Monday, October 12, 2009

Blog Comment Etiquette

A bunch of cartoon fans actually getting along

a few people have suggested I put up a FAQ (whatever that is) about what this blog is for and what I expect in terms of behavior from commenters.

Well honestly 99.9% of the comments are fine with me and that's how many I post. I don't care, obviously, if people want to dissent and argue - to a point - as is evident from all the arguments in the comments.

However now and then I won't post a comment if it's really extreme or slanderous, so I thought I'd explain once for posterity just what kind of comments I'm not interesting in sharing with decent and mannered folk.

1) Extreme cursing:

I would ask you not to use the F word or even other foul language. It's rarely needed and you can get your points across without it. I've slipped a couple times myself and will avoid it from now on. I don't want the kids who are learning to draw from the Preston Blair books to be banned by their God-Fearing Parents. Really, any unnecessary cursing I would avoid. You may have already lost an otherwise good comment just because of an unfortunate word.

2) Long-winded comments:

Some folks like to post 1,000 word diatribes - sometimes without even a paragraph break. It's easy to make paragraphs, but if your post goes on for an interminable amount of scrolling, it's not fair to other posters or readers of comments.Usually it turns them away from the whole list of other people's comments and kills the thread. suggestion is - if you really want to write a long long post (or 4 in a row) why not write a really good teaser paragraph to draw interest to your subject, and then post a link to your own blog for the rest of your story. Then you will also get the benefit of all the other folks who want to really get into your detailed subject with you.

3) Argument for argument sake:

There are a couple of commenters who just instantly take the opposite position of anybody else's statement and then go on to argue about it for no other reason. If I say black, Debate genius says white. If I say white, then it's black. Then they argue about who knows the correct way to argue and who is an expert at reasoning until the original point of what was being argued is lost. This is of course an internet staple. Almost every thread on every site has long long circles of people yelling at each other about who is the best debater. I usually let these comments go by and just roll my eyes, but if the pest is persistent, then I get tired of it and just reject the string of redundant circular arguments. No one wants to read that stuff except the pest who posts it.

I remember pointing out that someone who doesn't draw but says he thinks visually can never prove it - without getting an artist to dig it out of his head, but that wasn't good enough, so he kept coming back with no way to prove his point except to say trust him, he sees pictures in his head.

4) Psychotic Rage:

There are obviously a handful of pure mental cases who use this and other blogs just to vent their rage against any and all comers. One has even admitted being in and out of mental hospitals and then goes on to blame the people who disagree with his screaming for picking on him just when they let him out. Yeesh. What am I supposed to do with that kind of stuff?

5) Those who can't do telling those who can that they are bums:

There is a small handful of wanna be artists who can barely scrawl a stick figure who get on and yell at top professionals present and past and pronounce with complete certainty who is good at what and who isn't - as if it's a fact. I say, if you are gonna criticize someone with actual skill and talent, you better be able to back it up with your own drawings and considerable experience in performing the same or similar tasks, so you know what you are talking about. Post a link to your own drawings and I'll make a post featuring your work and your criticism of someone who has achieved something amazing.

I'm all for arguments between skilled pros. For example, Pete Emslie and I might argue about the contrasting merits between Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons. We back up our arguments not only with our reasons, but a lot of experience doing our own work and teaching others.

It's OK to like one style over another, no matter whether you are a pro or haven't a talented bone in your body - and to freely say so. That's not the same thing as yelling with fury at respected artists with absolute certainty that masters are overrated or bums. I've seen this kind of outrageous stuff said about such giants as Rod Scribner, Grim Natwick, Ollie Johnston and many more people and I have no tolerance for that - and neither should anybody else.

6) People Who Try To Start Fights Just For Laughs

There are a couple psychos who are huge fans and collect all kinds of Spumco art who have nothing better to do than to try to revive long dead feuds between people who made some of their favorite cartoons. I have zero tolerance for that. To these people I say, take your pills, see your Dr. and go back to your hospital for treatment.

This kind of thing does nothing positive. Most of the artists they admire (and hate at the same time) are doing their best to try to make more cartoons in the style that these obsessed fans love. Trying to do good in a business that does nothing but offer obstacles in the way of making cartoons like Ren and Stimpy, Cow and Chicken, Dexter, etc.

7) Harassers and Stalkers

One has been caught by the cops so far. 2 more are being closed in on.

What this blog is for:

I've stated this a few times, but now I think I will remind people.

It's not to convince the world that there is only one kind of cartoon - my kind. I have no problem with there being room for unfunny flat cartoons, sentimental CG cartoons, retreads of Disney formula features, non-cartoony prime time cartoons and whatever other genres exist in animation.

For people who like any of those genres, there are tons of blogs and sites where you can go and talk or argue about who's the best arguer.

All I want to see happen is to have our business make at least a small place where cartoony cartoons can exist and flourish. There is no place at all right now, yet pure cartoons are what founded the whole business in the first place and made it the newest and most popular art of the 20th century.

We have been completely kicked out of the world our ancestors created. Is that fair? Is it too much to ask to have at least 10% of our business back?

Everything I have ever done in cartoons has been with that goal in mind - to make a place where cartoonists can be cartoonists and invent entertainment that can only happen in the magical creative world of cartooning.

I created characters in the 80s that completely went against everything everyone else was doing and 9 years later beat the unbeatable odds and finally sold Ren and Stimpy - then had to create a system from scratch that would allow cartoonists to do something they had never been allowed to do before and to constantly be encouraged to improve at it. I graciously invited lots of other cartoonists to jump in and take advantage of the whole setup I had put together and for awhile it changed the business and proved that regular people in the audience liked cartoony cartoons again. This led to a big boom in the TV business and for a few years cartoonists had it better than they had had it in 30 or 40 years.

But in the last few years that momentum has declined and cartoony cartoons - well drawn and acted ones have again all but vanished.

So in the meantime I have created this blog with the purpose of slowly building up an encyclopedia of cartoony techniques, clips of great cartoons, samples of great comic artists and illustrators. All for free with the hope that a few other like minded cartoonists and fans who miss the old qualities could learn about them on their own with the aid of my trial and error experiences and the introduction to tons of great cartoonists they might never have heard of.

Am I biased? Sure, but not as biased as most sites. I promote a ton of different cartoon styles:

My theory is, this could give the industry a chance again in the future because there might be enough really good funny cartoonists who can bring back what the readers of this blog enjoy about classic cartoons.

Would I rather be making lots of cartoons and keeping my mouth shut and not stirring up controversy? Sure. But since no one has encouraged it who is in a position to, in the meantime I'll give away information about how you can do it if you ever get a chance.

Maybe I'll even be able to take advantage of it before I kick off.


I started the private cartoon college blog for the first few artists that have really shown interest, talent, hard work and dedication. Those artists are improving with leaps and bounds and I'm sure they'll be happy to tell you so.

So with all this boring verbal crap, I'm letting everyone know that I welcome comments and even dissent and argument; I don't believe in "censorship" - but rudeness, psychosis, 3rd hand gossip and attacks intended to tear down honest attempts at bringing back cartoons are not going to be welcomed. Obviously.

If you love old cartoons and cartoony stuff, I would expect you to support this and all the other blogs and cartoonists who actually put their money where their mouths are.

Most of you do and I thank you for it.

This is about cartoons and that's what we share an interest in. So let's stick to it. If not, maybe I'll make the whole blog by invite only.