New York Times' Comics Forum: Keeping the "Mess" in "Message Board"
What's also puzzling - no, more like extremely disappointing - is the Times' new Readers Forum on Comics. I spent an hour or so making my way through the posts there, and oh my Lord - if you think (as I do) that the "wheat/chaff" and "thoughtful poster/moron" ratios are usually pretty low on comics-related message boards, try slogging through this one. I had naively assumed that the Times On-Line would attract a more contemplative, erudite, and open-minded audience. Stupid, stupid Gene...
The Forum opened April 16, to coincide with the Times' preview of Will Eisner's The Plot; unfortunately, it also coincided with a revamp of the Forums as a whole. So a large part of the first week's postings are written by Forum regulars who are angry that the previous Forums on Shakespeare and Nabokov, for example, were "replaced" by the Comics Forum. From what I can tell, it's not a "replacement" so much as a "restructuring" and an unfortunate bit of timing; but these folks in general can't seem to tell their post hoc from their propter hoc.
What we do get, however, are the predictable laments about the end of civilization. And also some fairly ignorant comments about Eisner's The Plot, from considering it a joke to questioning the need for any such book in the first place to - I'm being serious here - calling Eisner a Spiegelman clone. And of course, the ever-popular "expert opinion":
Look at that guy at the top of the page, pretending this is about "literary" comics like Maus, as if there were more than about five of them.To be fair, there are some knowledgeable defenders of the forum. For the most part, though, even those who do know something about comics rarely get past recommending Sandman or "more sophisticated" superhero books. I like Sandman and Watchmen, but I wouldn't consider either of them to be good "gateway drugs" for the curious but clueless would-be comics reader.
I realize that a message board can only be as good as the people who post in it, and I suppose I have no real right to complain about the Times forum, since I haven't contributed anything myself. But seeing the small-mindedness and petty carping there only reinforces my opionion of message boards as places generally to avoid. I've occasionally found useful info at places like the Comics Journal boards, but then we're back to the whole "wheat/chaff" thing...
If anyone knows of any good comics-related discussion boards - forums where people actually pay attention to other's ideas, and where, come to think of it, people actually have ideas - I'd love to hear about them.