Saturday, August 11, 2001


Finished the second draft of the whatever-it-is-I'm-doing-with-Avalon. Not quite ready to write the review of STRANGE LITTLE GIRLS I thought I'd write, having just got the whole thing, all 12 tracks in a final mixed version. Fascinating how the whole shape of the album changes with HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN on there; it's an eleven minute monster I want to hear a lot more times before I say anything sensible. But Raining Blood works much better now, following it. (It was never happy following I don't Like Mondays.)

Meanwhile, something I should have said something about here in this journal weeks ago -- is the website of Harper Collins e-books. All formats of e-book are supported here (although, confusingly, the 'chapter to go' facility, which turns up with any format you click on, is only for palm pilots), and it's where you'll find out all about the e-book versions of Stardust, Neverwhere, Smoke and Mirrors and American Gods. Although I couldn't find anything on the site about the various nifty add-ons and things they've done for each of the books. (American Gods, for example, has edited highlights of this journal pre-june on it, Neverwhere has a few interviews, while Smoke and Mirrors has a few extra stories in, just to drive bibliographers mad. I have no memory of what cool electronic extra Stardust has.)

Talking about electronic futures, there is a wonderful article on Salon at in which we learn that Scott McCloud's polemic about comics and the internet, Reinventing Comics is, according to Gary Groth (publisher of Fantagraphics) not just wrong, but dangerous agitprop. Gary read it late at night, and, then, in the morning...

Groth shared his grumbling with Spiegelman and Crumb, both of whom agreed that McCloud's predictions amounted to little more than half-baked evangelism masquerading as insight.

It doesn't say whether they'd read it or not, though. The implication from the article is that, over breakfast the next morning, Gary said "I read Reinventing Comics last night. This is dangerous agitprop," and Art Spiegelman said "Yeah?" and R. Crumb said "Is there any coffee over that end of the table?" and Gary said, "It's half-baked evangelism masquerading as insight, you know," and Messrs. Speigelman and Crumb said "Sure sounds like it, Gary," and "Yup. Can you pass the toast?"

I've had my share of arguments with Scott about Reinventing Comics and his passion for the web ("...of course, the downside is I can't sell original art any more, as there isn't any." "Well, why can't you republish the online Zot on paper?" "Ah, Neil, not only can I not republish online Zot on paper, but the resolution was poor enough that it won't even go to a better monitor...") and will undoubtedly have many more, but I can't imagine a world in which his ideas would actually be dangerous. (To whom? You try publishing comics on the web. Either you starve or you don't, or you do something else for money and you do the web comics for fun. You make good art or you make bad art. And your readership may well eventually wind up bigger than the paper equivalent. Inevitably, like a hundred million other people, you'll need to try and figure out whether and how to make money from the web, or whether what you do for money subsidises what you do on the web... But that's not dangerous. That's just life in 2001.)

And good evangelism -- which means, of course, spreading the good news -- should never be fully-baked, anyway, otherwise it gets stale quickly. It should be like those loaves of half-baked bread that you finish off in your oven at home. Half-baked evangelism is the best kind.

& so to bed.