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Manley Rant on Evolution of Webcomics Culture

MT Publisher Joey Manley compares early webcomic culture to early videogame culture and speculates about the future. It must be something that's he been thinking about lately because I could swear he recently wrote something similar in a comment to a Comixpedia article.

Re: Manley Rant on Evolution of Webcomics Culture

Joey Manley's picture

If that last paragraph is an honest question, I've got an honest answer: because professional comics are the ones that interest me the most. In particular, the development of an industry -- and the chance to participate in that development (which is a once-in-a-lifetime chance) -- interests me. Hobbyist webcomics are interesting too -- but not, for me, quite as exciting. For me.

That's not to say that everybody's interest can, should, or could align with mine.

It's also, obviously, not to say that what interests me is the only thing that matters. It's just the thing that matters most -- to me. Because it interests me. Tautological, but true.

I should also note that I don't mean to imply that webcomics will succeed on the same scale as videogames, and I acknowledge that there are many differences between the two fields.

As with any metaphor, the edges of the two things being compared don't quite match up.

Whether that makes the metaphor unuseful or not is really a matter of interpretation. The post wasn't written as a definitive work of Research. It was just some thoughts. Like I said a couple of times in the post itself, I could very well be wrong.

Joey
www.moderntales.com

Re: Manley Rant on Evolution of Webcomics Culture

Joey Manley's picture

My rants always start out as messageboard posts. Takes the back and forth of a messageboard to get me started, it seems. Repurposing!

;)

Joey
www.moderntales.com

Re: Manley Rant on Evolution of Webcomics Culture

Althogh some of the points may be valid, the base comparison seems flawed.

At the time that early video games came out, it was a groundbreaking new medium. There really wasn't any form of interactive storytelling at the time.

The same is not true for sequential art. Comics, illustrated stories and graphic novels have existed for ages. The existance of comics on the web is nowhere near as groundbreaking as say PONG was or ZORK was for videogames. Mainly, the difference comes from the fact that the sequential art playing field isn't the new and virginal forest that the original videogame field was. Before computers came around, there was nothing that came even close to the experience of a videogame (the only thing I can think of is a "choose your own adventure" bood). But the field of sequential storytelling iss already populated with a long history of successes and failures (i.e. big comic companies, strip syndicates, small press successes and failures, independant "experimental" stuff, etc).

Manley says that "There are still free videogames -- probably more than there ever were. But the ones that get the most attention (the ones that get any attention) are the slick, expensively-produced, extremely professional works that come out of places like Electronic Arts, Activision, etc., etc." and this is very true in comics in general. There are many web comics out there, but the comics that get the most attention are the slick, expensively-produced, extremely professional works that come out of places like Image, Marvel, DC, etc., etc.

The one thing I really don't get is why Mr. Manley seems to keep justifying the validity of paying for web comics and making a hard distinction between "amateur" and "professional" comics. In the end, isn't the prosperity of web comics and comics in general the real goal? Sure, the formation of "brands" is inevitable, but as long as anyone can get webspace on the net for pennies a day, there will always be the people who produce quality web comics. Whether it be in the shadow of webcomic conglomerates or print comic conglomerates, does it really matter as long as comics keep getting produced?

-FD
Writer for Eidolic Fringe

Re: Manley Rant on Evolution of Webcomics Culture

I can understand that personally, you are interested mainly in professional comics. That's a personal preference.

The thing that I keep taking issue with is that the statements that you make divide web comics into two catagories, "professional" and "other". Then you proceed to justify the validity of the comics in the "professional" catagory by differentiating them from the "other" comics. This, in essence, invalidates, albeit indirectly, any comic that is not in your "professional" group of comics.

From my POV, you seem to simply write off any comic that you do not consider "professional". You said it yourself, you're not that excited about hobbyist webcomics. I don't know if it's just me reading too much into your words, but that's how I read them. I realize that it's a personal preference thing, but when you run a site like modern tales, like it or not, it matters more than the opinion of any random person on the net.

In the end, does it really matter who produces a comic, why they produce a comic or even how they produce a comic as long as what they produce is enjoyed by people reading it?

-FD
Writer for Eidolic Fringe