Hey there, seniorita, that’s very astute
Why don’t we get together and call ourselves an institute.
Well, I think that’s sort of how it goes, anyway. I can’t really remember. But what I do remember is that later in that same song – Paul Simon’s "You Can Call Me Al", by the way – somebody walks on down the alleyway with a roly-poly little bat-faced girl.
"So what," you ask, mouth agape and eyes quickly glazing over in the benighted absence of some sort of fast-moving things you can zap with your BFG?
So, that’s the big trend in online comics today.
People are getting together. People are joining hands and waving arms and becoming a big goddamn happy family, and they all wind up ducking down the alleyway with the roly-poly little bat-faced girls of online comics.
Think about it for a second and you’ll see what I mean. How many online collaborative "chunnel sites" have popped up in the last few months? I can think of four or five, easy, and I’m not even paying attention. And it’s not that these are the crème de la crème starting to hang out and snoot down their collective noses at us. It’s the stuff floating on la crème that’s been sitting in the fridge too long that are finding new ways to pollute the bandwidth.
Not only does suck exist, suck thrives and flourishes here on the intermawebber. And not only does suck thrive and flourish, suck spreads and corrupts. And not only does suck thrive and flourish and spread and corrupt, but suck teams up with other suck to form these Black Hole Portals of Suck that not only present Bad Art themselves, but bond with other pieces of Bad Art to create a sort of mega-Bad-Art thrombolysis that throbs out there on the Internet like a great black heart, each beat pulsing more spew of poorly conceived ideas badly executed through the channels of the system, clogging the arteries of our beloved medium like fat from boiled cow brains coats the arteries of Hungarians.
Or the Swiss. Or whoever the hell it is that eats head cheese. But I digress.
As much as I hate making rules, and I love to make rules, I am going to make another rule here. This is sort of a broad rule. It can apply to life as much as webcomics, and we know how little those two things cross over. The rule is thus, and you can call it Wemble’s Rule of Teammaking:
IF YOU’RE TRYING TO FORM THE BEATLES, YOU CAN ONLY HAVE ONE RINGO.
A clarification, and perhaps a collorary to that rule, would be:
AND HOPEFULLY NO PETE BESTS IN THE FIRST PLACE.
The point, for those of you scratching your heads and wondering if Ringo is maybe the sequel to that rilly scary movie with the kid in the well with the hair, is that there should be some sort of golden mean for teaming up. And there is, in the standard world, where rules apply. Let’s run through a few:
The Super Friends only had one Aquaman. The Who only had one Keith Moon (talented, yes, but criminally stupid and very soon dead). The United States only has one Wisconsin. Cubs fans only have one Steve Bartman. The Star Wars movies only have one Jar-Jar Binks.
Get the picture? To succeed in webcomics – as in life – you should have at least a 3/1 winner/loser ratio. Who cares how that fourth guy got on board – maybe he’s related to somebody, or he’s the guy that buys the pizza after every bowling match. But you should have at least THREE SOLIDS to every ONE LIQUID, or your sandcastle, chum, it ain’t gonna hold.
And the sandcastles are crumbling, friends. They are disintegrating like Janet Jackson album sales at a PTA meeting.
Even the hoary old men of the webcomics world – Keenspot and Modern Tales – are weakening at the knees as time goes by. Keenspot seems to be flailing for anything that brings a fresh audience to the withering empire, and MT has developed a distressing tendency to just keep creators on board with whatever projects they toss off, regardless of the merit of the work at hand.
And every day, another "collective" hungry for a piece of the Keenspot/Dumbrella/MT pie builds a float out of milk crates, baler twine and that smelly hobo that sleeps behind the 7-11, clambers on board it, and shoves it out, reeking and disintegrating and a hazard to all who behold it, into the wretched stream of the webcomic parade.
What’s to be done? What power do we, the small yet vocal minority of sensible people, have to prevent this? None, really, except the same old thing we’ve always done: vote with our hits. Resist the impulse to click that glittering "read my friends’ comix" banner, friend.
