BorgBlog is two years and 526 posts old this month, and as I pause to give it a rest for a few weeks I'd like to share a few thoughts on my blogging experience.
I began this blog with the thought that I would share sketchbook pages, live roughs, scrawled-upon Starbucks napkins and drawings in process -- a behind-the-scenes layer of my work that I had reason to think might interest a small but passionate cartooncentric community. Though cartoonists' processes are necessarily private, (and regardless, I am private by nature,) I had the notion that more might be shared than convention had allowed, and I was game to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone.
Sketchbook pages filled with topics and cryptic scribbles fell flat, garnering only a few comments. Posting roughs backfired a few times, as I found my ideas grabbed by others who seemed to consider this a shop ripe for looting. And though I proceeded to finish and publish a couple of ideas I would have otherwise abandoned thanks to some encouraging comments, I also found that a lack of enthusiasm sometimes took the wind out of my sails on ideas I otherwise felt were promising. Lesson One: Be careful about putting fresh and tender notions up for a public vote.
Lesson 2: I quickly found that trying to stop a drawing in process to scan and post my progress was unworkable -- there is a certain flow that cartooning requires, a mental zone, that won't allow this going-under-and-coming-back-to-the-surface repeatedly. Most artists know that wonderful place several inches deep inside the paper where thoughts and music and daydreams and memories all swim around freely during the drawing of inky lines. It is often the richest part of the day, and I learned that I wasn't willing to give that up for the sake of posting. I thank blogging for that insight and an increased appreciation for that gift of Flow unique to artists.
So BorgBlog devolved into a few essays, some random thoughts, and the posting of each day's cartoon. For the record, this is the very first place where eyes are laid on my cartoons -- they are generally posted within fifteen minutes of finishing the drawing. And it's been fun to watch the comments grow in number over these couple of years, from 5 or 10 in the beginning to 20, 30 or more these days.
But ah, those comments. First, thanks to everyone who posts comments in the spirit of fun, curiosity, and lively debate. I've always benefited from thoughtful criticism, and those who take the time to challenge or support a position I've taken are equally valuable to me. That's most of you, and I've enjoyed this new kind of flash feedback. Most of my career I would draw a cartoon, put it in a bottle and toss it into the ocean, then wait like the guy in B.C. as it drifted off to the printer, to the presses, to the driveways, to the breakfast tables, and sometimes, days later, a response drifted back in the Letters to the Editor. Now I post a cartoon on this blog and read a couple dozen responses after dinner.
The flip side, of course, is that a Letter to the Editor required a certain gathering of one's thoughts, a careful and conscious effort to make oneself understood, a signature that held one accountable for those thoughts, and enough effort in the writing and mailing to scare away the fainthearted or ambivalent.
The Comments section of this blog has become a crack house of vitriole, a dangerous dark alleyway where angels fear to tread, and who can blame them? Anonymity provides cover for some people to air their darkest side, to attack randomly and venomously. It's something I don't want to be associated with anymore. I've come to feel the guilt of a slumlord, a kind of complicity in providing a barely monitored space where unaccountable voices brawl and slash.
The upshot, of course, is that one ventures out less. Whereas I began the blog inclined to share more of my process for those who might be interested, now I'm inclined to post only the drawings I intended for public consumption anyway and let the usual arrows bounce off my well-developed rhinoceros hide. Pity. I was hoping for more.
So I'm giving BorgBlog a rest until the first of the new year and looking for your thoughts on what it might become next. In its present form, I think it has run its course. Any ideas what we might do in this space next? How do we take back this neighborhood?