Sunday, June 6, 2010

Obituary for the Living

The sudden demise of Tiamat in the Mangasphere was an unpleasant surprise for those of us who hoped he’d recover from his destabilizing disease. However, since I wasn’t a constant visitor, I didn’t feel that upset about the loss. But I can understand where their outpouring of grief comes from. It’s always disappointing when a frequent blogger suddenly goes away. Even more disappointing if for some reason or other, they just STOP blogging.

So, I’d like to pay tribute to those legacy bloggers that are no longer with us:

Fanboy Rampage, THE site for collecting arguments at the stupid moves comics companies did. It fell victim to too much outrage, which threatened to overwhelm the site, and the founders left in a fit of exhaustion. What’s sad is that it quit JUST as things were starting to get really bad. Now typical Fanboy outrage has given way to Fanboy apathy. Not the wisest business move if you’re trying to engage your audience’s interest.

Irresponsible Pictures was a blog that poked foibles at the Anime/Manga crowd. And then all of a sudden, the blog went down. Even though the blog’s visible now, it’s a shadow of what it used to be. None of the articles from February 2007 and up can be accessed anymore. Even Dirk Deppey wondered what happened to the site.

Worlds within Worlds, by Shawn Fumo, one of the most vocal fans of Otaku culture, back when Manga was just gaining an audience. Also a Yo-yo fanatic. He posted on multiple forums and gave lengthy arguements that spoke highly for Manga fans, and comics in general.

He’s my main inspiration for being able to post commentary at all. So it was surprising when he suddenly disappeared without another word. Years later, another blogger wondered whatever happened to the elusive Shawn. Two years later, we have yet to hear an answer.

Looking through those archives, I can see that Shawn's opinions closely mirror mine. Or maybe I created my opinions around his...

Also on the TCJ board, Shawn "Silverthorn" Fumo weighs in on European comics, aka bandes-desinees, and argues that everything that might make BD popular here in the states (idiomatically it's much closer to American comics than manga is; it's almost solely concentrated in genres that make for very popular airport reading in America, like crime, mysteries, thrillers, horror, fantasy, erotica, even sports--the recipe for industry success according to Fantagraphics founder Kim Thompson) is offset by the simple fact that it doesn't have the same thriving underground support in this country that paved the way for manga's big success in the last couple years. Good point, as they tend to be when they're made by Shawn Fumo. Shawn, why don't you have a blog? I won't beg, if that's what you're waiting for--it's unsightly...

Grotesque Anatomy, a comic blog that started out by collecting various comic news by bullet points, and then started commenting on some of the more outrageous aspects of them. Later, when the Manga news started gathering more attention, created another blog that was more focused on Otaku culture. In a sense, the blogger didn’t exactly die, he just switched identies to...

Sporadic Sequential, where the comments were quite insightful and amusing. I used to go to the page daily in the hopes that there would be a new entry - and there often was. Even when the updates became more spread out throughout the months, I still kept devoutly checking the site in the hopes that there would be a new entry. And then the bombshell came at the beginning of the year:

After three and a half years of blogging here, I've decided it's time to call it quits. My output was never prodigious: in 3.5 years I only managed just over 400 posts, which puts my blog's developmental maturity much lower than its calendar age. The fact that I could only muster seven posts in the last five months of 2009 is pretty clear evidence that my heart just wasn't in it anymore. One of my personal blogging benchmarks was that if I ever went a month without posting anything it was time to start thinking about shutting things down. And December 2009 came and went without a single post from me, so here we are.
At least he had the good sense to tell us the reason why he was quitting. However, I’m still living in the hope that someday, something truly fantastic will happen in the comics world that will inspire him to write about it. It would have to be something rivalling Moto Hagio being licensed, the revival of the Smurfs and the fall of CMX combined. Here’s hoping!

Valerie D’Orazio of Occasional Superheroine fame was one of the most vocal female bloggers I’d ever read, and it was made even more remarkable given the sexual harassment she’d received at the comics workplace. I only read snippets of what she’d gone through, waiting for the chance to read her story in chronological order. (The annoying thing about blogs is that they’re organized from the top down, and there’s no way to organize them without being the moderator) So when she finally released an Adobe version of her story, I instantly lept on it, even though I dislike using Adobe.

What happened to her throughout her life was the stuff good biographies are made of, with all the struggles and unfairness of life. If I had a PayPal account, I would’ve made a contribution, but I’m intensely paranoid about managing money online. I don’t trust anything I can’t see for myself. However, if I see a hard-print copy of her short bio-work for sale, I won’t hesitate to purchase a copy. It’s the kind of story I know my sister would devour in a weekend.

So it was surprising to me that half the comics blogsphere condemned her for pointing out an uncomfortable truth that they didn’t want to acknowledge.

Her Punisher Butterfly oneshot was enjoyable for seeing it as a thinly-veiled reference to her experiences. I remember her blog post on how she created a Punisher story when she was maybe TEN, and submitted it to Marvel. The editorial response she got at that time was truly remarkable. Rather than dismiss her outright because of her gender & age, the editor recommended that she hone and fine-tune her story to the point where it was better than it already was. Those were words of encouragement and inspiration to the young Valerie, who went on to create multiple comic stories of other characters until she managed to get the chance to publish her own Punisher story.

The longshot of it is, Valerie said that she’d been reconsidering posting on her comics blog for ages, since she’d basically exorcised her personal demons and didn’t see any need to continue updating it. But she kept updating her blog almost daily, until the day she finally quit. Now, nobody who’s friends with her can see her previous entries without inputting the proper password.

On the plus side, she’s got another blog, but without the comics angle, it doesn’t feel the same. Not to mention her latest thoughts on Twitter aren't exactly as eloquent as seeing her essay-length thoughs in print.

EDIT - it seems her previously inaccessible blog is now back. I've re-introduced her blog back on my list of favorite links again. I'm glad I can still get to hear her unique voice.

So what about you? What blogs out there do you miss the most?

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