WARNING: I say the word “blog” a lot.

§ June 26th, 2020 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin § 12 Comments

Okay, I promise I’m getting back to crossover comic talk soon, but my post about Bully the Little Retired Bull on Wednesday had me thinking about things ‘n’ stuff.

I just Googled “average blog lifespan” and the first answer that popped up was 100 days. That seems…I don’t know, I’m of two minds about it. It either seems too long (having seen plenty of blogs that got one or two posts then immediately tried up) or too short (my own purely uninformed guesstimate being closer to about 2 to 3 years). But I guess that makes sense…if you’re at it for 2 to 3 years, it’s become a habit/routine/whatever and you’re more likely to continue. If you don’t have the inspiration or wherewithal to put time into your site…yeah, just over three months is probably a long enough span for people to figure out blogging’s not for them.

So what I’m trying to say is…Bully making it to 15 years is quite the achievement, particularly given some of the labor-intensive posts he would do. I’ll be hitting the 17 year mark in December, and Johanna Draper Carlson‘s been at it longer that. And of course there’s Neilalien, the first prominent comics weblogger, who retired from full-time blogging in his 11th year back in 2011, but continues to update his sidebar with bits of comics news, especially if it has to do with Doctor Strange.

And there are still more active comic blogs, a few dating from the heyday of the early to mid-2000s, and plenty of newer ones. The “Update-A-Tron” (as I dubbed the service long ago, and the creator happily adopted the name!) is a good place to still check and see who’s still updating. Mike over at Zombie Cat Bacon had been doing an ongoing series of posts that I hope he gets back to, in which he goes through many of the comic weblogs to see what’s happened to them. Search his site for “All Blogs Go to Heaven” for those posts. (Here’s a sample.)

I’ve made lots of jokes here and on the Twitters about being the Last Comics Blogger, which clearly isn’t true. Plenty of folks out there doin’ it, including several from the aforementioned heyday. And there are many other venues for folks interested in talking about comics online…podcasts, of course, and I understand there are also YouTube shows but I only ever hear about the terrible ones.

“Blogging is dead” is thrown out there relatively often nowadays, but while it’s not quite the thing it was, it’s not exactly six feet under just yet. Even as group comic blogs and corporately-owned comic blogs became more prominent, here we were, the little guys, still typing away at our keyboards for whatever audiences we still had…not for fame, or for money, but because we had something we needed to say, to put out into the world, and with a little time, internet connection, and webhosting we were able to do so.

I started doing the online comics thing in the…late ’80s, early ’90s, or thereabouts, calling local BBSes and participating in comics discussions there, if any were going on. As it turned out, many of the folks on those BBSes were customers of mine at the comic shop I worked at then (having started in comics retail in ’88). Some of those people remain friends to this very day. Pal Andy was one. And Kevin, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year. Eventually I started running my own comics forums on one or two of those boards.

Once America Online rolled around, I started trying to participate in the comic message boards there…but this was around the time of the comics market boom, and it felt like the conversation was dominated by investment talk versus actually reading the darn things. Granted, it’s been a long time, and my memory may be selective, but I really remember the discussions there not really being anything I wanted to participate in.

In the mid-90s or thereabouts, once full-on internet connections were more available, I started what I’ve since come to call “Progressive Ruin Version 1.0.” According to my “What’s New” section, I opened the site on November 8th, 1996. Not a blog, but more a link/archive site, providing an online presence for our mini-comics concern, terrible desktop patterns (which got me mentioned in a computer mag, apparently!), copies of my articles for that music magazine I wrote for, and other stuff. However, if you were to look at that “What’s New” section, the entries are very bloglike, I think.

A tad bit later (October 2000, to be exact, according to the user stats there), I joined LiveJournal, where I began to really cut my blogging teeth. I started to post more pic-heavy posts about comics, including a few discussing some pretty crazy Silver Age books that eventually got reworked for the current site. And once I discovered actual comic blogs outside of LJ, I decided to try my hand at that.

I knew I wanted my own domain name (reusing “Progressive Ruin” from my initial site, also since used on a mini-comic of mine…and please note, I’m wrong in that tweet…the PR name predates the comic by three years!). My first call around 2001 to my local ISP quoted me a fairly outrageous price for setting up my own domain, so it waited ’til 2003 when, after a little more research (and some sweetheart deal on webhosting) I finally registered progressiveruin.com and set up what you’re reading now, aside from some changes in design and blogging software.

