Monday, October 24, 2005

Artsy Bookery and Bloggadociousness

Today, I might be considered all erudite and crap. That is, if you agree that comic in strips and bound formats- (ahem) graphic novels- have lasting value. Otherwise, it's the book notes that'll have to save me.

1) Today in 1897 a comic strip, The Yellow Kid, first appeared in the Sunday color supplement of the New York Journal. Although Richard Outcault's strip had its debut in 1895, becoming widely popular and boosting newspaper readership, this day remains special for birthing the Sunday funnies. Collector and merchant Stan Tychinski gives more history, and explains how a collection of the Kid's strips, published in book form by the NYJ, argues for its place as the first successful graphic novel.

2) I have posted on how the prolific James Patterson has used "collaborators", ditto Tom Clancy, but I don't think I ever substantiated this slightly less-than-open but hardly unknown secret. Forbes does the down and dirties.

Ed. NOTE: I'd like to mention that making the preceding, tiny entry would have been much easier if the ragglefraggle Blogger search tool worked at all. When I search my own blog for topics and text strings I know I've written, it never finds them. When I search all of Blogspot, I have to wade through pages of spamblog entries. FIX THIS, Blogger! Please! Make it more than a frustrating placeholder on the top border hinting at functionality it won't deliver. I'm still using Technorati and Google just to find myself- no theraputic sense implied. Make me a better offer.

3) Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson is still keeping a low profile and doing his own thang, a decade after finishing a decade of his beloved strip. Would you have the strength or even the desire to walk away from something that was so popular, even if you felt the quality and your satisfaction would diminish with time? Would your agent threaten hara-kiri?

Audiences always want the trick pony to keep performing the trick they love, and resist the evolution of artists into new territory, though the trick they adore was once a novelty, too. Having said that, plenty of people (the kind with entourages) shouldn't try to evolute as artists, they don't have enough of the primordial creative goo inside to sprout new gills or trotters. These type should stick to doing their one trick well, professionally, and without extraneous media coverage.

Still, for those who are gifted enough to create meaningful work in a variety of genres or media that daringly occupy different shelves in the store, proving it requires overcoming a lot of commercial resistance or simply dropping out of the argument.

4) This is a believable though depressing NYT article detailing the discouraging journey of a new author after publication. I frequent author events and read up on the subject of publishing as if either could help the writing which is my true face and sales offering to the world. As I thus avoid work, I experience many thoughtful veterans armoring we pre-published novices with ugly truth. Of these bummers I hear so much I could really use a little sunny- even if slightly fraudulent- optimism. Subscribing to Publisher's Marketplace, I read about tankerloads of deals and none of them are mine. But Elizabeth Royte wants me to know that such an ardently desired announcement will be no cause for celebration, since it will most likely only lead to greater miseries and an acting out of neuroses on a grander scale. I'm sure the authors she quotes are being candid, but I don't require any more portrayals of my chosen career (oh, how I wish someone else would choose that I pursue it) as an ever-darkening vale of tearful rejection for the angst-ridden and sensitive literati.

Among the bright and talented writers I meet, most are not Rowling-rich, but I haven't met any who were literally starving. When the group gripes, justified by facts I'm sure, bust out over Chianti, it makes me wonder whether anyone likes the job or whether the gloom is just an artifact of the "catastrophic mind". Isn't anyone so grateful for it that they wrest some pleasures from book tours and signings? Isn't anyone mostly humbled and delighted to meet someone charitable or adventurous enough to allow an author's invention to take residence in his mind for hours and perhaps for life? For those with stars in your eyes about the business of writing, read and learn. For those already pounded thin by relentless realism, don't bother. Just want less, expect disgust and despair, wallow and repeat. That is the way toward authentic art, right?

5) Dr. Sanity pointed me to this fun calculator that she was referred to in the big, bloggy telephone game. It uses an algorithm established for the AOL acquisition of Weblogs Inc. to determine the dollar value of a blog.

I was surprised that this site is worth about $5600 if someone wanted to buy it. Of course, the market for low-obstacle-to-entry ventures like this is as saggy as a Victorian dowager. But to me, dear readers, understand that your time and attention remain pearls beyond price.

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