In the early days of The Beat I used to start many days with a “meta” post about my doings and very important thoughts, but that kind of personal stuff jumped the shark long ago, it seems. No one really cares about me seeing a blue lobster anymore…or rather, that’s really what Twitter and Facebook are for. There’s a social network for every ephemeral thought, and I now spend hours each day sharing the ephemeral thoughts of thousands of my close personal friends.
In a way, it’s too bad. Those were some of my most favorite posts to write — like the time I went shopping for a mop. I guess you had to be there.
I’ve been a bit at war with my commenters of late, and banning a lot more people, including some old-timers. Judging by the comments, Beat readers are a bunch of cranky old farts. Yet when I walk amongst the people, I am greeted by many folk of all ages and castes. The Beat is recommended reading at many cartooning schools, and I’m always pleasantly shocked to find that some of these young turks also read this page. Why don’t they ever comment then? The other day a friend pointed out that message board commenting is a thing of the past. No one has time for that except cranky old farts. Kids today just hit the Facebook Like button. Much more efficient and leaves more time for reading your Twitter feed, or friend page.
So I’m adopting more of a zero tolerance policy for pointless whining around here, or as much as time will allow. And as much as I detest Facebook, I detest AT&T too and I just can’t quit either.
I would ask, if you are a reader and not a personal acquaintance, to “like” my Beat page and not my personal page, but I haven’t figured out how to promote that page properly here. When I have a minute I’ll add the proper widget and all will be well.
I’ve also been pondering what aspects of comics upon which to concentrate my coverage. Covering it all used to be pretty easy, but now there is a dedicated, professional blog to cover EVERY aspect of comics, whether it’s comics movie news, or controversy, or comics lifestyle. Tom Spurgeon and Robot 6 remain generalists of the cool and newsworthy, but even they are far from exhaustive. Link blogging seems to be covered by Twitter, and the major media covers most aspects of comics exhaustively. So where does that leave The Beat?
I guess the same place it always was. I cover what I like, what I enjoy, or what I think People Need To Know. The latter seems to be the most important to me these days. It’s pretty clear that the comics industry is going through one of its periodic reinventions. The advent of digital comics is changing everything very quickly. Some people are adapting and others still don’t even see the change. Some people, I’ve realized, don’t want to change, and the older I get, the more I sympathize. I’ve reinvented myself several times in my career, and it’s fun to have a rewarding challenge, but even I can see at some point you just want to stick with what you already know.
Anyhoo, I don’t know where I am going exactly with all this blather except of late I feel the pressing need to get as much accurate information out there as possible. Of course, I make a lot of dumbass mistakes along the way — when your writing deadline is 15 minutes, it’s going to happen. But despite the big storm that’s blowing through, I feel like where the comics artform is going is a bigger and better place than ever. People just need to know where the storm cellar is. There are more talented young cartoonists than at any other time in the history of the world. They live in a world where getting paid isn’t even the most important thing, some of the time, and although that seems demoralizing, it leaves a lot of freedom that people are taking advantage of.
And for those who are really committed, the opportunities are limitless. I went to a talk by Dash Shaw the other night, and he explained that since making comics was the most important thing to him, he always created a situation where it was possible, even if it meant living in a smaller town — Richmond, VA — where rent was cheap enough for him to live while he was making comics. I think that story is key in the way a lot of people are approaching their careers in an uncertain global economy. Dash Shaw’s plan worked out for him — he’s making a living making comics and movies that matter to him, and finding an audience.
I hope The Beat can be a resource as we get to the next phase. And please, keep sharing those links and inside stories. Comment complaints aside, I know I have a very loyal and engaged audience, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. I’m very excited about the things I see happening, and I hope to continue to share them. Stick around. It’s going to be fun.
PS: one little housekeeping note. I’ve added links to all my categories at the bottom of the page. The whole thing needs an overhaul, but the drop down menus were getting a bit unwieldy.