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An Open Letter to Hecklers

Found at Flow Arts Institute - Redefining Heckling

Comedians have hecklers. So if you make a living in comedy, you get used to being heckled. That's just the price of entry to living your dream of being a professional comedian. Hecklers come in a variety of flavors; there's the drunk at the back of a standup audience, Encyclopedia Brown who thinks interrupting the show to discuss semantic minutiae is a helpful exercise (your sphincter is a muscle too!), there's the angry fan who needs to air his grievances mid-show goddamnit (because it's been four hours and you haven't responded to my email, Daniel Tosh!)

If you're lucky, you might even get the dude who gives out fruit, right up on the stage. I will say, his method of produce distribution is efficient! Someone should apply that method to fast food. You call your order ahead with a credit card and then you don't even have to stop. You just sail through the drive-through at twenty miles an hour with your window open and an employee chucks it at your face. What a time saver! And we really need that now, with the economy the way it is... between the four jobs you need to rent your efficiency, you've got about three minutes total to force some perishibles through your esophagus and get across town to your other job, chucking food at peoples faces through their car window.

It's the ciiiircle of hell! And it moves us aaaall!

Of course, the internet has its own set of hecklers and not all of them are out-and-out trolls. I know the conventional wisdom online is "don't read the comments", and even offline, lots of people tell you not to engage hecklers, to just ignore them and let them deflate on their own. I've also read some science articles showing that trolling in online comments really does ruin peoples' mood and alter their perception and behavior... so on the one hand, I've got plenty of reasons to just "don't read the comments." On the other hand, I guess I'm a massochist. (ba dum bum) No, seriously though, I love my fans and enjoy getting to know you. You should enjoy commenting on the Woohooligan site and sharing your jokes as well. So I read every comment here and on my social media, respond as much as I'm able, and while I don't always agree with commenters, I strive for authenticity and try to abide by Wheaton's Law ("don't be a dick").

A few days ago I published a comic about Batman. The first comment about it on the Woohooligan site was pretty harsh and not particularly constructive (although the anonymous commenter insisted it was), so with my autistic brain and my crippling social anxiety I worked out a light-hearted, gently-ribbing response. Unfortunately the message got lost in translation and Mr. Anonymous dug his heels in. After his second comment I thought about how to frame my response for about a day. Not like the whole day, I didn't obsess... okay, I obsessed, I always obsess about my work, but my brother-in-law was in town and I had other errands. So I only obsessed between other things. I considered several options.

  • I could ignore his comments and leave them on my site... apparently a bad move.
  • I could delete his comments... while the site is not a public forum, I'm a big believer in freedom of speech and I don't want Woohooligan to become an echo chamber. I only remove boner-pill ads and people who's only contribution is "you suck!" I enjoy conversation, even disagreements, I just don't provide a platform for deliberate moochers and trolls. (Now that I'm publishing this open letter, I'm deleting the comments from the comic for this reason.)
  • I could respond to his individual points calmly and directly, which seemed boring... Also, I don't think hecklers deserve that kind of coddling, especially if they're hiding behind anonymity.
  • I could "take the gloves off". I had two concerns about that, one being that it could be worse than deleting the comments. Also I thought some people might like my snark. Some people thrive on that sort of thing, but I don't want that reputation. That's not how I plan to earn my living.

I finally settled on using a story-joke format to reframe the conversation. I thought, "great! Not only can I address him in an indirect way (which might soften the blow with some playful ribbing), but I can write more comedy for everyone to enjoy! I caught the elusive win-win!" (An evolution of Wynaut.)

So I managed the situation nicely and the story-joke only took two hours to write. Within an hour or so my comment approval queue has a giant angry tirade in it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Normally the story would end here, but let's take it a little further. If Jon Stewart can take on his critics, so can I. To be honest I don't expect him to come back or read this response (so he said). It's possible I might even be giving him what he wants, but maybe my response will help someone else, and if not at least it will be funny and some other creators can enjoy a laugh and a bit of catharsis.

So here it is, enjoy. :)

Or skip to the best bits.

