Monday, May 10, 2010

Fan Service

[Editor's Note: I started this blog on Monday and had one hell of a week and didn't finish it until Friday. Gahhhh!]

Let's start this blog by saying I am sick. I am sick just over a month after the last time I was sick. So far this time it seems to be a bit tamer than the last. I am thankful for that because I have a lot of work to do. It's a bit ridiculous that I am sick again. I had a long streak of healthiness and it basically got shot to shit in the last two months. The bright side is it's tied to my terrible seasonal allergies, though, not something worse.

Moving on...

I've been running into a phenomenon lately that is extremely perplexing. People who have a fan-base and are unsatisfied with who or what their fan-base is. Does that make sense? I'll explain more with an example.

Let's say there is a rapper. He raps about cars, and bitches, and Lost (he's not a total stereotype). He builds an empire with a stable of millions of fans. One day he has a signing and gets to meet a ton of these people. He's expecting that all of his fans are like him: Physically fit and charismatic, nicely dressed, drives a nice car, has a gorgeous girl at their side or is a gorgeous girl, and likes Locke while despising Kate. But they're not.

Most of the time fans aren't like the thing their are fans of. Usually that's exactly why they like what they like. Star Wars fans aren't athletic monks. Simpsons fans don't do as good of a Homer impression as they think they do. Dave Chapelle fans aren't hilarious. Yet, lately I have heard from many a mouths that have something you could call a fan-base how disappointed they are. "Wow... he was kinda of a nerd." "She's the one that loves my comic... a little too much, if you know what I mean." No, I don't know what you mean, asshole. I don't know what it means to have someone express how much they like something I do and then feel hate that they like it.

You can't pick your fans. What you can do is be happy you have them. Be happy some kid from Kansas dresses up as your character or a girl in another country writes fan-fiction about them because there are a million other things out there vying for their attention. Instead of pouring their heart and soul into something someone else made they are putting hours and hours of work into something you made. They are honoring it, advertising it, expanding on it, and (most importantly) enjoying it. The point of all this creation is that people out there enjoy the work you do whether it be making art, music, movies, videogames, crafts, books, television, and that they experience something you wish to transfer to them. There are millions of people out there that would kill to have just one person reach back to them and say "this is awesome" and this condescending attitude is just throwing shit in all of their (fans and creators) faces.

Take it from someone who is a rabid fan of a specific set of things, you don't want to lose someone like that. The people who dress up, the people who show up to meet you, and the people who write you incessantly... Those are the people who make internet petitions to get your show back on the air, or buy every last thing you do, or lend their DVDs to a friend to get more people on board. They are the warriors-- the champions for your work. You don't even pay them.... they PAY YOU for this job... and they will fight long past when you've given up.

If you are in a position to receive something that might resemble a "fan," every fan you get, make sure you give them the respect they deserve. Because they gave it to you the moment they decided they like what you do.

Peace and carrots muthafuggas,


Thursday, May 6, 2010

From the Desk of Mr. Mike Henry


I love spam. It's like the obnoxious email version of the little engine that could. It just tries so hard to get your attention how could you not grow to love it. Who out there is clicking on these emails thinking "Y'know... I am entitled to this Ugandan Prince's millions" anyway? I guess that's just what our culture has become: A bunch of reality stars and free loaders. If I had to fit into one of those categories I would pick reality star. I think that in my own warped sense of reality I am operating at star level. That and I have too little money to have not spent it on something.

That's not really what I want to talk about today. I want to chat about the past. Not so much the past exactly as much as just a vague, fleeting, but powerful feeling of the past.

Every time the seasons change I get very wistful. The littlest things will instantly give me flashes of a time long passed that I am either longing for or just perplexed by. I think it's time for an example.

I was walking home from lunch the other day, listen to the Broadways, and staring at the ground. Just as I looked up (just to see where I was going) my vision framed a portion of the city that looked just like a part of Chicago. My brain suddenly raced through my mental Rolodex and came up with a time that my friends and I were walking down Clark on the way to a show at the Metro. I was instantly longing for that time.

One more.

I was playing SSFIV and a breeze came through the window just the way it would when I played Super Street Fighter II Turbo when I was 12. It was a perfect storm of breeze and game. I heard my dad mowing the lawn, my mom making something in the kitchen, and was waiting to go to Sleep Hollow pool (Yeah, I grew up in Sleepy Hollow.. What? What?!).

I realize that smells and sounds and other sensory events (Steven Seagal in Sensory Event: The Reckoning) can do this but these things don't usually trigger memories and longing this hardcore in me unless the seasons are shifting. If it's doing the summer-fall or the fall-winter transitions then I'm REALLY bad. It's an interesting thing because I really like it and really hate it at the same time. Sometimes it brings up specific memories that I may have forgotten or just something I want to recall. Other times it leaves me wanting for something I can't have.

I in no way want my life to be the life I once had. I love what I have going on. But, I think I'd like to warp back for a day or two. I don't want to live anything differently (no fading photos or righting wrongs) I just want to enjoy that time. As I get older I find myself feeling melancholy when thinking about things I have done, experienced, or been witness to - things specifically lost to time - that can't be shared with other people. There is a song by Less Than Jake that talks about something like this. The name escapes me now but it's about all their friends and favorite places that you (the mass version of you) will never experience and how they wish you could. What I feel is sort of along those lines.