Like I said, I’ve been at this specific site for the better part of two decades. I don’t post as often as I used to (like, posting every day because I was terrified of losing my audience), but I’m still here, still writing about comics and the comics industry. One of the side effects of my recent eyeball troubles was that it was a lot harder to actually read comics. It was hard to crack wise about older stories, it was hard to react to newer ones…but I always have plenty to say about the retail end of things. I think I was one of the few comic bloggers who wrote about comics from the perspective of someone actually working in a comic shop, and obviously that’s something I still do now. Even after all this time, I have things I want to say, even if I repeat myself a little. Look, I’m old, I’m allowed to.

Now what’s up with Progressive Ruin in…the future? Well, I noted on Twitter that I plan to stick with blogging so long as I’m still in the industry, however long that is. If, Galactus forbid, my shop folds someday, I imagine I’ll have a few things to write about that, but once I’m out of the business, I’m probably out of writing about it too.

That said, I have no intention of leaving the business, and especially don’t intend to close up my shop. They’re gonna find me at the ripe old age of 99, slumped over a pile of X-O Manowar, and they’re gonna say “that Mike Sterling, he died with his Mylar™ bags on.” Perhaps between now and then, WordPress will be bought out by Disney and turned into a Star Wars toy of some kind, and I’ll have to move to some other platform to express myself with Progressive Ruin 3.0, but so long as I’m slingin’ comics, I’ll have something to say about them.

Could very well be that I’ll eventually follow Neilalien’s path, archiving most of the site and just posting occasional small updates. Or I could stretch out the posting schedule, one or two posts a month, something like that. I do have an eventual plan to create an index page, pointing you all to Posts of Note from the site’s past, but that’s still in its infancy. That could be the site’s landing page someday if I decide to do what Neilalien did.

I’ve mentioned this to a few people over the years, but mostly to pal Dorian, about how I thought I’d end my blog back when I was thinking about how that would happen, in the mid-2000s. I’d have a post where I said my goodbyes…and the the next week I’d have one final post entitled “SCORCHED EARTH,” where I just lay into all the stupid things and terrible people I’d dealt with in the comics industry, online and off. This was a half-joking idea (even then, I wasn’t really planning on ending the site any time in the near future) but some folks really got up my nose at times and I wanted to let them have it. Well, needless to say, I never did that, and besides, I’m pretty sure I outlasted most of the people I wanted to lambast. I can’t even remember who they were or why they irritated me, frankly.

That sort of thing seems so foreign to me now…as I mentioned to Bully’s friend John when I was talking about this with him, I think I’m a lot less tightly wound now that I was 15, 10…hell, even five years ago. Opening my own shop probably helped a bit. In fact, I know it did…soon as I opened my own doors I had customers who’d known me for a while tell me “boy, you sure look a lot happier!” And I think I am, even with the extra pressure being a small business owner puts upon me. But whatever the reason, I don’t fall into the “someone is wrong on the Internet!” trap so often any more. There’s always going to be stupidity and meanness out there, but reacting to it with a lighter touch and less intensity is a lot healthier for my blood pressure.

Speaking of opening my own shop…one side effect of having this blog is, well, advertising. Wasn’t intended to be, but regardless, there it is. If you look at the early posts in this category, I take everyone along on the trip as the store is built and prepped, and more than once I’ve said “HEY BUY STUFF FROM ME” and occasionally I wasn’t even that subtle about it. I don’t know how many readers of this site have since become customers of mine…even now I have new customers sending in requests simply because they’ve been reading my blatherings here. I am of course terribly grateful for that.

Look, believe it or not, I have even more to say on the topic (whatever the topic may have been, I think I lost the thread somewhere), but for now let me sum up: I’m not going anywhere. I plan to sell comics for the rest of my life, and I plan to talk about it. Here’s hoping you all continue listening.

NOTE: I’m up way too late. I’ll check for typos tomorrow.

12 Responses to “WARNING: I say the word “blog” a lot.”

  • Rich Handley says:

    Mike, although I don’t comment often, I read every single post and enjoy them all. As long as you keep blogging, I’ll keep reading. You’ve consistently been among the bright spots of the increasingly non-bright comics industry.

  • CalvinPitt says:

    Mike, I’m glad you’re still trucking along, since a lot of bloggers have either retired, or shifted to other platforms (Twitter and Tumblr mostly, I think).

    I’ve had my blog for about 14 years at this point, still post regularly, even though I keep expecting to slow down. I’m still using Blogger, because it works, and I’m too lazy to bother looking for something else. Plus, I know nothing about coding, so trying to design my own is not an option.

