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Gianna Masetti

Comix Talk for Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Meanwhile by Jason Shiga

DEAD TREES: Scott McCloud writes about a forthcoming project from Jason Shiga called Meanwhile.  I've seen pictures of the original hand-crafted version of this "choose-your-own-adventure" style comic but not the actual artifact.  Shiga is a dang good, inventive comic creator.

Interviews: WebcomicBuilder.com has an interview with Gianna Masetti, the creator of The Noob, a gamer comic set in an MMORPG.

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 BLOGS

World of WTF: An Interview with Gianna Masetti

Gianna Masetti is the creator of The Noob, which started back in 2004.  It both presents and parodies the MMORPG genre of video games.  I got a chance to interview Gianna via email between her travels to Italy last month.

The Noob by Gianna Masetti

The Noob by Gianna Masetti

Trolling, Vandalism and Dragonfiend

Wiki Watch

As was noted throughout the week, T Campbell tracked down Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and webcomics-focused Wikipedia editor Dragonfiend for interviews regarding the intersection of webcomic and Wikipedia. Although the interview with Wales is short, the interview with Dragonfiend provides a snapshot of what is probably a pretty typical attitude amongst self-described "wikipedians" towards Wikipedia itself and its role and mission.

One thing that popped out at me, however, was Dragonfiend's reference to a short-lived (now deleted) Comixpedia.org article about which Dragonfiend said:

To give a webcomics-related example, if I'm trying to research webcomics over on a wiki with much more indiscrimnate content policies, like comixpedia.org, I'll find articles like this one on the webcomic [now deleted entry] . Without requiring this topic to be noted by several independent reputable sources, we won't know whether this webcomic is of any importance, or just something that somebody made up one day and posted on the internet.

Here's the thing though - within a minute of looking at that entry I knew it was an example of wiki-vandalism. The supposed external link didn't work. Google.com had no record of the URLs, title, creator or anything about the supposed comic. Within a few more minutes I knew that the user account (unlike Wikipedia, Comixpedia.org does restrict editing to those who sign up for user accounts) had been used solely to create a couple of obnoxious and completely made-up entries. Within a few more minutes after that though (all through the magic of google.com) I knew that this Comixpedia user id was the same as a user id at Wikipedia banned for creating the same kind of entries that the user id created at Comixpedia.org. (Even some of the entries and terms in the entries between Comixpedia.org and Wikipedia were the same!)

What's that prove? Well the first thing it suggests to me is a bit of bad faith on Dragonfiend's part. From picking the most obnoxiously offensive entry s/he could find to picking an entry that was so obviously false it's hard to not to assume Dragonfiend was employing emotional rhetorical tactics simply to make Comixpedia.org (and webcomics generally in her mind) look bad. But since it was so obviously demonstrably false (and one that an active wikipedian like Dragonfiend had additional reason to suspect its status as vandalism) it seems to me that it's an example that backfires on Dragonfiend completely. No one needed "several independent reputable sources," to know this was a made-up entry - it took less then 10 minutes with Google.

I think what her comment proves is that all wikis are susceptible to vandalism - it's one of the weak points in the model. No doubt Wikipedia does not like it when the largest media publications in this country present out of context vandalized entries as examples of Wikipedia "scholarship", and neither does Comixpedia.org.

Wikipedia To Redelete WCCAs?

Wiki WatchI had a notion to work on the WCCA entries at Comixpedia.org and checked in on whether or not there was still an entry at Wikipedia. There is, but it's up for deletion again (history-to-date: in, out, in, ?... call it the usual Wikipedia-webcomic hokey-pokey) and leading the charge is our old pal Dragonfiend:

Delete, has not garnered the type of verifiable coverage in reputable independent sources one would expect of a seven-year-old supposedly "notable" award, let alone enough to write from a neutral point of view. What, if we really stretch our standards, we might possibly almost have two reputable sources? We have better sources for last year's revisions to the Chelsea High School Perfect attendance award. [1] [2] [3] [4]. Also, the point of view that this is "the singularly most prominent and admired awards within an entire genre of art" is ridiculous when you have the awards' committee members blogging things like "The WCCAs are horribly mismanaged, they are not well organized and they don't do what they are supposed to. I know this because I have been part of the administrative process."[5] With a dearth of reputable sources, I don't see how to write this article without giving undue weight to wikipedia editor's personal points of view and original research about this topic. -- Dragonfiend 04:07, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

How much coverage do the annual pr0n awards get in the NY Times btw? Putting snark aside, if you're at all inclined to improve articles on the WCCAs please do it at Comixpedia.org - Wikipedia can always import our articles later if they come to their senses.

