Alter Ego

It’s not long after 6am and my son is snoring loudly beside me. He got up in the early hours thanks to a cough and couldn’t get back over till now. So I’m awake and looking at WordPress, because apparently I now live and die on site stats, and I see a stat that amazes me.

A post I wrote on basic income is clocking in at 243 views. In the grand blogging scheme of things that’s nothing. 243 is what a kid on Instagram
gets of their morning coffee. (it’s pumpkin spice. #pumpkin #fall #blessed etc). For me though, that’s probably the most eyes I’ve ever had on anything I’ve written.

In the indie comics scene I did print runs of 50 or 100, which usually sold out. While I’ve shifted more than 243 units in my time, there was likely a great deal of crossover in buyers. 250+ units was probably about 100 actual people buying issue one and two etc. But this post is individuals and it’s global and cost me absolutely nothing while making those comics I loved so much cost into the thousand pound range. The conclusion is clear. If you want a big audience, use the internet. A shame then that the peak of my internet powers is scheduling a blog update.

The audience reach implications are actually only at the back of my mind. What’s really been niggling at me is how easy it would be to play to the crowd. To chase the stats, the likes, the comments. Superhero comics practically do this as a business model. Kill character X, bring them back heroically 18 months later, watch the fanbase collectively lose it. And if you can have one good guy beat up another? You’re making it rain. And that’s why, with a few exceptions, superhero comics aren’t very good right now.

Before I started the writing blog stuff I toyed with various ideas, including one on why I wanted to write at all, which is a question every writer has asked themselves at one point or another. I’d like to think that no one’s answer is “so I can say the popular thing and tell people what they want to hear”.  That kind of utilitarian content philosophy is worthless to art and useful discourse. I write because I love to do it, because it might be my only talent and because I’m a good day I might say something worth saying.

If one day I stumble into an opinion that resonates with people and gets me those sweet sweet WordPress stats or comic sales then that’s amazing, but from the days of writing power rangers fanfic as an 8 year old I think I knew I’d just be writing anyway.

But please, keep reading.

(Update: Nano, not going well. I’m not cut up about it, been busy, but it rankles. Getting the comics itch again too…)