Is Comics Journalism Dead

Top 5 Articles from PipelineComics: Year One

PipelineComics.com turned a year old a few weeks back.

I didn’t have the right settings turned on for most of the first month to count hits.  The totals I have from the last 11 months fairly represent the traffic this site has seen in its first year, in total, though.wwss

I’m leaving off the first “Welcome to PipelineComics” post from the list, and getting to the non-meta stuff. First posts have an unfair advantage, and that page doesn’t get any hits anymore.  It got all the hits up front.

Here, then, are the Five Most Read Articles from the First Year of PipelineComics.com

 

5. 14 Insightful Images from Francois Schuiten’s Process Video

Francois Schuiten inks another masterpiece

I’m happy to see this make the list.  After this, the second most popular BD-related article ranks at a lowly 14th.  There isn’t a BD review on the list until slot 20.  (We’ll talk more about that at the end.)

This is a post where I took a video showing Francois Schuiten at work and grabbed a few frames to provide commentary on the video. I haven’t done this style of article since, I don’t think.  Honestly, I haven’t found one as interesting.  Schuiten is such a singular talent.

I’ll keep my eyes open, though, as it seems to be the type of thing people like.

 

4. The Only Person Who Can Pop a Comic Book Artist

Artists at drafting tables

This article started as a reaction to a controversy of the day about how Marvel’s editor in chief thought it wasn’t possible anymore to pop a new artistic talent in this industry. There was “no apparatus,” completely missing the kind of apparatus that has helped in recent years to pop multiple talents: the internet and social media.

That news item of the day helped launch a post I had been working on for a while, without a proper focus. That is, how can a comic creator properly promote themselves in the modern day?  How can a creator use social media properly to boost their career?  The reality is, the big publishers aren’t going to do it for you.  You, as the creator, need to handle your own business and publicity.  Being a comic artist should be more than just bouncing from assignment to assignment, or you won’t last long.

This article is the lengthy result, and still stands up.

 

3. The Mystery of Jack Kirby’s 1960s Marvel Artwork

Fantastic Four by Jack Kirby

This one came from something Felix Lu mentioned on his original art podcast: Kirby’s original art for Marvel from the 1960s has disappeared from the auction houses and several on-line art dealers’ sites recently.  Why is that?

I put two and two together and came up with a theory. It hasn’t been proven out yet, but I’ve heard from a couple of people that I’m pretty close.

People are still pressing their lips together on the topic, giving up nothing. The art is still off the market. People who know play coy about it in public.

This article still gets hits on a nearly daily basis.  They add up.

 

2. Rob Liefeld Doesn’t Draw Feet! (Except When He Does)

Rob Liefeld Draws Feet

Thanks, Reddit.

This silly post, done purely for comedy, is a regular on Reddit message boards. Any time Liefeld’s name comes up there, someone in the comment thread links to this post and it’s suddenly the most popular post on this site for the day.

Never underestimate the power of Reddit.

I just wish more people understood the point of the post.  Those who link to it are usually repeating the same old saw about how Liefeld doesn’t ever draw feet. My post shows plenty of high profile examples where he does draw feet, and then points out how many “classic artists” don’t draw feet, either. Some big name artists go to great lengths to avoid them, but Liefeld gets the barbs for some reason.

It always amuses me to see people miss that point entirely.

 

1. The End of Big Comics Journalism

Is Comics Journalism Dead

It’s my first viral post.  CBR’s redesign hit on my last day of vacation last year.  When I got home that night, after a long drive, I sat down and wrote up some thoughts on the redesign. I used it as a springboard to point out that the big comic book websites don’t cover comics anymore.

It’s also another classic case where people miss the intent of the piece to argue something else entirely.  Suddenly, I was declaring the death of comics journalism.  I was completely missing blogs and small websites that do cover such things.

But that wasn’t my argument.  My argument is that the day of the “big comics website” is over.  They can’t sustain themselves.  They need to branch out to movies, video games, TV shows, Disney, animation, sci-fi, trading cards, NFL, board games, action figures, Funko, etc. to generate the hits to pay the bills.  Big Pop Culture Clickbait sites replace the Big Comics Websites.

