Comixpedia’s List of 25 People Of Webcomics for 2004

When we discussed the Year in Review issue it seemed like it would be a natural to write a list of people in webcomics for the year. But what to call it? Most of the time when media magazines talk about people in film, television, music or what-have-you, they can call their articles "The Power List…" or the "The It List…" because, well, those media have power and star power. Webcomics have those things, but alas, still in smaller quantities.

It's also harder to judge the apples and the oranges of creators, publishers, innovators and thinkers in the emerging world of webcomics. There are simply too many business models, too many artistic and creative directions to pursue. We also had to consider that we wanted to recognize people primarily for their impact in 2004, but many people have had such a tremendous impact before 2004 that they continue to have a big impact even if they didn't raise the bar for themselves significantly this year.

All of which is to say that there is no easy way to name this list, or more importantly, why we included some on it and left off others. It is even harder to attach much importance to the order of the list as all of the people on it have contributed mightily to webcomics this past year. All of the people on the list, in their own ways, were just plain cool to watch this year.

Although we were not able to track everyone down for an interview for this piece, we did talk to most about the highlights of 2004 and their plans for 2005. So without further fanfare, check out the List for 2004.

When we discussed the Year in Review issue it seemed like it would be a natural to write a list of people in webcomics for the year. But what to call it? Most of the time when media magazines talk about people in film, television, music or what-have-you, they can call their articles "The Power List…" or the "The It List…" because, well, those media have power and star power. Webcomics have those things, but alas, still in smaller quantities.

It's also harder to judge the apples and the oranges of creators, publishers, innovators and thinkers in the emerging world of webcomics. There are simply too many business models, too many artistic and creative directions to pursue. We also had to consider that we wanted to recognize people primarily for their impact in 2004, but many people have had such a tremendous impact before 2004 that they continue to have a big impact even if they didn't raise the bar for themselves significantly this year.

All of which is to say that there is no easy way to name this list, or more importantly, why we included some on it and left off others. It is even harder to attach much importance to the order of the list as all of the people on it have contributed mightily to webcomics this past year. All of the people on the list, in their own ways, were just plain cool to watch this year.

Although we were not able to track everyone down for an interview for this piece, we did talk to most about the highlights of 2004 and their plans for 2005. So without further fanfare, check out the List for 2004.


25. David Rees

David Rees' Get Your War On has been a blast of biting social commentary that transcended webcomics and took off in the larger mainstream media. It continues to appear online at Rees’ website and monthly in Rolling Stone magazine.

Q. How would you assess the progress of Get Your War On this year?

GYWO didn't progress much this year. There's not much aesthetic progress possible, I guess. I tried to keep making jokes about the War on Terrorism. Some of them worked; others didn't. I think I was kind of spinning my wheels in 2004. The big event for me was the publication of Get Your War On II by Riverhead Books.

 

24. Drew Weing

Drew Weing wrapped up his popular and critically acclaimed webcomic The Journal Comic and released a print version of the same comic. He also continued to work on Pup published at Serializer.net and has begun work on a new webcomic called Little Trees.

Weing also drew the cover for issue 259 of The Comics Journal focusing on young artists in comics.

 

23. Svetlana Chmakova

Svetlana Chmakova was nominated for an Ignatz for “Promising New Talent” this year. Although she didn’t win, in this case it really was an honor just to be nominated. Her webcomic Chasing Rainbows appears at Girlamatic and Night Silver is at Wirepop.

Q. What were the highlights of 2004 for you?

I found out that I actually have fans, for one! It's always such a morale boost to know that people enjoy my stories.

The biggest highlight of the year, of course, was when I signed a 3-book deal with Tokyopop, one of the largest manga-publishing houses in North America. Watch the bookstore shelves next fall for the first volume of Dramacon, a tender (sorta, kinda) story about a love affair between two con-goers.

Q. How did it feel to be nominated for an Ignatz for "Promising New Talent"?

I was very surprised to have been nominated. Self-esteem issues? Me? Don't know what you're talking about. Kidding aside, I was very flattered.

Q. Any thoughts on what you think were the milestones for webcomics generally this year?

Webcomics are quickly becoming the way to get noticed these days, IMHO. Several of my fellow webcomic artists have landed book deals with major publishers because of our online endeavours, including myself. Forget standing in line at a convention portfolio review or trying to get permission to send in a submission so that it's not chucked away as unsolicited! Our work is online–come by and see. If you like, we're easy to find.

Q. What are you hoping to accomplish in 2005?

Professionally, I'd like to finish my first two published books, finish 2 chapters for "Night Silver" and a chapter for "Chasing Rainbows" and collect them in trade paperbacks. On the personal front, I'd like to finally get a life and be able to hit more cons and spend time with the cool people that go there.

 

22. Adrian Ramos

Adrian Ramos’ Count Your Sheep has had a big year. First, it was picked up by Keenspot (after being on Keenspace for only 10 months) and next it shared the WCCA "Outstanding Comic of the Year" award with Penny Arcade. (Count Your Sheep won six total awards including "Outstanding Newcomer.") Ramos also creates The Wisdom of Moo at Girlamatic and No Room For Magic at Drunk Duck.

