So, here’s some things I’ve been talking about on twitter:
Let’s start with every one’s favourite rumour website and columnist.
Rich Johnson and Bleedingcool.com
Look, I’ll be honest, I read bleedingcool and have done for years – from at least two or three different names ago. Always it was a column within a larger website. I kind of knew what I was getting, rumours etc. Obviously as I’ve started working in the industry, I’ve come to appreciate the problems and difficulties with rumours – often they’ll be people with axes to grind, or crumbs of information that look very much like 2+2=4, but, in fact are 2+2+2+2=8 or information out of context that paints something in one light but in fact sits in another or, you know, just things that someone made up in the pub one mad night in december and it turns up as fact on a website.
When it moved to bleedingcool.com it become something of a loose tooth for me, the idea that a site dedicated to industry gossip and rumours and giving a series of ‘upskirt shots’ (not a phrase I’d be that proud of, if I’m honest) would be paid for by a comic publisher seemed, I dunno, wrong.
But it’s not the fact that it’s owned by a publisher involved in the comic industry and that it reports on rumours on other publishers in the comics industry represents a conflict of interest so vast it seems weird for me to have to point it out, it’s the fact that, well, Rich, doesn’t seem to have thought that people might need to know this. I suppose when your site deals in titallation rather than heavy news, it may not occur to you that this conflict of interest exists, but I do think it does. The about page really, should spell this out. But I’ve never been sure what sort of ethical standards Rich holds himself too – having loudly distanced himself from the epithet of journalist (on twitter) almost precisely because journalistic standards appear to have fallen so low in recent years.
Still, that said, I recently pointed this out on twitter to Rich (not intentionally, I was more moaning about things) only for Rich to reply that he felt the ‘Avatar plug of the week’ was pretty transparent – I disagree. I think the name ‘Avatar Plug of the Week’ almost precisely tells you that this is once a week advert (theoretically any publisher could go for) and the article itself read like a glowing review of the book.
What’s surprising about his ‘about bleedingcool’ page is just how transparent it is for getting hold of Rich, and yet, nowhere does it say “oh, by the way, everything on this site is paid for by avatar”.
Now, I’ve no idea – I’m sure if Rich had a story about some diabolical thing that William of Avatar had done (he’s a diabolical dude, he may well have done something awful*not really, he’s lovely guy) Rich would run it. But, you know, when I suggested he alter his about us page his reply was
@pauljholden You’re right, I’ll suggest it to the publisher.
— Rich Johnston (@richjohnston) January 19, 2012
Which doesn’t entirely suggest 100% editorial independence.
Anyhue. That’s thing one (and I didn’t mean to go on about it, it’s just been sitting on the back of my mind for a long time, I like all the people involved, but, you know, if you deal in rumours and innuendo, make sure your house is in order, really).
Thing two, and this, I think, shows the danger of paying too much attention to rumours/gossip and leaked information
When I first saw the logos, in a simple greytone, rather sniffily, I suggested it’d looked like DC had gone into the photocopier business in the 80s. But, it turns out, those early images where simply to register a mark – the grey would end up being transformed for every title, for The Green Lantern, it would be a glowing green C unveiled, for other titles colours or shapes or effects that would be appropriate (and, in, I imagine, a two fingered salute to Alan Moore, one has the watchmen blood splatter on it – be interesting to see if they get away with that, IIRC the watchmen button badge with the blood splatter was in a legalistic limbo for trademarking which stopped DC using it on merchandise)
I like them. They’re maybe a little too formal, a little too stiff. But, you know, I’m not sure if that isn’t just DC all over.
And thing the third (since I’ve waffled on enough).
Apple have introduced a new authoring tool for creating iBooks (and epub books). Let’s get this out of the way quickly: it’s useless for comics.
It’d be amazing for fanzines though. I look forward to seeing what people come up with on that front.
And, that’ll do pig.