Xenophiles as a customer base

Cameron provides this link to a note on the comics business , bemoaning the loss of quality on the comics pages of the newspapers. In my optimistic times I think that this is just a symptom of the paper dinosaurs. At the last SF Book Fair, Keith Knight, author of The K Chronicles , was proudly displaying a rejection letter that started out in the usual way, then, in 36 point type, said "In a family newspaper? Are you nuts???". So until we xenophiles become a target audience, newspapers will be running Lucy pulling away that darned football for the gazillionth time.

On the other hand, I'm not sure that we are a customer base. I'm not a mass-market consumer, and even at both ends of the income spectrum most of my friends aren't either. The regular media outlets I expose myself to are either labors of love, or turning to other demographics and/or selling tote bags and other trinkets to stay afloat . My local merchants shun me by painting "no skating" on the sidewalks.

Recently someone left a Men's Journal or similar gender differentiated rip-off of Seventeen in the bathroom at work, and I glanced through. Lots of gadget fetish, $3.5k fully suspended mountain bikes for the city dweller who rides through the park on weekends to pick up chicks, $750 jackets that make you look vaguely like you've been picking cans out of dumpsters, that sort of thing.

You can't buy into the future. Or, once you can it's not the future. The future is created by people with passions working on relative shoestring budgets, cobbling together old hardware to do new things. We don't do it because it's "in" or profitable, we do it because we want to change things, and continue even though we realize that the ideas we participate in will be perveted to build a society we didn't want (for instance, had I known how the web was gonna turn out, I might not have put my efforts into starting an ISP when I did, but that's water over the dam).

So I guess the best I can do is to keep striving, and supporting the others who are. If I'm going to spend $3.5k on something frivolous, I can make sure it's supporting an artist whose work I believe in rather than advertising my genital deficiency anxiety.

And keeping up with the cool comics even though they don't run in my local Gannett propaganda source.

Wednesday, January 06th, 1999 danlyke@flutterby.com