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 Life Skills for Fanboys:  Fanboy Reporters

 written by Tony DiGerolamo, Copyright 2014

To further my goal of helping fellow fanboys, I have included an index of links of previous columns with their topics.  Don’t take it personal, I’m just trying to help.  Previous columns are indexed at the end.

The Multitude

Not a day goes by when I don’t see another podcast or website dedicated to something comic-related or pop-culture related, emerge on the Internet.  I’m sure, if you have looked, you’ve seen it too.  The ‘Net is choked with comic book sites and fanboys discussing their favorite comics.  As a creator, this might be cause for celebration, you’d think.  With so many outlets to promote, surely it must be easy to tell everyone about your comics.

Actually, not really.

The Problem

Besides the sheer number of fanboys reporting on “the comics scene” or “pop culture scene” or whatever you want to call it, the bar for doing actual reporting has dropped so low, you can’t possibly imagine how amateur most of these websites and podcasts can be.  I went on one podcast that was so poorly organized and thought out, the host practically handed me the reigns of the show for a full 40 minutes.  I mean his first question was, “Well, what would you like to talk about?”  I understand when fanboys don’t have great questions or don’t have many questions or even ask the same tired questions everyone else did, but clearly he had no questions.  Why even invite me?

In Fandom, No One Can Hear You Podcast

Although many of these podcasts and websites are run by nice, well-meaning fans, the truth of it is, no one is listening.  (Probably because fans are too busy with their own comics, websites and podcasts!)  I’ve been mentioned and linked to some of the biggest comic websites out there.  I’ve been a guest on dozens of podcasts.  I check my hits the next day and…

I think the most hits I got was around 25.  A lot of times I got no hits from the link at all!  Now, one can surmise, that I may have gotten hits from fans searching my name or webcomics or comics via a search engine.  But still, I track my spikes.  I know when something hits.  I get more hits updating this endless promotion link at the Webcomiclist.com (great site btw) than I have ever gotten from a website interview or podcast.

All the Same News That’s Fit to Print

Part of the problem is, most websites and podcasts cover the same thing:  DC and Marvel, with the occasional Dark Horse, Image or other major “indie” publisher added for good measure.  And even when the coverage is about a new publisher, say like Thrillbent, look at the lead at Newsarama: Batman Writer Makes Nightmares Real at Thrillbent.  It’s not the new comic that’s the lead, it’s the fact that a Batman writer is doing something else.

Look, I understand that “comic celebrities” draw in readers, but what kind of readers?  Well, it’s all about DC, Marvel, etc.  So if those fans are only looking for DC and Marvel and you have to have a DC or Marvel connection to be news, that’s a cycle that feeds into itself.  It won’t bring in new fans and when fans graduate to other comics, they’ve got almost no place to go on the web.

If you don’t read superheroes, there aren’t a lot of websites to visit.

What is News?  What is Journalism?

News is supposed to uncover stories and that process is journalism.  That means research and looking for the story, not waiting for the latest press release to hit your inbox.  When I review comic books for Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine, I went out and bought them.  That was my research.  (Okay, it wasn’t much, but hey, I was writing a review column, not news.)  The process of journalism is also interviewing a subject and finding something interesting about them.  It’s like making a documentary, where you sometimes discover a different story other than the one you were expecting.

If there’s a lot of that going on in the world of comics and pop culture, it would be news to me.  Most of my interviews start with the interviewer asking me something like, “Hey, could you tell the folks who you are?”  I’ve got bios online and at my own website which I CONSTANTLY promote, so it’s pretty lazy when I get this question.  That means the “reporter” couldn’t even be bothered to do ONE Google search to find me.  And my name is all over Google.  Hell, I’ve got every mention of The Webcomic Factory with me and Christian right on the site.

But that would take someone to take time and do research and actually listen or read one of my interviews so they could ask new questions.  This might actually help all the websites and podcasts being made, but not even the people with a vested interest in reading my interviews or listening to the podcasts are seeing or hearing them!

What Needs to Happen

Look, I love the fact that anyone can build a website.  But someone, somewhere has to set a bar.  If you’ve built a site and all you’re doing is recycling Marvel and DC press releases, give it up.  And if you and your friends run out of interesting things to say during your podcast around podcast #5, pack it in.  It just wasn’t meant to be.

What probably needs to happen is that someone needs to create a great comics and/or pop culture website.  I don’t mean good, I mean great.  One so good, it attracts readers outside the medium because it’s just that interesting to read.  Or a podcast so entertaining, it rivals the one Richy Gervais does.  That would set the bar somewhere for others to aspire.

And then maybe someone, somewhere might actually do some research before asking a question.

Until next time, fanboys.

(And P.S. I’ll still be on your website or podcasts.  Maybe yours is the one I’m envisioning to lead!)

Previous Columns
Obesity at Cons
The Art of Conversation
The Line Between Fans and Pros
Geek Elitism
Convention Panels
Convention Volunteers
Food Gifts
Women and Cons
Get Your Room Party Together
Stop Bringing Your Kids to Cons
The Face of Geek Needs Work
Fixing the Face of Geek
Franchise Worship
Presenting Your Project
The New Image?
Stop Trying to Make Geek Cool
 Rethinking the Comic Book Con
Zombie Stories Should Still Be About People
Geek Stereotypes and the Big Bang Theory
Con Locations
Traveling to Cons on the Cheap
Con Economics
Comics, Sexism and Trolling
Searching for the Words
How to Fix Comics?  Stop Reading Them
Shopping at the Con
The Hollywood Double Edged Sword
Beware the Geek Scams
Success Kills
In Response to Chuck Dixon, Paul Rivoche and Janelle Asselin