ANONYMOUS GUEST from Cheezburger.com

I realize this was meant for your patrons, so as a newcomer I might be missing some context, but this was kind of a mess. You have several jokes competing for attention and characters just showing up from nowhere with no discernible purpose.

People barging into Batman's cave playing Pokemon Go is a joke on its own. Superman getting sassy with Batman because his 'super secret base' is actually super easy to find with some basic logic is a joke on its own. The ghostbusters... well that was just a reference with no real joke at all. There could be one, but I'm not seeing it. Batman catching his dead dad with a poke ball was a strange choice, but it's kind of a joke. I can see how you decided to include those different references, but they're not integrated well into a cohesive comic. It just feels like a soulless amalgam of popular clickbait-y images thrown together to see what sticks.

I don't want to discourage you, but I think this kind of unfocused content would drive most discerning people away from your website. This could have easily been split into several smaller comics about people intruding in Batman's hideout for different reasons.

Those are just my thoughts on this.

(Sam: Note that the guy who's saying my content will drive most discerning people away, came from Cheezburger.com, that bastion of discerning tastes!)
SAM DEALEY

You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead — your next stop, the Twilight Zone!

Submitted for you approval: the case of one long-established comic tradition... Rapid-Fire Comedy.

See also: Leslie Nielsen

See Also: Space Balls

See Also: Robin Hood: Men In Tights

p.s. Holtzmann (the Ghostbuster) is in the 4th and 5th panels because of Thomas Wayne in the first and Ash Ketchum in the last panel.


ANONYMOUS

I get why the Ghostbuster is there. There is a loose connection between each image I'll grant you that, but there's just no real humor beyond the mere reference of a popular thing in loose association with another popular thing.

If you're intention was for the 'rapid fire' reveal of different characters to be the meat of the humor, you're not really making any of these appearances outlandish or jokey enough to emphasize that. Also, the examples you cited are films (and a film star). That's a completely different medium, one which can more easily control the delivery and pacing of a scene to make that kind of comedy pop. Here, I'm just working my way through a series of loosely connected images that all seem to have to do with whatever's popular right this second.

I guess beyond the technical layout of the comic, the real issue I have is that none of these references are really funny unless you think the reference alone is funny. That's what I meant when I said the jokes were competing for attention. You could've expanded on any of these to make a funny comic. But, and again its just my impression, by combining them into a rapid fire reference fest, it looks sloppy, clumsy and frankly click-baity. Maybe the bit would work better if it didn't start with Batman already doing something bizarre by catching his dad in a pokeball. If the first images were just Batman doing Batman stuff without the giant Yoshi (just because), the absurdity of the following panels might hit harder, I don't know. Something great about Leslie Nielsen's stock character in movies was that he played it completely straight and usually started whatever silly action looking as though he's going to do something mundane and expected. Then before you know it he's launching OJ's bed out the window. S'Great.

I realize you have an audience for this so I won't heckle you for your work or style, its just a reaction I felt looking through this and some other comics in your collection. I think you've got plenty of ability, it just feels like some of your pieces could be tightened up. I appreciate your positive good humored response though, and I wish you the best.


SAM

A priest, a rabbi, and a hipster walk into a bar. The bartender pours them all drinks for happy hour and they begin to talk.

Hipster: This joke is a soulless amalgam of clickbait, but I like what you've done with the place. (ba dum bum)

Bartender: What do you mean?

Hipster: I like the new pool table. I'm sure I won't believe what you do next. (ba dum bum)

Rabbi: I think he meant the other half, the "soulless clickbait" part.

Hipster: Oh you know, there's too many Pokemon in here, and why the hell is there a Ghostbuster trapping a Duskull over there?

Priest: I think the Duskull is a ghost-type pokemon, so I think she's busting it. (ba dum bum) It sucks, I used to be an exorcist... she's driving me out of business! (ba dum bum) Not to mention she's catching all the best Pokemon in here. (ba dum bum) I need some of those for... reasons... (ba dum bum)

Hipster: There are just several popular things going on in here. You know, clickbait.

Rabbi: You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means. (ba dum bum)

Priest: I think you mean "mashup".