Q. What were your primary accomplishments this year? What were the highlights for you?

The most important thing that I accomplished this year was establishing myself as an artist. I stopped being just one of the "new guys" to become one of the "new guys with an ounce of fame due to marginal talent."

Thanks to KeenSyndicate, CYS is now published in four newspapers. There's also the matter of all those CCA Awards that my comic won. They're important because they helped more people notice my work, and because my ego needs stroking, and I'm proud I won. I got a guest strip on PvP and for a fan like me, that was a big deal. On top of that, I managed to make a buck or two. Oh, and my comixpedia interview. Seriously, to me, that was a banner moment.

Q. What do you think were the milestones for webcomics this year?

I think webcomics in general are getting more respect and more widespread appeal across the board. From Derek Kirk Kim winning an Eisner, to Ucomics noticing webcomics, to the success of comics like Something Positive and Questionable Content to what PvP and Keenspot are doing with syndicating their comics, I think we're going places, and there ain't no stopping us.

 

21. David Allen

David Allen is the owner of Plan 9 Publishing, still one of the largest publishers of webcomics in print. They publish collections of, among others, Sluggy Freelance, Kevin & Kell and Greystone Inn.

Q. What were the highlights of 2004 for Plan 9 Publishing?

The highlight this year would be publishing the first Kudzu collection by Doug Marlette in eight years and signing Peter Zale's Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet.

Q. What were the most exciting new titles based on webcomics you published this year?

The webcomic genre continues to expand and the quality of new titles has remained pretty high. As to exciting new titles, gee I was excited about all of them, like David Farley's Dr. Fun, the second oldest web comic in the world, Maritza Campos' College Roomies from Hell, John Klossner's Mason Darrow, Margaret and Robert Carspecken's Faux Pas, Whitley and Eckelaert's Sea Urchins and of course, Willieam Levy's Night Mart.

Q. What are you hoping to accomplish in 2005?

More new editions of our regular lines mostly with some new titles sprinkled in like A Doeman of Our Own, Deela the Hooda, Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet, and a few others I haven't locked down yet, so I can't say.

 

20. John Allison

John Allison is the creator of Scary Go Round and perhaps the most well-known British webcomics creator. Allison shared the WCCA Outstanding Art award this year with Ian McConville & Matt Boyd of Mac Hall.

Q. What were the highlights this year for you?

Getting a write-up in The Comics Journal wasn't a big thing, but it felt important! Otherwise, living off my comic was plenty highlight enough.

Q. What were the milestones for webcomics generally this year?

Millstones? Oh, MILESTONES! I can't really think of any, the big pushes this year all seemed to be away from the web toward print, from Flight's success to Scott Kurtz and Keenspot's new syndication ploys.

Q. Any thoughts on what you're hoping to accomplish in 2005?

Inner serenity.

 

19. Fred Gallagher

In 2004, Fred Gallagher began working on Megatoyko fulltime. The webcomic, which began in 2000, continues to be one of the most popular around and is arguably in at least small ways responsible for the boom in webmanga today.

This year, Gallagher also began publishing the series in print with Dark Horse comics.

 

18. Daniel Merlin Goodbrey

Daniel Merlin Goodbrey is the wildly innovative and prolific creator of experimental webcomics hosted at e-merl.com. His webcomic The Nile Journals appears at Serializer.net.

Q. How would you assess the progress of your webcomic work this year? What were the highlights?

In terms of "taking comics more seriously" I've managed to step up the amount of teaching I've been doing in relation to comics and webcomics. Trying to teach comics was pretty scary at first but so far has proved to be really rewarding. With the new-media stuff I've taught in the past I always had the way other people had taught me as a handy frame of reference. With comics I'm self-taught, so I really had no initial idea how to go about helping someone learn the form. Well, apart from knowing I was going to use Understanding Comics as my main textbook.

In terms of my output this year, I wish I'd been a bit more prolific. Although this will be my first full year of doing a weekly series with The Nile Journals, so I suppose I shouldn't be too hard on myself. That said, I really should have got the Tarquin Engine to some sort of finished state before now. But I am actually VERY close to getting that done and out there soon, so fingers crossed for the New Year.

Q. What do you think were the milestones for webcomics generally this year?

In terms of the year's highlights, Sexy Lagoon at Comic Con in San Diego was a blast and it really did make me feel like Webcomics had arrived as their own unique part of the comic industry. A big part of that was seeing everyone go crazy over The Flight anthology.

Q. Any thoughts on what you're hoping to accomplish in 2005?

Finish the Tarquin Engine and get it out it out there so people can use it and possibly pay me a few dollars by way of a thank you.

Finish The Nile Journals before they kill me. Been trying to wind this down for months now, but it JUST. WON'T. END! Start a new weekly series to replace The Nile Journals. Hopefully something less harmful to my sanity/reality. And please, if I start another series that then proves impossible to reformat for print, somebody shoot me!

Produce more new print books. So far I've managed one a year, next time round I'd like to try for the optimistic number of 'two'. Keep doing the weird short story stuff that IS impossible to print. Because it's fun.

