@$$hole!: Reader Mail – You’re Ugly

 In comics

The argument in today’s comic is not one that has escaped me. Not that I’m unattractive – quite the opposite, in fact – but the fact that, especially with a photo comic, readers are more inclined to tune in every update if you or one of your main protagonists is an attractive woman.

Many online properties have figured this out, following the learnings garnered from television. People like watching attractive people, and more often than not they prefer women to men.

This was made even more abundantly clear when I have had female characters appear in the photo stories – namely, the sexy vet assistant, the crazy cat lady, or even most recently Amanda and Jess.

Some of the panels I give at conventions includes “The Dos and Don’ts of Photocomics,” and in there I say two things:

1) I recommend against putting yourself in the comic. Not you as an actor, but you as a person.
2) I recommend having some attractive friends be in the comic with you.

The first item up there is important because if, like @$$hole!, your comic has any guts or an opinion, you’re more likely to tick someone off. These readers tend to be ignorant to the entertainment process, and instead directly associate you with the negative aspects of whatever you’ve done or said that angers them. They do this even if you don’t cast yourself as yourself. Audiences have difficulty differentiating the character from the actor. Or they assume that, as the writer, the negative piece must reflect your true thoughts and ideals.

I say this to the later, “If I were to write Captain America, I would write a very patriotic character who put country before himself. However, I also have to write the villains. Say it’s a flashback and he’s fighting Nazis. Just because I write a character who’s a Nazi doesn’t automatically mean I sympathize, endorse, or appreciate that organization in any way. It just means that, if I make you hate that character, I’ve done my job as a writer portraying them as the villain.”

So why, if I know myself to be attractive, do I write self-depreciating humor strips like this? I took a note from Kevin Smith’s book that, when you write something with balls – something with an opinion – it’s better to attack yourself before someone else has the chance to.

Plus, let’s be honest – the bald head is an easy mark for when you need to poke fun at something on my person.

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