One of my handy "Google Alerts" alerted me to the end of Filibuster, an editorial-style webcomic by J.J. McCullough that has been running since 2001. McCullough writes that largely due to the low readership (he writes that he has 2000 regular readers based on Google Analytics) he is putting the comic on indefinite hiatus. Filibuster was a largely traditional editorial style comic that took shots at all sides and tried to play off of current events. McCullough may not be as talented as the best practioners of this form but he surely was a competent creator who produced over 1000 comics on a regular weekly basis. In fact, back in 2003 ComixTalk ran a fairly positive review of even his earliest work.
I think this story is one more anecdote suggesting that editorial cartooning in the very traditional sense is simply not going to cross-over to the web in a successful way. (That may not be the case for the newer breed of opinionated cartoonists who largely come out of the alternative weekly newspaper tradition) There are probably lots of reasons for that – cartooning is a pretty inefficent way to deliver topical news and information amongst all the other mediums available today. These comics don’t typically have story or any of the other pleasures of narrative work. Many of them work in a tradition of taking shots at all political stripes — a tradition bred of the 20th century newspaper’s self-image of non-partisanship. That probably works against them in the medium of the web. Iin fact McCullough notes the greater success of the straight right-wing Cox & Forkum comic than his work, although I recall that Cox & Forkum went on hiatus even earlier – back in 2007 (we also reviewed Cox & Forkum back in 2003).
And perhaps most fundamentally this specific kind of comic that comes from the editorial pages of the newspaper isn’t smart enough for the Internet age. This is clearly my opinion and its dangerous to cast it so wide, but I can’t recall a comic of this type that really provided my with insight or struck an emotional chord in the way that many other types of comics can and often do. Since survival and success on the Internet seems to be dependent on building a passionate fan base I can’t see how comics of this sort can make the jump.