What are other people going through? What kind of stories do they have? Do they hold up to mine? Are they as good as mine?

That's obviously a very self-centered line of questioning. There are a lot of people out there that have WAY better stories than me. But, that doesn't keep me from wanting to find a way to have them experience some of the cool shit I have seen/done/danced-with/high-fived/befriended.

I think that is ultimately where this wistfulness comes from. Things that are physically lost. Things that must rely on a weakening memory. Things that you want to keep in a time capsule, safe and fresh, for your friends, your kids, and your kids' kids to experience. That's why old people tell so many stories. They are longing for people to feel what they felt and to feel what they feel now when they look back.

Feeling a bit of this at 28 is not a good sign. When I'm 80 I'll just be a wreck mumbling about blogs and Deviant Art and Family Feud and... Actually Family Feud will most likely out live us all. It will just be cockroaches and Twinkies sitting around watching "The Feud".

"We asked 100 married cockroaches ... What's your family's favorite dish you make?"

"Uhh... I'm gonna have to say Twinkie."

"Good answer... good answer!"

"Show me Twinkie!"


I'm gonna go get some lunch. I didn't have time to proof-read this so thanks for making it this far.



Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Instead of Coming Up with a Title I am Going to Walk My Dog*

Well, would you look at that...

I have some commentors! I am sure it is overflow from Deviant Art but this means since I know people are watching now I have to watch what I say.

Ok, so I'm not actually going to do that. It would take more effort than I am willing to put into this. Now... for today: What should I talk about? I got it!

Super Street Fighter IV has been on my mind A LOT lately. Why? Well, because it just came out, because it's a new installment in one of my favorite series, because my friends are playing, because I have been enjoying the fan art I have done for it, because... the list is very long. But the main thing I have been thinking about in regards to ess ess eff for is how I will never be super good at it.

In an average day you don't have the opportunity to directly compare yourself to someone else. You may do it in regards to looks, fashion, or charisma, perhaps, but that is all subjective. It's not like people walk around with a number on their chest that can be measured against other people's... chest number (chumber?). In Street Fighter, there is. Or at least there is a constant measurement: You either kick someone's ass or get your ass kicked. Right there, for all to see, your entire worth with respect to the game.

I'm not bad at the game. I've been playing the series for most of my life so I am bound to have a natural ability for it. But some of these guys? Holy shit! Have you ever had a dream where you are trying to save someone and as you run towards them you aren't going anywhere, you yell but make no sound, and your friends turn into screaming Monchichi dolls? Ok, that last one may be specific to me, but the other stuff... surely you've experienced it. That's what I feel like when playing SSFIV against some of these people. I could have shortened that explanation by just saying "I feel retarded."

This all makes me realize how little time there is in life to get really good at multiple things (after typing that sentence I got distracted by WWTDD for like 20 minutes. What the hell is wrong with me?). Most of us struggle with getting confidence in one thing (like having a strong attention span!). For me, I think art is my one thing. I'm not, to use SFIV terms, in-de-structable when it comes to art, but when I sit down to a blank page I have confidence that I can do something interesting. I used to feel that way about Street Fighter. So, what would be the art equivalent of an ass beating? What would have to happen to an artist to make the next time they sit down to a blank sheet of tree skin a stressful situation?

Critique of the honest and blunt variety has a good chance at cutting the confidence of an artist in half. But in reality, the best artists understand the value of an honest critique and this would be viewed as informational and not detrimental. If an artist saw someone out-do them in a specific skill or subject matter is pretty similar to a versus situation in a fighting game. Since the perspective of the artist is all that matters, subjectivity is moot and this could very easily be seen as a loss in a win/loss manner. But again, if the artist is skilled in self-improvement, this loss may just be viewed as another learning opportunity. However, since a gamer could technically take the high-road and say "he really kicked my ass... Live and learn!" I am going to take the self-improvement aspect out of the picture.

We now have our set up: A spiteful artist that is pissed off and demoralized by another artist's ability to do something better. The next time this artist sits down to draw he/she will over think the anatomy, composition, maybe even the style of their sketch. At least in SSFIV your self-doubt lasts only a couple minutes. A drawing/painting can go on for hours. Imagine second guessing everything you do for 5 hours. That's not healthy for the ol' gray matter and takes a long time to shake. So, should I just take these losses as a learning opportunity? Or am I more like the casual artist that just wants to draw for fun but all the Shoto-clones won't let me? Does that metaphor work?

When it comes to Street Fighter I don't think I'll ever be on the level of Daigo Umehara but at least I am better than Ryan Hall (hahaha... eat it, nerd!). And I may not be the best artist but at least I am closer to a Sam Nielson than, say, a Ryan Hall (HA! Double-burn!). Then again... it's a lot easier to be blinded by an inflated sense of accomplishment in art than SSFIV. I think I just reduced my own confidence.

I'm gonna go draw fan art of Harry Potter as Ryu to get it back.*

Quick mention: Lost is back tonight. I will finally have a restful night again.

Peace and Carrots,


*Not a euphemism
**Never in a million years