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On what to snark, and why to snark.

I get a lot of mail these days, which honestly is very nice. I hear from people who like what I'm doing and I hear from people who don't like what I'm doing. I hear from wonderful people and I hear from Assholes. Some of the mail I get has me staring and saying [Name withheld to prevent lame namedropping] wrote to me? He/she/they/it/other read something I wrote?" Other of the mail has me staring and saying "how does someone with no command of the English language manage to fill out a request for a Yahoo mail account in the first place?" Some mail is insightful, some is sophomoric, and I love all of it.

A nontrivial amount of mail I get are requests to look at comic strips -- either by the creators or by fans of the strip. I really like that. Honestly. I can't swear I'll check these recommendations out quickly or snark on what I find if I do, but the world of webcomics is so tremendously large and involved, and the best way to find fresh goodness is to be led to it.

And then there are the other recommendations. The ones that, more or less, say "hey! You should snark about [name of webcomic withheld to protect the innocent]! It sucks! I love when you tear into crap!"

That, I don't need so much.

See, pretty much any webcomic that I stick with long enough to be able to snark reasonably about it is one I like. If I don't like it, I honestly don't care enough to put in the time and energy to develop an informed opinion. And, if it's not an informed opinion, I don't really want to slap it up here.

Yeah, I know -- it's "websnark." That makes it sound like I'm always going to say nasty things. Except I don't think a snarky sense of humor precludes writing about stuff you like. This isn't a site that reviews webcomics and gives out stars. (The closest thing I do is give out biscuits -- tasty, tasty biscuits -- but I don't give those for whole webcomics. I give those for individual strips that impress me. And they're not that serious as all that.) This is a critical site, but the criticism tradition I'm working in isn't reviews, it's art and literary criticism. I'm making points, and the stuff I comment on either illustrates that point or illustrates the absence of that point. Hopefully in an entertaining fashion.

Sure, I make a lot of references to strips I'm not as enamored about any more. I'm not as happy with User Friendly or It's Walky or Megatokyo as I once was, and I'm unashamed to say why... but I did like all three, terribly much. I invested some of myself into them because they pulled me in. Even if they had me and they lost me, there was a point where they had me, and that's why I care.

A good number of folks are following the stuff I snark to strips they haven't tried before. And that's fantastic. If you follow a link to a strip and enjoy it, I've done a good thing. Even if it's a strip I've lost my smile over. If I have to be a reviewer, I'd rather be a reviewer in the style of that Simpsons episode when Homer became a food critic. He loved food, he loved restaurants, he burbled happily about every place he went into, and all of Springfield prospered -- restaurants did a boom business and all of Springfield happily gained weight. It was only when the other critics pressured him to write only bad things that everything went south.

I respect reviewers. I respect bad reviews, but that's not my thing. If you want to read entertaining snarks about really bad popular culture, read Television Without Pity. It's hysterical and sarcastic and mean as Hell to shows they can't stand. And they pay their contributors, which is I expect why those contributors are willing to continue to watch television they loathe.

Me? I don't get paid for Websnark. In fact, I've spent a nontrivial amount of money to produce it, and I expect to spend more. I never expect to make more money than it costs, and I'm okay with that.

But I'm not okay with spending a large amount of time reading stuff I just don't enjoy. I won't swear I'll never do it -- if it illustrates a point I want to make, I'll use it -- but for the most part, I'd rather celebrate the stuff I enjoy.

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Comments

Yeah, the curse of a column name with an attitude. Every so often I get people asking me why I'm so positive in "Dave's Rants". I've stopped bothering to explain that I didn't mean that kind of rant. :/

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