Some little ball of faecal matter posted a comment on my profile, proudly announcing “Tom Preston finally left DA”, no doubt in an effort to stir something up.
Now, I don’t know a huge amount about Tom Preston (AKA Andrew Dobson), I’m just aware of the sketchy details: he drew fetish stuff, he tried to deny it, he posted some incendiary journal entries and some people claim his art is no good.
Excluding the denial part, that sounds eerily familiar to my
online shtick. The only difference seems to be in our approach to faceless internet hate. Where TP appears to have taken it very, very personally, thus fanning the flames, I treated mine for what it was: faceless.
That’s the first thing you should always remember when reading through comments about your work: everybody is a phantom. An avatar with a silly name. Their comments could be good, their comments could be bad, but ultimately, unless you’re certain the individual behind them has some influence over your future, the words only have as much meaning as you yourself give them.
I love positive feedback. It’s an indicator that I’m providing what people want to see. But, at the same time, I like negative feedback. Especially irrational hatred, though I don’t receive it nearly as much as I once did. The more absurd someone is and the more petty their argument, the more fun I can have with it. It’s ammunition. A catalyst for more cartoons, tailored just to spite them. They try to turn them back on me, of course, branding them as “strawmen”, but that’s just another word issued by a faceless heckler. I
now have a visual that will forever stand there, simultaneously staring them down and, with my name plastered all over it, bolstering my online presence. People share it around when similar topics are discussed elsewhere. It spreads while the detractor’s anonymous bile is lost and forgotten.
Of course, that success is entirely dependent on you following the second key guideline: don’t be a dick.
The internet has a memory. If you don’t want something to be known by all, then don’t post it. If you have an opinion, make it as bullet-proof as possible, and unless they have proven themselves unworthy of it: treat people with respect.
You don’t do that and it will be you providing ammunition to potential haters, rather than the other way ‘round.
Run when you really need to, sure, but never let yourself be chased from a favoured internet haunt because some impotent nobodies said bad things about you and your work. Face them down with your art. Bombard them with it. Show that you’re here to f**king stay and there’s not a god-damn thing they can do about it.