So, after missing Webcomics 101: Getting Started on Thursday, I was determined to not miss Webcomics 102 on Friday. So I showed up an hour early, and there was already a line of about thirty people! In the end, the line ended up being just as long as it was Thursday, but the volunteer running the room was much nicer on Friday, and really packed in the people well beyond room capacity, which let almost everyone in, I believe. The picture on the left was actually taken as people were still coming in and filling the standing room only gaps. As always, click on a picture for a higher res version.
Bill Barnes (Unshelved) was running the panel, but at no point in the entire hour did he have any semblance of control. There were simply too many bigger-than-life personas cracking jokes than he could handle. This did make for a somewhat disorganized event, so the panel didn't actually cover a whole lot of ground in terms of how to find your audience, but it was definitely a good time and a good look into the minds of these creators.
The "funny" side of the panel was Scott Kurtz (PvP), Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (Penny Arcade). They each had a lot of fans at the panel who egged them on as much as possible, and they responded with quite a bit of wit and humor in addition to also giving some useful information about things they had done to get an audience.
The "serious" side of the panel was Rich Stevens (Diesel Sweeties) and Kris Straub (Starslip Crisis). They weren't really all that serious, but they did seem to be more interested in actually trying to address questions directly than making jokes, so they dubbed themselves the serious side.
The panel was a whole lot of fun, and the panelists had the audience laughing out loud for pretty much the entire time with jokes about pandering to the audience, lesbians, and in general making people raise their hands to admit embarassing things they've done.
But in spite of all the humor, the panelists did manage to communicate some important principles for finding your audience. The conclusion was that finding an audience is an organic process which involves you showing up on schedule, providing content exactly when you say you will, and then just being yourself and being active in the community, posting in blogs, visiting forums, and getting to know people, slowly but surely building your audience until you finally get that "big break" opportunity to get big, which seems to come at random times.
Now I'm just looking forward to seeing how I can make money from Webcomics 103!