Most of the time I try to keep my rage contained. I, like good ol’ Bruce Banner, am angry all the time, but that doesn’t mean either of us spend our time tromping around with purple shorts and green skin. But today…today we are UNCHAINING THE BEAST. ARE YOU READY??? ARE YOU?? CAN YOU HANDLE THE CAPSLOCK ABUSE??? Then brace yourself for some UNBALANCED OPINION and be prepared to fling back your own.
As a gullible person that tends to be honest with others and expect honesty in return (silly me), I admit I’m already biased against the “holiday” of April Fools. Or, as I like to call it, Liar’s Day. However, what really gets my RANT MACHINE! going is when webcomic artists pull tired pranks that, in my opinion, hurt both their business and the industry.
There are several types of destructive pranks that make the rounds every Liar’s Day. The worst offenders are:
The drama quit
It a fit of melodramatic woe, the artists posts a farewell to their readership and project. Sometimes these are rants packed with bitter vitriol. Other times they’re self-pitying moans that seem to be an excuse for the artist to air all the crippling self-doubt they’ve been keeping to themselves the rest of the year. In rare cases, the claims are actually over-the-top and humorous. Regardless of the method, the joke is that the artist is done with all this webcomic stuff! Yes, somehow, that is a joke. I’m sure if I went to my day-job boss, burst into tears telling him “Nobody wuvs me” and then handed in a resignation, he’d think it was good ol’ fun when I came back in on Friday expecting a paycheck.
Instead of DOING THEIR DAMN JOB and posting an actual page, artists fling up a “mock page” of often dubious quality that has “something zany!” Gosh, what a great use of everyone’s time! It’s not like the effort put into making a terrible, fake comic couldn’t have gone into making a REAL one, or anything. What fun! I’ll be sure to use this in other exciting environments. No doubt when I’m asked to bring food for a friend’s BBQ they’ll find my bowl of “paste dip” and card-board cut-outs of chips HILARIOUS.
The exciting project
HEY! Is there something that you REALLY would like, that sounds exceptionally exciting? Is there? HUH? HUH? WELL GUESS WHAT YOU CAN HAVE IT – wait, no, the artist was just psyching you up for something that they have no intention of ever doing. Welcome to the exciting project prank. Man, I remember when my husband came home and told me that he’d wont the lottery and I could at last quit the day job and pursue my greatest dream! And then he shouted “LOL JK Just stomping on your hopes and will to live,” and then I STRANGLED HIM TO DEATH AND BURIED HIS MANGLED CORPSE IN THE BACKYARD.
LOL, jk, I’d never do that.
I chopped the body up and fed it to pigs.
If you’re a humorless curmudgeon that can’t take a joke (like me) you probably have your own list of webcomic pranks that piss you off. But the Big Question here is not WHAT are they doing, but WHY it is a problem.
AND I WILL TELL YOU. PERHAPS AT LENGTH.
Pranks are almost always at somebody’s expense. So who are these pranks on? YOUR READERS. Specifically the ones that CARE ABOUT YOU. The ones that WERE most likely to GIVE YOU MONEY. But no, it’s cool, I’m sure that being forced to relive the juvenile pain, anguish, and betrayal of a junior high locker room will totally not change their likelihood of supporting you in the future.
I may have revealed too much in that last sentence.
The point is, bad Liar’s Day pranks boil down to trolling the very people on whom you depend. Not everybody remembers that it’s the day that everyone suddenly has an excuse for being a complete jack monkey. If they’re really invested in your work, they’re going to feel abandoned if you pitch a fit about quitting. If they love your story, they’re going to be disappointed with cheap and stupid filler. If they’re excited for all of your projects, they’re going to feel betrayed and undervalued when they discover their enthusiasm was for nothing. WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO PEOPLE YOU CARE ABOUT?
Imagine you’re having an awful day, so to try and treat yourself, you make a special trip to your favorite restaurant. The first thing the staff tells you is they’re closing forever tomorrow. BUMMER, right? Dejected, you order your favorite dish, perhaps for the last time, and instead they bring you a reheated, half-eaten hamburger from McDonald’s. Bewildered, you demand to know what happened to your meal, and they eagerly give you a coupon to their NEW restaurant which is going to be EVEN BETTER than this one and CLOSER to where you live and YOU’RE the special guest of honor! Wow! Maybe this day is turning around after all.
Then they start laughing at you. And when you get angry, they tell you to take life less seriously.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’m leaving much of a tip.
What’s the key problem here? Breaking of trust and a lack of respect for your work and your readers. Which brings us to why this kind of crap hurts the industry too.
Yes, it’s (debatabley) a joke (not a very funny one, but apparently we have low standards) and most people don’t take them seriously. They groan, roll their eyes, and come back again later. However, every prank like this feeds the very stereotypes that webcomics rail against for the other 364 days of the year.
Webcomis are unreliable.
Webcomics are poor quality.
Webcomics never follow through.
WHY ARE WE REINFORCING THESE STEREOTYPES??? Why are we wasting our time and our reader’s time, and simultaneously reminding them that they can’t trust us, can’t rely on us, can’t expect us to be very good?? I don’t care that it’s “just for fun” – the only real joke here is that in the long run it is at YOUR EXPENSE! Little messages matter. They have a long-term impact. And once trust is broken, once your readers think you don’t care about them, that can be incredibly hard to heal.
Nobody likes being laughed at. So for goodness sake, don’t laugh at the people that you’re asking to support you.