Hipster: No, I meant to insult the bartender's free drinks. I mean, seriously, Pokemon? What are we Sheeple?

Bartender: No, we evolved from apes. I think Sheeple are an evolution of Mareep. (ba dum bum)

Rabbi: Aren't you drinking a free drink?

Hipster: Oh, I'm only drinking this ironically. (ba dum bum)

Rabbi: Still, I don't think "clickbait" describes a mashup of popular ideas. I think "clickbait" refers to a particular way of advertising something, like a link that reads "the top three kinds of people who walk into bars." (ba dum bum)

Hipster: All I'm saying is I know comedy and if you pander to what's popular like that, you're going to get heckled.

Rabbi: Why shouldn't he pander? People like pandas. (a dum bum) Especially when they sneeze... (ba dum bum) Besides, it's comedy. When do you not get heckled?

Priest: When you're practicing your routine on your wife.

Bartender: You don't know my wife. (ba dum-bum)

Hipster: No, you just can't parody all this popular stuff, because then you end up with total garbage like Scary Movie.

Rabbi: I don't think that's right either. I think a lot of people liked the way Scary Movie parodied a lot of popular movies... it had four sequels.

Hipster: Did you not notice this ironic moustache and vintage scarf I'm rocking? (ba dum bum) Of course I hated Scary Movie, I'm a hipster. I hate anything that's hip. (ba dum bum) Anyway, maybe there is a way to make a good parody of something popular, like the way I can ironically drink this free drink. But unless it's a movie, you'd have to focus on just one thing. If you try and do it in some other medium, like a written story, there's just not enough context to get in multiple popular things. I mean, you'd have to shorten the jokes so much they wouldn't be funny anymore, like you'd have to shorten them down to a single sentence. Nobody can write a joke in a single-sentence or under like a hundred-and-forty characters. (ba dum bum) And even if you did, then if you strung a bunch of them together, it would just be confusing because there wouldn't be time to get the pacing right so people could catch each joke. You gotta catch 'em all. (ba dum bum) I know comedy.

Rabbi: You know, I don't think you do know comedy. Comedy is like that Duskull over there, it evolves. Once upon a time, everybody said that stand-up comedy would never work, because they thought it would be too boring and nobody would pay to see it. And I'm pretty sure that a lot of comedians get jokes into a single sentence or a tweet, especially in stand-up, and they call that a "one liner". And then they string a bunch of them together to make an act.

Hipster: Okay, but stand-up is an exception, and they still have to stick to a single theme for that to work.

Rabbi: Somebody should have told Mitch Hedberg. (ba dum bum)

Hipster: All I'm saying is if you don't stick to a theme, it seems lazy and confusing and it's going to put a lot of people off.

Bartender: Like if you made comic strips with stick figures that could have been drawn by little school boys?

Priest: Did somebody say school boys? (ba dum bum) I'm sorry, I drifted off. I was thinking about the choir boys in our parish. (ba dum bum) And the altar boys. (ba dum bum) And getting some lures in Pokemon Go. (ba dum bum) "Hey Billy, I got a Pikachu." (ba dum bum)

Hipster: Yeah, you can't make a comic with stick figures, that won't fly... and definitely would never be wildly popular. (ba dum bum) I know comedy.

Rabbi: I don't think you really do know comedy. I think you just know what you like.

Hipster: Well maybe I don't know comedy, but I know good, and this isn't it... speaking of... what are we drinking anyway?

Bartender: That's Kool-Aid.

Hipster: You serve your patrons Kool-Aid? In a bar?

Bartender: Oh no, the priest and the rabbi are patrons, they're drinking the best craft beer you've never heard of. (ba dum bum) You said you're only drinking the free drink ironically, so you got something special. That Kool-Aid is just for you. You're drinking your very own Kool-Aid.

With that the bartender drops a microphone on the bar with a loud thunk and walks out.


ANONYMOUS (my response inline)
Jeez. I guess I don't appreciate your good humored response anymore.

Sam: That's unfortunate. I observed a moment of silence, along with my wife and three kids, our dogs, cats and our pet tortoise, to mourn the loss of your appreciation for good humor. We don't own a bugle, so we played taps on a harmonica.

