Busting Out Of the Web

It’s another look back at the webcomics world that was.  February was a short month, but jam-packed with news of webcomics busting free of the web itself into print, phones and iPods. 

And what does all of this mean for the notion of the webcomic itself?

In January, we saw a lot of new projects in webcomics.  We saw the relaunch of Clickwheel.  We saw the launch of The Biggest Webcomic Loser, and the move by Eric Burns to Modern Tales.  In February we saw a lot of news as well, but with a slightly different focus.  February was the month we saw many webcomickers taking their creations to other mediums. 

For many years, webcomics have been exactly as their name implies: comics that appear only on the web.  It was only the lucky few who managed to get picked up by major publishers, and those that didn’t had to take a gamble on printing up a couple hundred, if not a couple thousand, copies of a book to keep costs low.  Now, with print on demand services and other cheap printing alternatives making themselves more prominent, many webcomic artists have seized the opportunity to see their own work in print (and hopefully make a few bucks on the side).  And in February, we saw a great number of webcomics artists are making the jump from pixels to paper.

First, there are a large number of webcomic artists included in the new anthology, Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Comics.  This collection adds yet another link between webcomics and the independent comics movement, and how that connection will unfold should be interesting to track. 

Then there was the announcement that Jeffrey Rowland’s Wigu was going to appear in print.  Close on Rowland’s heels was Anywhere But Here appearing in a local newspaper, Girly releasing its first collection, and A Softer World putting out a print collection of its own.  But perhaps the most significant news of all was the announcement by Drunk Duck that they were releasing six books (now seven) through Lulu.com.  This is certainly a grand time to be both an avid webcomic fan and an avid fan of reading while in the bathroom (which I am). 

But more interesting than all these fabulous new tree killers were some of the advancements for webcomics appearing in yet new mediums.  I mentioned Clickwheel in my last article, but it continued to make news through February as people discussed its relative merits and deficiencies.  Certainly the delivery method for Clickwheel is clunky at best right now, but given the sheer popularity of iPods and the huge potential audience they afford, I can imagine it will only be a matter of time before the Clickwheel guys figure out some better way of providing delivery.

But even more interesting than Clickwheel was the announcement that PvP was being picked up by GoComics, as part of their new line of “GoComics Books”.  This marks another step forward in putting webcomics on mobile phones, which is a market that puts iPods to shame.  Imagine being able to keep up with your favorite webcomics without even having a computer around, just by grabbing them on your phone.  Now that’s cool. 

So what does this mean for the future of webcomics?  The web has always been the resting place for webcomics (hence the name…).  Sure there were a few with print deals, but in general if you wanted to keep up with your favorite strips you had to get to a computer every day and check them for updates.  And chances were you weren’’t going to learn about new webcomics by visiting your local comic book shop or going to a convention.  Nope, you had to rely on links from other webcomics, or maybe scrounging around in one of the online collectives.  This trend is beginning to change.  With more and more print collections out there and an ever-increasing webcomic presence at conventions, it’s entirely possible that new readers will be introduced to webcomics by first seeing them in print form.

Clickwheel is opening the door for the “Hey, what are you watching on your iPod?” crowd, and GoComics is going to let readers find PvP while they may be searching for some of their syndicated favorites.  More and more, it seems like doors are being opened for new readers to be introduced to webcomics by something other than the web itself, and this can only be a good thing.  There are people out there that would definitely enjoy webcomics, but just aren’t dedicated enough to “surfing the web” to find the webcomic that they would love.  But these people might be willing to pick up a print collection or grab a “comicast”” on their iPod or mobile phone.  These different mediums appeal to different people, and only open the door for many more new readers to enter the world of webcomics. 

I look forward to welcoming them in.

Xaviar Xerexes

Wandering webcomic ronin. Created Comixpedia (2002-2005) and ComixTalk (2006-2012; 2016-?). Made a lot of unfinished comics and novels.

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