saying how depressing it was too.

So now I had a link to the ‘the-Engine.net’s’ link to my site, and was able to see what was cooking. A young whipper-snapper had boldly, blatantly posted a link to his superhero discussion page, with an attitude of how ‘neat’ superhero comics are, and how people surely want to join yet another goddamn superhero discussion (which the Engine’s ‘rules for posts’ frowned on). And he was even frowned at by the moderator, who pointed out he’d done this repeatedly, and was pissing people off and better quit.

He was arguing that what he WANTS to do is make superhero comics, and he’s convinced his own stories are so clever and talented that they’re bound to be big hits. Larry was trying to explain to this poor naive newbie that he doesn’t have the slightest understanding of the comics industry, and that he’s setting himself up to get hammered and devastated. This is an industry you have to keep trying and trying and crying and busting your balls for maybe five or ten years before you get any notice. Even if Newbie’s story is any good, it will still be ignored by the public, because if the public wants to read superhero comics, they’re not going to read some shitty indie-comic they’ve never heard of, they’re going to go to the only two companies in the industry who every shop in America stocks, and who has money to advertise, and name recognition, and characters that people already know and like: Marvel and DC. People aren’t interested in superhero comics from anywhere else, if they know they can get reliable and decent superhero comics from the Big Two.

Larry was arguing that a new and aspiring creator should carve his/her own niche and try to instead ACTUALLY CONTRIBUTE TO THE MEDIUM in some way that isn’t redundant and worn out, and that’s his/her only hope of getting any notice in the industry. And then he/she can always get picked up by the Big Two and do superhero comics later on, which is inevitable, if the he/she has any talent and wants to ultimately make a living in the comics industry, instead of starving to death and losing money every issue.

Then, after Mr. Na├»ve made another clueless and go-getting reply, Larry said, Fine, and how are you going to avoid ‘this’ happening to you. I clicked ‘this,’ and found – ah HA! – a link to my blog! It was specifically, a link to the page I discussed all the pin-up artists I had in my comics, all the ads I’d run and what they cost me, and all my sales numbers for my five issue ‘Tabloia’ run, and what a financial disaster it had been.

And then I thought, Sure, this is nice to get a link, and some attention. And it got a fair amount of attention, too. That month, between the newsarama and this Engine link, there were 180 visitors to my site. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot of hits to a site, but for me, that’s considerable notice.

But did all these people just think I was a pathetic example of bad choices and moronic business sense? Would people assume this means I’m just a talentless hack, and my sales numbers prove it? Would people say, This moron has to quit wasting his time and money, and get a job bagging groceries at a supermarket.

To hammer the idea home even harder, I began getting visitors to my site from another amazing link (which I absolutely loved, but which did kind of sadden me at the thought that maybe people pity or tease me for my drive and lack of success.) It also didn’t mention my name. It just said, ‘Note to my crazy future self, If you ever think you want to basically be an insane crazy person in the gutters, pursue your art in this fashion,’ and then it linked to my blog.

So at this point, I was in a weird mood, and I decided I wanted to email Larry Young, arguably the man who on the one hand was getting me all this new attention, but on the other hand, who indirectly began me questioning my self-worth and how people perceive me as a struggling comics creator and artist.

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