Seven years ago, I decided to post online some pages of a comic I'd been working on, mostly just to get some reaction and some feedback. I didn't take it all that seriously to start, and I was curious then how long I would last at this silly little webcomic idea. More than a thousand pages, more than four volumes, dozens of chapters, two schedule changes, a calamitous crowdfund saga that cost more money than it raised, one or two depressed breakdowns on top of a perpetual motion confidence crisis, many miles worth of pencils and miles more of ink, a shift into colour, a giant leap of skill, a marriage to one of my readers, and a respectable number of touched and changed lives later, here we are, almost halfway through the series.
I can't say enough thank yous to our readers, both the ones who've left us and the ones who keep dragging themselves back. To those of you who've thrown your money at us, whether in our crises, or for our wares, or simply to say thank you for pumping out the pages. To the supporters who do their best to spread the word and bring this work to new eyes. To the critiques who helped me improve and to the complainers who kept me focused on what I was doing right. To those who took the time to send emails, and so much to those who shared their own very personal stories, your faith in me has touched me so much.
I am sorry for the things I have done wrong, and the things I have yet to do wrong, though I may not always realize that I have done them. I hope you will all forgive me for taking a moment to be proud of these accomplishments, self-serving as they may be, before I plunge into the next seven years and try to drive this bus home.
Gibson Twist, Feb 2014
PS, To celebrate our seventh year online, we're offering 40% off Pictures of You books in our store. Shipping not included. Go to http://livenudecomics.storenvy.com and use the code ANNIVERSARY to take advantage of the discount.
posted by Gibson Twist @ 03 Feb 2014 08:40 pm -
Comments are closed.
It wasn't an easy decision, and in total honesty one I'd rather not make, but comments on the comic have been disabled. A lot of you aren't going to like this. I don't like it either, the comments have been a source of inspiration and purpose for me more times than I could remember. It is, however, necessary.
This isn't the result of the comments during Book Four alone, but the comments during Book Four are indicative of the reasons that this change is needed. In fact, the decision to disable comments at the outset of Book Five was made almost three years ago. Why? Well, a long list of things led to this, but the original reason is still the biggest.
I'll try here not to spoil, but to explain. Much of the subject matter in the coming books of Pictures of You will be highly touchy, controversial, and deeply polarizing, far more than has been seen in the pages so far. It's become clearer over time, especially over the last year, that it will be impossible to stop some people from espousing hateful and hyperbolic opinions, in varying degrees, in the comments section, even from those with whom I agree in principle. In short, the internet has come to Pictures of You.
While, yes, it is unfair to penalize the majority of reasonable readers, it's also more than I can handle, for time-management and mental stability, to police the comments for such things. I can't explain the drag on my will it was to dread each comment for months, fearing what it would be. They were not all bad, and the encouragement and praise was there in abundance, and I don't mean to diminish that. Still, the praise for me is not worth the ugliness that was and will be expressed against and about others.
I should also mention that the impressions expressed in the comments about the story, malignant and benign, have coloured the impressions for other readers, and have indeed created some confusion about those events playing out on the pages. I saw some comments inventing plot points that didn't exist, others erasing points that did exist, and a handful of folks believing those errors. It's a long roll-out for these stories, details get forgotten over weeks and months, and I get that. I would rather, however, that those gaps not be filled by the false recollections of others. That will only connect the wrong dots. This may be a minor reason, but it's there.
Of course, there has been the suggestion of starting a forum. While I'm not against a fan-run forum, I don't have the time (or, really, the brain-space) to run a forum myself, which would almost certainly require even more effort and policing than the on-site comments.
While I'd rather not have to take this step, I don't believe the ability to comment on the pages is necessary to enjoy or appreciate the story of Pictures of You, as it does not affect the experience of reading a printed comic. I know some feel differently, and they should feel free to have the comment option on their sites.
There are still many ways to send your thoughts to me, via email, Facecult, and the Tweety, links to which are found easily on the site (as long as you turn off your adblocker, which you should do anyway because I make money that way.) I love getting emails, even the ones telling me how crap my work is. More often than not, I'll even write you back, but try to keep the dick pics to a minimum.
posted by Gibson Twist @ 09 Aug 2013 04:51 am -
The State of the Union
This is not directed at everyone, though I hope everyone can take something away from it. This is not directed at any one person in particular, but at a range of confounding and dismaying opinions expressed within the comments of Pictures of You. I love my readers, I am humbled by the dedication shown by so many of you, and I'm honoured that so many relate to these characters as they would do real people living real lives. Saying that, I cannot continue to be quiet in the face of a mindset that I feel is deeply, deeply wrong, a mindset that I want little more than to see changed in the world. I'm a big fan of Gandhi, you see.
I've avoided voicing a lot of my thoughts on the comments throughout this book. I didn't want to guide the reader through the story or colour interpretation of the audience. But now, whatever, fuck it. This isn't even about how people are interpreting the story, but their attitudes about men and women. I've grown fairly disgusted with the obvious thread of misogyny, and all this Stand By Your Man bullshit I've been reading over the last year has made me pretty nauseous.
My problem with the comments lately isn't, as has been suggested, that anyone has perceived Rick as being after Lauren, not whatsoever. It is the attacks on Lauren as being various levels of pernicious girlfriend because she refused to let men, underline men, dictate who her friends were, and sanctifying Sam as a done-wrong martyr who was completely reasonable in their eyes, even justifying an unprovoked fist fight because someone didn't say hi to him, and turning the blame for that back on her as well.
