Monday, April 20, 2009

Eternal dust is ticklish

A few months ago I staggered onto this blog openly weeping, wailing about how perhaps my comic was inaccessible to the newer reader; that I would slowly drift into obscurity read only by hardcore eyes eager for the fast-diminishing prize. Lots of people got together to rent a church basement for me at that point and I was talked down from my dudgeon.

In all honesty, that morning I had looked, for the first time in three or four years, at the website of [name of comic deleted]. Back in the day this had been an unstoppabable juggernaut, but now, despite what seemed to be still-healthy traffic, it was begging for money. It may still have been an unstoppable juggernaut, but it had failed any number of roadworthiness tests and now had a ghost instead of an engine.

After a couple of months of chin scratching, I think there is a future for Scary Go Round. Unlike my poor colleague mentioned above, I drag everything I don't want to write about any more onto the street every couple of years and set fire to it. There are certainly elements of my audience who expect me to bring old characters back, but they might as well stand on Elvis' grave and demand "Hound Dog".

One thing that this rigorous period of navel-gazing has shown me is the nature of popularity. When Scary Go Round was new, and even when Bobbins was around, I received a constant stream of reader emails and requests for interviews. These days I probably get one email from a reader every two or three days, and seldom does anyone want to know what I think about anything.

I suppose that when you're new and novel, you're like a couch that someone has just spent a lot of money on. "Come around friends and sit upon my new couch," you say, or you call the newspaper and demand that they write about your new couch and print a picture of it and you upon it. Five years on, the novelty has gone, and there really is no call to tell anyone about the new couch or to thank one's lucky stars that it exists. If it is a decent seat, the owner will still enjoy sitting upon it.

The only way that this chair would gain attention was if it were stolen and the owner was made to sit upon the floor. Which is why I occasionally start crying and demand that you tell me you like me or I will retire and become a bin man. Both greedy and needy, see?

In conclusion, I do not pay any attention to song lyrics, and hate to see them transcribed, but my favourite lyric of all time is "Outdoor Miner" by Wire.


Glenatron said...

Sorry mr A but you are now The Establishment. People don't even ask for an interview with you now because they can't imagine that they would be able to get past your entourage of minders, bodyguards, toughs and PR team. The way they see it they may as well demand an interview with the queen.

Anik said...

What you need is a good old fashioned tabloid scandal to get your name in the news again. Possibly something involving a lost weekend in Kópavogur, a Russian mata hari, and a tragic addiction to dramamine.

K said...

You know what? I would not have thought to e-mail you in case the burden of e-mails was a botheration and a distraction from the gritty business of carving out new comics.

I have been reading SGR since late 2007, and it took about four days (and an archive binge of legendary proportions) for it to become my favourite webcomic. It has not shifted from this position, so I am relieved to hear you think you can go on!

Jon said...

The only thing that keeps me from emailing you basically all the time (mostly to ask for advice on things non-comic-related) is because I figure you get a lot of it, and I'm not about to distract a man from making more of the strip I love.

Sargeras said...

Ditto. I'm one of those who assumed you were so popular as to be inaccessible.

Scary Go Round has been a daily read for me ever since Tycho said it was his own favorite comic to read (or words to that effect).

Gene Ha said...

I'm working in superhero comics, so I gotz me some ideas on how to get some press.

Engineer a personal tiff with another creator. Call XXXXX a talentless poseur. Let XXXXX respond. Mock each other in the comic strips.

Big crossover and time crisis! SGR vs QC vs Achewood! Which of them are Skrulls? The multiverse will never be the same!

Brutal murder of a beloved character! Shown in loving obsessive detail (see Mrs. Elastic Man).

Put Wolverine on the cover. A comic shop owner showed me a comic with W on the cover, along with the disclaimer noting he doesn't appear inside. No joke, that.

I'll have to stop now. I hate to admit this, but I really would enjoy a crossover appearance with Topato or Hanners.

Doogie said...

FWIW, you're not alone in these thoughts.
Jim Borgman, political cartoonist extraordinaire, was blogging ( for a few years before his retirement and was shocked by how hard it was to get the readers (and he had a crop of devoted readers) to respond. Somewhere in there a set of posts on the subject. The problem is that your comic tends to be a push mechanism, where you put content out, and seldom require your audience to do much more the odd click or purchasing of merchandise.

