I love hate mail.
I do. It amuses me to no end. When I started writing professionally, a $5/hour intern at the Los Angeles Sentinel, I was mentored in part by the late, great Dennis Schatzman. Dennis told me that if somebody wasn’t mad at what you were writing, you were doing something wrong.
So when I found this guy, who makes hating my work (and maybe me, I dunno) almost into a cottage industry, it practically made my day. What’s even funnier is that I won’t deny he has some points. I could easily do longer, more in-depth reviews. It’s not what I was hired to do, but I could. Still, his loathing for me is hilarious.
He came back to mind because of something said at the Cup O’ Bendis panel this weekend. Jim McCann ranted a bit on how people who comment on or review an issue by simply saying “meh” get him very angry. Bendis chimed in agreeing, but it didn’t seem as possibly pointed at reviews as McCann’s statement did. Bendis did say that having “meh” said about a piece of work is just like a kick in the balls for him.
Believe it or not, it took someone else in attendance suggesting that McCann’s statement might have been directed at Tabu, who probably uses that more than any other reviewers and sometimes leaves that as his only commentary about an issue.
In actuality, it was McCann’s “meh” statements that inspired me to create a “meh” pile, and then email him to give him credit for the creation, to my even greater amusement. That’s just freakin’ awesome.
In comments on another blog he said, “Some say I should do shorter reviews, which I toss aside. I don’t want to be Hannibal Tabu.” That’s fantastic, especially when he added “It makes me glad to know that there’s at least one person out there getting something useful out of my reviews. ” Given that the checks keep clearing in my account and I know this guy’s out there loathing me, I know two people getting something useful out of mine, which makes me all the happier.
Especially the first half of the year, when I was working four jobs, I’ve had to go back in to reviews to catch dropped words, missed links, bad italics tags or times my brain was working faster than my fingers. Now that I’m all day jobbed up, there’s less than that. But again, I love the harshness, because it helps me step up my game. I couldn’t be more pleased to have found this guy.
Random Googling for something else found Whitechapel poster Toriach, who posted, “Well to rip off one of my favorite reviewers Hannibal Tabu (even if I disagree with him 90 percent of the time) here’s a short story about that. No.”
Disagree with me 90 percent of the time, and I’m a favorite? Dude/dudette, thank you. That’s freakin’ wonderful. I’m so grateful.
Don’t get me wrong, I like it when people like what I do too (like Greg Pak extensively quoting my review of Incredible Hercules #129 or getting name checked in a Marvel press release) and I get a fair share of “love the column” stuff from people who meet me or in emails. But for some reason the hate mail just amuses me more. I get frustrated at lots of stuff — the blog is plenty evidence of that — but it rarely turns into a campaign against any one person. While many people wrongly believe that I dislike Geoff Johns or Brian Michael Bendis, I point to Johns’ brilliant work with the Flash Rogues or the Dark Avengers issues I bought and reread regularly.
For me, it’s rarely about the person. It’s always about the work. I once hated Frank Tieri’s work, and now believe he’s grown into a pretty good writer. It’s never personal, despite what so many want to believe in messageo boards or darkened monitor-lit bedrooms.
Hate it or love it, I am grateful for everyone who reads my work (even the ones who can’t spell my last name and put “Tatu” for some unknown reason — fans of allegedly lesbian Russian singers? Admittedly, I am a proud lesbian …), because any passionate reaction is a reaction, any time they can devote that kind of energy to my work, I affected them. I spend my days and nights trying to convert the oceans of silent “meh” into something more, so deeply filled with gratitude when I succeed.
Playing (Music): “Say Hey (I Love You)” by Michael Franti and Spearhead feat. Cherine Anderson