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God, I Hope Webcomics Don't Go the Way of Print Comics

Date/Time Permalink: 07/14/10 01:18:56 pm
Category: Geek Culture

Before I get to the point, let me just say that I've been AWOL from the blog lately because of the usual excuse of huge piles of paid work to catch up on. I'll return to you shortly.

Anyway, I ran across a story where - sit down for this one - Comic artist Alan Moore himself is having some regrets about the way fans take his work.

It gives us all a shiver. Here you're trying to do light entertainment, and the next thing you know people are running around in your character's mask and living their whole lives by it. He must feel at times like he's created a monster. With what sanity he has left (being Alan Moore, after all), he's recanting in the face of the Internet Rage Machine which has taken his work too seriously and out of step with what he intended.

I've seen it happen with manga, too. Graphic novels, manga, all manner of fiction has that lunatic fringe. For every thousand fans who read Catcher in the Rye and grin "cool yarn," there's a psychopath who stands on a bloody sidewalk reading it after shooting John Lennon.

[ Update 12-15-10: A Florida man shoots up a school after drawing a big "V" inside a circle on the wall. His Facebook page has more imagery from V for Vendetta. My, sometimes it's spooky just how well I can call 'em, isn't it? ]

This is the darker side of what TVTropes calls serious business.

Now, I know my own silly little webcomic is taken lightly. By everybody. I hope. I have more planned, beyond the end of Doomed to Obscurity. Some of it will be dramatic instead of funny. But through it all, if I catch anybody taking any of it the least little bit seriously, I'm going to be first in line to picket my own creation.

For that matter, sometimes just the business of writing a blog leans too far into serious territory. Hey, let me remind all of you, even when I rant and rave, my tongue is firmly in my cheek the whole time. I'm just one in a sea of bloggers, I'm just another big mouth shooting off tech punditry, I'm not going to change the world, my work is not to be carved in stone. When I go over the top, I'm doing so on purpose, just to clown it up. It's a blog, it's supposed to be ranty and fevered! That's how I see this media form. Granted, computers and software and computing freedom are serious subjects. I realize that too. But I try to keep a balance. That's why I retired from "Linux Advocacy," because if you're turning into a missionary, you're doing it wrong.

Will webcomics ever go the way of print comics? Will we some day encounter mobs wearing Dinosaur Comics masks and posing like the frames? Will webcomics someday have a Golden Age and a Silver Age and lots of zealots having life-and-death flame wars over which was better? Will troubled teens be caught trying to imitate Ctrl Alt Del?

And which medium will we all have to run to after that?

wood nymph from MakeHuman and Inkscape

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