- Posted by Johanna on February 9, 2007 at 8:12 pm
- Category: Meta
I think that you do sound a bit ungrateful here at times, Johanna. I’ve often thought so.
Every comic is someone’s baby, and while review websites are not running orphanages, they have kinda offered to plug themselves into a “system” in “exchange” for free books, and there should be some level of a professional attitude/approach to it.
It must suck for a creator to visit this website and read you complain that you’re really behind on your such-a-pain-in-the-ass huge pile of unread free comics, or that the books s/he sent to you are being sold, no publicized help to them, to financially support yourself.
I can’t recall a time when you have ever expressed a joy at the free comics you’ve received.
He then goes on to argue for never accepting review copies.
I’m sorry he feels I’m often ungrateful (and, by implication, unprofessional). I try to avoid talking about these kinds of mechanics very often to avoid that kind of perception. I only remember one previous time I brought it up, and that was to say “sorry” to people whose books I wasn’t going to be able to cover, but perhaps I’ve mentioned it more than I recall.
I do appreciate many of the wonderful titles I’ve been exposed to, but it can be difficult to say so without creating more bad feelings. If I post “cool, I got these great free books”, it looks like bragging. If I say “hey, this book is terrific, and I’m really happy I got it for free”, then people don’t believe that it’s really a good read. Strangely, “this sucks even though I read it for free” doesn’t work the same way; that’s seen as a more valid review.
For more transparency, I have begun adding a brief line at the end of a review if the comic was complimentary, and I would hope that a glowing review of a free book would indicate how happy I was to have the chance to read it. In the bigger picture, I do want to get better at expressing excitement of all kinds. It’s easier for me to analyze problems and talk about alternatives than it is for me to express unrestrained enjoyment, and that’s something I’ve been working on.
To address another of his points, I’m sure creators are dismayed to hear a critic talking about not being likely to cover their work for whatever reason. I sympathize. If I didn’t want to upset creators, though, I couldn’t have done this for as long as I have. If someone’s put off by my bluntness, then I’m probably not the right site to review their book anyway.
I’ve toyed with trying his approach of taking nothing for free, but I’m afraid that would limit me too much, by only locking me into talking about things I’ve already decided to buy. I do appreciate the variety and diversity review copies offer… and with more book publishers moving into graphic novels, there’s a much more established system of review copies in place, with better understanding of the process on both sides.