 

 

17. Lea Hernandez

Lea Hernandez is the editor of the subscription website Girlamatic which is self-described as offering "webcomics (mostly) by women, (mostly) for women." She is a long-time comics creator who has more recently entered the webcomics world with titles such as Rumble Girls and Ironclad Petal.

This year, Lea Hernandez won the "Lulu of the Year" award from The Friends of Lulu organization.

Q. How would you assess the progress of Girlamatic this year?

I'd say GAM grew by leaps and bounds. The open submission call was a huge success, as it brought in enough good creators to double the GAM features.

Q. How about your own work in comics and webcomics? What were the highlights this year for you and what were the frustrations?

Being named Lulu of the Year was the highlightiest of the highlights. Seeing GAM grow the way I wanted it to was also great. Taking the shiny Lulu of the Year awardy thingie on a victory lap around the San Diego Comic Con floor and making all the GAMmers I could find touch it because it is THEIR award, too was fun.
Another highlight was GAM-O-Ween, facilitated by GAMmer Lisa Jonte, where most of the GAMmers switched off and did guest strips for Halloween week. The results were just perfection. It's worth a subscription just for that week. (Clue-by-Four deployed!)

A happy-sad highlight was Bite Me! by Dylan Meconis, coming to an end. Dylan was one of the very first contributors on board, and she is such a doll, and Bite Me! was a huge draw (never NEVER underestimate the power of vampires to draw readers), and interwoven with the story for me is Dylan's college career, and I'm misting up.

The biggest frustration would be in getting very little of my own work on the web. My work on the Hardy Boys, since I spent a lot of time researching and drawing it, took over my whole life. I am really glad I did it, though.

Q. What do you think were the milestones for webcomics this year?

I think seeing that it seems like everyone has one! It's so wonderfully cheap and double-instant gratifying to make and share a webcomic. And also seeing how many webcomickers are getting tapped and snapped for print work. It's validation to see that a creator's work that was inexpensive or even free is seen as being worth committing to or preserving in print. It's gratifying to see creators from GAM get print work, since it was only a few short years ago that webcomics were comics' red-headed stepchild.

Q. Any thoughts on what you're hoping to accomplish in 2005?

Besides continuing to make GAM the tightest subscription comics site on the web, you mean? Back to work on my own stuff! Ironclad Petal will debut on GAM (you heard it here first!*), Rumble Girls: Runaway Lightning Ohmry will start at RumbleGirls.com as a BitPass comic, the DivaLea Show (seen as one of Modern Tales' few stumbles) will finally return, and I still have a huge pile of snarky stories to turn into Near-Life Experience strips.


16. James Kochalka

James Kochalka is the godfather of journal comics, a genre that webcomics has taken hold of with a vengeance in 2004. Kochalka himself is now firmly entrenched in webcomics, updating his subscription website, American Elf everyday with a new installment of his Sketchbook Diaries. This year, he published a print volume of five years of his Sketchbook Diaries.

He has also won the Ignatz for "Outstanding Online Comic" for the last two years in a row.

 

15. Darren Bleuel

Darren Bleuel is the quieter half of Keenspot (really anyone paired with Chris Crosby is going to be the "quieter" one, even Bleuel) and also the creator of the long-running pnes. pnes began way back in January 1997 and has been updated ever since. Alongside BoxJam, pne’s Gav character may be one of the most frequent cameos in other webcomics. At Keenspot, along with Nate Stone, Bleuel has been responsible for the technical side of running the site, including crafting the autokeen code that provides automated updating to webcomics on all of the Keen sites and services.

Q. What were your primary accomplishments in comics this year? Are you satisfied with your progress as to where you expected to be?

pnes has been around for eight years now and Keenspot almost five.

This year, I felt I've been able to step pnes back from giant robot mayhem and concentrate more on characterization, without glazing over the eyes of my audience (at least I hope). But pnes is a sinusoid if anything else, and we're riding the characterization wave back into giant robots any moment, I'm sure. More than anything, I'm glad I can still go back and read recent archives and still laugh myself, even if it makes me feel guilty to laugh at my own jokes.

Keenspot continues to attract bigger and better advertisers, recently landing a large contract to promote several video games in December, including most notably, "Saga of Ryzom" and "Pocket Kingdom" for the N-Gage. It feels good to be able to pay cartoonists more and more, quarter after quarter. It also is great to be able to promote worthy products of which our readers might actually be interested. Our recent successes in distributing Keenspot comics in print to newspapers has been very encouraging as well, not to mention our fast growing line of books and merchandise.

Personally, I have been pleased with both pnes' and Keenspot's progress. I don't know when I began that I ever expected to draw over a thousand strips or start the world's most popular webcomic publishing company. I certainly never expected pnes to appear in any newspaper other than The Daily Californian (in which it still appears, for some reason), so its appearance in a growing number of papers is very encouraging.

Q. What do you think were the milestones for webcomics generally this year?

It's only just starting, but I'd say the infiltration of both Keenspot and PvP into newspapers will be looked back upon as a huge milestone.

