Ever see the look on a comic fanboy's face when you show him his very first genuine shojo comic? And by comic fanboy, I don't mean a neanderthal for whom female comic characters conjure up images of a double D, bikini-clad broad striking a pose that wouldn't be out of place in Playboy. I'm talking about the well-read comic geek, who appreciates Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman, Los Hernandez Brothers, Ennis and Dillon, perhaps even some Rumiko Takahashi and Otomo Katsuhiro.
He'll start flipping the pages, looking for demons or samurai warriors or ninjas or a giant robot or some sort (any sort) of action scene. And slowly it dawns on him, he's holding in his hands the sequential art equivalent of Dawson's Creek. It's like his "Boys Only" club house has been redecorated with flowers and lace curtains in the windows.
Dicebox isn't your older brother's science fiction comic. No muscular heroes toting huge laser cannons, piloting light-speed-capable spaceships, rescuing buxom and scantily clad females, thwarting evil empires, and, in general, saving the universe.
Among special interest webcomics (about gamers, otakus, college roommates, etc.), only geek comickers are required to understand the underlying machinery and environment on which their webcomics reside. The rest of us are proud if we can successfully register our domain name and paste a generic PHP script into our Frontpage HTML code. But true geeks should be knowledgeable enough to code their own HTML, install a back-end database, and write custom scripts that seamlessly tie everything together.
It's one of the big no-nos of family entertainment.
In American entertainment, no one is ever just naked. They're having sex, or implying that they would like to be having sex, or in the shower while a homicidal killer sneaks up on them, or trying to catch the mischievous dog who's scampering away with their underwear. The revealing of the butt crack, the nipple, or the genitals serves a purpose, be it to titillate, to shock, to lampoon, or to get you to pull out your credit card. It's never just there.
Here's an innovative strategy to break into the newspaper comic biz: Start a webcomic. Publish daily to prove your reliability, solidify your art style, and iron out any kinks in writing or presentation. Not only does your online presence build a fanbase, it can serve as an up-to-date portfolio.
If given psychic powers to predict the future, most of us would pick the winning lottery numbers and retire early. The title character of Dominic Deegan, Oracle for Hire, opens up a fortune telling business in a small town where he pays the bills by answering the annoying and downright inane questions of the local populace.
What web community doesn't long for one of its members to start up a webcomic to poke good-natured (or not so good-natured) fun at its trends, obsessions, idiocies, and painfully true stereotypes? Jorge Cham's Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD) provides much needed humor for its target audience – an isolated group whose self-imposed cognitive dissonance is viewed as eccentric or downright incomprehensible by their families and friends. Rather like that last sentence, actually.