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  1.  (8892.1)
    Funny thing I've noticed lately. I get fewer trackbacks than I did when this site had fewer readers. I presume this speaks to the supposed "death of blogging," and that linking has moved off into Twitter from blogs and sites. Makes it harder to judge when "attention philanthropy" is working, though. Aside from the occasional note telling me that I've killed someone's website.

    Attention philanthropy -- I have a feeling that term was coined by Alex Steffen -- is a big part of what I do here. It's one part that to one part research material of various kinds to one part muttering about work, because it pays the bills and keeps the site going. But it's always hard to tell if the agalmic, anti-obscurity attention economy stuff is working. There's a music site claiming that Zola Jesus didn't hit big until I started talking about Nika, which I know isn't true. But in times past I know I've helped comics companies get by.

    Which brings me around to online comics retailer Khepri.com, whom Heidi Mac reported on over at comicsbeat.com yesterday. They've been hit by the economy like everyone else, and another year of flat numbers will see an end to them. What struck a chord, I think, was Heidi's identification of them as a retailer specifically supporting those creators working in, in Heidi's quote, the mode of "Warren Ellis style self determination."

    And, christ, just like that, I feel like I've got a weight on my shoulders. Did I really convince so many people that there was a career to be had in commercial creator-owned cross-genre work (and occasionally doing some work-for-hire on your own terms)?

    No, of course I didn't. It was blatantly obvious to anyone with half a brain and one creative bone in their body, and I was saying nothing that hadn't been said a million times before during the Eighties and early Nineties. I possibly concretised some thinking for some people in my generation and the one immediately below, but no more than that. And God knows nothing I said in 2000 applies to comics in 2010.

    On the other hand: hell, I'm so separated from the business these days that I don't really know how bad things have gotten out there. It was conversations with people like Bryan Lee O'Malley that led me to open the Engine comics community, years ago, and now Mal has the best-selling graphic novels in America (because of the film, sure, but you're not going to tell me it's not deserved).

    We do comics stuff on my current message board, Whitechapel (set up as online-community support for my webcomic FREAKANGELS), but Whitechapel tends to reflect my interests, and so we tend to talk a lot more about music and books and other stuff and not so much about, say, Brandon Graham's KING CITY (though we do that too).

    And, in the meantime, I see people drifting back to the convention circuit or, more and more, see people talking about wanting to get out of the convention circuit but not knowing where their sales and exposure will come from if they do. Even though sales and exposure are getting harder and harder to find at comics conventions as they morph into pop culture shows. And, really, is sitting at a table trying to hawk your wares like you're at a rural craft fare with your handmade wicker bedpans really the model to aspire to?

    The truth is that working the attention economy is hard in 2010 because there is so much noise and so many things vying for your attention. I actually feel a glimmer of pride because I've gotten my Google Reader down to under 600 unread items for the first time in six months. I think of it as the Manfred Macx problems, from Charlie Stross' ACCELERANDO - Macx had to absorb a megabyte of text and a few gigs of AV a day just to stay current. This is why the web is still rammed with curatorial sites, from BoingBoing on down. The difference between them and this site is simply that this is my research store, accessible from anywhere with an internet connection (which, for me, is anywhere aside from rural Kent, apparently, where I think I have to sacrifice a hare to get bendwidth).

    And now I'm out of Red Bull, here at the pub, and have to buy more and then go home and start work. Consider this not fully baked: a pile of things for later consideration.
    • CommentAuthorchris g
    • CommentTimeSep 9th 2010
     (8892.2)
    And, christ, just like that, I feel like I've got a weight on my shoulders. Did I really convince so many people that there was a career to be had in commercial creator-owned cross-genre work (and occasionally doing some work-for-hire on your own terms)?
    heavy is the head that wears the Internet Jesus crown.

    ...is sitting at a table trying to hawk your wares like you're at a rural craft fare with your handmade wicker bedpans really the model to aspire to?
    I can't afford to have a table/con presence if I wanted to. But yeah, the thought of sitting at a table for days trying to win over the mouth breather in the Red Lantern t-shirt isn't exactly the reason I bother getting excited to make shit. I have nothing but respect for the masochists who tough it out though.
  2.  (8892.3)
    There's a music site claiming that Zola Jesus didn't hit big until I started talking about Nika, which I know isn't true


    True, but I had never heard of her until you started mentioning her, and now i bore everyone up here in Iceland about how great she is. Oh and Julianna Barwick and Demdike Stare as well. Face it, your taste in music is thankfully very well formed.

    And congratulations on hacking your RSS reader to 600 unread messages. It takes at least and hour to wade through mine. And it's only going to get worse, unless i apply some real quality criteria to what a subscribe to...
    •  
      CommentAuthorD.J.
    • CommentTimeSep 10th 2010
     (8892.4)
    I'm very curious as to the specifics of what your RSS feed and daily news routine entails, as I've yet to build mine up and it's something that I desperately need to do. I don't spend nearly enough time learning about things and thus not nearly enough time acquiring writer fuel.

    At any rate, I very much believe that you get back what you put in, and that brilliance shall lead way to fame, but this is almost certainly because I'm young and delusional.
  3.  (8892.5)
    I need to find an RSS reader to replace bloglines now that the old girl is finally being taken back around behind the shed.