Friday, July 26, 2013

Politics and Webcomics, Round 2

A couple weeks ago now, there was a trial in Florida.  A white man shot a black teen and claimed self defense.  The white man was found not guilty of murder.  As I type, there are protests against this ruling.

I'm not going to talk about any of that.  Well, not in detail, because for the most part, I really don't care about this particular incident.  Racism in the United States is a topic that will be with us for a long time, whether real or perceived, and the day we finally settle it, will be the day humanity as a whole has become better than anyone could ever have imagined.

Back in the early days of this blog, I wrote an article about Politics and Webcomics.  The message at the end was quite clear:  Don't do it.  Back then, it was about doing it through the length of the comic, a tedious process that caused me to lose the plot of a comic on at least one occasion and still tickles around other times.  It just wasn't worth it to alienate other readers.

Then this trial happened and a few have dipped into that well.  Making one's opinion known on a particular subject is something that should be taken with great care.  The reactions to making a statement can be very nasty in some circles.  It can lead to ridicule, and if the artist isn't prepared to take on that ridicule, it could be destructive.  It also colors past work, sometimes in a very bad way.

Let's take Orson Scott Card, for example.  If you don't know the issues around him, know only that he's not very well loved by even the slightly liberal of society.  His book, Ender's Game, is, however, still considered a science fiction classic, it's even getting a film (betting it'll bomb, seems to be a year for bombs).  I'm not saying one has to like the artist to like the work, I won't say that because it's bull, but it does make exploring further work of that artist a little more difficult.

For a webcomic artist, the issue is more dire.  A book need only be written once and sell many copies, both before and after a political statement is made, and even if not another work of the author sells, at least the author can make money off the previous work.  A webcomic must CONSTANTLY resell itself.  A major slip up in such a financial environment could be outright devastating, and destroy incomes almost completely.  It's why, I think, most of the major comics and their artists have stayed away from making statements regarding this trial:  It's not worth risking their livelihoods.

At the same time, it can rip a fanbase apart, and destroy a large, healthy community.  I've seen it happen over lesser things, and greater things.  Friendships can be destroyed with a few words, communities shattered, and, again, it can lead to financial failure.

Webcomics, however, are a form of self expression.  If the feeling is strong enough that an artist must make a statement, then I won't stand in the way.  Just be aware of the baggage that comes with it.  Whether it be abortion, universal health care, gay marriage, gun control and, of course, racism, making a statement WILL bring the heat on, it is the internet after all.  Be ready for it, pick your battles and accept the anger and hate that will come.

I still stand by my original statement however.  Don't do politics, it's not worth the effort.  Until next time kiddies.

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