Dharmabum said...

Jon, I think the key at this point is to get one of your SGR collections into the hands of a world leader. The book that Chavez gave Obama last week, by Eduardo Galeano, shot to number two on the Amazon bestsellers list. I work at a book shop, and I think Galeano is a great author, but nobody reads him.

Perhaps getting a copy of, Ahoy Hoy, into the hands of a world leader as they talk about the Somali pirate threat? Perhaps you could sport a jaunty sailors cap?

I think this could be a successful marketing tool for you.

Or perhaps when Shelley and Amy return from Atlantis they can solve the pirate crisis themselves!

Because we all know we want to read about politics in our web-comics.

Oh, wait a minute...

rach said...

"The only way that this chair would gain attention was if it were stolen and the owner was made to sit upon the floor."

since february, this is what wednesdays have felt like :P the lack of SGR one day a week forces me to become more appreciative of SGR the other 4 days of the week :) which was probably not your intention and/or motivation but a possibly good side effect and some positive spin!

to echo previous commenters, the only reason i hadn't emailed/commented about this epiphany beforehand is because we all expect your inbox to be overflowing in a potentially stressful manner already. your fans are obviously so dedicated and caring that they are too polite to cause further disruption to your day ;)

Tanner said...

Sorry, dogg, but you're dead wrong, at least in my case. Scary Go Round is definitely in my top three along with Achewood and Order of the Stick.

Virtualbri said...

Yes, put me in the camp that would believe any more than a handful of emails over a lifetime would be not only lacking in competent content from me, besides saying "Good job Mr. Allison" but potentially feeling a little stalky.

I start my morning with the joy that is SGR, unless I'm on the computer late Pacific time to enjoy the new posting in the evening.

Even if it takes an entirely new project to make you feel excited and confident about your job (which is only a vibe I'm guessing at), we'll follow, because quality is a rare thing in the internet.

On that note, I should put some money where my mouth is and support you.

autsa said...

In no time at all, Scary Go Round will be a part of Last Of The Summer Wine, speeding down a moderate incline in a bath with makeshift wheels grafted to the side.

Andrew said...

Oh, John. We love your work, we really do. We remember your birthday. We remember your character's birthdays. We just don't want to disturb you.

David Jack said...

Scary Go Around forever mate!!

Cheers from Sydney - my daily strip ;)

I will love to know your opinion I'm reading you for more than four years!

Sarah said...

I just figure that you don't want a constant stream of emails demanding that you marry me.

Lucy said...

Much as I miss it, I actually like that fact that there's no Wednesday comic; it gives some sort of structure to my week.

God above strike me down if this sounds like criticism, but all the interviews I've ever read with you, John, sounded a bit - well - reluctant. Like you had plenty of better things to be doing than talking to two-bit journalists! Maybe this is just your thing! And probably you did have better things to be doing. But if I were a two-bit journalist who'd done my research, I would be too intimidated to ask for your opinions on things. I guess it's a bit like all those celebrities who make their money from their fame and then complain because they don't get any privacy; you seem to hate giving interviews so now no one asks for them.

I guess what I am saying, John Allison, is that you are the Katie Price of webcomics.

Donna said...

"I like you."

rob said...

I'll tell you what, though - if only one person has now heard Outdoor Miner for the first time, then you'll have done more wonderful work with your life than I've ever managed. Man I love that song...

(and I'm glad the future remains SGR shaped too!)

Calla Nicole said...

I will send you fan mail every day if it makes you feel better. I will write trivial e-mails about how I either did or did not like the background color of any given frame and demand an explanation as to why said frame was said color. And also sometimes I write about scarygoround on my blog (it is even called Ghost Bands Make Me Laugh 'cause of that frakken hilarious shirt). . . My blog would be happy to have you be interviewed or something. . . But I don't think I have the money to call England from New York. And also my blog has no viewership whatsoever and is more like a pointless project that amuses me in my spare time. BUT if it makes you feel better, even if my blog did have a viewership I would say I would interview you if I had money to call England. That is all. :)