Monday, January 18, 2010

Interview With El Santo

This week I went toe to toe with webcomic reviewer El Santo of The Webcomic Overlook. We met in the battleground that is known as that creepy chat box I have on the site. Things got tense and funny. Enjoy.

Koltreg: Greeting sir. How is it going?

El Santo: Sup

Koltreg: I just finished dinner.

El Santo: Awesome! I need to feed myself sometime soon. I am just drinking me some Coke.

Koltreg: I highly recommend it. I had store brand cream soda, a french dip sammich and some rice crackers.

El Santo: That is hardly a dinner. It is barely nourishment.

Koltreg: The rice crackers were carmel covered. That makes all the difference.

El Santo: Yum.

Koltreg: Well let us get this interview going.

El Santo: Sure! Let's do it like Brutus.

Koltreg: Quisling time has come got you into webcomics?

El Santo: OK, to question 1 (I have no idea what a Quisling is by the way)...

Koltreg:A Quisling is a reference to some French war where the locals sides with the opposing side. Also they are crazy people who act like zombies. And I thought you were referencing the Hives. (wealth of knowledge!) Oh, it was apparently named after a Norweigan politician who helped the Nazis take over the country.

El Santo: I shall have to use "Quisling" in passing some time, then.

Koltreg: It is a fun word. Back to the interview though. What got you to start reviewing webcomics?

El Santo: My original response was missing. OK, here goes: I basically love reviewing. I used to to movie, anime, and video game reviews on another site called When I decided to start my own blog, I reviewed a bunch of stuff, but my most popular posts were the webcomic ones.

Koltreg: What were some early ones you reviewed?

El Santo: Oh, the popular ones. Perry Bible Fellowship, Irregular Webcomic, a few of Bobby Crosby's efforts. I have a soft part in my heart for minor efforts, though, so when something like "Year One" comes my way --- a sort of Li'l Marvel's parody --- I'm on it like Donkey Kong.

Koltreg: Was there any point where you realized "Hey, I should just focus on webcomics," like after a certain review?

El Santo: I have to thank David Morgan-Mar. After I posted a pretty positive review of Irregular Comic, he posted a link on his site and I got, like, 1,000 page hits over night. To which I thought, "Man, people who read webcomics are pretty passionate!" That lead me on a long dark road. Pretty soon I broke the webcomic reviews out from my main blog, and then I bought a domain name, and then the rest is history. Truly, I am a glutton for attention.

Koltreg: There are worse and less reasonable things to be a glutton for though.

El Santo: Don't get me wrong, though... it's highly enjoyable.

Koltreg: Oh I know. I'd love that level of semi-notoriety. As you have gotten more notoriety, have you had many fringe benefits?

El Santo: Well, just as a disclosure, the blog isn't really all that notorious. I don't want readers to get the wrong impression here. At best it gets 1,000 to 1,500 page hits a day. It's a nice number, but hardly Comics Curmudgeon numbers. As for fringe benefits... I did have a reporter from MacLean's call me to do an interview regarding Kate Beaton. And I was all like, "I'm an authority on Kate Beaton? What the what?" So... getting my name in a Canadian news magazine ... pretty awesome.

Koltreg: Yeah. Lets talk recent news though.

El Santo: Okay

Koltreg: The Policy change - are you going to subscribe?

El Santo:Me? No. No-ho-ho-ho-o. I mentioned on my blog that it seems to be more for webcomic professionals, which I am not. More of a blogger who comments on webcomic professionals, really. I can see how it can work out for people who go to conventions to promote their stuff, but I'm an irascible homebody, so I'm not likely to take advantage of their fine, fine benefits package.

Koltreg: What would happen if everything with the policy change goes south? Like, nobody subscribes or only 100 people do?

El Santo: You know, if the main purpose of the subscription was to pay for the site itself, 100 subscribers still translates into $3,000, which is not bad. They're definitely going to start small, but I think the idea is that they have to set a precedent somewhere or no one does. Failure is definitely a possibility --- a strong one, since everyone was getting used to a free blog --- but I think everyone involved is well aware of the risks. Few people make a profit in the first couple of years, I think.

Koltreg: Then again, 3000 is more than the average webcomic makes in a year. Though so is $30.

El Santo: It sure is. What needs to do now, though, is make it clear and communicate what they're trying to do ... and it's been an uphill struggle for Guigar and friends so far.

Koltreg: Do you think instead providing the blog for free and the other services for a fee might be more reasonable? Help more people learn to make money and to build the brand.

El Santo: That's actually not a bad idea. However, I can kind of see where Guigar is coming from, too. I think he or one of the other Halfpixel guys regularly do seminars at colleges on webcomics, and there, they're being reimbursed for their time and work. It's kind of disheartening to spend all your time putting your brainpower on, say, writing a tutorial and never seeing any compensation for it.

