Tuesday, 13 March 2012

On Emotional Labor

Hey everybody,

 I want to take a brief break from throwing my artistic endeavours into your collective faces and discuss a concept I've been looking into lately. Now a few weeks ago I was introduced to this podcast featuring an interview by Mr. Seth Godin in which he discusses the emerging social media hub that is web 2.0 and how somebody can go about making an impact in such an environment. One of the main concepts Godin outlines in the podcast is the idea of "Emotional Labor" which is what I really want to talk about today.

Emotional labor is, at its core, the idea of reaching out to others within the digital environment. About doing something others are either incapable or unwilling to do and about making oneself an expert in one's field. The question behind emotional labor is "What am I offering others?". To better illustrate this concept I'm going to take a quick look at three comic creators who have made a name for themselves online by going above and beyond the role of simple comic creators to instead offer their own expertise within the world of comics...

Now the first person I'd like to talk about is someone who should be familiar to anyone who's interested in comic books: Scott McCloud

Scott originally made his mark on the comic world with his light-hearted, retro-futurist comic series Zot!  back in the 1980s but it wasn't until the publication of his groundbreaking graphic novel Understanding Comics that he would truly achieve recognition from the larger comics community. You see Scott McCloud has established himself not as a comics creator, but rather as a theorist on the medium of comics itself something that no one had attempted since Wil Eisner.

Now all this is well and good but we're not here to talk about admirable comics creators but rather emotional laborers which leads us into Mr McCloud and his presence on the web. You see Mr McCloud has een heavily involved in the opportunities that the internet offers to comics creators since near the internet's inception and has established himself as one of the most authoritative and professional voices of comics on the web. His website, http://scottmccloud.com/, has evolved over the decades from a small personal blog nto a veritable hub for comickers on the internet.

But it wasn't his own work as a comic artist that attracted so many followers (McCloud himself hasn't released a new published comic of his own in almost a decade). No, the real thing that has drawn so many people to McCloud isn't the work he's published but rather the work he does to promote other people within the industry: The vast majority of articles on his website consist of Scott's commentary and analysis of various events and works within the comic industry as well as advice for aspiring comic creators

Next up is Canadian web comic author Ryan North. Now Mr. North's main claim to fame is that he is the creator of the webcomic Daily Dinosaur Comics; a fixed art comic detailing the philosophical discussions of three dinosaurs that has over 2,000 instalments under its belt. But it's not his comic that has made North such a well known figure within the web comics world ut rather his networking abilities and, more importantly, the technical contributions he's made the medium.

North's two biggest and most famous creations are the web comic search engine Oh No Robot : A search engine servicing almost 2000 different web comics allowing one to search through transcripts of individual comics. Ryan's other major contribution is the web comic specific advertising service Project Wonderful an advertising service originally intended for web comic creators that has since branched out into other fields.

The final person I'd like to talk about is Jeffery Rowland, creator of the web comics Overcompensating (A wildly embellished journal comic) and Wigu. Like North, Rowland has achieved fame in the webcomics world less for the comics he creates and more the services he offers to other web comic creators: Rowland is the owner and operator of the web comic merchandising company Topatoco which offers merchandising and distribution services for over 25 web comics. Rowland has made his mark not through his own comic endeavors alone but by the work he's done to help his fellow artists in the promotion and distribution of their own work.

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