We’re doing it and doing it and doing it well! Chad has part 4! This is part 5!
DB: I’ve had a slightly different experience. It leads to a lot more off-the-cuff remarks, brief bursts of info from myself regarding whatever book I just finished reading or whatever subject I care to talk about. I kinda like how, barring extra late nights, I can post an update about the latest issue of Amazing Spider-Man or throw up a link to some amazing art I found and get an almost instantaneous response. It extends the Wednesday-at-the-shop experience over the course of a week.
You’re definitely right about 140 characters being a real constraint, but I’ve found that it really forces you to get to the point. Writing posts tend to involve a certain amount of beating around the bush sometimes, though I’ve been trying to break that habit. Sometimes I want to soften the blow before bringing the hammer down on a book, or explain the context of where I’m coming from. With Twitter, there’s no context and no room for softening. You have enough room for “That was a really bad issue, and I’m pretty appalled that anybody in that company thought it was worth publishing. Why even bother?” It’s all very blunt, but I appreciate that. Sometimes I’m reading a post and just waiting for someone to actually make a declarative statement– be it “this book is good” or “this book is bad.” With Twitter, that’s all you have.
I’ve found Twitter most helpful when it comes to getting book recommendations. #MangaMonday has been a huge help for me in finding new manga to read, not to mention people being excited about books I’d never heard of before.
Here’s a different direction- how do you find stuff to read and review for the blog? What’s your type of comic and do you have trouble stepping out of that comfort zone?
CN: To be fair, I’m usually a pretty direct guy, so Twitter hasn’t changed that. One of the things I hate most about my writing is how direct it is and how tough I find it to write really long posts at times because I’ll say in one sentence what others seem to take five to say. I don’t know why I see that as a bad thing, though… probably has to do with minimums on essays in school.
I’m a pretty ‘mainstream’ guy in that most of the comics I buy are from Marvel or DC. A lot of the non-Marvel/DC comics are written by guys who I discovered at those companies like Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis. It’s a weakness that I have tried to overcome and keep on trying to overcome. But, given money issues, it can be hard to step outside of the comfort zone. Or, rather, not being able to afford to possibly waste your money on something you’ll hate is an excuse to stick with what you know. I’ve used the CBR gig as a chance to try some new things, but even that’s fairly limited to the regular Marvel/DC output for the majority of my reviews because, well, that’s what the majority of readers want to read reviews of. But, when I get the chance, I’ll try anything new if someone whose opinion I trust recommends it. If I see you or Tim or Tucker or Jog praise something quite heavily, I’ll usually write it down or make a point to remember it somehow. You mention manga, of which I own exactly two books. I know! Shameful. The two books, though, were purchased because I saw a lot of praise for them from people whose opinions I trust/agree with and I loved both. (The books being Ode to Kirihito by Tezuka and Tekkonkinkreet by Matsumoto.) I’m pretty open to giving anything a shot if people say it’s good (and I have the cash to spare).
My reviews on my blog are usually just whatever books I bought that week and didn’t review for CBR. For the longer essays/posts that are different… that just depends on if I have something special to say. Usually it will be motivated by looking out and seeing that no one has said anything yet. I did my post on Brian Azzarello’s Deathblow because I hadn’t seen anyone else really talking about it. That’s how I got started on Casey’s work and Starlin’s… even the Bendis Avengers stuff was because I hadn’t seen anyone really tackle all of it as a whole despite his work being dismissed for only reading well in bulk… I like to be a little different, I guess.
My pull list these days is pretty much determined by creator. I’ll buy almost everything by Warren Ellis, Joe Casey, Grant Morrison… I’ll usually give Vertigo books a shot if they seem interesting. Some small press stuff like glamourpuss and Rasl I buy because I’ve read so many great things about Sim and Smith’s work that I didn’t want to miss out on them this time (and I love both books).
I don’t know what my type of comic is. Do Joe Casey and Warren Ellis have a lot in common really? I think my type of comic is the sort that approaches the material (whatever that may be) with genuine intelligence and an attempt to not simply do the same old thing. People accuse Ellis, to give an example, of doing the same thing over and over, but that’s not true as anyone who actually pays attention to him knows. His characters may not change, but his approach to writing books, to creating comics, is always in flux as he works to do new things and find new ways to communicate in the medium. It’s not always obvious and may be something as simple as releasing a bunch of three-issue minis to see how structuring a story across 66 pages works, but it’s something. It’s more than a lot of people try. Casey is the same way, always trying new things, always experimenting… I like people who try new things within the confines of pop comics. Of balancing the needs of experimentation and entertaining. Go too far in either direction and it’s a little boring. Of course, how Bendis’s Avengers work for Marvel fits into that is questionable, I know. Ha.
I’ll admit that some books will get a look before others because of that whole ‘I loved the character as a kid and I can’t help myself’ bullshit. I gave Straczynski’s Thor six issues to win me over because I like Thor. And it won me over. I know you have a similar thing for Spider-Man. Those characters that we’ll check in on for no reason other than we like them. Do you ever find that mentality a little weird? How you do buy/find books? Did what I just say make sense? Heh.