Well I read your analogy, reframing the last three comments with me as your strawman hipster, incapable of seeing the simple joys of comedy as clearly evidenced by my obviously unreasonable and undoubtedly unfounded standards. I must be brainwashed by some mindless cult-like social movement to possibly criticize something like this.

Sam: I don't know what you're so upset about, anonymous dude from Cheezburger.com. A total stranger on the internet just spent two hours writing an entire comedy routine just to entertain your ass while addressing your comments. You are familiar with satire, yes? You know that exaggeration is one of the primary tools of satire? The joke is funnier if I say, "a preist, a rabbi and a hipster", than it would have been if I'd said "a priest, a rabbi and Bob". But I guess you really proved me wrong about your sense of humor! Yeah, baby! Because your ironic response was hilarious!

(When he says he "must be brainwashed by some mindless cult-like social movement", he's not wrong. Cheeburger cheeburger cheeburger....)

Whatever, call me a hipster or whatever word you need if you're that intent on debasing anything I stand for by labeling me, dehumanizing me, dismissing any possible retort I could ever hope to throw your way.

Sam: I have no idea what you stand for, much less care to debase it. What do you stand for? Throwing OJ Simpson out the window and making sure that all the world's comedians appeal to your personal sense of humor specifically? That's the only common thread I can find so far. Dehumanize you? I don't even know you. You know the comment form on my comic has a place for you to enter a name and you couldn't even be bothered to write in a fake handle. How could anything I say dehumanize you any more than you already dehumanized yourself by choosing to be an anonymous angry voice from the void? Oh no, the anonymous, invisible, yelly thing is yelling about how we don't see it as a person! It has feelings!

All it shows me is, you've got nothing to defend about this comic, but you feel like you have to.

Sam: I feel great! My audience is growing and I love them and want them to know I listen to them, that I'm here to hang out and laugh with them, and that I'm not gonna let anonymous "helpers" ruin our fun. The response you got was an opportunity for me to let you know I read yours, that I had thought about it, and to write some more comedy for everyone to enjoy. That you individually didn't laugh is pretty low on my list of priorities, right down there below getting more jock-itch cream.

No piece of art appeals to everyone. I don't thik Pauly Shore is funny, and he's doing just fine without me as a fan. This piece never claimed to be the Mona Lisa of comics. Could it be improved? Possibly. Art is never really finished after all. But as I said, my audience is growing with or without you, so I'm not concerned about losing one anonymous heckler.

What's really puzzling to me personally is what you're hoping to achieve by repeatedly slamming it while claiming to be "helpful" and "encouraging me". That's just super-weird. I'm tempted to think it's some avant garde, deliberate trolling technique. In the absence of proof, and since I have some thoughts on your comments, I'll assume for now that you're genuine and I just don't understand where you're coming from.

Is this how you deal with constructive criticism?

Sam: Two things. First, you misinterpreted what was intended as playful ribbing as a personal attack on your character. I realize you don't know me, but at the same time, you've not offered me an opportunity to get to know you. Not being able to take a joke about something you said regarding my work is a bit of a bad omen, which leads me to the second thing. You'd have to prove to me first that your criticism is actually constructive.

Fun fact! There's an interesting trick of brain function that causes us to think that the people around us are much more like ourselves than they actually are. This bias is called "false consensus" and we all do it, including me.

This is part of the reason why I might expect that someone else would interpret my bar joke as the playful ribbing I intended. (Also, I'm a comedian.) It also says something about your character. That you interpreted a playful disagreement on my part as an attack on your character suggests that you're the kind of person who is apt to attack people's character. Aaaaand, you opted to remain anonymous. What were you afraid of? And to be honest, what are you afraid of now? I mean... you're sooooo angry that I "dehumanized you", in front of all those strangers who have no fucking idea who you are. Oh no! Strangers will think less of Anonymous! How can we go on?!

Obviously my words rubbed you the wrong way but honestly, I was trying to encourage you to keep working on your craft.

