The webcomics blog about webcomics

Spot The Hidden Marketing Campaign!

From Penny Arcade, a message from an insider on the world of viral marketing:

I actually hired a company called Hype Council…. Their technique is quite insidious. Let’s say they were hired to pump up PA (not like you need the buzz, but whatever…). Using one of the hundreds of shill accounts they have across the net, they post a new thread that says something like “hey guys, I’ve been looking for some new web comics to read. Anybody have any recommendations?” This is non-threatening, and gets the community engaged. They then wait a couple days and post again, this time with “Well, I asked some friends and they suggested I check out Penny Arcade (insert link). I thought it was pretty funny, although I didn’t like all the cuss words. What do you guys think?” Again, seeking engagement, they now have stealthily inserted the client’s link, thereby encouraging trial.

It’s all very insidious and, I’m sure, widespread. So much so that I don’t trust anything I read. Unless it’s a board where I “know” the posters, I always assume everyone on the board is a shill.

Fortunately, most webcomics types appear to be poor to the point of starving, so you need not worry that your favorite forums are the province of paid shills. OR DO YOU? The drunken Burnsian lament about us making fun of him (2 taps on the Page Dn should do it) and the followup comments name-checking us? Clever product-placement dollars at work, my friend.

On a cheerier note, the “Comics of Note” feature at The Onion AV Club has a brief review of On the Origin of PCs, the new book from The Order of the Stick. Highlights:

It takes a fairly geeky mind to properly appreciate all the gags in Rich Burlew’s thrice-weekly webcomic “The Order Of The Stick,” which follows a band of Dungeons & Dragons-style warriors on a series of quests, complete with occasional references to die rolls, skill points, and the fourth wall. But while the jokes are occasionally insular and the art is simple, the increasingly intricate and cleverly scripted adventures should appeal to a much wider audience….With its black-and-white art and character-introducing storyline, it’s really a fans-only release, but there’s never been a better time to become a fan.

Congrats to Rich Burlew for cracking the mainstreamish press, and if you’re a creator with a collection coming out? Throw a copy in an envelope to the press and/or Alyson Hannigan. Can’t hurt.

No! Webcomics are increasingly getting mainstream, before my article can come out!

“Dollars” the man says.

Like it would take dollars. I’m cheap! A cheap whore! And my feets they are killing me!

As much as I hate advertising, I’m always amused when people are shocked when they hit a new low. Understand this — there is no conscience in advertising. There are only two things they won’t stoop to — those they’re not allowed to by law, and those they haven’t thought of yet.

It does make me shudder to think that any webcomics creators would get in bed with these yahoos, or be able to afford to. What happened to the time-tested method of getting out there your own damn self and shilling your wares in blogs and message boards? Oh yeah, and read Monkey Law.

What happened to the time-tested method of getting out there your own damn self and shilling your wares in blogs and message boards?

Better still, what happened to the idea that self-promotion is distasteful to begin with?

Because the true artist is content to labor in perpetual obscurity, spending his days alternating between slaving over his canvasses and tucking them away in dark corners, pausing only to cut off the occasional ear, I suppose?

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