Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

January 13, 2013

My New Year's Comics Resolutions For 2013

imageSo last year I posted a short list of comics-related New Year's Resolutions. I have no memory as to why I thought this was a good idea. As it turns out, it sort of worked. I resolved to:
1. Gain More Control Over My Comics Collection.
2. Write At Least A Dozen Fan Letters
3. Resist Participating In Any And All Comments Threads And Message Boards
4. Learn At Least A Little Bit More About Comics I Don't Know That Much About
5. Be A More Respectful Industry Member
Of those five, I only truly punted on #2. I wrote exactly one respected industry member in 2012, which makes my proposed systemic appreciation program kind of a one-off incident of stalking. One funny aspect of this not-hilarious testament to sloth is that I included #2 mostly because I wanted one that would be really easy.

The others I made at least some progress on. Yeah, I'm surprised, too.

My comics collection has been divested of many of its doubles and hopefully by season's end will be divested of many more. I've completed sets of comics via trade and deep-discount buying (this month: Planetary, Mage, Luba and Volume Two of Love And Rockets) and now have two different comics collections -- one which may stand the test of time (however long I have left, hopefully many years, followed by hopefully going to someone or something I love) and one with various half-broken and incomplete sets where everything needs help before getting to the "test of time" shelves.

As far as I can remember, I did not participate in any comments thread or message boards, although Kevin Huizenga was right to point out to me via e-mail that I cheated a bit by using Twitter at least a half-dozen times as my argument toilet. If there's an on-line equivalent to coming out of an alcohol-induced blackout walking on the side of the highway at 4 AM, barefoot, it's that feeling you get at the tail end of a twitter battle. Still, a few unfortunate limited-character exchanges is progress considering that from 1998-2002 I routinely gave over entire weeks of my life to screaming at people in text form about Starlord.

I feel I'm more familiar with a few areas of comics I was not heading into 2012, including the expressions I discussed in that original post. I'm not an expert on, say, comics from people younger than 35, but at this year's BCGF I felt less like a Dad chaperoning a prom and more like an older brother visiting my sibling's fraternity house. I'll take it.

The be more respectful as an industry member point has been personally transformative, and I hope it continues. I have some work left here to do, for sure, particularly in that I framed my original desire in part by talking about more effectively finding common ground with people. That wasn't always how I executed the matter. I hope I can lean more towards the sustained, clear argument side of my nature and away from the smartass asides elements of my skill set in the months ahead. Still, my life has become a better one for learning how to contribute and give back and work with others in the place in which I've found myself professionally, and I'm grateful for both the opportunities and help I've had getting further down that road.

imageAn 80 percent success rate on anything outside of an exam, by which I mean anything in the real world, is a rate with which I'm both completely unfamiliar and totally thrilled. I have to try this again. So here's a short list of comics-related things I'd like to accomplish in 2013.
1. Write a dozen fan letters to comics industry professionals and/or cartoonists of more than three paragraphs length.
2. Do my job more effectively, and find ways to make it more rewarding.
3. Become a more honest and prolific critic, and a better steward of the free things sent me.
4. Become better at verbally expressing myself in terms of comics, and of representing this site more effectively in public.
5. Become a digital comics consumer.
I'm going to repeat this fan-letter thing. In fact, for every letter less than a dozen I end up writing, I'll donate $50 to Hero Initiative. I missed out on some opportunities to write some people last year that have passed away, so I'll be fueled by a free-floating sense of guilt, but mostly I want to try this again because I think this is a nice thing. I hope that you'll consider joining me in writing one such letter a month, or one every two months, or just writing one right now. It costs like 50 cents, and I have to imagine it would be a nice thing to receive. If 10 people did it, that'd be 120 nice things in the world that weren't there before. I don't know, I'm not very focused on explaining the virtues of this idea, so I'm also sort of interested to see how my opinions develop if I start doing them more frequently.

The second point sounds like one of those horrible New Year's resolutions that I mock when politician and celebrities make them, the kind where they declare they need to spend more time with their grandkids or find more balance in their lives. However, I don't think people in comics -- particularly those of us in (essentially) non-creative positions -- approach their jobs in the same way that an artist might, and I think that's telling. Comics has as much first-rate talent in its creative ranks as any other art form, but I think doesn't do as well in terms of inspiring people in the support and auxiliary positions. I'm lucky enough to work in close proximity to an art form and industry for which I have a lot of affection. I have very specific standards as to what that should entail, and I rarely meet them. I should make a more significant effort to do so. I also need to find ways to funnel money back into the site, so consider this an advance apology for any unseemly efforts in that direction.

As for #3, I get a lot of things in the mail and I honestly treat them more as a hassle than as an opportunity, which has to stop. I also need to write more about the art form, because I think that's a very specific opportunity that I have and that I haven't come close to engaging with the seriousness it deserves. I think that can be its own goal, mostly because it's an area that needs a lot of attention.

I made a few improvements last year in terms of being a better public representative of the industry and profession of which I'm a member, at least according to whatever semi-pathetic assemblage of symbolic gestures to which I routinely assign value. I'd like to become a better panel moderator and public speaker about comics, and I'd like to be better verbally on podcasts and the like. I think those can be important, and it's not something I've engaged directly because of a) fear of failure, b) hiding behind more of the site's direct values, like trying to write well about comics, when these things are not mutually exclusive goals.

I also need to start engaging comics on-line because it's honestly not a natural thing for me to do and I think it's telling how much of a babe in the woods I am in that area as I make summary appraisals of the entire medium. I also think it's important to have a consumption goal because consuming comics is a significant relationship I have with the art form, and it's an area in which I can improve or at least adhere more closely to the ideals I have in general, such as not exploiting artists in part by engaging their work in the manner they'd prefer it to be engaged.

So these are mine.

This begins tomorrow.
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink

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