This, of course, opens up a new market for a smaller website to come in and swoop up all those readers.  The fact that no such new site has shown up in recent years proves that the economics of it all is untenable.  Banner ads don’t pay the bills.  Counting on Patreon patrons to sustain it is unlikely, and not consistent enough to keep a site up.

You’ll continue to see glorified hobbyists like myself doing these kinds of things, but that’s as far as it can go.  I can’t afford to bring more people in, or redesign or reprogram this site to handle anything more. I certainly can’t quit my day job.

It’s both a weakness and a strength.  It keeps the site better focused, I think, and prevents even the temptation to expand coverage out for the sake of a few hits.

 

Lessons Learned

After the top 3 articles, the hit counts drop  off a cliff.  It’s a 4x difference between the #4 and #3 articles listed above. The Liefeld and Kirby pieces are neck and neck.  Both get hits on a daily basis, but the Liefeld one has occasional spikes more.  The difference between those two and the journalism piece is a good 50%.

The next 20 articles or so  with the most hits fall into two categories: Craft and Nostalgia.

Craft: Articles about lettering mistakes, how Jeff Smith spots blacks, how Erik Larsen draws,  etc.

Nostalgia: Image Zero, Image X Month, lots of the Image@25 articles,  90s magazine fan art, visiting Marvel’s offices in 2000, etc.

The very bottom of the list are all the Inktober articles.  I don’t think I’ll be doing Inktober this year, so you don’t have to worry about me wasting time on those posts again…  If I did go crazy and give it a try, I wouldn’t bother creating videos daily, that’s for sure.

 

Franco-Belgian “Hits”

The BD-focus of the site is not a hit-getter.  If my goal for this site was to build up a click machine, I’d be a huge failure right now. I spend all my time writing reviews of books that only a select few, by volume, read.

Thankfully, I’m playing a fairly long game with this site.

It’s a game of chicken, really.  Will people suddenly flock to BD albums and this website will be a leading authority on the topic? Or will I give up, swerve out of the way, and go back to just writing about more North American mainstream-friendly topics?

I’ll let you know in January, but my plan right now is to “deploy patience” and ride it out, one way or the other.  I’m having fun and building a library of reviews.  I wish I could write them faster, but I just haven’t figured out how to do that yet…

 

More to Come

This site will continue to evolve.

Half the point of this site was to only write articles under a thousand words.  That’s the sweet spot for me where I don’t get bogged down in editing and rewriting and trying hard to cover every last point.

I’ve failed to keep that word count down.

But, hey, that’s evolution.  If you had told me a year ago that I’d be spending a year writing up as many European albums as I could, I wouldn’t have believed you, either.

Things change, interests change, people change.

I don’t know what Year Two will bring, to be honest.  The European albums will continue to dominate, most likely, but I’m always open to whatever formats or topics I can think of.  (I mean, I’m doing a vlog, too, you know…)

Let’s check back in a year or so, shall we?

Thanks, as always, for stopping by and reading.  Do tell all your friends.  Please?

 

Support Pipeline through Patreon to bring the podcast back.

 

 

 

 

6 Comments

  • Craig Olsen August 23, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Augie, You keep writing them and I’ll keep reading them. I’m thankful for your dedication to an “all comics” news/opinion site. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Arcturus August 24, 2017 at 3:44 am

      I’m with you there, found some good reads I would otherwise not have found thanks to Augie

      Reply
      • Augie August 25, 2017 at 7:48 am

        That’s what I like to hear most. Thanks!

        Reply
    • Augie August 25, 2017 at 7:48 am

      Thanks, Craig! I have more to come soon! (Long John Silver today is particularly good, actually….)

      Reply
  • JC LEBOURDAIS August 25, 2017 at 3:22 am

    Yay Pipeline is doing its own listicles now lol

    Reply
    • Augie August 25, 2017 at 7:47 am

      “And you won’t believe #3!”

      To be fair, there are a few in the archives, too. Come to think of it, I have a “Listicle” category I need to check the box off for this one! Thanks for the reminder.

      Reply

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