Monday, February 14, 2011

Caveat to this whole creators-recommending-creator-owned thing

When I wrote that post on the Creator-Owned "Revolution" at Robot 6, there was something I didn't point out because I figured it was already understood. But a couple of other people have mentioned it as important, so it's probably not as obvious as I thought.

The first person I noticed talking about it was Scott Wegener, one of the storytellers I mentioned in the article who has pledged to promote other creators' work to his fans. He wrote, "To the half-dozen (and counting) of you who have asked me to review your comic books: Please stop! I'm not looking for solicitations. When I get this worked out I only plan on touching on the books that I think are amazing. Work done by artists and writers who are at or near the height of their skill, and that inspire me in my own work."

That's admirable. As a reader, that's the kind of recommendation I want. I don't need a storyteller doing a generic review column with a lot of "this was pretty good." I want to know what these guys love.

Tom Spurgeon made a similar point:
One thing I will suggest if people are going to[...]start recommending and promoting their peers' work: consider being really tough in doing so. Alt-comics almost didn't survive the late 1980s and early 1990s, but one thing those comics did well is that if a creator from that period recommended another creator's work, it usually stood a chance of being pretty good. In the pre-Internet days, that was how I heard about Yummy Fur, for instance.

By the mid-1990s, most cross-creator recommendations in that world were deeply untrustworthy, a lot of glad-handing and people recommending work from their roommates and pals (and in a couple of cases I can recall, people with whom they wanted to sleep) regardless of the quality of the actual work. If you have genuine, engaged enthusiasm for a work, people will frequently forgive you sending them to things that aren't all that great. If they sense you're doing it because they're your friends or out of some general sense of advocacy, they usually stop listening.
All true. In my article, I stated my intention to buy more creator-recommended books and I did that because I trust the creators who've so far volunteered to make those recommendations. But as (hopefully) more creators join in, my resolve will die in a hurry if they don't have high standards.

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