And, of course, who can forget the big Keenspot move to Cresbard, South Dakota? By occupying an entire school to serve as Keenspot headquarters, the Crosbys have ensured adequate space and facilities to maintain our ever-growing product line. We'll just see if they can survive the winter. 😉

Q. Any thoughts on what you're hoping to accomplish in 2005?

I've got a lot of programming ideas I think I'll finally be able to get to in 2005 to improve navigation of Keenspot. We're, of course, hoping to expand our newspaper syndication services far and wide. I'm also hoping advertising trends and public notice of webcomics continue so that we're able to deliver more interesting ads for video games, movies, and real world commerical products over spyware and crap like that.

 

14. Barry and Jenni Gregory

Barry and Jenni Gregory are the husband and wife team behind 01comics.com, a pay-per-view site for webcomics that launched in January 2004. 01comics.com is not a subscription site but sells webcomics to readers on an individual basis–readers pay only for the webcomics they want to read.

Q. How would you assess your progress with 01comics.com this year?

Are we were where I expected us to be at this point? Expected … yeah, probably. Hoped? We are certainly not anywhere near where I had hoped we would be. I knew we were trying something very different in terms of our approach to commerical webcomics. And with that knowledge I expected an uphill journey over a very difficult road. Once we launched however, I discovered that not only is there no road, the hill is actually a sheer cliff with no handholds. A competitor told me that after his first month in operation the checks he sent out to creators were for small amounts, but enough money for them to buy a nice dinner. After the second month, the checks were almost enough to buy lunch. And the third month's checks weren't enough to buy a beer with. We sort of skipped the first two stages and went right to that third from the get-go.

The highlight clearly was having so many great creators sign on with us. To have people like Steve Conley, Mitch Byrd, Randy Reynaldo, Bob Corona, Chris Mills, and Joe Staton let you publish their comics is flattering. And I took their willingness to work with us as a vote of confidence in (or at least support for) what we were trying to do. Conversely, my greatest disappointment in our first year of operation is that we were unable to do better for these creators who put their trust in us.

Q. What are your goals for next year?

For the past couple of months we've been in serious re-tooling mode. Sometime early next year we'll be re-launching 01comics.com. Version 2.0 if you will. We're not going to change our basic approach — full color, longform comic books, individually priced — but we'll be adding a lot of new features and functions to the site. So our first goal is to climb out of obscurity. We hope to make a big splash with the relaunch. We spent over a thousand dollars in paid advertising in our first year (which might not sound like much, but it was a sizeable chunk of our operating budget) with hardly a ripple in the water to show for it. We're still an obscure website and we've got the stats to prove it. Secondly, we hope to continue to attract the talent we were able to pull to us in our first year. Third, we want to unclog the bottleneck in production that so hampered our ability to get new comics up at the site. We've been working hard at that and hopefully we're getting a handle on it. And fourth … it would nice to sell some comics.

Q. What were the milestones for webcomics in 2004?

The direct market is still taking on a water, making the web a more and more enticing option for creators. Even John Byrne put out a webcomic in 2004.

Filesharing comes to comics with a vengeance. The bit torrent and other p2p sites are chock full of comics and abuzz with users scanning and swapping them. Newly shipped comics are often online within hours of arriving at the comic shops. The world of print comics may soon find themselves with an RIAA-sized headache. They can avoid it… if someone somewhere steps up and creates an iTunes-like site for downloadable comics. But they better not wait too long.

The arrival of a viably-priced print-on-demand comics printer. Comixpress got there first, but if they succeed (and here's hoping they do) look for competitors to pop up offering similar services and similarly reasonable prices. This could be an invaluable revenue stream for webcomics creators and publishers. Like the webcomic you just read? Like to have a hard copy for your collection or a trade paperback to give as a gift or just to place on your bookshelf? Click a button and you've got it a few days later. And you didn't have to go to the Android Dungeon and deal with Comic Book Guy to get it.

 

13. Pete Abrams

Pete Abrams has been making Sluggy Freelance for over seven years now. Sluggy Freelance is one of the most popular webcomics ever and Abrams has numerous collections of his work in print. This year, Abrams continued to create new work that showed renewed growth in art and story and his recent "That Which Redeems" storyline was a rare epic turn for a daily webcomic.

As Eric Burns put it, "Sluggy is that rarity of rarities — a strip that went for Cerebus Syndrome and actually (mostly) reached it."

12. George Panella

George Panella launched Wirepop in June 2003 as a subscription site focused on online manga. It was the first independent subscription site to successfully launch and survive after Modern Tales pioneered the business model.

Q. What are the highlights for Wirepop from 2004?

This year WirePop has seen a steady growth of subscribers. Though we might not have the numbers that our "competitors" have, our subscribers are very loyal. More then 75% of our yearly subscriptions have been renewed.

Our comic titles have changed quite a bit this year, but I think we have put together a great group of very committed artists that stand behind WirePop. Many go out of their way to help the site grow. We have grown into a small family and enjoy working together to help the site overall. We have had a few nice surprises. Some of our artists are getting noticed by "traditional" publishers, we are putting together a printed sampler by various WirePop artists and WirePop itself has gained great support from leading names in the industry.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish in 2005?

