A whole year of webcomic news wrapped up in a pretty package with cookies and milk commentary provided by Comixpedia contributors: Alexander Danner, Ping Teo, Kristofer Straub, T Campbell and Phil Kahn.
The last couple of months have seen a fair amount of fiddling with revenue models from businesses that make their money from webcomics, but not individual webcomics per se. What I'm thinking about here are what one could refer to as the publishers of webcomics. The launch of Joey Manley's Webcomics Nation back in August and Keenspot's announcements at Comic-Con are the ones that spring to mind.
But it is not only the big dogs of webcomic "companies" that are re-examining their businesses. Clickwheel has been covered previously as a promising idea. Combining the photoIpods ability to show images and RSS 2.0 to easily syndicate content. As I remember it, the original business model was to charge for the Clickwheel application. The user could then subscribe to the different comics Clickwheel provided. The comics were created by various artist paid for their work.
September held a number of news items which are worth mentioning. First and foremost, the Webcomic Telethon collected an impressive amount of money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The Penny Arcade Expo returned for its second year, this time bigger and with more media coverage. Keenspot is working towards fulfilling its plans announced at Comic-Con. Keen announced that they have signed with Fox Television to develop Owen Dunne's webcomic You Damn Kid! for television. And both Keenspot and Modern Tales are looking for advertising sales representatives.
But the origin of this month's column cannot be traced back to those entries. Instead, it is the creation of the webcomic wiki at Comixpedia.org, or more specifically the Websnark post that sparked its creation and gave rise to this month's stream of consciousness. What is interesting in this entry is not the proposal and its results (both intriguing by themselves), but something much more minuscule. Something that could be found in Burns' discussion about Wikipedia's way of measuring a webcomics significance and his own suggestion of how to do it.
Webcomics have been receiving a surprising amount of mainstream media attention this year. The Washington Post column, which was reprinted in several other papers, and the G4techtv feature on the WCCA both painted webcomics in a fairly favorable light. But when the New York Times critic Sarah Boxer's article on Infinite canvases and webcomics was published in August, it was not perceived as an endorsement of webcomics by most. It immediately gave rise to some furious discussion, most of which focused on whether the article was well-researched or not.
"Column? (She said, smiling.)" read the email from the editor, sending me into a deep well of despair over the state of this month's column. These columns are notoriously late, often handed in mere hours before the issue is supposed to go live, much to the chagrin of the editors, I am sure. The reason for this is as much the result of procrastination as hope. Hope that there will be one large news event worth writing about, something meaningful that will tie together the smaller events from the month into something bigger.
In July, a lack of significant events was not the problem.
Flamewars are certainly fairly common in the small world of webcomics, and this month's column will be devoted to the one that took place at the beginning of June. The instigator was this strip by Penny Arcade, which in turn was a response to this Comixpedia news post. Things soon escalated as more and more people became involved.
Although a public brawl such as this is usually made up of hot air, there are often at least some interesting discussions within it.
It is that time of year again. On May 8, the nomination round for the Web Cartoonist's Choice Awards, or WCCA, began and on June 5 the nominees for awards were announced. The WCCA is probably the closest you can come to a webcomic industry award; only people who create a webcomic may participate in the nominations and voting. But another thing that returns with the WCCA is criticism from some members of the webcomics community. Just like with pretty much all other awards, the procedures and rules of the WCCA are under scrutiny by participants and pundits alike.
To solo or not to solo is not a question that many webcomics creators even bother to ask themselves. Most webcomics seem to be solo efforts by a single creator handling both the art and the writing. If this is in fact true it is no surprise, as both webcomics and small press print comics are generally thought of as a means for a creator to develop his or her own ideas without interference or outside pressure to craft a certain type of comic. It is in fact one of the wonderful things about comics, that the medium has such respect for the the lone creator speaking his or her voice through a comic.
Having said that, however, there's no question collaboration has played an important part in webcomics.
Comic book guy, one of the recurring characters on The Simpsons, is the avatar of the comic book fan: a fat, poorly-dressed, goatee-wielding man with an encyclopedic knowledge of comic books and pop culture. And while this image may not be fair or even generally true, the fact remains that comics have mostly been â€“ and still are considered â€“ a male domain, both from the standpoint of audience and of creators. But, whereas this may be true about the print comic world, both mainstream and indie, is it also true about webcomics?
Recently, weâ€™ve seen more recognition for webcomics. In fact, March featured what potentially could be the single most important news item for webcomics in 2005. The Eisner Awards accepted nominations for a new Digital Comics category.
Weâ€™ve also seen a spread of sites that cover webcomics. Last year Comixpedia wrote about the larger â€œcomics blogosphereâ€ but at this point a full-blown â€œwebcomics blogosphereâ€ has arrived with a number of commentators focused solely on webcomics.
But itâ€™s not necessarily all good.