So, my post last Friday mentioned Ryan Estrada joining onto Life’s a Bluff – but this was apparently just the tip of the iceberg. The Cartoon Commune was launched, assurances were given concerning the return of Aki Alliance (among other new comics), and finally, an attempt was made to blanket the internet in guest strips – Fleen and T Campbell have done most of the round-up for those who didn’t realize the scope of it all. There is a confirmed count of at least thirty-seven, and I’m confident the actual number is at least in the forties. For the full list, Ryan will be running the strips on his own site, one every five hours, with commentary, so that’s the place to be for any who want the complete experience.
It’s a pretty impressive feat, to come up with that many comics emulating and celebrating so many different styles – all the more so because many of the guest strips were amazingly well done. But while most were inclined to tip the hat to Estrada on a job well done, I noted a number of others who were upset by his attempt to become the “ultimate attention whore” – and it is that crowd I feel the need to address.
Now, I can understand their point. Having a product thrown in your face too many times will often turn it sour, regardless of the product itself. I can think of several different webcomics that I found myself dissuaded from reading specifically because of overaggressive self-promotional advertising. So for someone not a fan of Estrada’s style – or those simply looking for actual content from the comics they read, and running into guest strip after guest strip – I can see how the Estradaganza could be aggravating. And yes, it is certainly true that Ryan is going out of his way to attract attention with this – it is clearly a stunt being done with the goal of promoting his new site and career.
But that said – seriously, I can think of few worthier causes for this sort of stunt than celebrating someone’s chance to go full-time with the webcomics gig. Sure, he’s not going to be the first one to do so – but the crowd of those who make a living from webcomics is still only a few dozen at most. Each person who adds to those ranks is another bit of reassurance for those working towards such a goal, and an accomplishment worth recognizing.
Secondly, this isn’t just him asking for a shameless plug on his friend’s sites. This is him producing dozens of strips, each of them carefully crafted for the subject. This is him giving dozens of webcartoonists the chance to sit down for a day and rest, or try and get caught up, or work on building up their buffer. They aren’t posting the guest strips because he forced them to do so – they are posting them because they appreciate what he did, and because they think it is worth sharing with their readers!
Is it self-promotion? Yes, of course it is. But it is self-promotion done well, in service of a worthy cause and with the glad participation of all those involved in the matter. This isn’t something for people to be repulsed by – this is something for people to aspire towards.