Many webcomic creators have some area on their site where they post some sort of text to go along with their comics. Maybe it's just news about the comic, or a personal blog to try to connect on a more personal level with the audience. Perhaps it's just a place to rant from time to time.

Sometimes creators use the space to express their viewpoint on a controversial topic. As an example, when Scott Kurtz* recently expressed some of his personal views and experiences regarding religion, he may have run the risk, at least to some degree, of being "Dixie Chicked" (a term that has come to describe when someone, especially in the public eye, is persecuted on some level for expressing his or her personal beliefs – visual example of being Dixie-Chicked).

Whether religion, politics, or some other "hot button" topic is what is getting expressed, should creators be using their webcomics sites to express their personal viewpoints, especially if their webcomic has little if anything to do with those subjects? Does an artist's personal views affect (negatively or positively) your enjoyment of their art? Is being "Dixie-Chicked" even necessarily a bad thing?

*Disclaimer: I picked Scott's post strictly because it was the most recent example that came to mind. I have nothing but respect for him professionally, and am in no way meaning to aim any of these questions squarely at him. Feel free (in fact, I encourage you for purpose of advancing discussion) to use your own examples when expressing your views on this topic.

Also, this other recent post might provide some additional food for thought on the subject of injecting your personality into your webcomic site and its community.


Iain Hamp


  1. An artist shouldn't have to be limited to just comicking just because some asshat says, "He/She should just make comics, and keep his/her mouth shut." It's too bad if people don't agree with what the comicker has to say; they have the right to express their personal thoughts and beliefs, especially if it's their own website.

    Readers need to keep in mind that the same brain that creates the comics they so enjoy also has other thoughts, and politics just happens to be one of those other avenues of thought. If they don't want to read the newsposts, then they DO NOT HAVE TO. They can just enjoy the comic. Everyone should be encouraged to express their beliefs, especially when it comes to politics, the direction of our country, etc… So what if it's on a webcomic site? It may be the only good public venue that individual has to express their own thoughts. If you don't like what they say, don't read it. Wanna bitch about the artists expressing themselves? Tough shit; get over yourself.

    Don't hesitate to procrastinate. See my stuff at http://www.cuteninjagirls.com

  2. I guess anyone who considers themselves a creator of any kind is going to feel strongly in favour of the right to free speech. So, sure, if you think you've got something you really have to say, then say it. Put it in your webcomic, put it in the page comments, put it anywhere you want to.

    But just bear in mind, if you do, then anyone reading it has just as valid a right to call you on it. It's no good complaining about the backlash.

    You say something to your friends, they'll answer back. You say the same thing standing on a soap box in a town square, you're going to get heckled (and, depending on what you've said, some of those hecklers might even turn quite nasty!) You post the same thing on as public a platform as the web, you can pretty much guarantee there's going to be a fair number of people who disagree.

    Think of the backlash celebrities in all fields have to face when they speak publicly about their political and/or religious beliefs (Cruise, Travolta, Clooney, Baldwin and yes, the Dixie Chicks and even Halle Berry!) Right or wrong, the reality is that what you say will affect the way people look at you and your work.Â

    So, sure, you have a right to say what you want to, where you want to. But it's not an obligation. So before you speak (or post), consider the consequences. If you're happy to face those consequences, go right ahead. If you're not, well, you also have the right to not say it.Â

    Broken Voice Comics
    Because comics are not just for kids

  3. Well, even if it wasn't politics, I probably lost the whole lot of my French readership in one fell stroke when I celebrated Italy's victory at the World Cup on my site 😉

    Seriously though, even if I have a blog, a forum and a tagboard, I use them for comic related matters or innocuous stuff because I don't want to engage in serious debates with my readers. The reason is that I think that in any debate an important condition is that everyone's opinions are accorded the same weight and respect.

    On your site, where you are The Author, with your red name next to your posts and the bunch of people who'd agree with you even if you farted tunes instead of expressing thoughts – is it really fair to engage in heated discussion? You have an unfair advantage anyway on reader #127435, even if you are full of shit and he's actually right. There will be a few people who'll agree with you and flame him just because you are The Author. I'd rather debate on a site where I'm just one of the crowd and my opinions are going to be considered for their own merit, or lack of, rather than because they come from me. I want to DISCUSS, I don't want to PREACH. I have nothing to preach about.

    Another thing is that I feel that I have a responsibility to be polite to my readers even where I wouldn't be so polite if it wasn't an author-reader exchange. Sometimes I get emails that make me want to bash my head on the keyboard because they are SO STUPID, but I always try to answer kindly. The reason is that I'd be gutted if I mailed a favorite comic author and he answered with a flame. I feel tempted to answer like Maddox to his readers, to these emails:

    Don't you retards think before you click "Send" that maybe someone on the other end is actually going to read your stupid, malformed emails some day? It's almost like there's a record full of incomprehensible bullshit playing in your mind 24/7, and you put the needle down randomly and whatever it picks up, you just type it up in an email and shoot it off to me, usually mid-sentence.

    (from Maddox' the best page in the universe)

    When I have to read emails like "you could make a comic strip dedicated to like abunch of role player running around going "zomfg im liek totlyguna dei!!!11", I think that I'm excused if I'd rather NOT open the floodgates of my mailbox to many more emails like this, but about politics/religion/etc., and angry too – by posting controversial stuff. I don't have anything against the guy who wrote the email, but I have good reason to believe that I am 3 times older than him, should I be discussing serious issues with him?

    Anyway, a while ago a dumbass complained that he was offended that none of my major characters were racial minorities, and that this was racist of me. Instead of answering him with a post, I did it in the comic. After all, since we're comic authors, aren't our strips the best place to make a point?

  4. In my “featured link” the update this morning linked to John Polkinghorne’s argument about the “fitness” of the universe for sentient life at SLATE concerning the various coiincidences that are lumped under the “anthropic principle”.

    I did this more to educate than to offend—after all the subject fascinates ME, so I don’t feel I’m alone. Polkinghorne was a Cambridge theoretical physicist who turned into an Aglican priest, and who uses the anthropic princple as an argument for a Creator. Fascinating stuff…

    Of course, it may lose us some readers. But if some are so close-minded that they refuse to fllow a link because it has theistic implications, depite being cosmological, not theological in information—then they probably wouldn’t be reading my comic anyway….

    Just as Scott has every right to rant AGAINST religion on his site. I will often go back to a controversial site—I will NOT go back to a site so tepid it bores me. —Al

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