Rick is decried often for being rude to Lauren's boyfriend, though the rudeness shown to him by both Sam and Christo (in exactly the same manner in one case) goes overlooked, forgiven or edited in their minds. Some fine folks even went so far as to praise them for this rudeness from the very first chapter onward. Also overlooked, however, is the rudeness shown by Mulligan toward Lauren throughout the series, unchallenged by Sam at any point. I'm especially impressed by the notion that Lauren is a bad girlfriend for not disavowing Rick after he 'bad-mouths' Sam (despite her actually telling him to stop,) and that Sam is justified in his attack on that basis, but that Michelle's far tamer reaction to Mulligan trashing her friend is deemed by some as deplorable. The double-standard here should embarrass anyone guilty of it.
Lauren is berated endlessly for not respecting Sam's feelings, while no care is given in those comments that Sam is not respecting hers, not to mention that his feelings are unfounded jealousy and the perceived slight of being snubbed. Blame has been placed on her shoulders for Sam's reaction to stress, to his jealousy, for Christo's territorial behaviour, for not providing a full-throated indignation at the suggestion that a man who yelled at her may have abusive tendencies (check your local battered women's shelter for more information,) and even for not telling her already jealous boyfriend that the object of his jealousy may indeed have feelings for her. She's even been branded for being friends with a man at all.
Despite her protests to Sam that her feelings for Rick are purely platonic regardless of his, despite her announcement to Rick that she is in a committed relationship and her defense of her boyfriend in that same conversation, despite forgiving Sam for exploding at her, Lauren has become the focus of scorn, simply because she doesn't adhere to repressed hang-ups against platonic relationships. Even still, in the wake of Sam driving Lauren away, with her still professing only feelings of friendship toward Rick, her motives and her actions are still under scrutiny, she is still painted with infidelity.
Also, the frequent suggestion that Lauren led Rick on, despite affirming to him her devotion to Sam at least once, is repugnant. There's no shortage of comments that Lauren should have talked about nothing but her boyfriend and how she would never have sex with Rick, because the first and most important thing a woman should say about herself is whether a guy can fuck her. I'll point to Andy's encounter here http://picturesofyou.smackjeeves.com/comics/1488285/4-03-dont-forget-the-girl-8/ where a woman is clearly hitting on him and at no point does he mention that he has a girlfriend. Not a single admonishing comment from the audience there.
If the simple act of a woman not telling a man she isn't interested in him, and that is the flavour of many comments, equals in anyone's mind that she's leading him on, shame on that person. To think that the onus is on women to police men's affections, that a woman is responsible men's actions in this area is reprehensible. The further thought, as was ludicrously expressed in these comments as well, that a sexual assault resulting in Lauren's behaviour is absolutely horrifying. Beyond anything else said in the comments, that belief is the most putrid.
Add to all of this the erroneous claims that Lauren's friends have all warned her against Rick's intentions. It is ignored that Melanie expresses a fondness for him, that Kara offers nothing more than perspective, and that Michelle doesn't like either Rick or Sam, and advises Sam to back off. The opinions of these female characters are brushed aside or morphed into a condemnation that aligns with the male characters' views.
This all goes along with the shaming during this book of both Michelle and Vivian for daring to transgress their men. The stink of misogyny in the comments is difficult to miss, though miss it, many have and keep doing. It's becoming harder and harder for me to read the messages left on the site, and more to know that this is a characteristic of at least some of my readers, both men and women. I am sure there will come no end of offense and dissent that this is untrue, but I am unconvinced by those arguments.
I can't change anyone's points of view, no matter how much I would like to do, and to bring everyone on board, but I'm not going to pretend I find them acceptable, no more than I would with racism or homophobia. I'm not interested in providing free entertainment to have people expound their man-centric views about it, and less to have them whine about how terrible my writing is when it doesn't line up with the male power fantasy some readers clearly want it to be. That's my view and I'm entitled to it, as everyone else is entitled to believe I'm full of shit and am pushing a radical feminazi agenda.
This comic is not anyone's forum for bashing disobedient women, and I'm well-done with letting it continue. This is not to say that the women in this comic or in life are saints and do not behave badly or that their actions are above scrutiny, but the psychology here is that they are behaving badly by not acquiescing to the desires of the male characters, and are at times treated as worse for doing the same things men do.
I pride myself that the Pictures of You audience stands above the immaturity and regressive litter box that is most of the internet, but lately, that level has dipped. I'm not looking for a comment field filled with platitudes, and I reject the inevitable accusations that I am. This is not an issue of the quality of my writing or the perception of that quality. It is a sure statement on the efficacy of my work that people become embroiled in my work to react so viscerally to it. There are frequent criticisms against my ability here, and I don't speak out against them, and I will continue not to do. That's not what this is about.
I want to encourage discussion and debate, but the dialogue in the comments has grown hateful, and I've noticed if no one else has that many previously frequent posters have stopped commenting, while new ones have shown up every day to disparage the female characters and nothing more. I'm not okay with that, neither should anyone else be.
I'm not here to call anyone anything, and no one should feel the need nor the inclination to defend themselves. In fact, perhaps, in lieu of defending yourself, if indeed you feel these thoughts are aimed at you, take a moment and consider them instead of casting them aside. No one ever thinks bad things about themselves or their actions, but nobody is so perfect as to be above reproach. The world might be a little better if they did. I still pride myself on having the finest audience in webcomics, I just hope we can all start acting like it again.
posted by Gibson Twist @ 08 Apr 2013 05:54 am -