Your PopCulteer has had a busy week (just scroll down to our previous posts), but we still have our weekly Friday post to create, and we just passed our ninth anniversary yesterday. In the spirit of our nine years blogging here at The Charleston Gazette, and since lately it seems that there’s a lot of interest in what we’ve been doing in this blog (particularly from Charleston’s other newspaper), we’re going to give you…
…NINE WAYS TO WRITE LIKE POPCULT!
1. Share Cool Stuff
You have to write about cool stuff, be it comic books, toys, animation, music, classic television–actually whatever floats your boat. In PopCult I try to write about things for which I truly have a passion. My whole life I’ve been obsessed with hunting down cool things and telling other people about what I find. It takes more than simply starting a blog with “Pop” in the title. You have to really love pop culture and the artifacts, legacies and influences left behind in its wake. The Batmobile should make your blood rush. Yellow Submarine should be viewed regularly. Robot B-9 should be the person you want to hang out with. You should be able to speak with authority about the upcoming comic book crossover between Star Trek and Planet of the Apes. Know your stuff. Failing that, post a random non-sequitor.
I’m using the loose term “artist” here to include visual artists, musicians, playwrights, filmmakers and anybody else expressing themselves in a creative manner. There are so many talented, creative people in this area toiling away in obscurity that it’s almost a sin. If you’re going to write a blog like PopCult, you have to focus on the talent in your own backyard. Here in Charleston we have such an embarrassment of riches that there’s no problem supporting the local scene. You have to actually go out and support the scene, though. You can’t do it from behind a keyboard. You have to go to the art openings, the bars with original live music, the locally-produced plays, the car shows, the special events–if you want to be a journalist/blogger with any credibility, you have to walk the walk and support the scene yourself.
3. Be Positive
You may have noticed that PopCult does not run much in the way of hatchet jobs. I try not to tear down people’s works. The way I see it, my job is to tell you about cool stuff. If something isn’t cool, then it’s foolish to waste my time and yours telling you how bad it is. I do offer constructive criticism, and I also will try to warn you if I’m reviewing a disappointing work by an otherwise excellent creator, but for the most part, if you read about something in PopCult, it’s because I think it has some merit. Once in a great while I will go off on how awful something is, but I try to do it in an entertaining manner.
4. Go Ahead and Worship Your Heroes
One of the differences between traditional journalism and blogging is that the author gets to put their own personal stamp on what they write. I aim for objectivity, but I’m open about my personal biases in the process. This blog was started in 2005, on what would have been Jack Kirby’s 88th birthday. Kirby is a huge part of this blog. So is the legendary action figure, Captain Action. The Beatles turn up, probably once a month, and Monty Python is not far behind. These are a few of the things that made me the person I am, and sharing them with you will help you calculate how much value you put into my opinions.
5. Take Advantage of The New Medium
When blogging you can include graphics, links, video, music and all sort of living, breathing content that simply can’t be done in print. If I want to run off at the mouth and write five-thousand words on why I left Suddenlink, I can do it. If I want to share an obscure movie with you, I’ll post the whole thing here on Sunday. If I take forty photos at Artwalk, I can share every one of them with you. What if I want to post a song by Three Bodies that I co-produced with Spencer Elliott in 1992? Well, here it is…Gardens Of Hope
6. Never Stop Looking
If you want your blog to maintain revelancy, then you have to stay on top of things. This goes back to actually attending local events and networking. You have to constantly meet new people to stay on the cutting edge. There is such a wealth of creativity around here that my problem each week is narrowing down what I’m going to cover in depth. We have live music every night of the week in multiple locations. There’s art everywhere. There’s a vital theater scene in this town that runs the gamut from traditional drama and musicals to avant-garde experimental theater and “happenings.” There’s no excuse for simply copying what other people are covering. Naturally there will be some overlap on major events, but we have so many fringe scenes in town that there’s no excuse for laziness. Charleston has a growing stand-up comedy scene, gamer culture, underground artists, car customizers, cult filmmakers, cartoonists, zines, skateboarders, master tattoo artists, re-enactors, cosplayers and all sorts of other people who need to be exposed to a wider audience.
It’s not the wave of the future. It’s the wave of NOW. I’ve been cranking out video content for PopCult since the introduction of Radio Free Charleston in 2006. I’ve brought over 500 musical acts, animators and film artists to an international audience since then. What’s amazing is that we haven’t really scratched the surface yet. I’ve got new bands lined up for the show, and there are bands I’ve heard of that we haven’t had the chance to record yet. I’m certain that there are all kinds of bands I haven’t even heard of yet. So if you do decide to launch a music video show online, you don’t really need to pick bands that we’ve already had on RFC, and if you do, you don’t really need to have them perform songs that we’ve already had on our show.
When you take The RFC MINI SHOW and PopCult Instant Video into account, there has been fresh video content in this blog for 51 of the last 52 weeks. Many weeks we’ve had more than one original video production.
Video doesn’t have to be original, though. Every Sunday evening since the last week of June, 2008 I’ve posted some random video of some sort as the “Sunday Evening Video(s).” This has been anything from a single music video to an entire movie. I’ve brought you short, silly pieces of animation and entire full-length concerts by great bands. You never know what will turn up on Sundays in PopCult, but you can be sure it’ll be something worth watching. The beauty of blogging is that you can stick video anywhere. One thing I know for sure, posting video in a blog makes people happy, and it’s just a great idea.
One of the things that I always wanted to accomplish with this blog, and something that I finally feel like I’ve managed to pull off over the last year, is to have dependable features on certain days of the week. Every Monday you’re going to get original art by me, and most weeks the production notes for Radio Free Charleston or The RFC MINI SHOW. Tuesday I’ll write about toys. Wednesday is usually reserved for promoting local events. Thursday is a book or graphic novel post. Friday I get wordy and usually plug local stuff. Saturday brings you a classic episode of Radio Free Charleston. Sunday means it’s random video time. Having a routine makes it easier to produce enough content to populate a serious blog. If you’re going to blog, you have to be able to give your readers some reason to come back every day.
9. Be Yourself/Be Original
We leave you with this rule, which sort of makes the others unneccesary. These are things I’ve done to make PopCult what it is. You need to find your own path. You can’t just read this blog, contact people I mention through Facebook, and run the same story two weeks later (likewise, it’s really bad form to spike a story just because I managed to get to it first). You have to create your own universe and personality. I’d like to think that the folks who read PopCult have a pretty accurate idea of who I am. I have incorporated my own major life events into this blog, even though they may not have anything to do with PopCulture. It’s part of how I put my stamp on this blog.
We had a big example this week. I went to Chicago and married my longtime love, Melanie Larch. I wrote about it in the blog, and trust me, in about a week you’ll be sick of reading about Chicago. I’ve got all kinds of stuff to tell you about.
So those are nine ways to write like I do here in PopCult. If you’re up to the challenge, maybe I can write an even crankier article next year, when we hit ten years of blogging.
Stuff To Do will return soon, when I don’t have so much stuff to do.