There have been so many shocks and surprises and the internet just can’t be broken anymore. It’s become tougher, like when you tear a phone book into pieces and eventually it just won’t rip anymore. How do you tell who’s who and what’s what in this new world out there? Don’t worry. I’m here to comfort and guide. Welcome to the world outside B@N. Welcome to Meanwhile….
Today’s special guest is a little stuffed bull that’s captured the hearts and minds of the blogosphere. Please give a warm welcome to Bully of Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun!
What do you do besides blog? Do you have any other hobbies? Does a stuffed cow have a day job?
I’m a little stuffed bull and I’m six an’ a half years old: what don’t I do? Reading and writing about comic books is only the tip of the Bully iceberg. I enjoy cartoons, cold cereal, action figures, my kittycat Gus, Viewmaster, and having amazing adventures with my friends. I’m obsessed by pop music, British radio comedy, the silent movies of Buster Keaton, Apple Macintosh and iPod products, collecting and playing interesting board games, P. G. Wodehouse books, and the London Underground. Having only one hobby would make Bully a dully.
So, in many ways, my day job is to “have fun.” I don’t know why you all don’t do it. But, yes, I do pop frequently into the Manhattan book publishing and sales office where John (my best friend in the world) works. I especially enjoy riding the subway to the office in the morning and then back home again in the evening. In between I help out with book sales work by carrying fine, fine volumes back and forth in John’s office, stacking them up in artistic-looking piles that are attractive to the eye and enticing to the wallet. In the end sometimes that matters more than what’s in ‘em.
Did you ever use a pseudonym? I’ve heard that some guy name John is going around claiming he’s you…
Ah, yes, John. Whatta guy. He takes good care of me and gives me a shiny new dime every week for my allowance, which doesn’t go far towards buying comics, I’ll tell you that. I live with him and sometimes people say “Hey, is John your dad?” No! I’m a bull. He’s a person. Please note the diff’rence. I like to look on our very happy home something like Paddington and the Brown family: I live in a bucket on a shelf in his wonderful Brooklyn apartment and we have fantastic adventures together. He’s not my dad. Although sometimes our life is a little like The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. Without Mrs. Livingston. (Darn.)
As I mentioned, John works at a publishing company, so I’ve been around books all my life, and I can’t imagine a better world in which to live. I’d like to think I bring a different viewpoint to the mix: I love reading the comics retailer posts that Mike Sterling, and Scipio Garling are rightly famed for, but John’s taught me a lot about trade book publishing, sales and marketing in his bajillion years in the industry. The more I learn understand the trade and internet bookstore market, the more I wanna leap up and hoofslap Marvel in the face and tell them don’t drop the ball! Sigh.
Do people ever give you problems because of your background? Is it hard being the only stuffed animal in the blogosphere? It must be a big responsibility…
I’ve never hidden my identity as a little stuffed bull online, even in those early, anti-bovine days. “You’ve got to be human to blog in our club, cow!” they all sneered. “Go blog about cheese!” But a lot of work and persistence eventually paid off so now when someone uses the phrase “little stuffed bull comics blogger,” 16% of the blogosphere thinks of me.
So actually, now the only time it’s really hard to be a stuffed animal in the blogosphere is at San Diego Comic-Con. It gets really crowded there and I am often overlooked while underfoot. And oh, the cow puns. “I bet you found this comic book moooooving.” “You certainly milked that joke, Bully.” “That post was udderly ridiculous!”
Let’s move on to your work. What makes your blog unique? What do you bring to the game that no one else does?
I was gonna say cuteness and adorability, but gosh, have you seen the other bloggers? I can’t compete with them. Dorian Wright? Absolutely huggable. Kevin Church? He’s just got this twinkle in his eye that makes you giggle when he winks at you. And Sleestak? All I can say is, lucky, lucky Hayley Mills. Lucky Hayley Mills indeed.
Like a lot of other bloggers I readily admit that you can look back at my early entries and see me struggling to find a voice, trying to figger out what I wanted to write about. But I think it was serendipity that I wanted to make enthusiastic and positive comments at a time when there was an awful lot to complain about in comics: dark, dire, dramatic stories and big deadly crossovers. I was writing in an age of Blue Beetle brains and the Rolling Head of Pantha, and the timing was just right or a blog to be called “Comics Oughta Be Fun.”
And you know…I truly believe they are. My online approach is that of a little stuffed bull, button-eyed and mostly innocent, so I don’t (publicly) comment on some indies or comics intended for an older audience (wow, that comic wasn’t really about “Boys” after all, was it?), but at the same time I don’t necessarily feel comics must be an all-ages medium. Nor must they be all adult. Variety and surprise is good, and what I try to do is celebrate that, both in commentary of contemporary comics (even tho’ I review a relatively small number of current titles, mostly for economic reasons) and looking back on some of the comics of yesteryear, which provide a sense of wonder and delight even if they’re genuinely goofy and silly. In the end it’s a subjective view, and I understand there are many different tastes: if you like Civil War I don’t agree but I will support your right to defend and even love it. All I ask is that you enjoy what you read. If you don’t, why are you buying it? Don’t throw good money after bad. And you are the only person who knows what you think is bad.
What can a typical reader expect from your blog? Do you have any recurring features and are there any posts you’re particularly proud of?
