Archive - Jul 27, 2003
I am of the opinion that all webtoonist wannabes could greatly improve their skills if only they took ONE stroll up and down the aisles of the San Diego Comic-Con's Artists' Alley.
The first thing a reader notices about Phil Cho’s Skinny Panda is that it’s about a skinny panda. That may seem self-evident, but in the webcomic business, where success or failure may depend solely upon whether or not the title of a strip is sufficiently catchy to impel a potential reader to click on a link, it is unusual to find one that presents itself so literally.
A few years ago, I got tricked on a message board.
Someone posted a question attributed to Edgar Allen Poe asking whether writers need to know their topic. I weighed in that, yes, writers need to do their research or readers will not buy into their stories.
Later, it was pointed out that Poe was out to prove that, no, you don't need to have intimate experience of something to write about it and promptly described how it would feel to die from hanging – obviously something he hadn't experienced first-hand.
I didn't have a reply to that then, but I do now:
Picture it in your mind's eye: the Artist, alone in her drafty garret studio, isolated from friends, family, the ten thousand distractions of the everyday world, the better to concentrate on her struggle with the ineffable. Breathing deeply, she takes up pen or paintbrush, chisel or keyboard, to seek out all on her own the elusive fruits of her solitary labor – her Art.
It's a persistent image. Downright iconic. It's pretty much how we think of artists doing art. It's also a load of malarkey.
Illiad started User Friendly, a webcomic about a small Internet Service Provider and its friendly staff in November, 1997. User Friendly grew to be one of the first truly popular webcomics garnering a large audience and allowing its creator to quit his day job. In fact, Illiad took User Friendly Media, Inc., public on the CDNX in 1999. Today, User Friendly is still one of the most widely-read webcomics.