Sam: You have a funny idea about how to encourage someone. Your words rose to the level of mild annoyance, just like any other anonymous angry internet voice. To be honest, nothing you said could hope to compare to the constant shit-storm of social anxiety and worry in my own head about how to handle the publicity my work requires. I keep at it despite that anxiety, because I've already survived two separate death threats levied at me by diabetes and cancer. If you think an anonymous heckler is in anything close to that ballpark... "Yeah, fuck cancer! Oh no, some anonymous dude on the internet doesn't like me!"

I can show you someone for whom hecklers genuinely did make him see red. I give you, Bill Hicks.

Calling it click-baity was not an insult, it was an honest observation.

Sam: I realize you might not have intended it as an insult. That particular line in the bar joke was intended to highlight that abusing the term "clickbait" is insulting to most people. Again, playful ribbing. I was trying to get a point across to you about the way you were talking to someone you claimed to be trying to help.

This looks like click-bait. Everything about it does. It didn't have to, but it does, because it's made that way. And that's my problem with this comic. It's not some statement against an entire genre of comedy. It's not because it doesn't entertain me personally (it doesn't but whatever).

Sam: Okay, you definitely are confused about the term "clickbait". The term describes a fairly specific mode of advertising, not content. In order for something to be clickbait, it must actually be bait for a click. (The hint is right in the name there.) Once you're looking at the content, there is no clicking. Any clicking that might have occurred is at that point already in the past, and so any clickbaiting is also already in the past.

There is a word to describe an integration of two or more popular things. That term is "mashup". You can argue wether you personally feel the mashup was well mashed, but either way, that's the word.

Moreover, "clickbait" is a pejorative in most contexts. So when you use the term "clickbait", you should expect that probably other people will take it as an insult, because that's how the term is generally used. Feel free to walk around saying "you're an ass" to people, thinking that it's "an honest observation" because the dude's got knobby knees, a long face and hooves, that's up to you. I'm sure you'll win lots of friends that way. Ooh, ooh! It just hit me! You know what will really help? Combine it with this double-standard of having a conniption when someone calls you a hipster. You're on the brony-express to friendship-is-magic town now! ;)

It's not even because of the nature or idea behind its central joke.

Sam: I gave you a big neon sign pointing to the central joke and your navel gazing apparently prevented you seeing it. I quote, "p.s. Holtzmann (the Ghostbuster) is in the 4th and 5th panels because of Thomas Wayne in the first and Ash Ketchum in the last panel."

It's because it's just not well-crafted for what it is. You can argue that my points don't actually mean anything about your comic because things can be made within the restrictions you gave yourself that can be funny, and even brilliant. But this comic is not brilliant. This comic is messy, convoluted and not funny.

Sam: Ahh, yes, using "objective" absolutes to describe subjective art. :) Also, did you just say that something is "clickbait" if it's not well crafted? Probably not what you intended, but that's how you jigsawed those words together. Probably need a shoehorn to get the boot out of your mouth after that.

Do you have to compare yourself to experts and superstars to justify yourself? There's a reason those people and pieces you referenced are funny and beloved. They're rooted in well crafted performance and presentation. They are expertly timed, perfectly executed and inepxlicably likeable. This comic is not. This comic is a mess.

Sam: Ironic that you chose the description "inexplicably likeable"... while telling me how you can explain how to make my work more likeable. You're gonna 'splain me the inexplicable now? Ooh, I'm all tingly.

Okay, I do have to give you a point. It is true I mentioned some famous people. I did that for the purpose of pointing out that what you described as absolute fact regarding success in comedy does not apply to those people (and is therefore not fact but rather your opinion). You would rather I reference the work of obscure ciphers to make a point about what can or can't be popular? "Yes, yes! Certainly this kind of comedy can be popular, just look at the comedy stylings of Shit-Eating joe! You've never heard of Shit-Eating Joe, because his work never took off and he languished in obscurity his whole life before dying of syphilis in a public toilet, and that's why his style of comedy can be so successful!" Maybe I should have used Fatty Arbuckle as my standard of success.

Anything can be made funny. Funny isn't limited to some abstract hierarchy of taste.

Sam: Except apparently for your abstract hierarchy of taste.