We are still looking to [publish twenty webcomics on the site]. There is also the upcoming printed sampler that is being put together by various artists from WirePop. You should start to see more WirePop artists at conventions. Some of our artists should be releasing their first major comic publication as well. I must say WirePop has done better then I expected when I started it and I see no sign of it stopping.

 

 

11. Neil Gustavson

Neil Gustavson (or "Neil G" as he’s more commonly known) founded the Dayfree Press group of webcomics, moved his Limited Space webcomic to Keenspot and continued to build his company, Domination T-shirt's domination of the webcomic swag marketplace.

Q. Are you happy with what you've accomplished with DayFree Press?

We were happy to welcome Questionable Content, Able and Baker, and No 4th Wall to the fold, and we made our first Dayfree Press group convention appearances at Connecticon and San Diego [Comic-con].

We have a wonderful community. More for us right now than for readers, but all this comes with time. The longer the community lasts, the tighter the creators become…. I see the evolution of the results beginning to really sink in, just as I planned.

Q. How is Domination T-Shirts doing?

I've opened a brand new warehouse for Domination T-Shirts, which processed orders for such webcomics as Diesel Sweeties, Sam and Fuzzy, and Goats. We've been involved with helping to get several "volume one" books out this year, including Mac Hall, Real Life, and Goats.

I'm pretty happy with that. Growth is a tricky thing, and it almost got the better of me. But I've been one step ahead of the game all year, and now we are strong enough to grow without any real trouble. I am going to launch vaultdistribution.com to replace dominationtshirts.com in its fifth year.

Q. Any thoughts on what you're hoping to accomplish in 2005?

I will be officially retiring Robot Stories, and replacing it full-time with The End Chronicles: YEAR ONE, which will take place in 1992, and progress through a pre-planned timeline that will involve characters from Robot Stories as well as The End Chronicles…. those that have been watching closely may have noticed that the two comics, though of different "themes", have the same cast. I don't know if any of my readers from way back in 2000 remember the original END comics, which have been since removed from the net pending "remastering".

Q. Milestones for webcomics in 2004 generally?

I'd say it was pretty important that Andy Bell started a toy company. Andy is the next power hitter, quietly building up his arsenal alongside his Dumbrella pals. I think he is truly brilliant.

 

10. Logan DeAngelis

In January 2004, Logan DeAngelis started up PV Comics, a subscription site featuring work from himself and 11 other creators. Towards the end of 2004, DeAngelis made some significant changes to his business strategy, launching ComiXpress, an on-demand printer for comics and ending the subscription model for PV Comics which began providing access to everything on its site for free.

Q. How would you assess the first year of PV Comics?

PV's first public year has been a fast and fun one. We came out of the gate with a great lineup, a lot of praise, and the plan to tell stories in both the web and print mediums. We've accomplished our collective goal of creating a comic group very focused on the creators, and the stories they want to tell.

Our biggest and most unexpected achievement was in the success of our print line. While our webcomics are the cornerstone of PV, there is no denying that the general public is still stubbornly hesitant to pay for online comics. When the opportunity to pursue our print aspect presented itself as well as it has, we made the decision to drop the online subscription model and focus on print to generate the revenue for the creators and make our site free. While this is a shift from our initial plan, I'm very happy with the results.

 

9. Randy Milholland

R. K. Milholland pioneered the newest webcomics business model this year. Namely, the "dear readers, pay me the equivalent of my day job salary or quit your bitchin' 'bout the updates" tactic which turned into an outpouring of donations from the fandom of Something Positive. All told, his readers donated enough money to Milholland that he felt confident enough to take the plunge into working on his webcomic fulltime.

Although it may not have seemed like it to anyone at the time, in retrospect this importing of the tried and true "membership drive" every PBS, NPR and alter-indy station holds once a year may be a natural fit for webcomics. Certainly a number of other high, medium and no-profile webcomics followed in Milholland's footsteps with their own variations on asking readers to fund the future efforts of their creators.

 

8. R Stevens

R Stevens is the creator of the pixilated Diesel Sweeties and spiritual leader of the webcomic collective, Dumbrella.

Q. What do you think was accomplished with Dumbrella this year?

We did our best San Diego Con EVER and almost made a profit. Also, none of us hates the other which puts us way ahead of Keenspot and the Beatles.

Q. Are you surprised at the status/position you've arrived at in the world of webcomics?

I'm honestly still parsing this whole thing. People say, "ooh you're famous now" but to be honest, I don't feel a fuck of a lot different. I've always been pretty insane about work and pushed hard on what I do, so I guess it looks and feels a lot different from in here than it does from out there. Not to mention that being famous in comics is like being America's Tallest Midget.

As far as stories go! I recently moved to a college town with 2 built-in girls schools. I very much enjoy wearing my pixel heart t-shirts around and secretly noting when people recognize them.

