Monday, February 1, 2010

i'm not talking about robotussin and no-doz

Homework time! I was asked to find links to three writer/author blogs that promote their work and set a consistent narrative. My choices take some liberties with that last item, but bear with me. It'll all make sense in just a minute.

But just in case you don't feel like reading my explanations, here are the links. In case we bring this blog up in class, we'll eat up less time this way. But if you do want to read them, click the "read more" link and feel free to slap me on the back and tell me what a wise and insightful young turk I am when you're done. Lie, if you must.

Jeff Somers
Warren Ellis

First up is Jeff Somers' blog - Jeff is the author of the Avery Cates series (The Electric Church, The Digital Plague, The Eternal Prison, and at least one more on the way), and puts out a paper 'zine called The Inner Swine. Jeff uses both Swine and his blog to promote his work and public appearances, talk shop about writing and other topical issues, and establish himself as a character, specifically that of a lazy, belligerent drunk under the stone thumb of his wife (who he affectionately calls The Duchess). Whether or not any of this is true, I can't say. But he is establishing a public voice, as many writers have done, to address his fans and critics alike.

Another writer who has done this is Warren Ellis. He was one of the first writers to use the Internet as a tool to promote his work, largely in comics, and his creative ideals. Ellis sees himself, if his work and public persona are any indication, as a gritty subculturalist a la Hunter S. Thompson, and his website often links to weird videos, music, and news items in keeping with his reputation. Again, his image - most likely an exaggeration of his actual personality - is developed and maintained to drum up interest in his work.

This might seem like hucksterism, and it kind of is, but it's worth noting that art has been sold on the artist's biography for a long time. Jackson Pollock's sales benefitted greatly from stories about how loopy the guy was, and writers like Thompson, Poe, and Wilde allowed rumors about their lives and personal habits to circulate and keep their names fresh in the minds of the public. Here in 2010, with easily accessible niche audiences, it only makes sense that writers would put these carny instincts to work for them.

On the other side of the coin, you have writers who stake out little cottage industries for themselves online, a terrific example of which is Wondermark. The brainchild of film editor David Malki!, Wondermark is a webcomic made from stock images of Victorian-era etchings and artwork, both from online archives and Malki!'s personal library. It is also a hub for other Malki! endeavors - a podcast, books (his Victorian novel parodies are quite funny), official Wondermark merch, bonus artwork, and short fiction. Malki! is such a digital Renaissance man that he can afford a lower-key, more accessible voice for connecting with fans, possibly because he's too tired after all that to adopt another one. He promotes personal appearances and such on his site too, but the bulk of it is spent detailing his creative work. And the comic strip, of course, which is hilarious and updates every Tuesday and Friday.

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