We were full of the pride of life, and chose, like prostitutes, to live by a pleasure. We should be paid, if we give the pleasure we pretend to give; but why should we be honoured? We are whores, some of us pretty whores, some of us not, but all whores: whores of the mind, selling to the public the amusements of our fireside as the whore sells the pleasures of her bed. – Robert Louis Stevenson
Elaine Flynn, a mystery author, recently said:
“We’re all whores. We want so desperately for people to read our work—and love us in return—that we will go just about anywhere, say just about anything, participate in just about any gimmick (contests, human auctions, dressing in character, standing outside a bookstore with a three-foot poster), and put up with all manner of inconvenience and insult. ”
One of my biggest pet peeves is when creators, whether they are artists, musicians or writers, complain and demand things from their audience. Now there are only very rare instances of this happening in most media, but in comics it seems every week there is some artist or writer harping on the very people who buy their work that they aren’t doing enough to make the creator’s life comfortable. Metallica pulled this shit with Napster, which was not made or created or funded by Metallica fans, but ultimately it was Metallica fans who pay the price (quite literally). I never again respected them as musicians because I felt it was horrible to go after the very people who helped make you rich and famous. Here are some of the ways they do that:
Raging against theft. Would I like it if people bought my books and used them as toilet paper? Or stole them online? Of course not. But I don’t have the right to dictate what they do with my work once they bought it. All I can do is find a rougher paper to print on so that perhaps they’ll find a better use for it. Now there are arguments to be made that theft is really the new media marketing, but let’s not go that route just yet. If you are being bootlegged, either your work is really popular, or it is part of a huge organization. In either situation you should have the means and resources to protect your work from piracy. If you don’t, then you can’t really do much and you aren’t going to guilt people away from free stuff. If you work for a major corporation, in the end they are the ones responsible for the loss of product and revenue. I’ve yet to meet anyone whose life actually took a turn for the worst after someone bootlegged their product. Please steal my work, it means you care.
The other way they harp on the audience is by judging the validity of the consumers “nerdiness”. This is a huge issue in cosplaying but in most industries the creators don’t dictate how people celebrate their work. In comics, however, the actual assembly line of artists who draw silly superheroes for major brands actually have the gall to tell a girl dressed as a superhero that they don’t know the character and aren’t “real fans”. Now, we can’t control what the audience does to each other, but can you think of anything more ridiculous than a forty year old artist demanding a teenage girl dressed as Batgirl recite the last fifty years of the characters history?
Only in comics, people. No musician would ever ask you if you have every album, they are glad you stayed for even one song. Actors don’t care what happens inside the theater because their job is just to get you in there.
The raw truth is that all artists, regardless of their chosen field, are whores. We trade our love for money, it is as simple as that. Once we do that, we don’t get to complain about the quality of the clients and the work they ask us to do; we knew getting into the business what was expected of us. It is not the responsibility of the ‘john’ not to give you a disease, it is YOUR job to protect yourself. If you don’t like the risks, if you don’t like the customers you work for, then go find another career that offers a sane, sensible and safe environment.
This next comment is specifically for the comic book industry specifically:
You are all whores, too. I’m really sorry that your pimps treat you so poorly, but blaming the people who still support your old, tired, ass isn’t going to help any. You guys draw men in tights for a living, all day, by choice. I can think of no better definition for the delights of the fireside than comics.
In the words of the legendary Tina Turner:
LET ME LOOSEN UP YOUR COLLAR
TELL ME DO YOU WANT TO SEE THE SHIMMY AGAIN?