Q. Any thoughts on what you think were the milestones for webcomics this year?

Yeah, the ratio of really lousy to really good comics shifted SLIGHTLY towards the really good side. There's still too much junk out there on too large of a field to be more specific.

Q. Any thoughts on what you're hoping to accomplish in 2005?

Webcomics seems kind of crowded now. I'm going to attempt my own version of the "land bridge migration" that brought people to North America. There are much bigger worlds to explore. I don't want to wind up like print comics, marginalized into little stores that only the initiated go to.

 

 

7. Kazu Kibuishi

Kazu Kibuishi came to comics from after working as a professional animator. He is the creator of several webcomics featured at his website, Bolt City, including Copper and Clive & Cabbage. He is also the creator of the Flight comics anthology book.

Q. What were your primary accomplishments professionally this year? What were the highlights with regards to webcomics?

Hmm, the two biggest accomplishments would be the publication of Flight: Volume One and the completion of Daisy Kutter – The Last Train, my first graphic novel. For webcomics, a major highlight would be the development of my blog. It's become something I regularly update and seems to be popular with a lot of other cartoonists. Considering how much time elapses between Copper updates, it's nice to know people still visit Bolt City regularly just to hear me talk. I'm pretty happy with the progress I've made even though I fell short of my expectations, but this is something I've also come to expect.

Q. The Flight anthology made a big splash this year. Can you tell us how the project came to be?

Flight came together when Catia Chien and I decided to put together a small black and white photocopied book featuring our comics and the work of our friends. We thought it would be fun to invite a few friends, and after a short while it snowballed into what it is now. I had always wanted to create a comics magazine, so I kind of began pushing it in that direction when I saw that the talent was willing to do it, and that the content would be top notch. Since then, I left my job at a 3D animation studio and jumped into comics full-time.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish in 2005?

We'll have two more volumes of Flight out by the end of the year, with Flight: Volume Two set to be released in March, and Flight: Volume Three coming out around November or December. I also have another graphic novel in the works, which should see completion sometime in 2006 (this one's a big one), and I'm going to catch up on all my webcomics work. Some ideas for webcomics on Flight are also being kicked around, but nothing's concrete yet. I'll keep you guys posted!

 

6. Derek Kirk Kim

Derek Kirk Kim is the Eisner and Harvey award winning artist of Same Difference & Other Stories which was originally serialized online at Small Stories Online. His webcomic work currently appears at his website Lowbright.com.

Q. How would you assess the progress of your webcomic work this year

I'm dissappointed with the lack of production on my own comics, but I am grateful for all the bill-paying projects that have come my way. As soon as I get some time to myself though, I'll be going back to serializing something at lowbright.com. I'm frothing at the mouth to get back to it.

Q. What do you think were the milestones for webcomics this year?

Three words: American Born Chinese.

 

5. Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik

Holkins and Krahulik are better known by their online names as "Tycho" and "Gabe" respectfully. Holkins is the writer, Krahulik is the artist and Penny Arcade features their collaborative efforts as well as Holkins' free-form writing and the increasing appearance of Krahulik’s art outside of the webcomic.

In 2004, Penny Arcade continued to be one of, if not the most popular webcomics in existence and Penny Arcade shared the WCCA Outstanding Comic award with Count Your Sheep. Penny Arcade also held its first convention, called PAX, or Penny Arcade Exposition which featured webcomics, video games and a LOT of people in attendance.

More recently Holkins and Krahulik have also embarked on the second edition of what is now an annual fundraiser called Child’s Play. Last year’s first effort raised over $250,000 in cash and toys for the Seattle Children's Hospital.

And finally, Krahulik and his wife welcomed their first child this year. They named him Gabe. No, we’re not making that up.

 

4. Scott McCloud

Scott McCloud is the author of Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics. He was one of the earliest promoters of webcomics and has been a vocal supporter of micropayments. He is an advisor to BitPass, a company providing an online micropayment system, which he helped launch with the publication of The Right Number. McCloud is also know for pioneering the ideas of the “infinite canvas” available in webcomics and the 24 hour comic effort.

Q. What were your primary accomplishments professionally this year?

Uploading The Right Number Part 2. I'm disappointed that I couldn't get part 3 up, however, due to the massive distraction of beginning my new book, which, for reasons too complicated to go into here, had to start sooner rather than later, and with a tight deadline. San Diego [Comic-con] was pretty amazing this year too, as webcomics went from a battalion to an army.

Q. Are you surprised at the position of authority you've continue to have in the world of webcomics?

Other than a lot of webcartoonists having heard my name without necessarily having a clear idea of who I am, I'm not sure what that "authority" really amounts to within the community. To the degree that some cartoonists got into webcomics because of things I wrote or said, that's always a pleasant surprise, but for most of the things I've advocated over the years (micros, expanded canvas comics, click-through pages a la Nowhere Girl) I'm still a minority voice. The real trend-setters in 2004 were Tycho and Gabe, Scott Kurtz, Joey Manley and the Flight/Pants Press/Dumbrella phenomenon. I'm just enjoying the party, and happy to see that the ball in finally rolling down the hill, with or without me.