What I try to give to the reader…heck, doesn’t every comic blogger?…is my love for the medium. Even if I’m posting a frustrated ramble like my recent rant at Marvel, it’s done out of love and care for the hobby. This can range from just a silly repostings of panels with Mystery Science Theater 3000-style commentary: “Hey, lookit that dingbat thing Hawkeye’s doing now! Hyuk hyuk!” to sometimes more involved and creative posts…gosh, I didn’t really spend four days watching and recounting the plot of an Avengers TV episode, did I?
My recurring Sunday feature “Ten of a Kind” started completely by accident as a comment on how many times Thor let somebody else grab his hammer: it was best explained using ten cover images. Then, ten more, because I didn’t get a chance to use all the ones I wanted. I thought, hey, that was fun, wasn’t it? So every Sunday I post ten comic book covers on a united theme. I’m know I’m not the only one who does that sort of post and I’m puzzled sometimes that mine kinda caught a zeitgeist wave, but I love doin’ ‘em. Oh, and why Sunday? So I can sleep later.
Posts I’m ‘specially proud of?
“Bully’s Fantastic Christmas,” my attempt to reproduce in prose the fun and joy of seasonal serial comic strips leading up to Christmas.
My “Civil War” post which made me tear up to write it. I didn’t make my political/current events statement as clear as I intended to (I shoulda added a contemporary newspaper front page prop to the photo), but people seemed to get it.
Towards the bottom of these reviews you’ll find a little bit of creative writing on a DC character’s fate that later got retconned. Despite that, I’m still pleased with the piece.
But most of all I loved doing the wordless “Colorforms”, which said in photos something that I really wanted to say and people seemed to agree needed saying: the simple concept that comics oughta be fun..
Do you see yourself as a role model? Do you have any advice for any other stuffed animals that might be thinking about blogging in the future?
Advice for other stuffed animals? First: evolve thumbs. Makes it easier coding HTML. Also, I highly recommend pants. Don’t leave yourself open to pesky lawsuits from the Disney Corporation.
I don’t think anybody on the internet oughta be your role model, not even that guy who dresses up as Peter Pan. If you find your own voice—whether it’s that of a little stuffed bull with button eyes full of wonder, or more obviously your own, and you write regularly and enthusiastically about what you care for—that’s where your joy in blogging should spring from. I started my blog on a side page on my website some time ago with zero readers except myself, but learning to use Blogger suddenly made it easier and more accessible, and going out in the blogosphere and making connections by reading blogs I enjoyed and whose ideas inspired and challenged me, and leaving comments on those blog…well, look, it’s all much better explained by Kevin and Laura and Mike, in three posts that should be gathered together into an instructional Comics Blogging 101 website.
I’ll add to the mix some little stuffed advice, the same advice I give for reading comics: have fun doing it. Be passionate about what you write and write about what you’re passionate for. It needn’t be comics and you shouldn’t worry about readers: long after I’ve forgotten the comics-related posts that got me a few links I’ll remember the joy and contentment I had in capturing a very wonderful London vacation on my blog: a couple weeks that got a few “get back to the comics” comments but which I wouldn’t have passed on sharing with the world for, uh…the world. The audience is less important than the delight of a well-turned phrase or the pride of seeing your own words on the internet. Your writing is its own reward. Blogging oughta be fun. And I’m havin’ a ball.
Johanna’s blog seems to the center of a lot of controversial subjects lately. Her first post in response to having too many free comics to review led to a response from NeilAlien in the comments. Then Johanna pulls the blog equivalent of bringing all of her friends to a debate by making her response to NeilAlien into another post on her blog. NeilAlien then responds on his blog wrapping the whole thing up in a neat little bow.
So… Should I start making up “I’m with NeilAlien” or “I’m with Johanna” banners?
Oh, I almost forgot the other bit of controversy that Johanna spotted. This post about the DC Anime Influenced toys seems to be bringing in a lot of comments against the figures. Me? I don’t see the figures as any worse than the actual comics DC publishes with these same characters.
Noted without comment, Dick Hates Your Blog. Right back ‘atcha, Dick!
Bully, who you all should know if you read this week’s interview, gives a summary of one of my favorite Michelinie era Spiderman subplots.
Chris Sims gives us all a little puzzle to solve instead of working tomorrow.
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez continues his Marketing Monday series, this time looking at 2 Simple Facts.
Plok explains why Civil War isn’t working. It all boils down to the difference between being a visionary and being a futurist.
I can get behind Scipio’s idea to list all the organizations in the DC Universe. I get confused myself and I’ve been reading for years.
Happy B-day to the Comic Treadmill crew. That’s a cool sketch.
Speaking of reviews. It’s nice to see Mr.Campbell talking about comics again.
Mark Fossen hits the nail on the head when talking about that new ComicMix thing. Hard to find RSS feeds (that won’t even work in IE7′s or my own feed reader btw) and horrible design means it’s a site I won’t be visiting regularly. It’s always better to hold things back than to launch an inferior product.
Jog reviews Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil #1.
Polite Scott has more than you’ll ever want to know about Skrulls and their physiology. Make sure to read the archived posts he points out.
In honor of Bully, lets end this column with a fun litte meme. Metrokitty took part in the Alternate Universe Tivo meme. My question to you is what Alternative Universe comics are you reading?