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24 July 2007 @ 08:17 am
Guest deez. (tongue-in-cheek bitchery)  
I have never been to ComicCon and yet I can say that I loathe its coming each year.

Why? Because half the webcomics I read enter that pathetic territory known as "guest strip week."

I do not like guest strips as filler. When people take the time to make you a guest strip as "fan art," where they like your comic so much that they wish to show their appreciation by making a strip using your characters and their version of your art, that's one thing. Flattery, a compliment, call it what you will. If you've taken all the flattering guest strips that have poured in over a year and use them while you're taking a vacation, fine. However, when you're doing a guest strip as a commission piece to fill up space on the calendar that the main artist and/or writer doesn't have time to manage? Yeah, I'll pass. Just skip the week, dammit, or put up meaningless art that has nothing to do with the plot and is easily mocked. Piro's been doing it for years and yet Sad Girl in Snow is a webcomic cliche now thanks to him, and where would your lazy asses be without that gag to poke at every now and then?

Before you say anything, I understand the reasoning behind guest strip week. A guest week a) means that you've still got something on the site to look at so your page hit count doesn't drop during the week you're away or for that matter stay lower because the readers don't come back and b) offers you a chance to showcase the talents of someone you like and hope to see grow in the trade. I can at least respect b), although if you're only highlighting other artists during a guest week and don't throw them a link the rest of the year or make a blog post about them, then you're fucking well lying that this is one of your motivations. While I understand a), it's never admitted and frankly just crawls under my skin. I have the luxury of not looking at a webcomic as a business, so I can flagrantly ignore reasons based on crass commercialism. Damn all webcomics artists for making me recognize the sense of their guest week actions.

For those who haven't pieced together why ComicCon merits special loathing, I'll explain its connection here. Most webcomics artists don't bother to coordinate their vacation weeks; I know, I'm shattering your doe-eyed innocence by telling you that there's no grand conspiracy or overarching organization to the whole thing. What this normally means is that someone out in comicdom is on vacation at any given time, though they're probably the only one. This means one guest week at a time while the rest of the comics are updating as usual. ComicCon, however? All the bigger comics have a presence at ComicCon now, so most of them run guest weeks, all at once. (I notice Penny Arcade doesn't run guest strips; even when they post pieces from Gabe's con sketch book, it's still original content, dammit.) Half the comics I read are suddenly shifted in schedule or vary wildly in levels of quality of writing and art. (Admittedly, guest weeks mean that PvP updates on a regular schedule rather than on "Kurtz time.")

Yes, I know that comics get to advertise and network and blah blah blah by going to ComicCon; again, damn you for your relentless marketing logic. Being aware of the reasons behind something and liking it are two different things. Yes, I know I could vote with my feet and take away my precious advertising footprint, my single unique page hit, every day of a guest week. That would require altering my bookmarks; who knows if I'd get them all back in order once the miserable "break" had ended?

In the end, I guess what I'm saying is this: should I ever get off my lazy ass and get a webcomic going, and should that webcomic ever have enough of a presence to merit attending ComicCon as a vendor or guest, I will... be running a guest week. However, I pledge to you now that I will feel appropriately guilty about it, or at least claim to in the comic blogspace.
Current Mood: lazy
Ace Lightning: compu-brainacelightning on July 24th, 2007 03:24 pm (UTC)
i don't like it when my favorite webcomics go on hiatus for the duration of ComicCon, or any other major con. but what's worse is when the comic artist updates irregularly, without even the excuse of a con (or a personal emergency, or illness, or some other reasonable excuse). one of my favorite webcomics just retroactively posted two months' worth of daily strips; another one chronically manages to miss deadlines, sometimes using filler art, sometimes not. others only update when the creator feels like it, which can be three times in two days, or not at all for nearly a year. sometimes the artist posts an explanation of why the comic is late/replaced by filler/running a guest strip... but sometimes they don't even bother doing that. at least when a comic is going to be "on hiatus" for a con, you know what the schedule is likely to be, and why.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on July 24th, 2007 03:27 pm (UTC)
one of my favorite webcomics just retroactively posted two months' worth of daily strips...