Q. Any thoughts on what you think were the milestones for webcomics generally this year?

One word: Flight.

Q. Any thoughts on what you're hoping to accomplish in 2005?

Finishing my book! I'm finally creating a book about the art of making comics, something I've had in mind for years. Everything I know about telling stories with pictures. Web or print — most of the principles are the same. Apart from a few prior commitments, I'll be a real recluse in 2005 while I finish it.

 

3. Joey Manley

Joey Manley is the publisher of several subscription sites for webcomics including, ModernTales.com, Serializer.net, Girlamatic.com, GraphicSmash.com, and several single creator sites including AmericanElf.com. He also publishes Graphic Novel Review, a new reviews site focused on graphic novels.

Q. What do you think you accomplished with Modern Tales this year?

This year has mostly been spent struggling with the WebcomicsNation code. That thing was supposed to have launched over a year ago. So, in that sense, I'm very disappointed with my performance this year. On the other hand, I've learned a lot more about programming, and the effort should result in a general improvement in my sites all 'round, in terms of their technology (reader-customizable site templates, for example, are definitely coming to the existing sites soon — which is something that quite a few serializer subscribers will be happy to hear, I'm sure).

Q. Are you surprised at the status you've arrived at in the world of webcomics?

Yes. The whole "cult of personality" thing took me by surprise. I've learned to be very careful about what I say in public — something completely innocent can be misinterpreted wildly, I've learned, and blown out of proportion. The webcomics community is sometimes more hot-headed than other industries I've worked in (grin). To say the least. Anybody would appreciate the ego boost, I guess, but one of the things I keep telling the cartoonists who work with me is that they don't *need* me as much as some of them think they do. I'm no king (or queen)-maker. I'm just a technician and a huckster, who works *for* the cartoonists, not the other way around. Sometimes I do a better job than other times, and there are some things I'm better at than other things. Mostly, I'm what you might call a "professional webcomics fan." Nobody should feel any sort of awe around me whatsoever.

Q. Any thoughts on what you think were the milestones for webcomics this year?

Kurtz & Keen going after the newspaper business is probably the biggest story of this year.

I thought it was very interesting that PV backed away from subscriptions, and the way they spun it. I think a completely different spin could easily be applied to that situation.

Generally, I think the comic book reading populace has started to turn the corner, and is realizing that webcomics matter.

Q. What will you try to accomplish in 2005?

WebcomicsNation will be the story of 2005. The idea is to take the tools we've used on MT (and some others, besides) to run our business, and make those tools available to any cartoonist who wants to use them. WCN won't be for people who aren't looking to make money from their webcomics — and that will always be a big part of the webcomics phenomenon — but for those who do seek to make a living from their work, and who don't know anything about programming or server maintenance, WCN will be a very empowering tool indeed.

I expect that hundreds of cartoonists who currently work in other fields (illustration, newspaper strips, comic books, etc) will find that WCN is exactly what they've been looking for, to help them jump onto the webcomics bandwagon. I also hope to make the tools powerful enough that even the typical webcartoonist — who generally is more tech-savvy than WCN requires them to be — will find some uses for the service.

 

2. Chris Crosby

Chris Crosby and Darren Bleuel co-founded Keenspot in 2000. In 2004, Keenspot was very busy as it added a number of new webcomics to its site and initiated a number of new business efforts. It launched Keentoons, which features short animated works and made a push to get a Keenspot comics insert into newspapers. Crosby also continued to work on his long-running Superosity webcomic and he began a new webcomic Sore Thumbs. Finally Crosby himself moved from California to a small town in South Dakota (name?). We talked to Crosby about this year's accomplishments and his goals for 2005:

Q. What were the highlights for Keenspot this year?

Continued steady traffic and advertising revenue growth on the Keenspot sites. That's our bread and butter, and it's very bready and buttery. The really snazzy-looking redesign of the Keenspot logo and homepage. And Keenspot comics won 12 Web Cartoonist's Choice Awards in 2004.

[Also] though the overall success of our book line in 2004 was modest, we did publish a book, RPG WORLD v1, that outsold many titles published by comic-book heavy hitters like Marvel, DC, Image, and Dark Horse in bookstores. That's nothing to sneeze at.

[Other highlights included] launching the advertising-supported Keenspot Comics Page in September. It's in two small papers now (The Turlock Journal in Turlock, CA and The Bulletin in Emporia, Kansas) and will tentatively be in at least two more by the end of 2004. Right now we're in experimental mode with it, but within a few years, who knows? It could turn out to be a signifigant source of revenue for us.

Q. What were the milestones for webcomics in 2004?

I'm sure Scott Kurtz's big announcement at Comic-Con [about offering PVP to newspapers for free] will be remembered as one of them, and possibly the unprecedented webcomics presence at that convention.

Randy Milholland's readers paying him a living wage because he asked for it has gotta go in the webcomics history books, as well as the few web AND syndicated cartoonists who experienced similar results afterwards. Hasn't THE NORM raised around $60,000 in reader donations so far?

