This week, as I was lettering PNEUMATIC CASES #4 for Last Ember Press, I put on a movie to keep me company as I worked.
I wanted something that wouldn’t require too much attention, so I settled on a British comedy that was streaming for free on the Roku Channel. A little movie called CASHBACK.
No idea if this was a good flick. I was mostly paying attention to my computer screen. But when I looked it up on Rotten Tomatoes later that day, I was surprised to see this:
Huh. What I saw of the movie didn’t seem all that bad. So I checked out the audience ratings:
Now, 77% isn’t a great score, but it’s a hell of a lot better than 44%.
It’s no secret that critics—and often gatekeepers—judge a work of art through a different lens than the audience.
To be fair to critics, their job is to *constantly* consume media and write about it, offering snap judgments on a piece without giving it time to sink in or grow on them.
(My wife’s former roommate was a reviewer for Entertainment Weekly back in their heyday, and the sheer amount of stuff he had to wade through might have killed a lesser man.)
Given the volume of work they’re evaluating, anything that strikes a critic as “different” immediately stands out, regardless of its commercial prospects, while the more familiar stuff just blends together.
Gatekeepers, similar boat. When you’re inundated with material, it’s the unfamiliar that you gravitate towards.
And because your job is partly to uphold some concept of decency and standards, you just might turn up your nose at such things as unlikeable protagonists and gratuitous nudity.
But an audience?
They just want to be entertained, man.
(Bet that subject line got your attention!)
A general audience isn’t consuming literally EVERYTHING that’s out there, so what grabs them will likely be more “comfort food” than “experiential dining.”
Let’s face it: life is hard enough already. After a long day at work, most people want to turn off their brains for bit while they watch a half-hour sitcom, or read a comic on the john, or sing along to Taylor Swift’s latest, or settle into the bath with that trashy romance novel.
And that’s OK!
We all need a little escape from reality. (Especially this reality.)
Horror doesn’t have to be “elevated”. Protagonists don’t have to be “likable.” Not everything has to have a message.
Sometimes the message is just, “Have fun for a bit, huh?”
I think that’s what I love about Kickstarter: no gatekeepers, no critics. Just creators and an audience.
And you decide what you want to read.
Between FRIED Comics and NIGHTMARE THEATER, I’ll be there making sure you have plenty of comfort food, OK?
RED XMAS TPB
The RED XMAS trade, which was supposed to come out just before the holidays, got hit with a perfect storm of problems, from paper shortages to misprints to… well, all sorts of things.
But I just saw my first copy of it in the wild:
Yes, we’re well past the Christmas season at this point, but as Starburst magazine says, RED XMAS is “brilliant reading whatever the time of year.”
(Not, uh, that we care what critics think...)
If you pre-ordered the book, THANK YOU! Hopefully your shop got their copies already.
If you want to grab a copy, but you can’t find it at your LCS…
Or, if digital comics are more your thing…
In Good Company
Next Friday, February 11th, I’ll be participating in the first-ever Portland Online Comic Book Jam, where I’ll be co-hosting a panel on crowdfunding and then judging a little comics contest alongside folks from these fine companies…
A little surreal to see the FRIED Comics logo next to the others, but I’m not complaining.
Here’s more info on the event if you’re interested:
“Comic Book Curious, Legion of Eccentrics and Wacom are throwing a comic book jam with professors at Portland State University from February 10-13th.
This will be an online event where five person teams are working together to create an eight page ‘zine’ over three days. The participants own 100% of their creations.
This event will be streamed on Twitch, discussed on Discord, and the viewers get to vote in the final decision!
Prizes will be Wacom tablets, gift cards to comic book shops and a $2,500 commission for the Legion of Eccentrics.
Professionals in the comic book and animation spaces will be featured in different seminars in order to empower these blossoming creators. An abridged list of the professionals are: Tini Howard (Marvel, DC), Mark Russell (Marvel, DC, Ahoy) Clay Adams (Scout, Fried Comics) Josh Blaylock (Devils Due) and Andrew Flores. (Nickelodeon.)
Finally, in other news…
BLAZING BLADE OF FRANKENSTEIN #1 is off to the printer
That’s all for now. Until next time…
Keep reading dangerous comics!