There are basically two kinds of support webcomics creators need: moral/emotional and financial. Making webcomics can be a tough slog. It can seem, especially in the early years of a comic, that we're working in a vacuum and that maybe no one's reading. But, when you do get that occasional email from a fan – whoa, what a feeling! But when traffic stats are low or merchandise isn't selling or we get a terrible review, we need support and encouragement that keep us going.
It's a tough time to be in the entertainment industry. Our Internet-enabled, digital environment has led to more things than ever competing for our attention. And a lot of those things are entertainment, be they movies, TV, video games, websites, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever else.
In many ways, webcomics are primarily online (I mean, hey, it's right there in the name). The comic's there, interactions between creators and fans are there (though offline, too), revenue is generated by ads, even the physical products are sold online. As a consequence, a lot of webcomics tend not to have a physical presence beyond merchandise and con appearances.
This may seem like the world's most basic question, but I'm not sure it is. I think there's a conventional wisdom that the vast majority of webcomics are read in a browser or RSS viewer. My habits – I use a web browser; I'm vaguely embarrassed to say that I've never really gotten the hang of RSS readers even though I imagine they're pretty simple – fall into that conventional wisdom, but I suspect there's some hidden diversity that both readers and webcomic creators can help us reveal.
So, I pose this question to readers: How do you read webcomics – web browser, RSS reader, email subscription, iPhone/iPad app, or something else? If you use more than one, which is your primary method? Which do you enjoy the most?
For a webcomic to be successful, it has to connect to a core audience. The core audience is the comic's natural readership, a defined group, the people who buy merchandise and recommend the comic to their friends. Core audiences are broad descriptions, of course (any single person in the group won't exactly fit the description), but they're useful in understanding a comic and its readers. For instance, Penny Arcade appeals to folks who enjoy video games (among other things). Hark! A Vagrant readers are educated, and have an interest in history and irreverent sense of humor. Understanding this helps determine what kind of content and merchandise may be well received by those comics' audiences.
Hi, I'm Sam Costello. I'm the creator and writer of Split Lip, a horror webcomic in the vein of the Twilight Zone, which features work by artists from all over the world.
In thinking about what to write for the guest blog posts that Xaviar asked me to write, I realized that I'd been asking myself a lot of questions about webcomics recently (especially questions about Split Lip, many of which were prompted by my recent series of columns about making it at iFanboy). I had thoughts about the questions, but not enough answers. I don't know if anyone does, but I'm guessing the discussion we'll have about these questions will be useful to many of us – creators and readers alike. I'm looking forward to talking with you all this week.