§ August 14th, 2007 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on ULTIMATE BLOGGING ABOUT BLOGGING IS A SIN.

I mentioned in passing yesterday something that’s been at the back of my mind for a quite a while now, and I thought I’d go into a little bit more detail today.

I’ve mentioned a few times on this site about how, if you’re working in a comic book store, you have to be mindful about what you say about which comics/creators around whoever is in the shop at the time. You may think you’re pretty safe slagging some comic creator that’s held in contempt by about 99.9% of world’s comic book readership, but a representative of that 0.1% will probably be in your store when you decide to go on an extended rant about why that particular creator should be drummed out of the business. And pffft — there goes any chance of a sale to that person.

Okay, maybe an extreme example, but you get the idea. I’m not going to just openly and loudly mock or insult a comic or creator in the shop, discouraging any customers in the store at the time from buying those comics or work by that creator…or making them feel bad because they are. On a one-to-one basis, if they ask me my opinion about about something, I’ll discuss it with them quietly, and try to help the customer decide if the item is for him or her. I’ve even steered customers away from books I was reasonably sure they wouldn’t like, if I were familiar with their tastes…several customers, with whom I’ve built up relationships over the years, have come to trust my opinions, particularly since I’ll not shy away from saying if a book may not be for them.

That’s different from making some kind of sweeping pronouncement along the lines of “that comic sucks,” or “man, that creator’s work is never good,” or other such things I’ve heard shouted across the floors of certain stores I’ve visited.

But then, here’s the problem. I have a comic book weblog. Everything‘s a pronouncement on a weblog. Particularly a site like mine, which tries to approach things from a slightly more lighthearted angle, I’m prone to some slight exaggeration for humorous effect. And, because it’s a personal weblog, my opinions are at the forefront. This isn’t an intimate one-on-one discussion with a customer, geared toward that customer’s specific tastes…this is me saying “I really don’t like Strangers in Paradise” or whatever, to a few thousand people every day.

So, in a way, my site is the equivalent of shouting “that comic sucks” across the room. For example, I occasionally refer to Purgatori as The Worst Comic Book Ever…I don’t necessarily think it’s the worst, but Good Lord, it ain’t good. But I call it The Worst Comic Book Ever, because 1) well, something has to be, and 2) it amuses me to do so. It’s not an in-depth reasoned review or anything…it’s me venting slightly, and picking that comic to do it with. Now, has that affected sales of Purgatori among those customers of mine that happen to read my site?

I’m guessing probably not. I don’t exactly advertise the fact that I do this site at the shop…I’m not greeting people at the door with “thank you for stopping by…and when you go home, please visit my weblog at Progressiveruin.com for new comics content, updated daily!” And the customers I have told tend to be folks I’ve known for a while, who I like and get along with, and don’t tend to be so thin-skinned that they’d take my not liking a comic they happen to like as a personal affront (a common enough problem among some fans…I mean, have you seen the internet?).

But that doesn’t mean other customers of our store haven’t found my site on their own. And when I post something, particularly if it’s something critically negative, or just outright mocking, about a work, at the back of my mind I’m thinking “I hope I’m not alienating a customer right now.”

I have no direct evidence that’s happening. I have encouraged the occasional sale with something I’ve plugged or mentioned on the site, but that’s easy to find out. “Hey, I’m buying this because you said something about it on your site” is usually a good clue that I’ve helped things along. But no one’s come up and said “I’m totally not buying Civil War from you because you were a jerk about it on your web page.” Then again, would they say anything to me if that were the case?

However, there’s the issue of whether or not reviews or commentary on comic book weblogs really have any impact in the real world. For example, Dan Vado has this to say about the Street Angel craze among the comic bloggers a couple years back:

“Critical acclaim does not translate to sales. For all the talk and hype on Street Angel, the comic hovered around 1500 copies sold and never broke out of that. Not enough for a creator with rent to pay to keep the project going. A million blog entries or message board posts mean shit when it comes to actually selling something. For all of the hype or critical acclaim for Street Angel on the Internet, that alone wasn’t enough to help make it a financial success or, for that matter, even get it nominated for a single award in any category.”

To take another example, if one were to believe the hue and cry online, All-Star Batman and Robin apparently causes cancer, blights the land, and deforms the young with its very existence. And yet, All-Star Batman is one of our top-selling books. And I’m not about to suggest it’s because I’m one of the three people online who openly, unashamedly, declares my love for each and every issue. Part of it is me knowing how to sell it to folks in the store, but the majority of it is just people picking it up on their own.

I wonder how much of an impact any weblog’s reviews has on a book’s sales. I’m sure if I asked all of you reading this site if a review made up your mind one way or the other about trying something out, you’d all have several examples. But you folks are actually reading about comics online, reading weblogs about comics…you’re more likely to pay attention to reviews in online outlets. You are a biased sample. But I’m thinking a lot of my customers don’t pay attention to any of this peculiar online behavior by a few weirdoes who spend their free time expounding about funnybooks on their digital pulpits. Maybe some of them visit Newsarama, but, just from interacting with my customers for as many years as I have, I suspect most of our customers get their news from the freebie papers and Wizard and Previews. And, as pal Dorian has observed in the past, there are some customers who don’t know anything about what’s coming out until they actually see it on the rack in front of them.

I’m guessing I’m worrying too much about my site’s impact on my customers. It’s a little like that old joke about the flea with an erection floating down a river on his back, whistling for the drawbridge to open so he can get by. I’m probably not quite as big as I think I am. (Um…please tell me I’m not the only person who’s heard that joke.)

In other, non-rambling, news:

1. Pal Nat brings up an important point about Dazzler that I should have noted…that Dazzler’s disco origins, which hurt the book at the time and brought about its negative repuation, only add to its retro kitsch appeal now.

I’ll have more to say about some of your folks’ suggestions for items to be put into trades, eventually.

2. If you advertise on Project Wonderful, I now have three available ad slots in the sidebar, there. Hey, it’s cheap, and maybe I can send you some traffic. So buy an ad, you. (And ignore all that stuff I said about about comic websites having little or no real world impact…I’M A BIG FLEA, DAMMIT.)

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