May the Forcefulness Be With You
I've been fascinated to watch the unfolding of the “battle” between Disney's Lucasfilm and the fandom playing out over the past few months.
If you haven't been looking at the fallout, there's too much for me to cover here; I could easily do a month of newsposts inspired by the daily drama going on with this stuff!
In short, there was a lot of fan backlash after The Last Jedi, and the tactics of Lucasfilm to combat the backlash has been pretty astonishing, with the accusations of racism and sexism leveled at the audience who didn't like the movie. After the SOLO movie lost money at the box office, the vitriol has continued from both sides - again, the nasty accusations from Lucasfilm are the shocking part. It's just bad business!
Anyway, the comments I want to focus on are the insistence from the filmmakers that the next movie, and the franchise going forward, will NOT be affected at all by the criticisms and backlash of the fandom.
Please the Audience? Or please yourself?
This epic unraveling of Star Wars has made me think of is the choices that must be made between pleasing the fans/audiences and being true to a creative vision of one's own.
So again, the official line from the creatives at Star Wars has been that things will not change going forward, based on fan reactions.
I don't know if that's true; it may not be. But if it is, I personally think it's another catastrophic decision from the Lucasfilm kids. Especially since their business model of making blockbusters with mass appeal…well, it relies on pleasing as big a majority of people as possible!
What does this have to do with webcomics, dummy?
In our world of making and reading webcomics, things are different. Most are made by one or just a couple of creators, and are more of a niche thing, whether that niche fits thousands of people, or is just a niche of one: something you make for just yourself.
We don't have big advertising budgets or test audiences, and we don't have executives to answer to. We don't need to make a billion dollars to be considered a success. Our goals can be completely different - maybe we do it to improve our writing and art. Or we have an idea for a story or characters that appeal to us. Or we do it just to have fun, or express ourselves.
But even then, there is a spectrum between completely, rigidly never altering anything on the one end, and being way too flexible and even pandering on the other.
Do you do it for you? Or for readers?
For my part, I'm the biggest fan of the comics I write, but I'm definitely doing it to get a response from people. I want to see it being enjoyed by readers, and give a satisfying laugh or smile, or an emotional experience of some kind.
Has reader feedback or reviews impacted how you approach your comic?
Do you stay true to your plan or vision regardless of what anyone says? Do you change big things based on what readers want, or what you think they might want?
Or are you somewhere in between?
Have a good one,
Please Yourself? Or Please the Crowd?Banes at 12:00AM, July 5, 2018
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jerrie at 4:03PM, July 8, 2018
@Bravo1102... I'm a reader that's glad Sword of Kings is still going! its epic.
AmeliaP at 3:34PM, July 7, 2018
@bravo1102 Yeah! That's why we cheer you up to continue the Sword of Kings!
bravo1102 at 7:38AM, July 7, 2018
I do it for the reader because of their patience with my mistakes, generosity of praise and loyalty and having more faith in me than I have in myself. If I wasn't passionate about my work I never would have found them, and now they keep me going. Bless them and I thank them that they continue find my efforts worthy of their time because the times are many when I doubt that it is worthy of mine.
Dragonaur at 10:25AM, July 6, 2018
Comic's done for other people are soulless ghouls. Doomed to wander the earth with no more purpose than to be seen.
bravo1102 at 9:35AM, July 6, 2018
If I wrote to please myself I wouldn't be writing anything. It's all for the reader. And if they have an idea that inspires me, you bet I'll steal it.
Avart at 4:50PM, July 5, 2018
As always, Banes give us an excellent topic. I have a script (more or less) but as AmeliaP, I pay attention to my dear readers and pay attention to all the comments. That feedback is very important for me.
VinoMas at 3:56PM, July 5, 2018
This is such a constant in today's instagram / Facebook universe. Webcomics are not the same as a sexy photoshopped selfie but it has the same weight. If you work hard and post often and are always ignored, it can be soul crushing. Or if you don't care, then your work stands on it's own. I wish I didn't care.
AmeliaP at 11:24AM, July 5, 2018
"Do you stay true to your plan or vision regardless of what anyone says?" I pay attention to what people say because it can be a side symptom of a structural problem in the story. If a reader doesn't like some part of the story, it's okay. But when the reader doesn't UNDERSTAND some part of the story, now that's a problem.
AmeliaP at 11:22AM, July 5, 2018
@El Cid exposed it very well. Time is the most expensive commodity in the world, and the readers are giving up that to read our comics. Let's do the math. I expend 10 hours reading webcomic made by my creator peers in comics communities a week. 10 hours, for me, is more than a $500 exchange. However, what I'm learning when I'm reading your comics is priceless (yeah, my comments are usually silly, but I analyze your comic deeply. Don't trust this silly potato XD I'm REALLY paying attention to your projects.).
El Cid at 7:25AM, July 5, 2018
With webcomics in particular, it's an interesting dynamic because you're usually not getting paid. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because your readers aren't giving you any money, then you don't owe them anything and can just do whatever you want. You have to remember that even though they're not forfeiting money to read your comic, they are giving up some of their time, so if they're not getting anything out of it in return, they won't stick around.
El Cid at 7:23AM, July 5, 2018
The weird thing about the new Star Wars movies is that ostensibly the changes were made in order to broaden their appeal. However, their changes have also turned off a lot of people and watered down their product. That's the danger of compromise. It's good to take feedback and suggestions to heart; it can be a great way to improve your work, especially in areas where you have a blind spot. But you can't lose sight of what the "soul" of your work is, and let a committee completely dominate your creative decisions. Marginal improvements across broad areas of appeal won't make up for cannibalizing all the core strengths that give your work its identity and meaning.
