< Piro >
Thursday - June 8, 2006
It's kind of sad, but i can always pinpoint the general time period where I first started using the internet. I was part of a University of Michigan pilot program that offered web service to alumni. I remember the first web page i ever looked at (it was the Animania website :P) and i remember trying to get my brain around the idea that another web page i visited soon after was downloading from a server physically located in Japan. It was a few months before AOL finally connected to the rest of the net in such a way that allowed you to visit web pages. I soon switched from Mosaic to Netscape (it allowed backgrounds to webpages) and it was around that time that i managed to secure some web space on a friend's college account (hi ben :P), and started working on my own web pages.
It was in the early 1990s that the internet started to creep into our lives and became the place where many of us live out a significant portion of our existence. For a long time i kinda felt cheated -- What i would have done to have the Internet when i was in high school or college. I had always felt rather isolated living and working where i did and the internet gave me a kind of social life that i'd never really had before (i've told you before, yes i really was that sad. Remember, Piro is kind of an idealized version of myself when i was in college. Think about that :P)
It's been interesting to watch just how much the internet has effected the lives of young people over the past 18 years. As with anything, there's been a lot of good, a lot of bad, and a lot of "we don't really know if its good or bad." The biggest problem with the internet is that it really doesn't forget. Even when i first got online and was posting to rec.arts.anime and other newsgroups, the main thing people always told you to keep in mind is that whatever you send off into the ether is going to be there forever, if anyone cares to look for it. I've looked myself, i've found old newsgroup postings i had done that make my teeth ache (god, i was such a newbie back then. A classic newbie :P) and a lof of the website stuff i did was pretty lame ("Fred's Totally NYAN! web pages?" good god, what kind of moron was i?) Nothing to really be ashamed of, just that it can be embarrassing to read or look at what a younger you had done.
I feel sorry for young people today who are making all of their mistakes and fumbles online in ways that will forever be there for people to find. In retrospect, i'm glad I was older when the net came into my life. I didn't have things like Live Journal or Deviant Art or Myspace or Youtube or any of those kinds of places to spill myself out to the world to get attention. Back then, the best way to make friends in the anime net culture was to build a website for a anime that didn't have one yet. I built a fairly decent (but never completed) website called Pai's Page, devoted to Yuzo Takada's 3x3 Eyes series. I created fan sites for Kimagure Orange Road and Marmalade Boy (i think the purple Marmalade Boy graphic i made in Corel Draw is still being used by some Mboy websites). These are all, of course, dead pages, and have been for ages. Sure, if you dig around you can find them, but i certainly have never seen any reason to keep them alive. In fact, in many cases i don't even have copies of the sites myself. I started to focus on Fredart, and then Megatokyo came along, and that's what i've been keeping myself busy on.
In Japan, manga and anime fans didn't make websites about their favorite series, they made websites that showcased their own fan and original artwork. I found these sites so inspiring that i built Fredart around the same model. One thing that Fredart didn't have that most CG artists did was an 'adult' section. Depending on the artist, some "over 18" sections featured little more than nudity, undergarment shots and sensual poses. Others, of course, were decidedly more graphic (i think most people are aware of just how, uh, 'graphic' doujinshi artists can get :P). I'd always considered adding an 'edgy' section to fredart, featuring drawings of a more sensual nature. Honestly, though, i was always too nervous to do it. When i was younger, i could barely get myself to draw boobs on girls. I've always leaned towards a more subtle sensuality in my drawings, its just part of how I'm wired.
Back in 1999, around the time i was starting development for 'warmth' i actually did put some (what was for me) edgy stuff online. I did it in a small way with an experimental website under a pen name that i never promoted and was really only known about by a few people. I thought the concept was kinda neat and was interesting enough to cludge together. The idea was that as you stepped through the site you were presented with obscured or filtered versions of the drawings that you could click on them to sharpen them. It was six drawings in all, and only two of them showed any kind of nudity.
The only real interest this old site might have to Megatokyo readers is that this is pretty much what i have in mind when i think of the content of Piro's sketchbook. Nothing overt --undergarments, partial nudity, etc. Hardly anything to raise the hackles of anyone who's spent any time online. If there is anything for me to be embarrassed about its that these are old drawings and they look, well... really crappy. Still, it was a neat concept and i was actually a little proud of the little site, even if no one ever really knew about it.