I think I know to which comic you're referring, and I cannot read it. No matter how amusing it can be at times, that occasional sixty strip dump into the archives is too frustrating to deal with on a regular basis. If it was daily, if it was even a weekly dump of comics, I'd still read it. There is one comic I read that puts out three or four comics a month, all at once, and always within the first two days of the new month. That's a schedule, and one I can stand, but even that's pushing it.
Ace Lightning: pentaacelightning on July 25th, 2007 05:10 am (UTC)
i have trouble following a plot (if there is one) when the episodes are a month apart - and it's boring. as i said, i'm willing to cut a cartoonist some slack for things like normal vacation downtime, important cons, or stuff like their apartment being burgled or a bad case of the flu. but if i had any artistic talent at all, and decided to do a webcomic, i'd consider it a responsibility to keep to a schedule, for myself as much as for the readers. but you know i'm kinda funny about responsibility...

(Deleted comment)
Ace Lightning: pentaacelightning on July 26th, 2007 06:31 am (UTC)
don't subscribe to the newsletter, then! i did, because i figured getting the newsletter would be easier than checking back every day to see if it had finally updated. yeah, when he did, the newsletter notified me, all right... with 30 emails, each containing an entire strip! my inbox was not happy.

and it's a damn shame, because sometimes the strip is spot-on about certain pagans...

The Ferretttheferrett on July 24th, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC)
I concur. Yet even cartoonists need breaks.

We thought a long time before having our own guest week, I assure you. But by and large, I was happy.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on July 24th, 2007 05:31 pm (UTC)
Yep, cartoonists need breaks and deserve vacations just like everyone else. You and Roni do a lot of work on HotS and it shows. Like I said, vacations aren't the problem. You guys were out when nearly everyone else was still updating, so it was only one on my expansive reading list that was compromised by unwanted reality. (grin) Plus, you go out of your way to showcase other people's work outside of "guest week," so you're walking the walk and talking the talk on that point.

Actually, since you mention it, would you say I'm close on why Webcomics run guest weeks, there? Keeps people on the page during the break, doesn't lose as much readership, etc?
The Ferretttheferrett on July 24th, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. If you don't have something, people get out of the habit of checking it out daily, and it's hell to get them back.

So I'm told. And given my own webcomics trawling habits, I believe 'em.
Ronironiliquidity on July 28th, 2007 08:35 am (UTC)
That and we're kind of obsessive about getting new content up Every. Single. Posting. Day.

I'd love to do something like con sketches, but that really breaks down for us. We're mostly storyline/character based as opposed to journal/current events so busting in with a non sequitor sketch would be jarring. Also, Ferrett and I are never some place at the same time. I thought about doing "Roni's wacky adventures in Mexico" while I was on my honeymoon, but it would be a huge random tonal shift that left Ferrett out completely.

THough if Ferrett and I ever end up at the same con we may come up with something.
Kitsunekitsunegeek on July 24th, 2007 06:25 pm (UTC)
Mostly random commentary. Guest strips drive me the most crazy when they are clearly rushed and tossed up there by the "guest artist" who seemed to be thinking "Um, what's the most obvious trait of this strip's main character, and how can I make a quick, one frame joke about it?".

Also, it made me really happy to see Emo Bands listed as a "see also" under the crass commercialism entry in Wikipedia.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on July 24th, 2007 06:35 pm (UTC)
Of that list, I was most amused by Sprite Remix. Not sure why.

Seriously, guest artists. Put a little thought into guest strips. Oh, Cole from PvP is fat, Brent is a jerk, Skull is an innocent moron, yeah, those aren't obvious jokes that have already been done before about a thousand times. Avoid rehashing jokes the regular cartoonist can't seem to avoid rehashing. Better yet, pull something with the second-string characters. For Goddess' sake, show us the continuing adventures of Pizza Girl from QC, or the nefarious scheming of Chinese Delivery Man. And please, I am begging you please, do not use the chance to do a self-promoting crossover gag. Yes, Tiny Little Newbie, I'm sure we all care how your token talking cute animal would react to Sluggy's Bun Bun. If you want me to read your comic, entice me with your wit or your art, not your shameless exploitation of a throw-away strip.