COMMENT: Friends & Enemies in the Digital Age

In the midst of the whole Speakeasy dustup two weeks ago, Ed Cunard made an interesting point that I wanted to address on the front end of the blog.

Of course, Guy, you’re also friends and coworkers at Pop Culture Shock with some creators that got screwed by Speakeasy.

Just saying–it seems like everyone talking about this story has some horse in the race, or at least a pony or something else small and horse-like that runs.

He’s referring to the Elk’s Run gang there — Josh and Jason, in particular — both of whom I wouldn’t hesitate to consider friends, but with an asterisk, perhaps, realizing that I’ve never actually met Josh in person, and Jason only twice.

Out here on the still-wild frontier of the world wide web, the definition of a “friend” is often different from its definition in the realphysical world. More appropriately, I’d say Josh and Jason are professional acquaintances with whom I’ve developed the beginnings of a friendship, largely based upon some common interests and similar ideas about the comics industry. By that definition, though, I have many “friends” in the industry, aka horse-like critters in the race, the vast majority of whom wouldn’t recognize me if I kicked them in the nuts at a convention. Hell, I bet most of them don’t even know how to pronounce my name, as evidenced by the several blank stares I received at the NY Comic-Con, until repeating the more common pronounciation most people assume upon seeing it written first. (For the record, it’s Guy, like guillotine, not Guy, like guide.)

In the little over a year since I started writing about comics, I’ve been in touch with a slew of creators, either letting them know of a review — as long as it was relatively positive; the negative ones can be discovered via Google! — or for interviews or articles I was writing, and very few of them would I presume to call friends. Or “small and horse-like” for that matter. 😉

That’s not to say I haven’t met several great people whom I’d like to see succeed, some of whom I’d even love to share a beer with and shoot the shit, but it’s certainly not my goal in writing about comics. In fact, generally speaking, I’d rather not make friends in the industry because it can make writing about them and/or reviewing their work difficult. ie: Charlie Huston and I have struck up enough of a casual friendship since our interview last summer that I feel like I can’t properly review his upcoming Moon Knight series, not without a bit of bias creeping in, at least. I want to like it because I like him and think he’s a good writer and a nice guy, and as a result, I’m sure I would overlook certain things that I’d take others to task for. (That said, I’ve read the first issue, and while you can tell it was written as the first chapter of a mini-series, it’s a great [re]introduction to the character. Huston nails the tone, and David Finch, not one of my favorite artists, really steps up and knocks it out of the park. An easy B+ in PDF, possibly better in print.)

Thinking about “friends” leads me to thinking about “enemies”, as there are some who would suggest that I may have made a few in my short time covering this insular world of comics.

When I first started contributing to PopCultureShock last April, I had a couple of electronic run-ins with another contributor over our conflicting views of what the site should represent. At one point, he suggested a Hottest Female Comics Creators piece that I threw a flag on, feeling it, a) was cheesy and stereotypical, and b) might serve to alienate any female readership we might have had at the time. He threw a hissy fit, the first of several, claimed I was “too conservative” and threatened to take the article elsewhere. To my knowledge, it never ran anywhere else, and in October, when I took over as Senior Comics Editor, he quit, popped up briefly on another site a month or so later, and by the end of the year had pretty much disappeared. His last email to me included a vague threat about hoping to not see me at a future convention, to which I reminded him that I’d met him in person already and wasn’t impressed.

There’s a certain publisher with whom I’ve had a few public and backchannel run-ins, who’s seemingly convinced I have an axe to grind with him because of my negative opinion of his self-aggrandizing, Stan Lee-lite online persona. Our last go-round ended with me writing him off completely, and left such a foul taste in my mouth that I can’t even bring myself to pick up anything he publishes anymore. While unfair to the individual creators, perhaps, it’s akin to my dislike for Madonna or Eminem, whereby anyone associated with them is tainted; initially, at least. I have to admit, though, that the idea of putting any money in his pocket is a huge turnoff.

Having written this post at two different times, in two different moods, over the course of a week, I’m not even sure what my original point was. While Cunard’s aforementioned comment was the impetus, and the negative reactions to Heidi MacDonald’s coverage of the NY Comic-Con certainly were in the mix, I’m guessing there’s some subconcious assessment of what I’m doing and why playing into this, too. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately and treading dangerously close to the more-obligation-than-fun line that ultimately frustrated me out of the poetry scene, so it’s probably a good thing that I’m meeting with two managing editor candidates this week.

I guess if there was any point to all of this, it would the rather simple, “I don’t really care what people think of me, per se.” Ask anyone from the slam poetry scene who knows me, and they’ll tell you that I’ve never been one to be overly concerned about who likes and doesn’t like me. I do what I do out of passion, and always stand firmly behind my beliefs, letting the chips fall where they may. While I don’t intentionally set out to piss people off, I know I can be an abrasive, cantankerous fucker who steps on toes; sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose. That said, I don’t want to be like the aforementioned publisher, where I become an obstacle, or a deterrent, to someone else enjoying the subjects of my writing.

I’d like to think I’ve built up a solid body of work to-date via which my likes and dislikes can be properly weighed, and my potential biases can be clarified and measured. Beyond that, as the song goes, “I just gotta be me!”

Or, “F**k the world, don’t ask me for s**t
And everything you get ya gotta work hard for it”

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One thought on “COMMENT: Friends & Enemies in the Digital Age

  1. “Hottest Female Comics Creators”

    Good call on killing that; leave stuff like that to the dumbtarded rodents running IGN.

    Keep up the good work, I say.

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