Sporadic Sequential
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
An Important Message From The Publisher

I've been working behind the scenes on some changes that I think will make this blog even more popular and exciting, and I'm finally ready to announce them. Here's what you can expect at this site in the coming months:

Renewed Superhero-Centric Focus. First and foremost, as can be gleaned from the site's new name, this blog will now predominantly focus on superhero comics. Given my frequent criticisms of superhero comics, this might seem strange, but allow me to explain my reasoning. I'll be honest: the biggest reason is traffic. Although manga dominates bookstore sales, superheroes still dominate the online discussion throughout the larger comics blogosphere. Sites that have superheroes as their sole or main focus have hits and subscribers that I can only dream of. In fact, my old blog, Grotesque Anatomy, still gets more traffic than this one, and it gets more comments as well, with impassioned fanboys still showing up in years-old threads to defend the merits of a superhero saga I ignorantly dismissed. Clearly, there's still a big audience out there that wants to discuss superheroes, and I want a piece of that action.

It's not just about traffic, however. Recent commentary from industry experts has convinced me that manga has reached both a creative and a sales dead-end and will soon see an implosion. Superhero comics, however, only seem poised for incredible growth, so I plan to get in at the ground floor. Plus, I personally find the increased sexism in manga troubling, so it'll be a relief to focus on a segment of the industry known for putting out work spotlighting strong women.

Finally, what's that old adage? Write what you know? Even though I still enjoy several manga series, I just don't have the energy or expertise to compete with those fans truly devoted to manga. But I was born and bred on superheroes. It's in my blood. And that's why I'll always have a soft spot for those characters clad in gaudily-colored tights.

So: expect much, much more superhero coverage in the near future. We're working on putting together a team that can bring you the finest daily (yes, daily) coverage of superhero comics around. (I had hoped to have the new URL and template ready by now but there's still some work to be done. One sticking point is that my staff and consultants are all recommending that I drop the "Sequential" from the blog's title as they argue it's just too likely that people will misspell it when they try to find the site, but I'd like to maintain some sort of continuity with the old blog, so I'm resisting their advice. Hopefully everything will be nailed down soon! Stay tuned!!)

A Slew of Satellite Sister Sites. But Superhero Sequential is only the start. Once that's comfortably up and running, we'll be launching new "sister" sites to focus on other specific segments of comicdom. Here are some of the planned sites:
  • Shonen Sequential - Even though the manga crash is coming, we'll still track this segment of manga actively, mainly in hopes of converting shonen fans to the true heroes of the comic page. (Naruto can't hold a candle to Spider-Man or Daredevil, which we'll prove over the course of a special 37-part "East vs. West" examination!!)
  • Shojo Sequential - Likewise, all those female readers will need something to fill the void left by the demise of their girly shojo series, so we'll try to steer them towards comparable Western works, like Archie and Casper.
  • Sexy Sequential - Porn manga will probably be the only segment to survive the coming purge, so we'll be there to cover it. Plus, Simon Jones needs more people to review his comixxx. We'll also cover everything else from the adult section of Previews in a mature, tasteful fashion, with lots and lots of pictures.
  • Serious Sequential - Dedicated to covering those serious literary comics that get all the write-ups and awards from highfalutin sources like Time and The New York Times.
  • Silly Sequential - Covering humor collections and comic strips. In a few years, we should be bigger than The Comics Curmudgeon.
  • Sfar Sequential - Admittedly this will be a bit of a niche site, but I'm excited to champion Sfar's work and push for more of it to be released in English. Since I don't know any French, I'll largely be linking to whatever updates Sfar posts on his blog and reacting based on Google's translations.
Advertising. For years I operated under the assumption that a clean, minimalist design would be most appealing to users. However, while many users will tell you that's what they want, studies have shown that, counter-intuitively, they put more trust in sites that feature prominent advertising. Researchers theorize that this is because users subconsciously make the connection that "more ads" = "more money" = "more respectability." So we'll begin running ads on all of the Sequential family of sites. Of course, we would prefer that the ads be comic-related, like the ones that appear on Tom's site, but we'll also run ads for low-flow toilets and online universities like other major comic sites.

Widgets. Along with the ads, the site will also feature more gadgets on the sidebar. I've always found these kinds of things distracting, but apparently the younger crowd loves 'em, as they give users a peek inside the blog author's psyche to see what makes him/her tick. So look forward to exciting polls, random charts, and instantaneously updated mini-feeds about whatever food / music / prescriptions I happen to be enjoying at the moment.

Moderated Comments. I debated this one for a long time, but in the end it kept coming back to the question of appropriate content. Yes, I'm extremely curious to hear what my readers have to say, but there's always the worry that some moron will hijack a comment thread and scare away all the intelligent commentary. Still, I was reluctant to add any kind of delay to comments appearing on a thread, as it's well known that instant gratification is the key to the success of any online endeavor. Luckily, we were able to develop a new piece of code that enhances submitted comments by analyzing them and inserting thoughtful qualifiers or hypothetical counterexamples so that all comments appear more moderate. For example, if someone were to write "GEOFF JOHNS IS TEH SUXXORS!!1!" that comment would be flagged by the moderation software and a softening statement would be appended so it instead read "GEOFF JOHNS IS TEH SUXXORS!!1! but I do have to give him credit for being able to revive interest in GREEN LANTERN and produce such a large body of work on a regular schedule." This way excitable fans are still able to assert their asinine opinions while the flow of intelligent debate isn't impeded for everyone else. [We're really excited about this new bit of technology and think it will prove useful on other types of sites known for having contentious exchanges, such as political blogs, religious websites, and Star Wars fansites.]

So there you have it! Let me know what you think in the comments! (Comment moderation is currently enabled, so your comments will automatically be adjusted to be either more positive or negative.) And look for these and other exciting enhancements to hit the site sometime between now and the next Armed Forces Day!!

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