Rec.Arts.Comics: No Alternative?

Posted: Monday, September 3, 2001
By: Darren Schroeder

Voting is currently underway regarding doing away with groups rec.arts.comics.alternative as well as rec.arts.comics.european and rec.arts.comics.other-media. The thinking behind this proposal was that these groups seemed to have low and unproductive activity. The specific reasons for the Alternative group to be removed was given as:

"The newsgroup rec.arts.comics.alternative suffers from a vague definition of topic and a lot of crossposting. Much of its topic base is still discussed in rec.arts.comics.misc, and there is still some traffic in alt.comics.alternative. Removing the group and folding its traffic back into rec.arts.comics.misc would allow discussion that is currently taking place in two newsgroups to occur in one place. This should promote discussion of alternative, small-press, and underground

They went on to survey traffic for rac.alternative between June 3, 2001 and July 4, 2001 and found that there is an average of 3-4 total posts per day, 2 on-topic posts per day (counting crossposted and non-crossposted posts), and only 1 on-topic non-crossposed discussion post per day. It was therefor suggested.."Removing this newsgroup would allow readers to discuss alternative topics in one place, and the increase in traffic would not be a burden on the rec.arts.comics.misc newsgroup."

Subsequent discussion has looked at the idea that the concept of alternative is a vague one. The charter for the group spelt out the aim of the group when it was established:

"The purpose of rec.arts.comics.alternative is to provide a forum for the discussion of alternative comic books, which follow in the footsteps of the 1960s' underground comics in that they defy the common perceptions that all comics are for children and that almost all feature four-color Superheroes. Comics which easily fall into genres well-represented by the comic book industry's mainstream (such as Superheroes, science fiction/fantasy/horror, comics for kids and teens, and comics based on popular movies or bestsellers) are not considered "alternative" unless they fit the following description of alternative comic books:

In contrast to over 80% of comic books today, they are not published by the chief imprint of the biggest mainstream companies (DC, Marvel, Image, Valiant, Archie and Disney); comic books that you could buy at a convenience store or a newsstand would not be considered alternative. Alternative comic books focus on subjects not typically found in comic books or focus on typical subjects in atypical and innovative ways. These two qualities are essential. They are additionally most often published in black and white, in small circulations (roughly less than 10 of the index currently used by the major distributors), and are published by the smaller publishers (i.e. are not delineated above). They are normally owned by their creators and many times even published by them. A majority of these qualities should be present.

If a comic doesn't obviously belong in any other group, including rec.arts.comics.alternative, it should be discussed in the RAC.misc group. If you can't tell if a comic belongs in RAC.alternative, then don't discuss it there; if you can tell, then discuss away."

Not too a bad definition of alternative. Sure some things at the margins might be hard to categorise, but for the few alternative titles that make it big there are hundreds that no one ever knows about 'cause they have small press runs and exist completely within the small press/alternative/zine culture. If the basis for a newsgroup to exist is the existance of specific subject matter then an alternative/smallpress group is justifiable. However, if the level of postings is the prime factor then perhaps there is good reason for it to cease operating.

This proposal would return discussion of alternative and/or european comics to rec.arts.comics.misc, and would return discussion of comics- based movies, television series, cartoons, and the like to the most appropriate newsgroups within the rec.arts.comics.* hierarchy.

If you care about this one way or the other then you better have your say, just remember to keep it polite. The Call For Votes (CFV) was posted 27 August, voting closing 17 Sepember.

The main discussion on this topic as well as the call for votes is located in news.groups with the subject of the posting RFD: rec.arts.comics.* reorganization. Make sure you cast your vote.

If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me