Gianna vs. Wikipedia

Although it isn't news anymore that self-righteous pricks enjoy removing useful information from Wikipedia, I thought [the discussion on Wikipedia on whether to delete the article for The Noob] was interesting for a few reasons.

First of all, one of the guys targeting her for deletion actually wrote articles on other webcomics, including such strips as Fetus-X, which (despite being universally recognized among cartoonists as Fine Art) definitely doesn't have anything like the readership of The Noob. [XEREXES: Although there is no question The Noob has a substantial readership it really isn't appropriate to compare it to Fetus-X since I have seen no evidence to confirm or deny the readership numbers for either comic.]

Second, if you scroll to the bottom, you'll see that Gianna is trying to debate him by offering a well-reasoned argument. Go check it out, read the stances and maybe offer some support.

[UPDATE from XEREXES: Within the span of a couple weeks about 3 or 4 people (hard to tell from the now closed discussion page but it appears to me that wikipedians Seraphimblade, Sandstein, Satori Son, and Dragonfiend actually voted for "deletion") deleted the entry for Comixpedia from the Wikipedia. This seems like a perfect example of how the current process makes it almost impossible for rational, well-informed debate to occur. Now I get to personally feel what everyone else subject to this ludicrous process has gone through. I'll be the first to admit the entry for Comixpedia sucked, but by their own standards, a more comprehensive entry for Comixpedia should qualify. It's just that the former entry didn't reflect any of that. It's incredibly easy for a wikipedian trying to delete things to say something's not notable. The wikipedia doesn't have to show that the entry doesn't reflect any of the given notability standards - that onus is on keeping it I guess. Worthless until proven notable, even if the Comixpedia entry has existed for 3+ years and countless other entries in the Wikipedia cite to the Wikipedia entry for Comixpedia or directly to a link on Comixpedia itself.

I plan to petition for undeletion, but I suppose I need to do the research to demonstrate notability. Any advice on petitioning for undeletion or helping me with evidence supporting Comixpedia's notability would be most welcome. If there are any experienced wikipedians willing to actively help me with this - That means you Kiba! :) please email me at xerexes AT comixpedia DOT com.]

On the positive side it appears that Girly's deletion was overturned and the entry for it is back in the Wikipedia. Some comments from the "Talk Page" for Girly at Wikipedia:

Dragonfiend...

There was a Deletion Review on this. The deletion was overturned. Let it go. --SuperHappy 19:41, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

Expert undeletion

The AFD was clueless, an academic expert on comics has undeleted it as notable. It lives. - David Gerard 20:14, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

Thank God. If this webcomic was not seen as notable enough for Wikipedia, I would have lost all faith in the project. There are way to many delete happy editors with their finger on the trigger.--Pyritefoolsgold 06:36, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm glad to see it back too. -- Ryuko 09:24, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

A pity I missed the fun. Glad to see this restored, since it's definitely notable. It's one of those "If you don't think this is notable, you aren't qualified to edit webcomic articles anymore" ones. :) Xuanwu 07:55, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Further Thoughts On the Most Read Project

It's been two years since Comixpedia published an update to our Most Read project which tracked the audience shares of webcomics.

It was difficult to determine readership numbers then, it's just as difficult to conduct any kind of "Internet ratings" now. But it's an extremely useful process for Comixpedia as it helps to ensure that we are not overlooking significantly popular webcomics in our coverage (It is not a prerequisite that a webcomic be "popular" to merit coverage. The strength of readership of a particular webcomic, however, is a legitimate tool for deciding what we should write about). If you have suggestions for future efforts in this area feel free to post a comment here.

There's No Such Thing As Writer's Block

Years ago I was looking at how much cartooning -- writing, pencilling, inking, and coloring -- was required to keep Schlock Mercenary going each day, and I asked myself how I could possibly be doing it. Because without knowing how, I WAS doing it. And while thinking along these lines I began to wonder whether discovering how it was done would have some sort of quasi-quantum effect, wherein I find that I can either know how its done, or do it, but not both.

Breathing Life into Your Characters

Don't let your characters fall flat! Making 2-dimensional characters 3-dimensional.

Characterization is one of those bugaboos of writing that is especially easy to overlook on a comics project where the majority of time and effort is usually spent designing visual elements. In prose, it's hard to sell a reader on a poorly developed character. By its very nature, prose takes us into the mind of a character very quickly. In comics, it's far easier to end up with a character who is all visual flash, and not even realize it until the project has hit the shelves. How many mangas have you read featuring the adventures of a quietly sweet, inoffensive girl, with such varied interests as snacking and being nice to freshmen? Or American comics about tough, brooding anti-heros? Stop me if you've heard the one about the Silent But Deadly Warrior Woman with a Tragic Past(TM) and a penchant for wandering around her apartment in Victoria's Secret undergarments.