IronHorseComics at 6:00AM, July 5, 2018
I'm somewhere in the middle, if what the fans want is something like world building then I'd be happy to do something. But if the fans want something to change the characters just because or to fill their PC/fetish quota then I'd be happy to say "hell no". But those are just a couple of scenarios I thought of really quickly. Disney and Lucasfilm are doing the exact wrong thing here, it's almost as if they're being run by Tommy Wiseau.
mks_monsters at 5:31AM, July 5, 2018
I think when it comes to good writing, it's a balance of both because art is the ultimate act of being yourself. That and if you hate what you're writing, you're most likely not going to make something good. Plus, like KAM said, you can't pleasure everyone, but nobody should attack anyone over it. Making a show or book you didn't like is not an offence.
KAM at 5:21AM, July 5, 2018
I think the stupidist thing is where the studio is attacking the fans for not liking what the filmmaker's did. You can't please everybody and sometimes a majority of people won't like it. Insulting the people who didn't like it does no one any good and just drives away more people. Did Hollywood stop teaching Public Relations 101?
KimLuster at 5:20AM, July 5, 2018
Banes and his great articles! Most of the good responses have been covered by other comments! I think Disney sorta fell prey to the same thing that lost the Election for the Democrats. As Ozone said, Disney most certainly did some sort of surveying and research into the public zeitgeist, but there's very prominent and, frankly, very loud groups that have made people think more of the U.S. populations wants certain things than really do. Further, many of those that don't want it that way have been verbally beaten into silence! But when it comes voting and viewing time...!! Anyway, I waaaay oversimplified it, but I do think it's a true phenomenon! Ultimately, we should make the story we want, and try to make it as good as possible. Audiences are more savvy than many think, and they know when they see catering to certain viewpoints in a piece of work!
Tantz_Aerine at 4:38AM, July 5, 2018
I absolutely want to get feedback from my audience for WM and BR. But the story is what it is, and I won't make big changes just to please my audience (or myself). Usually when my audience wants something very badly, I also want it so when I don't have it happen it's purely because the story (and the characters) act in such ways that it wouldn't be natural, it would feel forced. And though it's tough on both of us, I think my audience appreciates that. The hardest thing is when I know that what the audience wants is coming, but won't be for a few pages (or many pages) yet. It's extremely hard to not rush to that point and omit pages just to get there because I know my audience is gunning for it, and I don't want them to wait.
usedbooks at 4:07AM, July 5, 2018
Oh, and my small group of friends and the opinions of readers that I actually know also inspire/influence how frequently I include certain characters, "fan favorites." Heh. I have my own favorites too. They are often the same. Because of course the story is better when I'm enjoying it and my heart is in it. Reader reaction is incredibly motivating too. It's hard to work up my own energy when there are only crickets chirping at what I thought were clever plot developments.
usedbooks at 4:02AM, July 5, 2018
I'm my biggest fan, and I write for me. BUT... I also have a very small group of friends whose opinions I sometimes seek during the creation process. Or if not actively seeking, I simply talk about what direction I'm taking the story. I consider the reactions and sometimes take them to heart. Some key aspects of my story would have been very different had I gone with first drafts. (Without my sister, about half the cast would probably be dead. She also is a key force in moving relationship plotlines and wants all the happy endings.) I also script a few years in advance of my actual production, so I have a chance to put my own fresh eyes on it. A future version of me is often a valuable editor and advisor.
Ozoneocean at 3:12AM, July 5, 2018
Doing what fans want is great. There's nothing wrong with that at all. The Lucas and Disney approach is doing what they "Think" people want and THAT is the worst.
DeanZeeks at 2:45AM, July 5, 2018
I believe in do what you want That way you will be forcing yourself to creating a unique and iconic work If pursue to please your "fan" you'll end up recycling boring ideas
PaulEberhardt at 2:45AM, July 5, 2018
This said, I don't want to suggest that you shouldn't listen to your audience at all, because that's just as bad. Reader feedback is the best safeguard against becoming blind to the shortcomings of your work I know, plus getting different points of you adds to your creative process. The regular cast of my comic might look quite different without the comments I got (no squirrel, for instance, and considering how much I've enjoyed drawing it ever after that would have been quite a loss).
PaulEberhardt at 2:28AM, July 5, 2018
I think doing what YOU want is the only way - of course those whose very job depends on the profit it makes, i.e. employees of Lucasfilm, Disney, Dreamworks, Marvel, you name it, might see things a bit differently - but generally it's the only way, because there will always be someone in the audience who doesn't like what you're doing, no matter what you're doing. You can't cater for everyone and produce something interesting at the same time, and if you get bored with your own stuff in the process, so much the worse. Sometimes I get the impression that about 90% of Hollywood's - and especially Disney's - film output is produced that way. So if your comic doesn't happen to be the last thing that saves you from having to sleep under a bridge there's absolutely no need for you to follow their example.
Ozoneocean at 2:04AM, July 5, 2018
With comics you can do the same... Do what YOU want (the original films), do what they THINK your audience wants (Lucas prequels), or do exactly want a chosen selection of your audience wants and what experts say you should do (Disney).
Ozoneocean at 2:02AM, July 5, 2018
And now the Disney films. Despite the rhetoric of doing what they want "despite fans" they're a multi-billion dollar company they ONLY care about pleasing audiences. It's their reason for existence. You know that all those plots and character choices were arrived at after talking to many focus groups and doing studies. Oh they ARE trying to please people. Their movies would look AMAZINGLY different if they weren't. It's just that they don't think vocal fans count as much as focus groups.
Ozoneocean at 1:52AM, July 5, 2018
Cut to the solely Lucas Led "prequels". Gone was the consultation, replaced by the control of just one man. The films were a boring derivation of JUST the first movies and Lucas trying to do what HE thought made the first films popular with people.