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Why Do Online Comics: Faith and the Webcomic

Faith and the Webcomic

I knew my wife was the person I was going to marry two weeks before our first date. We got together for coffee as friends, talked until one in the morning, and I walked her to her car. As she drove off, an overwhelming peace came over me, and I knew down to my core she was the one. It wasn't like lightning striking or fireworks going off. It was as though I had just learned a new fact, like two plus two equals four or that water is wet. That's how convinced I was.

Now, imagine if I tried to prove this to you. Could I show you a picture of what I experienced? Is there some thing I could hold in my hands to show you what I felt that night? No. I cannot offer you tangible proof of that powerful moment inside of me. I may be able to persuade you to believe what I am saying, but your trust in it would be founded on the same thing mine is.

Faith.

Morals, love, God… there are some very powerful concepts in our world that, as humans, we have to decide to believe in. Which, of course, has a lot to do with what makes them so powerful. There's no conclusive evidence to their existence, just a hunch, an instinct, a "gut feeling" that is so strong it makes you absolutely convinced of something without any proof that would be admissible in court. You have faith that what you believe is the truth, or at least it is for you.

Why do online comics? Seriously, think about this from a logical, rational standpoint for a minute.

A typical webcomicker spends hours a day drawing, inking, coloring, lettering, scanning, and getting the work up on the web in a format that is user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing to the readers.

There is an investment of money involved as well, from art supplies to maintaining a computer to purchasing your website's hosting somewhere.

This is so you can make a webcomic that people can go online and read, probably for free. If you try to charge people for it to begin with, it will be difficult to build a fan base. If you provide it for free, you may build a fan base... but try to charge for it after a while, and watch as your fans turn viciously against you.

If you average two hours a day on this stuff, that is fourteen hours a week, or 728 hours a year. Added up, those 728 hours total a month of your time. Now, take a minute, and think of all the things you can do with a month. If you were working at a paying job during those 728 hours and earned $10 an hour, that would be an extra $7000+ income in a year. Now compare that to how much you'll make as a webcomicker, which is roughly a loss of $200-300.

You know what the general public perception of comics as a medium is? Remember Jesus Castillo? He was a clerk at Keith's Comics in Dallas, Texas, who in 1999 was charged with selling obscene material for selling an adult comic book to an adult undercover police officer. They had them in a separate area where kids weren't allowed to go. The argument that everybody knows comics are for kids was put up against Jesus, and the prosecution won with that argument.

But you, friend, are a webcomic creator. Webcomics are fighting for respect from people who generally participate in the print comics industry, whether it be readers or creators, and that print comics industry is thought of as "for kids" by the general populace. No other medium of mass entertainment I can think of has such a massive lack of understanding regarding its potential, and you're involved in trying to become the red-headed stepchild of that medium.

Are we nuts?! I mean, all logic points to this being just slightly less torture than spending one's days hugging cacti. Yet not only do people still create comics and put them on the Internet, there are more and more people doing it all the time. What the heck could possibly possess anyone to think this is something worth doing?!

I won't presume to answer that for everyone else, but here's my attempt at an answer anyway. I do these comics, I invest myself in all this, sacrificing time with friends and family, spending money I don't really have just for the opportunity to do these comics, because I have faith. I see the potential in online comics, and I want to do my part in driving them towards that potential. I may not make any money from it, I may not ever get recognition for it, and I may never see comics ever get the respect I think they deserve as a medium. But to not try is simply not an option, and that is true because my belief in online comics is too strong to let it become one.

I think this, to some degree at least, drives most webcomickers. Others may indeed just be stark raving lunatics and gluttons for punishment. But in this festive time of year I like to try to assume the better of my fellow man, so I like to think maybe why we do online comics is a healthy mixture of faith and insanity.

Happy holidays.

Re: Wait a moment...

Iain Hamp's picture

Don't get me wrong, if the fame and money somehow materialized then I wouldn't shoo it away, but I'm not holding my breath. =)

Thanks for the note.

Re: Why Do Online Comics by Iain Hamp

Iain Hamp's picture

I guess I made the mistake of assuming fun was a given. But you're right, that's why I got into webcomics more than anything else, and it'd be hard to keep doing them if it weren't for the fun aspect of it.

Re: An issue of faith?

Iain Hamp's picture

Fun is certainly important. I have never been one to work because I wanted to make a bunch of money. I chose a profession I enjoyed the most because I figured if I enjoyed it so much, I'd get pretty good at it, and people would eventually want to pay me for how good I was at it. And I was right.

Fun gets me started on a project, but the faith aspects I've discussed are usually what keeps me going through to the end. And like a previous commenter posted, how important to me it is to do them is why it makes sense to the people around me that I devote so much time and energy to it. I may not be able to do them for a living yet, but comics are more than a hobby to me too.

An issue of faith?

Not really - unless you are expecting to one day be a millionaire from your webcomic.Of course if that's the case it's more a question of your sanity than a testament of your faith.Why do I do webcomics? From a logical, rational point of view?Because I enjoy it. Every moment and aspect of it. I enjoy drawing. I enjoy telling stories. I enjoy sharing my work with others. I especially enjoy getting money for my efforts ;)Drawing comics is not a sure-fire career path, online or off. But even if it were impossible to make a living off of comics, I'd still be doing them. No leap of faith required.

Wait a moment...

Are you telling me that you're not at it for the fame and the money!?

Just kidding. It's a refreshing article, specially for us beginners whose family & friends still can't get why in hell are we wasting our time with this "webcomic" things...

Thank you very much
Pepius.

Re: Why Do Online Comics by Iain Hamp

Don't forget about the fun ;) Yes, some of us do believe we can get someplace doing this, but mostly, it's because we have fun doing it. It's very satisfying to have an online comic, to spend time doing something you know it'll be seen all around the world. All the great comics out there are inspirational, and we want some of that too :)

Maritza
CRFH.net

Re: Why Do Online Comics by Iain Hamp

Iain Hamp's picture

Ha ha, that's terrific!

Re: Why Do Online Comics by Iain Hamp

dunk's picture

Amen to that brother. I think Iain touched a couple of nerves with this one, and of all the WDOC columns he's done I really felt that this one struck closest to home.

I just added an illustration by Vinc Coleman which should have been up when this piece went live, but I hit him up on short notice. I think he does a good job of capturing the essence of what we do (andhe had Iain's column as inspiration).

Bring on the fresh meat!

Re: Why Do Online Comics by Iain Hamp

Clint Hollingsworth's picture

"But you, friend, are a webcomic creator. Webcomics are fighting for respect from people who generally participate in the print comics industry, whether it be readers or creators, and that print comics industry is thought of as "for kids" by the general populace. No other medium of mass entertainment I can think of has such a massive lack of understanding regarding its potential, and you're involved in trying to become the red-headed stepchild of that medium."

Single best summation of Webcomic Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ever.

Clint Hollingsworth

The Wandering Ones Webcomic
http://www.wanderingones.com