Follow Up to WIRED story on Sprite Comics

First off, although I didn’t of it at the time, the mention of Comixpedia in Wired News has been a nice “semi-big” deal. It’s another toe into the mainstream for a publication that admittedly focuses on the vanguard of a medium, comics, that is already on the whole treated fairly poorly by the mainstream. (And when I say “mainstream” I mean “of society” not “superhero comics”)

Giant Panda noted that Penny Arcade’s Gabe, who was quoted in the article on sprite comics in Wired magazine, posted on the Penny Arcade website recently that “I really don’t want anyone to think I was referring to comics like Diesel Sweeties. R. Stevens is a talented artist who has created his own unique and interesting characters. I was only speaking about comics that pull sprites from video-games as that was the focus of the article.

This led to a reply yesterday from R Stevens, author of Diesel Sweeties.

Wow, I got some seriously kind words from Gabe on Penny Arcade today! He was quoted in a Wired article about sprite comics being the kind of strip one can do without having to know how to draw. He was nice enough to differentiate between DS and a Mega-man or Super Mario-based comic. I’ve had this conversation in much smaller venues and I’d like to add a few words to the fray.

I think we’ve all enjoyed our share of comics with cut ‘n paste videogame characters. Some of them are pretty long running and interesting. We just have to look at them and understand what they’re about. It’s kind of like watching Sealab 2021 or Space Ghost Coast to Coast or listening to a good remix of a favorite song. It may not be quite the same as making a totally new work but taking things that are well-loved and recontextualizing them is a really important part of modern western culture. I’d go as far as to say that this is “the little guy’s” response to the huge forces that make #1 hit singles & summer movie blockbusters.

In that sense R makes a great point. There’s a big difference between someone reusing existing bits and pieces of the artistic and cultural landscape to create something new and someone just copying something. R writes more and invites replies on the topic. We had a lot of interesting discussion on copyright on Comixpedia this year, primarily with regards to redistribution of webcomics by third parties. But the copyright issues surrounding remixing existing work is also one that can have a tremendous impact on all artists, including webcomic creators, today.


Xaviar Xerexes

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