I was talking with a friend the other day and he asked how I was doing with the Noir Factory. I mentioned that I had some big wins in the last few months. I wrote an article for ProBlogger, one of the most popular media blogs on the internet. That article resulted in hundreds of tweets, as did another article in Dumb Little Man.
I also told him about the last few articles, particularly the most recent on my blog, that had blown up the internet, helping me connect with leaders in the communities I love as well as garnering hundreds of Facebook likes and shares.
I told him that my mailing list was growing at a healthy rate and I was building not only an audience for my blog but an incredible amount of engagement as well.
His eyes started to glaze over.
“That’s all good,” he asked “but why? What’s the point of all that effort?”
Ah..that is the Question….
The Question was a bare-knuckles superhero created by comic-book legend Steve Ditko for Charlton comics. He was the alter-ego of crusading reporter Vic Sage and dressed in a dark-blue fedora, dark-blue trench coat, and had a blank slate or a mask.
On the power scale for superheros, he was towards the bottom, relying on smoke bombs and his fist to solve most problems. During his short time at Charlton he starred in his own comic book and was one of the more popular characters in a stable of colorful but unremarkable heroes.
Then Charlton Comics was bought by DC Comics
As a comic-book writer, Dennis O’Neil had made his bones on Green Lantern and Green Arrow, taking on the issues of the day with his comic scripts. He had been there and done that and was looking for something a little different when DC offered him the chance of working with a Batman knockoff in a fedora and to breathe some new life into him.
O’Neil jumped at the chance.
In the first issue of the Question, we see a new Vic Sage, a reporter who enjoys pissing people off for the sake of pissing people off. When he goes into action as the Question, it isn’t really because he needs an alter ego but rather because his actions would require a mask for almost anyone. He thinks with his fists when he thinks at all, and his chief power is being the toughest guy in the room.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
At the end of the first issue he finds someone tougher and takes a bullet to the head before he is tossed into the river. While the title of the book is “The Question,” it takes a while for Vic to surface. When he does, however, it is at the feet of a sensei who teaches him that not only is he not the toughest guy in the room, he was never as tough as he thought he was.
For the rest of the series the main “question” of the series is “Who is the faceless man and why does he do what he does?”
It’s something he is never really able to answer, but the fact that he can ask this of himself is enough for the moment. In the entire run of the series, he is a good man who could be better, and the decisions he makes haunt him.
There is a Japanese philosophy know as “kaizen,” and it is used chiefly for understanding the decision-making process. Known as “good change,” one of the main tools of the philosophy is understanding why a thing is done. It usually involves repeatedly asking “why” until you get to a root cause.
In my case, “why” am I going through the trouble to create free, sharable content on the internet on this website? The first “why” is easy.
I create this content to build connections with people who are interested in what I have to say and in the stories I tell. From there it gets harder.
Because I feel that they will enjoy the stories I tell and that will create loyal readers who will enjoy my books and spread the word to their friends.
Because I want to create a life that will involve me telling those stories, and I want to be successful enough to tell these stories for the rest of my life.
Because I have spent my life thinking in term of story and characters and I want to share these tales. I enjoy not only the stories but the process of creating them and they are things I want to work on all my life.
Because I think I have a unique voice and I want to be heard.
While the answer to these questions might not be the solution to everything, just asking the questions help bring you that closer to clarity. I think that seeking and not finding is infinitely better than never seeking in the first place, and whatever you learn is usually worthwhile.
The key is the Question.