Bugpowder.com grew out of the zine culture of the late 90s and the first forays into blogging by Jez Higgins, Pete Ashton, myself and several others who have come, gone and lurk. Since then we've seen the rise of the webcomic, print on demand, stripblogs, portfolios replacing or running alongside mini-comics and a rich harvest of arts journalism that comes out of the electronic communications culture. That Bugpowder has participated in all of this and facilitated it be a credit to all involved. I inherited the position of a Bugpowder muscle by default as much as engagement. As Bugpowder becomes a chore for me, I'm wishing to share some of what I’ve learned as both a journalist and a cartoonist, before I re-emerge in times were they've forgotten me. This piece is aimed at guiding promoters and future Bugbloggers.
Want to promote your comic on Bugpowder ?
"There is power in the union", and I suspect a industry-wide co-operative journalism model is a good answer. I'd like to see thirty or forty select Bugpowder bloggers with proven track records in finding good material, perhaps each posting four times a year. You-link-my-back-I'll-link-yours works. No obligation, no hassle. Sometimes it can be a really Low Energy Day. There are a number of things that you can do to make the job of someone promoting your comic more efficient.
Press Releases: I don’t like these. I really don’t. Lengthy bombastic press releases have one of two effects:
1) They are ignored by Bugpowder posters
2) They clog up the time traffic for other artists seeking plugs.
They’re also likely to create resentment between journalist and artist.
A concise press release that is pleasant to read is likely to be picked up on by journalists. If you're promoting an interview or lengthy feature, including an excerpt from it that entices people to find out more is a good idea. A likeable advertiser thinks like a journalist, and behaves like one. If the story is interesting it may help your cause. If you lack the time to make your press release concise, self-publish it. Blogs and websites are easy to set up. Send us a hyperlink were the press release is located and we can link to it.
A similar rule applies to jpegs. A Bugpowder Flickr community has been discussed, though as of yet we have no place or time to store images. If your information is contained within a picture file, this will work against you. Bugbloggers don’t have the time to type information off a jpeg for replication. Sending a jpeg will allow the poster to look at the visual. If you'd like the jpeg to be replicated on the site, well we can't seal it, but including a hyperlink to the jpeg will make it a possibility. Including the originals width and height dimensions will also help posters decide how to re-size it.
The best press releases are compassionately worded, informative, and concise. They should be a joy to read. If you're making your own comics, you can understand the difficulty of ever attaining a profit. The chances for a comics journalist on Bugblogger to turn a profit out of doing-it-for-the-love-of are closer to not likely than yours.
Bugpowder is a UK comics resource site. This is for purely practical reasons. At Bugblogger discretion non-UK sources will be featured. If you are promoting something comics related outside of the UK do not send it to bugblog at gmail dotcom. Bugblog at gmail is the equivalent of the communal press room, and repeated thoughtless bugblog adds to round emails are likely to have you ended up marked as spam. Resentment does not good community networking make.
Bugpowder has a number of leads who generally tip us off with stories. Generally these folk have proven track records and know how to best use Bugpowder. However there is such a thing as too many leads, and abuse of service. Its a great big internet.
If you're not sure email something to the Bugpowder Yahoo Group. If you're a member it'll go on up there unedited, putting you directly in contact with the reader.
Occassionally its a good place for discussing an issue, and if you approach it with a positivity and optimistism you're more likely to find a graceful audience.
Theres more information between the lines of these guidelines following.
For New Posters to Bugpowder
Weblogs and comics: Pete Ashton talks about how weblogging can help the comics arts community and in the process lays out every basic html step you'll need to get started. All thats needed for implementing hyperlinks, embedding images and altering fonts. Ten minutes study time and you've got it (http://bugpowder.com/words/weblogs.html
As Moveable Type requires we hand craft html this is a plus if you havent an editor.
A high priority: If the number of bloggers expand so too does the chances of repeats of the same articles of news. This is a fucker, as the original journalist is left in the unenviable position of suspecting their time has been wasted. I've seen Bugbloggers who should know better be caught out by this one. ALWAYS check Bugpowder to see if the story has been posted yet. If the story looks to have been lying about for a while, check it in more detail. If an event was posted about 30 days ago and is happening in the next few, well isnt that okay.
I like my Bugpowder listings short wherever possible so theres a fair bit of clerical work in trimming the shit out of those Press Releases that come your way. Basic summary, contact details, graphics are always good if you have the time to track down the url. Essentially its a community kid Bugpowder is, so its best left to yr own journalistic judgement. While theres a fair bit of backlog to cover, its probably best for all published in chunks. I think the best approach is a maximum limit of 5 topics a day. Some stuff takes priority given festivals up and coming and special events. Best confer among yourself. And don't hesitate to create new tags in gmail to help better manage this.
Theres a few individuals who'll happily send us every press release they'll ever make. Don't feel obliged to include all of them, and group together whenever suits. Some people produce next to nothing and their output is that rare gem o genius. Others are very prolific, but their level of quality is hit and miss.
Drop Jez emails if you need any help or advice. Jez handles the tech stuff so best go to him re: that.
Oh aye, Moveable Type. Whenever you post to Bugpowder or TRS2 it'll log you out and ask you to sign in again. Do this, then go to Manage Entry. Click on your highlighted one and save/publish. It usually goes up second time right.
Large commercial events have their own paid publicity people. Your job is not to do their job. Certainly not until that unmarked packet of hundred dollar bills ends up at the bar with Bugpowder scrawled on the front, delivered by some handsome and witty hosts.
Small pressers to my mind need the most love, particularly were they have no website. Here its important to clearly format product details: author, title, issue number, dimensions (A4/A5/US etc), page count, price, address, whether or not to include a stamped addressed envelope. Does the author want a cheque, postal order or stamps ? Do they accept trades of similar value ? Be clear about ordering instructions, and where possible get a few lines of review in.
Why else would I possibly want to become a Bugpowder poster ?
High traffic, good rep, and occasionally I still get bought drinks (thankyou No Barcodes), and am given spare beds to sleep on. These sorts of things aren’t instant or expected, but do happen after some hard work. You'll also be first port-of-call for events and get invited to all sorts of gigs and meet some really lovely, imaginative, vibrant people. This can cause all sorts of bouncing of ideas and synthesis. There may be invitations to speak on panels People you don't know, who may not know one another will know your name as a common factor, and it will feel quite odd. Since I started working for Bugpowder I've avoided 2000AD, Forbidden Planet and Titan, yet I know my name is spoken of there and views referred to. The Bugpowder association works for this, but only in parallel with the quality of service that you make of it. Plus, as many comics-for-review trades as ...um, I lost count. So there you go, asides from the..y'know...obvious.