You Don't Know Me

I know, I know. I wrote another article instead of reviewing one of many webcomics that have been on my review list for way too long.

However, one thing I've learned lately is that I need to prioritize what I want to write about rather than what I should write about. Focusing on the latter is a way to not get anything done, as my mind ends up wandering off elsewhere.

What motivates me to write is a desire to have fun. Not helping creators improve, building an audience, establishing credibility or performing a service for the webcomics community. I'm not a people pleaser, I'm not an entertainer and, frankly, I don't give a shit what people think about my reviewing skills.

As a reader of this blog, you have the choice to continue to read my posts or to ignore them. Any words of encouragement or discouragement I get aren't important to me. My mind is a wildfire of ideas, and while this blog is only a tiny glimpse into my thoughts, it's inevitable that some of these ideas are going to manifest as words at some point. And they're going to be the ideas that are fun for me to write about, no matter how unappealing or unconventional they seem.  

Talking About Myself

One thing I've never done in my five-plus years of blogging is talk about myself. At least, not really.

It isn't a topic that falls into the “fun to write about” category for me. For one, I'm a highly private and introspective person. I have a lot of thoughts about my beliefs and experiences that I'm not particularly eager to share online, or with anyone for that matter. It's more comfortable for me to just be a mysterious blogger.

Another key factor is that I don't want my background and identity to be important. I aim to make my reviews as objective and impersonal as I can, and it doesn't seem like who I am should matter. Plus, when I review a webcomic, there are a lot of aspects I have to address, and it doesn't make sense to spend time writing about myself rather than writing about the comic. From that perspective, bringing up my personal life is a distraction at best, and narcissistic at worst.

Finally, I don't want my criticisms to be redirected at me or my creative projects. Whenever I criticize and scrutinize other people's work, it would be easy to respond by challenging me to demonstrate that I can do better, and I'd rather not go there. It's not that I'm uncomfortable with being on the receiving end of criticism — I've had my own work critiqued many times, and I'm confident that I have a solid track record of handling feedback with maturity — but it's just not something that I think would be useful or relevant in this situation.

So where am I going with all of this? Well, I don't think it's really possible to separate the reviewer from a review. It's just not part of human nature to be able to avoid asking, “Who is this guy?” And before I get back to writing reviews, I want to take a moment to briefly address that question.

Opportunities for Improvement

It might seem like I'm a grouch who hates everything, but I'm actually a very positive person. I'm eager to challenge myself, accomplish my goals, learn and experience new things, start and complete projects, and look for new ways to make my life better. And when I read webcomics, especially the ones made by inexperienced creators, I notice a lot of opportunities for improvement. Sometimes, I can imagine a comic becoming really great if one or two major issues were fixed.

However, I'm also experienced and realistic enough to know that it's unlikely for these creators to accept my feedback. Whether it's because creators don't take my complaints seriously or because they aren't conditioned to getting negative criticism, my reviews usually don't seem to be helpful or appreciated. And that's OK. As I mentioned earlier, my goal is to have fun. If my goal was to help people, I would've gotten frustrated and quit writing reviews a long time ago.

I don't want to get into detail about what I do for a living, but I'll say that I work as an editor and writer on a full-time basis. The experience of working in a professional setting has made me become a much better writer, but at the same time, it's difficult, time-sensitive work that leaves me completely exhausted at the end of the day.

I still love to write for this blog when I have the time and energy to do so, but it's been challenging for me to write for fun when I don't really feel like it. A lot of the time, I'd rather just chill out and play video games, read, watch funny YouTube videos or spend time with my girlfriend. I'm extremely impressed by the writers who manage to be prolific at home after writing for their day job, and it's a skill that I'd like to have someday.

My Analytical Personality

I'd also like to bring up my analytical personality. Criticism comes naturally to me because I believe that everything should be scrutinized and deconstructed. This is something that I constantly do every day, and I enjoy and thrive on this kind of thought process. My attitude is that no idea has merit unless it can withstand rigorous analysis, and even the passable ideas are open to re-evaluation.

Of course, not everyone's on board with this approach. Some ideas are valued for being popular or traditional, while other ideas are liked because they make people feel good about themselves. These ideas are considered to be off-limits, and the people who challenge them are often labeled as being antisocial, malicious or even crazy.

I know that there are many skeptical individuals like myself out there. A lot of these people keep their thoughts to themselves, or only share them with their close friends or with like-minded communities. So I don't view my skepticism as being anything special. However, I'm aware that it's unusual for people to express their views publicly like I do, at least in terms of the webcomics scene, and I enjoy pushing boundaries and writing in a way that people aren't comfortable with. It's part of what makes this hobby fun for me.

A System Within a System

A creator's hopes and motivations are important, but at the end of the day, a webcomic is a system of pages, and a page is a system of panels. And a webcomic is part of a genre, as well as part of the body of webcomics as a whole, which is a huge system in its own right. Then, obviously, webcomics belong to the system of comics in general, as well as the system of Internet culture.

When I review a webcomic, I take all of these interlocking systems into consideration. It's difficult for a creator to do this with their own comic because they get tunnel vision from being so immersed in their project. There are many perspectives to consider when reviewing a webcomic, and while I can't think of all of them, I do recognize and evaluate a lot of them.

In an ideal world, these perspectives and systems would be the main focus of webcomics discussion. I'd like to see webcomics, as a medium and community, progress in some way, and it isn't clear to me that that's happened at all in the past five or even 10 years. I'm doing what I can to contribute, but one person can only do so much.

P.S. If you have a question you'd like to ask me, you can do so through the Q&A section of the website.

1 comment :

  1. Your comment that "I'm actually a very positive person" is a direct contradiction of statements you made about depression and inability to produce in a previous review...

    I've noticed recently that directly contradicting yourself is something you do rather frequently.

    You contradict yourself within this article by saying you write entirely for your own enjoyment and don't care what anyone thinks, but then at the bottom of the article you say you're trying to inspire the webcomics community to progress in some way (without saying what you think that might look like).

    In fact, the whole idea that you don't care what people think isn't at all believable. Your writing exhibits a great deal of care about what people think, when you say things like you're depressed about the quality of your work, or that you're trying not to personally attack people (despite being anonymous), or the fact that you reply to comments in general. Everything you write shows a great deal of caring about the opinions of others... Narcissism in fact, like when you wrote Arguing 101 apparently thinking that what the readers of webcomic reviews want from an anonymous dude on the internet is remedial instruction on "how to think" and solicited feedback on it. Narcissism doesn't come with not caring what people think of you.