The webcomics blog about webcomics

I Got An Email

Possibly unnecessary navel-gazing ahead.

You might notice, if you have especially sharp eyes, a difference in the list of webcomics over there to the right. Truth is, I forget about it most of the time, maybe once a year I make sure that things still exist and then forget about it again. But neglectful or not, it’s a list that I put together and carries my imprimatur.

Also something to know for the purposes of this discussion: I don’t read forums anywhere, and particularly not webcomics discussion forums. Partly this is because I don’t have the time, partly its because I don’t want to inadvertently lift somebody else’s opinion or idea and present it as my own.

Third, I am not exactly a subtlety-seeing guy. It takes me a lot of readings and re-readings of comics to see what’s really going on, which is a bit of a drawback in a medium where much of the work is designed to be read quickly, in small chunks, at intervals.

Put all of that together and I can miss stuff that should be concerning to me; a trend may emerge in a comic that’s for the worse, and it may take a long while for it to sink into my brain, and for longer still I may not change my habits.

For example, I still bring up the links for You Damn Kid, Help Desk, and Horror Every Day pretty much daily even though I know there’s not going to be an update. The first two are notorious for years-long hiatuses, Help Desk’s creator is working mostly in prose these days, and Shaenon Garrity¹ told us that HED would run for exactly one year and then finish, which happened five damn months ago.

The update to the list I’m talking about is not adding the notation [finished] to Horror Every Day, although I did finally do that just now. It’s the removal of Sinfest, which has been delving deeper into TERF/SWERF territory for some time. I got an email from reader Matt, expressing their own thoughts about the strip not being what it was and asking how I felt about its inclusion in my A Good Start list.

Let’s be super clear — this was not an accusation that I am a terrible person, or a demand that I change anything or align myself with any particular viewpoint. It was about Matt’s own changes of opinion about Tatsuya Ishida’s work, and wondering about my thoughts on separating the art from the artist². It made me realize that while I’d been having these discussions internally, I’d not considered that I was still publicly recommending a work that I no longer felt should be recommended.

It was enough to snap me out of my inertia and decide that leaving it on the list would be incompatible with my ideals about how people should be treated. I also decided that since my inertia had potentially caused harm — that people may have gone to the strip who wouldn’t have otherwise, and been on the receiving end of messages that deny their validity and existence — I also shouldn’t remove it quietly like nothing had happened. Not taking into account the weight my words carry was a mistake; I’m sorry, and I’ll hold myself to a higher standard in the future. It’s no longer on the list and now you know why.

¹ Funk Queen Of The Greater Bay Area, ArchMistress Of Tiki, and one of the three Living Nexii Of Webcomics. She’s rad.

² Which, hoo boy, is a long-ass discussion all by its lonesome. I still have a set of Cerebus phonebooks on my shelves not out of affection for the story (even the part before Dave Sim went full trashfire), but mostly because I’d rather not have them be anyplace where somebody could casually read them without an extensive discussion of Sim’s crappy worldview beforehand to put it all in context³.

Some day, people will possibly remember Sim as a passable draftsman, a groundbreaking letterer, and a shit storyteller and we’ll have the distance to evaluate the work in that context dispassionately. I figure it’ll take about another half-century.

³ That, and I can’t bring myself to destroy a book that’s not in irreparable condition.

I’m pretty surprised at this news that Sinfest is problematic. I’ve had the strip in my RSS feed for a while and certainly didn’t read it that way. Rather, I appreciated it for going the radical feminist route. But I’m one of those people who can’t simply divorce a work from its artist so I’ll have to take a closer look at who/what’s behind the comic now and make up my own mind then. Thanks for bringing up the subject. I think it’s important to address these conflicts and have these discussions.

Update:holy crap, I went back to the last 2 weeks and dude made it really clear where he stands. Yeah, that’s gone from my RSS-feed now as well.

Yyyyep. Whatever (probably strategic) ambiguity there was in the ostensible message of the strip, it’s dropped the dogwhistling for a bullhorn. Screw that.

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