Jingling keys can be funny to the right audience. But this isn't jingling keys, this is a piece of content you put out in public for people to see (above a comment section no less, I mean do you never expect to get negative feedback?).

Sam: This from Cheezburger.com, the site that was founded on the idea that cats can have cheeseburgers, but not spelling or grammar, and that this cheeseburger-grammar dichotomy is fucking hilarious! I can haz irony?!

Man, you're awfully angry about not getting agreement from a perfect stranger on the internet, Mr. Anonymous dude from Cheezburger.com. And it's not even your site or work in question! Man... what it must be like to live with you. "Honey, come to bed. I can't! I gotta make a serious point about lolcats to this stupid, knee-jerk motherfucker on the internet who can't take criticism from anonymous strangers!"

I'm sorry, that was mean... It's bad enough you're not getting laid without me reminding you.

Seriously though, you're the one who chose to make your negative feedback public... Normal people don't go to a comedy club and shout their critique at the guy while he's on stage. There are several private ways to contact me on Twitter, Facebook or DeviantArt or you could ask for my neglected Google Plus account.

But then any of those normal methods require you let go of your anonymity security blanket. Is the real world scary? Because some of us have the guts to put years of blood sweat and tears into our work (despite the many years it takes to reach any kind of financial support for our efforts), to put it out in the public eye and to put our name on it. To say, "hey, I worked hard on this, so you could enjoy it for free!" Some of us. Others prefer to hide under an overpass and hurl eggs. That's okay because hey, free eggs! I'm told I need to break some anyway if I'm going to make an omelet.

I'm not saying you need to be ashamed of your work. I'm saying if you actually looked at your own work critically (which I'm sure you do) you can see areas of improvement. But, you might not see something someone else sees. Something you could improve on. That's the whole point of getting a second opinion.

Sam: Yes, I receive critique sometimes. In fact, I hired Brad Guigar for critique this past year. He's one of the authors of How To Make Webcomics (on my bookshelf), creator of Evil-Inc, the guy behind Webcomics.com and currently earning $5.4k/mo on Patreon (not including I have no idea what he earns on ebook and book sales).

But now that you mention it, that was a silly waste. Why would I spend a large sum of money getting advice from someone who's earning his living doing this when there are anonymous strangers on the internet who can tell me why they think I suck? That's infinitely more valuable, not to mention FREE! Yay, free advice from anonymous strangers! I could have saved so much money! And I wouldn't even have to switch to Geico.

Don't hide your comic behind some veil of 'comedic moral superiority.'

Sam: How dare you, sir! My dick jokes aren't just moral, they're supermoral!

Don't act like my criticism is a sign of an unknowing idiot incapable of seeing past his own upturned nose. Instead if you need to argue, maybe respond to the critical comment by stating why you thought the comic itself was actually funny.

Sam: Yes, I already offered that kind of handholding and you ignored it. If you don't have enough wit to follow your own nose when it's being dragged across a punchline, then maybe you should toddle back off to Cheezbuger. I'm sure somebody's posting another "forever alone" or some other bullshit that would be more to your liking over there right now. Oh, if you hurry, I bet you can find another gif of OJ launching out a hospital window! :B

If all you have to defend it is that it technically can be categorized as rapid fire comedy, and plenty of things fall under that category that are great, then you haven't said anything about the actual thing you're defending. Salt and quartz are both minerals. Quartz is not tasty, despite it being categorized alongside salt. Just because something can be great doesn't mean it is.

Sam: I'll remember that the next time I'm quartzing my potatoes.

So you're trying to explain how your personal taste is an objective fact, and to do that you made an analogy LITERALLY to the sense of taste. Man, that is some meta shit right there.

Plus, again, a strawman argument meant to turn every one of my points into deluded gibberish does not convince me that I'm wrong, because all a strawman argument is, is shoving your fingers in your ears and sticking out your tongue. Congrats.

Sam: I'm sorry, what was that? Get the dick out of your mouth before you try to talk... I love a good dick myself, so I don't blame you, it's just hard to understand you.

See, that's how you shit-talk.

I found your site after this got posted on another website.