    I actually found blogs about baseball first, maybe mid-2004, and somehow found a link on one of them to that Dave’s Long Box post about Power Girl in late ’05. I was stunned there were so many blogs about comics, and it was like, “why not me?”

    I have a good-bye post planned, though not written, but it’s more in the line of “if this post has gone up, then I died” thing. Like I would schedule for a few months from now, then keep moving the date as it got closer. Morbid, but I know I get worried something bad happened when blogs I read go silent for long periods of time. I hope they just got busy, or lost interest, but I always wonder.

  • King of the Moon says:

    Wow. What has the comics blogosphere meant to me?

    TL;DR I am grateful for it every day

    Like alot of people, I went through some years without reading new comics. Moved away from my LCS, spent time as a full time volunteer without real income, got out of the habit etc.

    A now defunct pop culture review site added comics reviews and one of the reviewers compelled me to pick up a few trades of things that sounded interesting.

    That site lead me to adding a growing list of comics loving blogs to my RSS feeds and reading them every day awoke those feelings I had helping out in my best friends comic store years ago and getting to talk about how awesome Thunderbolts #1 with fellow customers.

    I was going through Amazon and then dropped by an LCS to pick up a stack of Ultimate Spider-Man and find out what the hype was about.

    The guy that rang me up was super friendly and helpful to someone getting back in things. I was chatting with him about more recommendations and I suddenly realized this guy was one of the aforementioned reviewers I had been following. “Holy shit! You are XXXXXX!” were the next words out of my mouth.

    So knowing I was in good hands I started dropping into the LCS on Wednesdays, started expanding the long boxes again instead of trades. I made some amazing real life friends that even after that LCS closed, I am still keeping up with and hanging out with years later.

    I still buy comics weekly and keep up. I text with friends about Immortal Hulk and Thor.

    Comics blogging got me back into this medium and I am glad to keep up with the ones still going.

  • Must be something in the water; I wrote a post about the ups and downs of comics blogging back in March, when it was my 15th anniversary of writing for Comics Should Be Good.

    As you know, I check your blog almost every danged day, and it’s always fun to read. I don’t know when I’ll get to the new shop, but I hope to some day. But I’ll keep reading, because you’re always interesting!

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    I’m trying to recall how I originally found your blog…and I just can’t. I know I’ve been reading since at least 2004, and you’ve been consistently one of my favorite bloggers. Good to know you won’t be going anywhere soon!

  • Jess Nevins says:

    Life without your scorched earth post is not worth living. You could do it now and just make it about Twitter folks.

  • @misterjayem says:

    “I’m not going anywhere. I plan to sell comics for the rest of my life, and I plan to talk about it.”

    Hurrah!!

    — MrJM

  • BobH says:

    I admire your persistence. I had a good two or so year run of fairly frequent posting before gradually slowing down to weekly, then monthly, then intermittently. I still have regular bouts of wanting to get back into it (especially over the last three months), but that seems to fade once I actually sit down at the keyboard. Mostly seem to use it to post short obits when comic notables pass on, because I like to post about my own journey to discovering their work, and some art samples that you probably won’t find anywhere else (I was unjustifiably proud of having my obit of Joe Sinnott lead with samples of him inking Curt Swan and Sergio Aragones, and including him inking a Kirby New Gods piece).

    Thanks for the plug of the old Update-A-Tron. I just checked and it seems to be the phase of the moon where Blogger actually lets me add new entries to it, so if anyone has a recommendation I’ll try to add it (it has to have an rss feed, though, which a lot of newer platforms don’t seem to support).

  • Max says:

    I’m sad that Bully is gone (although I’m now following him on the Twitter, which I am pretty new to), and I am very glad that you’re still here and that you intend to stick around. Yours was one of the very first “comic blogs” that I discovered, and I’d like it to be one of the last to “blogfade” away.

  • Ward Hill Terry says:

    Mike, I’ve been reading Progressive Ruin regularly for at least ten years! I rarely respond, but I always check in. I think I found you through the much-missed blog of Comics Treadmill. You, in turn, led me to Bully and Armagideon Time, for which I’m grateful. Thanks for your insight into the retail side of things, and your good spirits. Keep up the great work!

  • Snark Shark says:

    …but will the posts about the inane contents of the diamond catalogs ever return???

  • Jaume Albertí says:

    Reading from Mallorca since almost the beggining!

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