Koltreg: I see it more like farming though. You plant the seeds but the last thing you want to do is try to eat them just after planting them. If you foster though, you get a meal...eventually

El Santo: I did mention on my blog too that I thought it might be too early to do such a thing as what is doing. I don't know if the webcomic medium is mature enough. Like many have said, it's still the wild wild west.

Koltreg: With a giant robot spider?

El Santo: Noooooooooaaaaahhhhhhhh~!!!!!

Koltreg: Since you have reviewed other genres, what do you different about reviewing webcomics?

El Santo: I try to delve into more far flung anecdotes with webcomics. I think if I was really matter-of-fact in a webcomic review, it can get pretty dry, especially since people will most likely be very unfamiliar about the comic since they wouldn't have seen commercials, heard third-party anecdotes, yadda yadda yadda. So if I'm reviewing a comic about vampire women, maybe I'll tell a story about my views on the Twilight phenomenon and then bring that into my review. I find I do that more often with my webcomic reviews, which are now about 2000 words or so each ... and that's what makes it fun to write.

Koltreg: Anything about the fact that the story can change and that it is fluid? It kind of bothers me from time to time that "Hey, something I write now may not be true in a few months." Unlike movies or war. War never changes.

El Santo: Ha ha ha ha! Yes, that is very true with, say, Shortpacked!, which started out as a comedy about people in a toy store and ended up being about an LGBT community. I was like ... Ohhhhkay.

Koltreg: Who is transexual in Shortpacked? Is it Mike?

El Santo: Probably Supercar.

Koltreg: Great, now I have to reread everything with that in mind.

El Santo: It will blow you away.

Koltreg: *gay joke*

El Santo: Note to gay readers: I totes did not mean that.

Koltreg: 90% of what I write is hate speech against various groups but my multi racial transgendered bisexual editor cuts most of it. Thats why I only post two articles a week. That and college.

El Santo: ***gggaaassssssspppp**** I am shocked out of my monacle.

Koltreg: You have a monocle under your luchador mask?

El Santo: Monocle, dresses like a Mexican wrestler... maybe I'm really Dr. Mindbender Hmmm?

Koltreg: I have no idea who that is. I am a horrible/recovering nerd.

El Santo: Google him sometime. It's a bald GI Joe villain who has a handlebar stache, a monocle, and no shirt. Best villain EVER.

Koltreg: Oh, I know him. What is your favorite webcomic. As in, all the other webcomics online are going to be deleted by....Digital Porn Warriors and you can only save one. Which would it be?

El Santo: It would have to be ... Jack! The greatest furry webcomic about death and disembowelment and gratuitous nudity. What? It's actually really terrible? OK then... probably Gunnerkrigg Court, which is not Jack. Which is A GOOD THING.

Koltreg: I enjoy that as well. Besides it being a good comic I used the print book as a distraction for my sister so I could burn her Twilight books. Gunnerkrigg Court - Helping Everyone!

El Santo: Tell her it is beloved by Neil Gaiman. Girls love stuff by Neil Gaiman.

Koltreg: Gaiman she likes less. I am the Gaiman Man in my family. Where do you see your blog in 5 days?

El Santo: Five days... what, is that a Saturday? I'm probably going to be reading and reviewing the Dead Winter webcomic while my wife hits the gym. Her and her exercise, pfeh. Who needs that when you got bone crunching zombie action?

Koltreg: Reiley is a good guy who deserves more views for his comic. I also figured that 5 days is more reasonable to estimate than 5 months.

El Santo: I'm still on page 50, by the way. It ain't bad, but the bone crunching action hasn't really happened yet.

Koltreg: As we wind this down though, are there any questions you have for me?

El Santo: Yeah! It's always nice to run into a fellow blogger slash mortal rival. What sort of character or personality do think your own webcomic blog is? Like I imagine myself the Anthony Bourdain of blogs, and I think Eric Burns-White once said he was the Pauline Kael.

Koltreg: I see my blog as a submachine that gained sentience. It is deadly in the right hands but it just needs that hand to help it. Which is both crazy and yet...yeah that is just crazy.

El Santo: Yes. Crazy. You might want to lay off the Call of Duty for a day or two.

Koltreg: Actually I have no video games. I only have a Gamecube.

El Santo: That's no good. Now you'll have idea what webcomic guys talk about all the time. Video games is the common language.

Koltreg: I used to room with people who shared consoles. I am a recovering nerd as I say though, I put my money towards webcomics, music and food.

El Santo: So, given your meal earlier ... just music then?

Koltreg: Well sir, thank you for doing this interview. It has been... interesting.

El Santo: No prob, man. Thanks for asking me!

This Friday I should be running the review I expected to have up on vacation that came in late of Rice Boy by a controversial Internet figure.
See you then!

No comments: