Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Moment of Silence

The new year hasn't even begun yet, and we've just recently lost one of the most prolific and energetic voices of the blogosphere, Dirk Deppey. Yesterday, during the usual linkfare, he announced that he would be posting his last update for the Comics Journal weblog.

I’ve been laid off from Fantagraphics. Wednesday will be my last day as The Comics Journal‘s newsblogger.

The amount of effort the man contributed to the comic company is incalculable. Like Stan Lee, Dirk Deppey put a human face on what was usually regarded a company made of pretentious comic reviewers who couldn't see the value of reading funny stuff for pure enjoyment alone. What Dirk provided was a more thoughtful approach that didn't reduce analysis of popular comics to being mainstream garbage, and a helpful understanding of the appeal of Manga. He was always a veritible fountain of comic links and commentary, and will be sorely missed.

Amazingly enough, he has no regrets in all the time and effort he's spent managing the Journalista website, much of it with no clothes on. He's even praised the founder Gary Groth for keeping him on as long as he did.

This hasn't been the first time that he took a break from weblogging. There was a time in 2004 when he didn't contribute any links in order to concentrate on being the editor for Fantagraphics, and the web was a sadder place for it. Fortunately for us, his abscense wasn't long in coming, and he eventually returned with a vengeance.

Some of the most memorable essays he wrote was his scathing rebuttal of Brian Hibb's analysis of the BookScan numbers compared to the Direct Market. Dirk had to refute Brian's claims that bookstores weren't as viable as comic book stores in terms of books sold. Eventually, he grew so disatisfied with having to create the same arguments over and over again that he decided to have one final essay on the topic, and would only reference it again when the need arose. He had better things to deal with.

Hints of fatigue was suggested back in April when he stopped posting links from the new scansdaily site. It was a pale shadow of the former site after it was shut down for copyright infringement, and was doing nothing more than naval-gazing at the decadance of S-hero comics, and Dirk grew discouraged enough to stop referencing it entirely. "Nope, I’m done with this. It’s getting too difficult to find anything that isn’t just a spoiler rundown for this week’s batch of superhero decadence. This feature is hereby retired."

One thing I was worried about was if the Fantagraphics Manga line would be able to continue without his guidance. Sure, Matt Thorn will keep translating the titles, since he's claimed that anybody else who'd do so would have to do it over his dead body. Dirk made a quick comment that the company would be able to manage on autopilot without him, but still, it’d be a real shame if the man who kept the secret of their upcoming licenses for almost four years wasn’t there to see his efforts bear fruit.

Even if the reviews of the Hagio titles are still being regulated to that same reviewer niche that’s reserved for art comix, I enjoy seeing critics trying to understand the appeal of old-school Shojo. If you’re paying more attention to finding hidden sublimal messages of the flowers in the background than the characters in the story, you’re missing the point of reading these comics. Hopefully, the upcoming Manga Wandering Son will have a more favorable response.

I was wondering what he was going to do from now on, since unlike Hollywood, there's no comics equivalent to Disneyworld. From his last update, he announced that he was going to take a two week well-deserved rest. I'd completely forgotten that sometimes the best vacation is the one where you do nothing at all. What he'll do after that is still up in the air for the forseeable future, though like some bloggers, I hope he won't limit himself to looking up and posting links. His greatest asset is his prolific essays and it'd be a shame to lose that.

So far, my greatest regret is that I won't be eligible for being a headline quote in the future. A comic blogger said that a comic blogger would only have arrived when Dirk quoted you word for word on his site. Now that Deppey's gone, I feel like I've missed the boat. On the plus(?) side, I'm in company with others who've also been passed over.

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