The only thing that lurks behind it is tragedy.
And possibly Pete Best.
Dalton Wemble is a contributing columnist for Comixpedia. We still aren’t sure why.
What I notice is the way you get right to the point: a lot of web comics are sub-par, and we really shouldn’t be encouraging this sort of thing because it will lower the standards, expectations, and general cool, edginess of this new trend called web comics.
With all that on the line, it seems rather naive and sunday school to be pointing out moral support, encouragement, constructive criticism, and forced responsibility that forming a comic group can have on its members.
So, instead I’ll simply point out that the web is a very huge place, and the only way that anyone (and here I’m including the best of the best) will stand out or be noticed, is to join into a Neal Stephenson tribe.
Besides, it’s honestly more fun this way.
(opinions of the author may be called into question as she is from Wisconsin 😉 )
If we’re going to be serious about webcomics, we have to listen to hard truths from time to time. That’s what these columns seem to be about. I like’em. Even when they broadcast opinions I don’t agree with, or that I deep-down-inside agree with but am not excited about hearing. More Dalton Wemble. That’s what I say.
This one seems to be aimed more at editors than at cartoonists: make sure, if you’re getting a group of people together, that they’re all up to the high standards you’re going to be claiming.
That’s a good point.
On the other hand, I’ve found that whenever people point to “weaknesses” in the MT lineup, they never point to the same comics. What seems like a weakness to one reader is invariably considered the best comic on the site by another reader. So it’s definitely not as cut-and-dried a process as Dalton’s column would have us believe. That said, the general idea is solid, and the column is written in an entertainingly biting way. So I still like it.
Interesting points. But keep in mind that Dalton is talking about hubs and groups, and not individual comics. More often than not, the ones who form hubs have more motive than simply to “have a good time.”
On another note, I’d certainly like to hear why you think that Comixpedia is not getting the review job done.
I really don’t see what your columns are supposed to accomplish.
Yes, but what are the lessons here? Don’t make crappy comics? If you do, don’t make groups with other crappy comics? It’s not constructive in any way.
Joey’s talking about hard thruths. I don’t know. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it’s true, as far as this article goes. I think this article is more about Dalton patting himself on the back for coming up with the “only one Ringo” bit than anything else. *shrug*
Keenspot is bloated with comic methane, it’s true. I mean I spent about an hour on high speed internet, flicking through the whole thing looking for something to catch my attention. And nothing did. That’s not to say there’s nothing worthy in there, just that I didn’t find it by seaching randomly through the categories. However, the stuff on Keenspot that I have enjoyed, I’ve found by clicking on a link banner on one of my friend’s websites.
Dalton’s points don’t apply to comickers who are starting something just for fun, just because they want to. Whether these comics succeed or fail or make money or don’t is more often than not not the point of these efforts. No power is needed to make them go away. As often as they crop up, they die off. Withholding hits from these comics is not going to stop them continuing, and is not going to reverse the trend of them cropping up in the first place. Because they’re not begun for the reward that hits provide.
Dalton’s implicit point about not being able to get back precious seconds of your life which were unsuspectingly wasted on what promised to be a good read but what turned out to be more like a poke in the eye may be painfully true, but it’s not like we have an alternative to naively hoping someone will put our comic’s banner on their links page. In a world where the major audience for any given webcomic is composed of creators of other webcomics, can we honestly hope for some readership-increasing alternative to pop up? It’s not like Publisher’s Weekly was paying any attention to Derek Kirk Kim before he won the Zeric and was able to publish his collection. It’s no tlike we’re getting ink in the New York Times, let alone the local rags. You want to find worthy comics and avoid bad ones, you need to go avail yourself of top 25 or top 100 lists, with ranking systems based on popularity and not quality (and therefore, likely to waste your time). Or you have to find a large set of substantative webcomic reviews, which there are none (not even Comixpedia is getting the job done), or trust in your friends to mention webcomics they think are for whatever reason worth checking out.
One man’s tragedy is another man’s laugh riot. Click on the banner.
Knights of the Shroud
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