Q. You're in your sixth year of creating Superosity – are you still enjoying it?

Yes, though it's slightly harder to come up with ideas for it. As you probably know, I've done 2,100 strips so far, so I've done a lot of things with the characters already. I don't think I will ever be so desperate for original story ideas that the characters will constantly be on vacation ("The Simpsons are going to Utah!"), but I might get the urge to keep bringing back Paul Fusco far too often.

Q. You made a splash with new webcomic Sore Thumbs this year – an interesting combination of politics and gaming culture. How will that evolve in a non-election year like 2005?

There'll always be political references in [Sore Thumbs] because the two main characters are an ultra-liberal and an ultra-conservative, but the strip was never about the election or politics or my personal opinion or anything like that. I'll continue to focus on these insane characters and their relationships with each other, and plan to boost up the video game-related content of the strip because we don't have election references to deal with now. And way more Coleman the tiny blue polar bear, hopefully. I'd like to give him his own strip. And his own video game.

 

1. Scott Kurtz

Scott Kurtz continued to expand his PvP empire this year, continuing the webcomic, the comic book and getting his first slot as a regular feature in a major metropolitan newspaper, the Kansas City Star. Kurtz made waves by announcing at the San Diego Comicon that he would offer one year of PvP free to newspapers. He also did some cross-marketing with the City of Heroes video game which included a PvP comic book in an updated release of the game.

Q. What were the big milestones for webcomics this year?

PvP getting into it's first and second newspaper. Randy from Something Positive earning a year's wages in donations. Several webcomic authors quitting their job and doing comic strips fulltime (to varying degrees of success). Keenspot making a page of strips and getting that into a couple papers.

Q. You've told me that you did better financially in 2004 than 2003. What are your goals for 2005?

Get PvP into more papers, up circulation of the comic strip and keep making every episode of the strip funnier than the last.

Xaviar Xerexes

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

3 Comments

  1. I’m so glad to be included, and sorry I didn’t get my answers in on time. (I have a good reason–I had to take my husband to the hospital. Yes, he’ll be O.K.)

    So, late, but not never, are my answers:

    1. How would you assess the progress of Girlamatic this year? What
    were the highlights? Are you satisfied with your progress as to where
    you expected to be?

    I’d say GAM grew by leaps and bounds. The open submission call was a huge success, as it brought in enough good creators to double the GAM features.

    2. How about your own work in comics and webcomics? What were the
    highlights this year for you and what were the frustrations? (Also –
    Congratulations for winning the 2004 Lulu award!)

    Thanks! The Lulu was truly, TRULY unexpected, and just absolutely wonderful. Being named Lulu of the Year was the highlightiest of the highlights. Seeing GAM grow the way I wanted it to was also great. Taking the shiny Lulu of the Year awardy thingie on a victory lap around the San Diego Comic Con floor and making all the GAMmers I could find tough it because it is THEIR award, too was fun.
    Another highlight was GAM-O-Ween, facilitated by GAMmer Lisa Jonte’, where most of the GAMmers switched off and did guest strips for Halloween week. The results were just perfection. It’s worth a subscription just for that week. (Clue-by-Four deployed!)

    A happy-sad highlight was Bite Me! by Dylan Meconis, come to an end. (Bite Me! was the second GAM strip to conclude, Kris Dresen’s being the first.) Dylan was one of the very first contributors on board, and she is such a doll, and Bite Me! was a huge draw (never NEVER underestimate the power of vampires to draw readers), and interwoven with the story for me is Dylan’s college career, and I’m misting up.

    The biggest frustration would be in getting very little of my own work on the web. My work on the Hardy Boys, since I spent a lot of time researching and drawing it, took over my whole life. I am really glad I did it, though.

    3. Any thoughts on what you think were the milestones for webcomics
    generally this year?

    I think seeing that it seems like everyone has one! It’s so wonderfully cheap and double-instant gratifying to make and share a webcomic. And also seeing how many webcomickers are getting tapped and snapped for print work. It’s validation to see that a creator’s work that was inexpensive or even free is seen as being worth committing to or preserving in print. It’s gratifying to see creators from GAM get print work, since it was only a few short years ago that webcomics were comics’ red-headed stepchild.

    4. Any thoughts on what you’re hoping to accomplish in 2005?

    Besides continuing to make GAM the tightest subscription comics site on the web, you mean?
    Back to work on my own stuff! Ironclad Petal will debut on GAM (you heard it here first!*), Rumble Girls: Runaway Lightning Ohmry will start at RumbleGirls.com as a BitPass comic, the DivaLea Show (seen as one of Modern Tales’ few stumbles) will finally return, and I still have a huge pile of snarky stories to turn into Near-Life Experience strips.

    *You might me wondering how I decide to put my own comic on GAM if I’m the editor. I don’t. I asked Joey Manley, who is my boss, and he said yes.

  2. Lea

    I hope everything’s alright! I am going to clip from your reply to put into the article – thanks for your answers.

    X

  3. “Another highlight was GAM-O-Ween, facilitated by GAMmer Lisa Jonte’, where most of the GAMmers switched off and did guest strips for Halloween week.”

    I’m blushing! BLUSHING!

    That almost never happens.

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