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Making Art in a Cave or on a Webcam

I've been thinking a lot about a panel discussion between Douglas Rushkoff and Scott McCloud at NY Comic Con I heard via the Daily Crosshatch blog. (You can download the whole audio file from their site or watch highlights on the YouTube videos embedded into the post.)

Towards the end Rushkoff says that artists should work in their "cave" and emerge with their masterpieces for the masses. McCloud countered that he used to slave away in his "cave" and then print out his comic. If a fan liked it they sent a letter which was printed in the following issue and McCloud would respond to the letter in the letters page of the comic. Now, says McCloud, you can put your comic on the web immediately and a fan can comment "You misspelled a word, but I love panel 3."

I agree with McCloud that this sense of immediate interaction from fans is a positive side to making webcomics, yet at the same time I have seen a lot of work suffer from not spending enough time in the "cave" working on the art or the story before putting it up on the web.

No one made art in a cave before the internet anyway. Picasso had Braque to bounce ideas off of. The Surrealists met together and even made a manifesto by which to make their art. So I'd like to suggest a third situation that is middle ground to the situations that Rushkoff and McCloud gave.

The internet can be used to expand the artist's community. I work for a while on thumbnails and even finished pages and send this work off to other like minded artists I have met on the internet. However, the stuff I send to them is hardly ready for the rest of the public. These artists give helpful feedback and I have sometimes gone back and redrawn whole finished pages to clarify an idea. In the end, I am the artist and I need to be responsible for the artistic choices I make. I don't need to rely on a poll in the comments section to help me decide how I will proceed with my work.

Once I have taken the advice of other artists, re-worked things and polished things up, I come out of my cave and post the finished product for rest of the world.

webcomics internet Scott+McCloud Douglas+Rushkoff creative+process