For the last number of years, the webcomic that I have been creating with Jeff Moss, and his podcast have trucked along with a small but loyal following that has been generally positive although not altogether interactive with us. The occasional comment here or there, but largely a lurking populace, especially on the comic. However, our abilities to sell our small runs of merchandise and the response we get when we go to a public forum like a Con has proven that we are delivering a product that people enjoy. I love our fans dearly – because while we do what we do as a labour of love, it’s fueling to know there are others out there enjoying our efforts.
That being said – one thing I’ve always longed for is venturing into a territory more controversial. Not to say I want to stir the pot for the sake of stirring it, but I’ve always pushed for content that might generate a more discussive response from our following. To be frank, I’ve always wanted a piece of hate mail. I have a hard time putting my finger on why I seek that benchmark. I think because for a product to have any real value, it has to polarize people – give them strong feelings about it. Whether it be to laugh or to cry, to love it or hate it, there’s a desire to create something that brings people out of the woodwork to pour over it. While I strive to create a product that people enjoy, and love to enjoy, I feel like being able to hit that mark where someone has such a vehement reaction to it that they are compelled to lash out at it serves as a sign that the product itself has authenticity and value.
While I believe we have generated ourselves a few die-hard fans, and I’ve received the occasional crazy email from someone looking for a pedestal to vent upon, We still lacked that thing that would set someone off. That is, until Moss found an issue that set him off. Now, before you delve into his rant, let’s just summarize it for you: Moss is annoyed (though his language might seem hostile, he’s little more than irritated. Trust me – he doesn’t get really worked up about much.) that a larger comic book retailer had the gall to suggest that smaller comic book shops were not ‘true’ retailers because of their size.
Disregarding that population, fans per capita, location, and business models might dictate the level of sales and size of any given retailer, Rich Biedrzycki of Dreamland Comics made the assertion that promotion minimums should be set higher and those that couldn’t make an astronomical number of sales for single issues should be excluded – because they’re “not a comic retailer!” according to him. Which is what Moss took issue with – being called out as a small retailer recently opened in an industry that fluctuates heavily. Being told because his client base isn’t established and large enough he isn’t a real comic retailer.
Which brought us our first Troll. For those of you that don’t know what an internet troll is, the basic outline is that it’s someone that swings in with a vaguely related argument (or not related at all) and fires off inflammatory notes with the primary intention of provoking people. The bottom line is these kinds of people argue to be right about something, whether or not it’s even about what the original posting is about. It’s about demeaning people. And they use every trick in the book, a tone of contemptuous authority and disregard logic entirely in their efforts. You can usually tell them by the USE OF CAPS LOCK TO EMPHASIZE a point. And while funny, it’s not the hate mail I was hoping for.
Our troll, who chose the username ‘Insideman’, swung in like a black-suited Spider-man to Biedrzycki’s defense. Except, that he didn’t really. He, instead of addressing the validity of Moss’s rant, went on a long, spurious rant about the monopoly that Diamond Distributing is. His point seems to circle around how a larger retailer should get more perks, but don’t (which is irrelevant, because I’m pretty sure DC set the minimums, not Diamond), and that Diamond screws retailers on scaling basis. Meaning, the bigger the retailer, the more problems they have. Then he goes into a rant about how the ‘collectibles’ have less value because of the lowered minimum status, and that’s why Rich is right.
“Moss is wrong and a hypocrite! I’m not spending a lot of time writing these rants! I’ve got other stuff to do, and I know stuff that you don’t know!”
This goes on for awhile, because I love poking these guys. You can see my interaction with the Troll on No Reason. I know I shouldn’t, but it’s hard not to poke it to see what it’ll do next. It’s just really funny to see him miss out on how his ranting and raving make him appear. For example – something I try to keep in mind whenever interacting with another person – I don’t attack them personally. I try really hard to single out the actions. What I say is: “Your rant is insane.” What he takes from that is me saying “You are insane.” Which may or may not be the case. I’m not a psychiatrist. But I would definitely suggest that rant, the one I can clearly read, has some sociopathic issues.
What did come out of it though, was a number of our readers (No Reason) and listeners (The Watchtower) spoke up in Moss’s defense. Our troll was shut down, and has since gone away. So, I guess what I’m saying is that I love the fans, and I don’t really need that piece of hate mail after all.