Sunday, August 31, 2008

A justification for navel-gazing essays

A forum like this, read by *maybe* four people - most of them forced by my needling or through guilt of ignoring me - is still a nice thing to have.

I think about the ezboard universe (now Yuku), where the bigger board personalities would create their own forum and posters would bounce between each newly-created in-group. What started as the internet cesspool that was/is Survivor Sucks - a collection of unwashed, unapproved and barely-moderated reality TV fans, either too stupid or too late to get into the exclusive Plant Sucks board membership - eventually exploded because the use of ezboard was so easy and the board was so open. Unlike the quality controlled land of Planet Sucks (my origin, and inspiration for the message board I ran), everyone on ezboard knew the forum was for spillover - so they treated it as such. I've seen accounts describe the insanity and inanity as that of the old Wild West.

As with any community, personalities began to emerge as the major posters became familiar with each other. Around the, Sucks became *the* place to go for irreverent reality riffs - at least for those not early/awesome enough to get into the quality places. Once it grew big enough to have its share of board wars and cliques, something very strange happened: It began to splinter. Each board personality would go off and create their own ezboard, populated by the poster's friends, admirers, well-wishes and the occasional assailant. Sucks was *too* big and it required far more patience that I'd ever have to sort through it and get to the good stuff. By creating a splinterboard, you could invite the posters you liked and ban anyone you wished. Over and over this happened, until it was sort of a rite of passage. You get big on a board, you fork over $30 to get the "Gold" features needed and you get your own board for six months! Dozens of these boards existed, with their own rules, language and logic.

I was happy running my own kingdom at Realiiity, and had no desire to dumpster dive into the Sucks land - but not all of my friends felt the same. Eventually I was dragged into the mix to take part in what could be called the Survivor off-season Olympics: Spoofs! It was mostly a contest to out-funny and out-in-joke the other teams, making filtered and hand-picked talent from my group highly valued.

During this time Riii was having server issues, so I bit the bullet and created my own ezboard, flatly titled "Riii's Down Again." When the next Survivor off season arrived - a time when the show was off the air and boards had nothing to do except implode - I imported a crew to the "trash board" and claimed it was a splinterboard to get into Spoofs. We naturally crushed the competition, getting second only because we took two challenges off thanks to some board drama. (It's inevitable online - someone is always good enough to get through even the best bullshit filters, and all it takes is one of these crazies to bring a board down.) More importantly, we established a new board identity: Woeful House. As a frequent Waffle House patron in those days, I had used the diner to create a jokey team identity.

At the end of this spoofs, Woeful was getting visitors from the splinterverse and we were enjoying a fair amount of respect for our wit. To explain how a board of people who had never once posted on Sucks could be part of the splinterverse, I made my infamous remark: "If you have a huge ego, a mental condition and $30, you probably run a splinterboard."

Nowadays, we nutcakes blog. This circumvents the need to actually have followers or enough friends to sustain conversation. It's you and your ego, allowed to run wild! On message boards, you were only interesting if people replied to you. With blogs, you can be the entire fucking universe!

It's why I resisted blogging for so long. No one really cares about the emotions and stuff of other people unless there is a personal connection or the content is especially well-written. I wasn't going to blog just blog about myself. It's sickening! There had to be a reason for me to be interesting, which began to emerge as I fixed my head and got back into art. Still, it wasn't until I was tasked with learning how to stylize one of these blogs that I started this thing. It gave me a place to practice and a location where future fans could find me. While I'm of no interest to anyone at the moment, should I ever win over people with my art or cartooning, I thought it would be cool for them to see me as I was just starting out.

I was blogging, intentionally, to no one. With Precocious, I want my 60-strip archive done before I began with my daily publishing because new readers need to see enough to justify a return visit. If I go advertising myself around, and interested parties come to see only three strips on the site, what is there to tell them the strip will continue? The internet is littered with webcomics that didn't even last a month. I have to show the audience I am serious and professional. I want to confirm to everyone that I am the new badass on the scene! The same principle is at work on this blog. You don't advertise something without a product being it! (If you have a soul, that is.) By creating blog archives, I'm proving my determination to achieve eventual awesomeness. I blog for the future.

It's not always pretty. For every artistic update with insightful commentary, there is another post full of navel gazing, emotions and desperate attempts to be interesting. It's weak, but it's something. I'm a temperamental artist who tends to work in inspired bursts. That's great, but they are unpredictable. If weeks or months go by before I do a big update on my website, then people will only check it every few months - if they even remember I exist! The blog is proof I am trying, whether I am active or not. Sketches prove I am doing lots of conceptual work on my projects, even if the final result gets postponed. Even if the post is the most self-indulgent garbage out there, it's something to read and an indication I'm alive.

To think that some future person would spend and afternoon going through this blog to see all my old sketches is comforting. Before, I would hide or destroy my old stuff, because my skills were not as strong and it was embarrassing. Now I see the value in showing the process. I love reading other artist's commentaries on their work, and I hope people will enjoy reading mine. I'll assume they'll skip the essays that don't have pretty pictures with them, which is generally a good thing. The only thing worse than blog emotion is AGED blog emotion. Lame!

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