It's been offline for many years (it used to be what you'd find if you went to omoikane.net) but like anything that gets posted to the net, it's been out there somewhere. Every once and a while i'd have someone ask me if these drawings were mine. It was always kind of amusing to see that pop up from time to time. In fact, it was almost a real life Megatokyo-world experiment, to see what really does happen to 'edgy' images that get released onto the net. Do they ever resurface? do they disappear into the ether? Up until recently it's just been an amusing thing in the background that was like a little easter egg MT fans may or may not ever come across.
So why am i bringing this up now? Well, because recently a small group of people who seem to dislike me and Megatokyo for some reason, out of what must be an extreme case of boredom (you'd hardly think i was really worth the bother) have been trying to use these drawings against me. For some reason they got it into thier heads that this site was some kind of porn doujinshi that I had gone to great lengths to eradicate off the net. When they eventually did manage to dig up the 6 drawings i'm guessing they were pretty disappointed by how tame they were. Perhaps that is why they have been trying to make more of these drawings than there really is to them. They even went so far as to try to show them to people standing in line at Anime Central last month. They also tried to get a rise out of me by approaching me and having me sign copies of the drawings, or by leaving copies of them at the booth when i wasn't there. (i won't comment more on the lameness of this).
They say that the worst thing you can do when people are bullying you is to give them the satisfaction of reacting to them. I'm not really reacting here. I'm not mad, or upset, or embarrassed, or even worried (like for some reason they think i'd be) what would happen if Megatokyo readers ever saw these drawings. MT fans have been finding these drawings for years, and my reaction is the same as it always has been - I laugh a little and ask them where they found them. This is really the first time anyone has ever tried to use them to upset me though. I never expected that. It's an odd twist to the whole thing that is kinda sad, really.
You should never allow anyone to take your work, even old crappy work like this and try to use it against you. Nor is it right to allow people to use your work to threaten your readers and fans. These are my drawings, it is my work, and crappy though they may be, they are still mine. Using these drawings to try to damage me or hurt me? Sorry, i think that's enough of that.
The site is called "Blurred", which fit in quite well with the concept behind it. I cringe at the drawings just because they are so...well, off. The first drawing (Eri from Warmth) seems particularly off for me. The most 'shocking' of the bunch is the older Ruri (OMGB00b33z!) but even thats not really bad. The worst drawing of the bunch is the last one, a character that later became Erika... not a good drawing at all, it looks really stilted and... ugh. Still, its an interesting sequence. On the last page, there are links to sites to add a darker flavor to the site, so tread carefully, some have got worse over the years :)
I decided to post the site without any changes or tweaks, all i added was a little history page at the landing with an "18 or over" warning. There's a part of me that actually wants to expand it and do some more current works, mainly because i can draw a ton better these days, but i probably wont. Sure, it's a little embarrassing for me to post this site so blatantly, but i'm not really ashamed of it. I'm a reserved person because i'm easily embarrassed, not because i'm a self righteous moralist prick. Honestly, i keep Megatokyo mostly clean because i know there are a lot of younger people reading it, and it's out of respect for them i tend to steer away from some more overt imagery (tho that doesn't mean i may not have to do some in the future anyway, we'll see :P)
For some reason some people think i have some high moralist platform from which i don't approve of doujishi or art with sexual content. This is not true. What i abhor are doujinshi that are nothing more than rape fantasies about beloved characters from our favorite series. A lot of adult doujinshi focuses on either laughable fetishes and ridiculous sexual escapades in which the girls in them are laughably unrealistic, or a the level of brutality towards the characters that is so debasing and vile that the creators should be ashamed to call themselves fans. Not all doujinshi is like this. There are doujinshi out there that can be subtle, loving, sensual, caring. Some of it reflects a painful honesty and sensitivity that the creators inadvertently put into their work. I have no problem with adult material that doesnt debase the characters in it. If having that stipulation makes me a moralist prig, then fine, i'll accept the label.
I think over the years i've been pretty consistent about who i am, and i have no real worries about character assassination attempts against me. In the end, who really cares? You like the comic, you read it. If you don't, there's plenty of other things out there to read. If knowing about this old website causes you to stop reading Megatokyo, that's not something i'm worried about.
I may apologize about a lot of things... i apologize about the quality of the work i produce or the failure of it to live up to my own expectations, but i do not now nor ever will apologize for what i produce. Crappy as it may be, i'm proud of it all.