Dear Comics Journalists,
I sat in on the journalists panel at HeroesCon this year, and, to be honest, it turned me off to the journalistic side of comics a little bit. As an industry, comics journalism seems to be taking itself way too seriously, it seems to give too much voice to the loud anonymous vocal minority, and it seems inbred… in the sense that most comics journalists just serve the small comics industry with no interest in (or at least no means to) “reaching out” to larger audiences.
This is not an attack, however. Certainly not on any one person or website. I understand why you take yourselves so seriously, and in a way you should. Comics journalism should be taking itself as seriously as any other kind of journalism, but at the same time, if you aren’t having FUN doing what you’re doing, you need to reconsider what you’re doing. I hope that if you are doing any kind of comics reviews, journalism, or commentary, that you are doing it because you love it. You are doing it because you can’t NOT do it.
I understand why you pay so much attention to anonymous feedback. In a world where you are writing into a void, this is the only gauge of effectiveness that you have. But I would challenge you to stop looking at your audience as your gauge and start looking at yourself. Are you accomplishing what YOU want to accomplish? Are you writing the kinds of stories YOU want to read? And once again, are you having FUN?
I understand why you are so happy staying within the small “comic reviews for comic readers” niche. It’s a built-in audience. It takes less work. You are immediately accepted by a group without having to “prove yourself.” But I would like to challenge everyone who writes about comics to at least consider what you can do to reach out to a larger audience.
Comics are at a point socially that I’m not sure they’ve ever been. This is the time for us to stand up and show the world what we’ve got – some of the best, most unique stories ever told. “Preaching to the choir” is all well and good, and it’s a living (well not much of one), but there is an opportunity right now to open up the doors on comics and help to form an industry like the world has never seen. To prove that we are here to stay.
Let me give you an example. I found a new hero on the journalist panel at HeroesCon… a man named Carlton Hargro. Carlton is an editor & writer for Creative Loafing in Charlotte, NC. He writes a weekly comics column in the independent newspaper that goes out to 60,000 people in the Charlotte area.
Carlton was a name I wasn’t familiar with before Heroes. And I imagine you’re not familiar with him either. However, Carlton is doing 1,000 times more for the industry than any journalists I’ve ever heard of.
I spoke to Carlton briefly about how he got started and this is what he had to say:
“Actually I started out wanting to draw, write and publish comics and then I sort of fell into journalism. I worked as and editor for a ton of different media companies and then finally landed an Editor-in-Chief gig at Creative Loafing. Once in the head position, I immediately used my power to start a comic book review column! Creative Loafing is definitely the only newspaper in the city — and one of the few newspapers in the country — that covers comics every week.”
The more I see magazines like Entertainment Weekly and newspapers like USA Today cover, not just comic movie news, but comic book news, the more I believe that now is the time to make a difference in the industry.
What if every “comics news to comics readers” journalist contacted their local newspapers and pitched the idea of doing a weekly or bi-weekly column about comics? What if we all contacted major pop culture magazines about running freelance comics articles catered to their audiences? What if we all contributed to online mainstream zines, not just comic news ones?
And if you need more motivation than just “for the sake of the industry… well, these places can actually pay.
Together we can make a difference. Thank you.