PR: What Not to Do: Insulting Those You Want to Help You

Note to aspiring web writers: if you want me to mention your website, especially with a link, then don’t be an ass. I got a press release from someone who will go unnamed who thought the following approaches were the right way to go:

1. Making outrageous claims. We’re “one of the only, if not the only, dedicated graphic novel review websites.”

2. Asking you to take too much on faith. The reviewer is anonymous, although claiming to be a professional reviewer and graphic novel creator. How are we supposed to trust him or her? How are we to evaluate their biases? Did they get published through someone or just through enough money around to call themselves “professional”? We can’t tell.

3. Having the wrong motives. The anonymity is “in order not to alienate potential employers, while also maintaining complete autonomy and impartiality.” That ordering is very telling, don’t you think? The first priority isn’t ticking off anyone who might hire them, which is completely the wrong approach for writing good, useful reviews.

Speaking of motives, the site was launched because when the reviewer’s own graphic novel was published, “I was very surprised to discover that there’s limited graphic novel review resources, online and in print.” Ah. You didn’t get coverage, so there must be a gap. Couldn’t be that your book didn’t look like it was worth talking about, could it? Dunno, we can’t judge because Anonymous refuses to say. Occam’s Razor suggests sour grapes, though.

4. Launching with too little content. Right now, the site (which uses a standard blog template, which looks unprofessional) has all of one review. And it’s of a superhero event collection, which calls into question just how Anonymous defines “graphic novels”, as well as his claim to be providing something different. Superhero story reviews are a glut on the net.

5. Insulting the competition. Oh, wait, it turns out that there *are* other review sites (see #1), only he thinks they suck. “What few online graphic novel reviews that exist are usually amateur and would never get within a millions miles of print.” It’s always funny when someone makes a stupid typo when calling other people amateur, isn’t it?

6. Thinking you can change the world. “Graphic novels are finally going to get the attention they deserve.” Whatever would they have done without you?

Now, given all this, why would I want to publicize their efforts? Especially since, with one review and no track record, it could easily fall apart in a month. If you want to be recognized, spend more time on doing the work than making claims to try and make yourself feel special.


  • Sidney Mellon returned at last?

  • Or Jess Lemon, in a younger generation.

  • Ed Sizemore

    I found the site. The first review is of the collected Secret Invasion comics? Wait a minute; didn’t s/he say in his press release he was distinguishing between comics and graphic novels? Maybe I’m being over analytical here, but if the intention is to give ‘true’ graphic novels their due, then why not review a ‘true’ graphic novel and not a collection. Why not start out with Blankets, To Hell, Dramacon, etc. You know something that was planned and published as a book length work. S/he uses the analogy that graphic novels are like DVD collections of TV shows. I would disagree; a graphic novel is like a movie. I felt this first review invalidated everything s/he claimed the site was supposed to represent.

    As far as the review itself goes, I’ve read better written, better structured, and significantly more insightful reviews on the internet. Can’t see where this review was that distinctive from the hundred of other reviews of the series. I might give her/him a couple more chances to dazzle me, but if the quality doesn’t pick up soon. I won’t be back.

  • Or Jess Lemon, in a younger generation.

    I have no idea who that is (to quote Temperance Brennan), but then I didn’t have an Internet connection for about five years.

  • I received the same e-mail and was thinking of writing a critical essay as well. You beat me to the punch. :)

    Now that I see yours, though, I realize the approach I had planned would have been flawed. I like how you blast the anonymous critic/creator without providing any link or publicity. Perfect.

  • Back in 2003, Heidi MacDonald, then writing for Comicon’s Pulse, started running savage reviews by a supposed intern new to comics named Jess Lemon. Only such a person never existed. Last month, Heidi explained: “Jess Lemon was a work of fiction, and I never ever said she was a real person. I said she wasn’t me or Jen, which is TRUE.”

    Don, I’m sure you would have done a better job. :)

  • Tom Spurgeon

    I don’t get it, I thought Jess Lemon was Douglas Wolk, not a fictional construct. Did Doug write those in character?

    I’m going to write all my reviews from now on as five different characters: Kevin the Intern, Captain Reviewer, Mr. Poodles, John Gielgud’s character from Arthur and John Gielgud’s character from Brideshead Revisited.

  • All at once? That’s quite a roundtable!

    I only have two reviewing personas: me, and me after a glass of wine.

  • Update: Apparently the poor reaction had an effect. There have been no other reviews posted at the site since the first one.

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