The Cheapening of Webcomics?
Scott Kurtz of PvP has posted about his desire to get published in Newspapers, and to bring original comics back to the syndicates, too long held hostage by the millions of bland oatmeal-eaters who want to see the same jokes every morning. It is so very ironic that he is the one to say this, and more than a little presumptuous. First off, he is presenting his solution to a problem pointed out by the greatest (newspaper) comic strip artist of all time, Bill Waterson. Given the popularity of 'Peanuts', you could legitimately argue that I am trolling with that last remark. That may be, but I do honestly believe that Calvin and Hobbes was the most authentic representation of childhood, and perhaps philosophy, ever to grace a page. Also, Berkley Breathed's (sp?) “Bloom County” was a better comic than 'Peanuts', In my opinion. I'm sure my entire audience (all....3? 4 of you?) knows Calvin and Hobbes, but Bloom County is a little more obscure. Look it up some time, it is an amazing strip. Very political, in case that is/is not your cup of tea.
Where was I? Oh, right. Mr. Kurtz. I think the motivations for his proposal are the very reason that comics in the newspaper today are of such limited scope. Much like political parties in Canada, if an artist wants their material to be successful, it has to be smack dab in the middle-of-the-road. This is motivated by a desire for maximum profit. Lots of people love the bland, recycled jokes, and if that brings in the money, there is no need to take risks, or feature niche strips. PvP has already gone over to this dark side: it used to be a highly entertaining gaming comic...it had funny jokes, good references, everything. It has become a tired soap opera, a shell of its former self. My best bet is that Mr. Kurtz realized that the money was to be found closer to the mainstream, and that's where he shifted. I will stop short of calling him a sellout; we all have families to feed, and gloriosly huge Wacom tablets to buy, after all. Nevertheless, I don't believe for a second that webcomics should hasten their inevitable shift into the mass-market one Iota! Bill Waterson has – in some treasuries – chronicled the decline of comics as an art form, and it is a depressing thing to see. The same thing has already begun in the Webcomics arena, and it needs no helping hand!
The Newspapers have their Garfields, and their Blondies...The web has Penny-Arcade and PvP. As all new forms of entertainment, these were once small, but the word got out, and the sheep flocked to these new pastures. This is not to say that there are not good webcomics still to be found. Questionable Content, Schlock Mercenary, Bunny, and VGCats are all exceptional comics. These comics have audiences large enough to stay afloat, and I know that J. Jaques and Howard Taylor are both living comfortably on advertizing revenue. These comics don't need to be watered-down and syndicated, although it might mean many more dollars for the creators. As it is, there are currently two books of Schlock strips printed, with (hopefully) more on the way. Why cater to a broad, conformity-craving public when you can sell witty shirts, books, etc. To the audiences that value these artists' creative visions such as they are? This is the age where it can be economical to cater to niche markets, why squander such an opportunity? Of course, as much as webcomics can be art, they are also a primary income source for the more successful illustrators. If it comes down to it, I would rather these brilliant people put food on their plates than starved to make an artistic statement.
That Scott Kurtz places himself on the level with established cartoonists is not painfully egoist. That he has disguised a search for greater profits as an artistic venture? Inexcusable. Or perhaps he believes what he says. That being the case, he is simply wrong. Very wrong.
...To The Ground!
Gold lashes out at the infamous David Warren in a letter he send to the Citizen, which is to be found here. I hope that gets published, because Gold hits the nail on the head. My take on the column is below:
David Warren continues to surprise me with his closed-minded arrogance, with every hateful column, every hateful word. The man has so much hate, he makes Darth Vader look like Hello Kitty! In his latest column, he decries the impending legalization of polygamous unions here in Canada, attacking everything from the Supreme Court to tribal Afghanistan in the process. Luckily, his arguments are flawed, displaying neither rhyme, nor reason. By the numbers, I shall discredit his every argument:
The first target of Mr. Warren's ire is Canada's Supreme Court. He is quick to cast chief justice Beverly McLachlin as a legislative autocrat, quoting her as saying that the courts should not be contaminated by “electoral politics”. As ironic as it might seem, a non-democratic courts system may be the West's last line of defence. Judges in both Canada and the United States have been instrumental in overturning unfair, unconstitutional, and undemocratic laws after 9/11. In almost every US state, laws infringing upon the creative freedoms of videogame developers have been struck down by Judges. Such laws are cheap shots on a relatively easy target, designed to garner support from ignorant parents, and conservatives everywhere. Antiterror laws have been declared in violation of Human Rights promised in charter or constitution, and struck down. If Judges were elected, there is every possiblity that the West's last wall standing would be undermined, and we would collapse into true opression. Non-democratic courts are a small price to pay for our continued Liberty!
Mr Warren also desires that the courts be made accountable to God. Fuck, can the man not comprehend “Separation of Church and State?” NEXT!
Objection to Polygamy as a tool to abuse women's rights. This, from a right-winger? Hahahahahahahahahah! Ohhh, that's a good one. He almost had me convinced for a moment that he cares about the status of women! Heterosexual relationships can be abusive, but we don't see Mr. Warren arguing against them, do we? I'm willing to bet that this argument was only thrown in so that he could take a...
Pot-shot at Islam. No matter how opressed muslim women are, there is no way that legalizing polygamy here is going to make things any worse. Even if it does, the only true solution to the problem of subjugated women is a drastic attitude shift, encompassing nearly all aspects of culture. Keeping polygamy banned here does more to harm healthy polygamists here than it does to help women elsewhere.
Again, with the blaming of “internal enemies of our civilization”. It seems that Mr. Warren's motto is “when in doubt...blame the feminists...or the homosexuals...or anyone not in line with my ideals!” Mr. Waren himself is the reason why such enemies exist: The very existence of someone who uses their rights to argue that others should be denied rights of their own is reason enough that we should find fault with our Civilization!
If you happen to pick up the Citizen to see for yourself just how mistaken Mr. Warren is, look to the opposite page. Ironic that David Warren presents polygamy as a grave threat to our civilization, when two far more worrying and threatening issues are discussed right on the page afterwards. The top article is about the approval of silicone breast implants in Canada, and the bottom is a plea for honesty in politics. If anything is going to tear our democracy apart, it will be unhealthy standards of beauty, and meaningless elections. People deserve to feel like family, no matter the gender, number, race, religion, etc. Of their parents or partners. Why does Mr. Warren assume it would be healthy to tell yet another minority group that they are not people because of the way they act, feel, or think? These are things the West left behind long ago. Mr. Warren calling polygamists “barbarians” isn't the pot calling the kettle black. It's the pot calling the kettle the N-word, and then enslaving it.
And now it's time for the end-notes:
I hope to bring you more of my Sci-Fi serial, but I am stuck trying to work out some of the backstory. In the meantime, any comments on Chapter 1 would be appreciated.