Sam: Was it Cheezburger.com? It was Cheezburger, wasn't it? You don't want to say it was Cheezburger, do you? I can't imagine why. I mean, the sophisticated tastemakers at Cheezburger are known for two things: 1) making people famous and 2) being so fair and moderate that they have absolutely no trolls whatsoever! You know, they say there's no success on the internet without Cheezburger. ;)

It was a bit of a surprise to me to see the site in my Google Analytics report, because I've never submitted my work there. Probably I don't have many fans who frequent Cheezburger.

It was largely downvoted by the community there with very harsh and dismissive comments.

Sam: Oh no, harsh and dismissive comments! You're giving me the vapors! You have to know that you're arguing that you're right because you agree with a bunch of assholes on the internet, right?

People agreeing with you puts your opinion right up there in terms of credibility with climate change deniers and UFO conspiracy theorists and how could anyone disagree with those people?! Comment threads like that are usually echo chambers. You obviously, seriously need to read this article. Hey, I'm part of an angry mob, so obviously the mob is right!

I noticed that the ratio was something like 67 upvotes to 253 downvotes over there on the burger. Sure, that's only 20% positive response. Some rooms are tough -- that's what happens when you make a living in comedy. See previous sarcasm.

I saw an opportunity to share a well-meaning opinion, and came from there to give you a message that I think you could use.

Sam: And yes, indeed, I can use this well-meaning opinion! I've been kind of busy lately and my bird, a parrot named Knock, has had no place to shit for days. Hey Knock, Knock! "Get off my lawn!"

You know what other room is pretty tough? Reddit. I've gotten out of the habit of posting my comics to reddit lately because most of my recent comics are part of an ongoing story. Most redditors just want a quick little one-off gag, not part of an ongoing story, so those pages don't generally do well over there. I thought I might not post this Batman comic to reddit, but decided ultimately that it couldn't hurt. I was surprised to see it had done fairly well over there.

So liked by reds, hated by cheezheads. Like I've said, it's subjective.

It's as simple as this: "Maybe next time, focus on getting the most out of each joke, as opposed to using references in place of jokes. References can be funny, but they have to be used in a funny way, and that requires some thinking ahead and a better crafted scenario. Maybe be a bit more discerning in what jokes and references you choose to finalize in your comics and how they fit together to make an all around more entertaining piece. I don't dislike your comic because it doesn't fit some vague artistic standard. I dislike your comic because for what you claim it to be, it's poorly made. It's not funny for the kind of funny you are going for."

Sam: Right, and you're also anonymous when you post that on VomitBurger.com. Yes, yes, Mr. Anonymous, pray tell, what kind of funny was I going for? Surely the anonymous dude from Cheezburger.com must be psychic and know my deepest thoughts... Oooh, he knows my naughty thoughts and... shut your mouth! Just talkin' bout Shaft.

You've used so many analogies and comparisons to justify your comic, but you have said nothing about why any of the jokes in this comic work. They don't work just because they are technically considered jokes.

Sam: No, they work because they know they get the hose if they don't. Sometimes you have to show your jokes a little tough love.

Sure, to some people this comic is good enough. But is that good enough for you? I mean, I've gone back to more of your comics on this site.

Sam: I notice that you don't mention anything about which ones... I'm guessing the Pokemon Go comic where you did actually offer "Plorp(?)" as a handle? Trying to make me think you were multiple people? Maybe not, it's just a hunch. The comics were published a few weeks apart, but those comments appeared within hours or possibly minutes of each other.

This issue of not conveying things very well and losing the humor in the bizarre presentation is a pretty consistent note. They're often visually cluttered and a lot of jokes get ruined for the sake of throwing in more and more.

Sam: That's your opinion. Continually repeating the same opinion isn't going to make me suddenly accept it as gospel.

"Woah, dude! Check it out, I was on the corner of Main and Dumpster downtown and there was this guy on the corner there, yelling and screaming how he hated Star Trek. He just kept hollering, 'it sucks, it sucks, it sucks', like a broken record, man. And then... dude, it was so weird... he'd said it about forty-one times and then suddenly, when he said it the forty-second time, it just hit me, he's right! I gotta go home and burn my entire collection of Star Trek action figures now. I guess they won't live long and prosper."

But a problem isn't a death sentence, it's an opportunity for growth.

Sam: That is true. And isn't it nice to know that some day there may be a cure for your sphincter problem?

Defending your work with something completely unrelated tells me personally, that you aren't interested in being told something's wrong. You aren't interested in growing, and improving at any pace but your own. But then, I don't know you, so whether or not that's true depends on how you choose to respond to situations like this. Because at the end of the day, you can drop a mic, but you're not going anywhere. This is your site, and your comic. You have to live with it. You have to accept what it is and what its going to be.

Sam: How I choose to respond to situations like this...

"Grasshopper! Fear not! It is I, anonymous dude from Cheezburger.com! I shall be your mentor and guide to your chosen profession. Your ten years of work is nothing compared to my enlightened judgement and unsolicited advice. I will make you a star!"

Oh yes, yes please, mysterious stranger. Make me a star!

Yeah, being easily manipulated by any random stranger on the internet is going to get me real far in life, let me tell you! Wait. Why the hell am I responding to you?! I got a super-important email from a Nigerian Prince earlier today!

You can either ignore everyone else and carry on oblivious to any criticism or room you have for improvement, or you can suck it up, listen to what someone doesn't like, and consider it, before either dismissing it or implementing it.

Sam: There's a vocabulary problem again. You used "consider". The phrase you're looking for is "agree with". A counterpoint in a discussion proves that consideration is given.

I'm not here to win an argument, and I'm done trying to reach you. So, instead of checking back to see your response tomorrow*,
Surprise!
He lied.
maybe I'll come back in a month or two and see how things are going. Have a good night (or whatever depending on your time zone).

Sam: We don't have time zones on Gallifrey. Our day is a complex set of 42 interleaved lunchtimes. We're the envy of every Hobbit.

*gingerly places the mic on a nightstand, looks around, shuffles toward the door, turns out the light, exits*

Sam: Listen, Bagger Vance, since you've given me the last word, here's a list of criteria that I and just about any rational person consider reasons to value someone's judgement.

  1. You have verifiable credentials in a related field of expertise. Maybe you're a comic creator who's already earning your living, or at least has an audience comparable to mine if not larger. Maybe you're a talent scout. Maybe you work in marketing. Whatever it is, there has to be evidence that you have a relevant professional opinion.
  2. I've paid for your opinion -- usually this is because of #1, as was the case for Brad Guigar and a marketing professional I also hired for a consultation. And there was that one time I hired a hobo to tell me I looked pretty, but that's beside the point...
  3. I've asked for your opinion. Often this is also because of #1, although I have asked the opinions of non-professionals before. The comments section below my comics is a place for my fans and I to chat and have fun. It's not an invitation to offer unsolicited critique in a way that's going to ruin that fun for my fans. If you want to offer unsolicited critique, as I've said, there are a variety of ways to contact me privately.
  4. The opinion is accompanied by some kind of documentation with credentials, like fact-checking articles, science journals, or to a much lesser extent poll data.
  5. You support my work financially.
  6. You support my work by sharing it with friends at parties, on social media, or with the kids you invite into that windowless van you drive around town... (Hook 'em young!)
  7. I know you. We don't have to be "BFFs, oh my gawd, lets go get our hair done together!" I do have to trust you. Trust is earned. Respect is earned. I learned these lessons when I was very young... it's weird that you still struggle with them. You would think Anonymous would have a reputation for being trustworthy by now! :B

You've ticked exactly zero of those boxes, which means you've earned zero credibility. You'll have a leg to stand on to call me out for not valuing your opinion when you earn something on that list, not before. Until then money talks opinions like every bull's asshole stink-walks and... damnit! Why do I keep my metaphors in the kitchen?! Directly over the blender no less...

Anyway, if you've got the guts to drop your convenient shield of anonymity, you're welcome to stick around on the site and get to know me. After sharing a few more normal comments without this weirdly inflated sense of entitlement, you can earn the place of "respected opinion", possibly even friend. If you'd rather stick with the narcissism, then it's no skin off my nose if I lose you as a reader.

The poke-a-ball's in your court.