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Juxtapose This: A Digression on Webcomics and Chocolate, Supersized

DYLAN: Why, Bill, is it not indeed a fine and sunny day in this, the best of all possible Internets? Is this virtual agora not filled with the finest illustrators, writers, and experts in the use of the Photoshop lens flare filter?

BILL: Why yes, this is indeed a fine an sunny day amongst the windswept plains of the Internet, for there are many webcomics to peruse. Let us wander arm-in-arm into the Forest of Tired Pop Culture References, and through the wretched Swamp of Crappy Manga Bullshit. There's a Valentine's Day party at the Village of Burnt-Out-Part-Time-Job-Working-Hand-To-Mouth-Living-Webcartoonists that I don't think we should miss. Scott McCloud promised a buffet table stocked with Aspirin, boxed wine and sleeping pills. Derek Kirk Kim will be on hand to dispense back and hand-massages to men and women alike. The evening will conclude with a viewing of Babylon 5 at 9pm, and then everybody will go home tired and bewildered.

But hark! Over yonder hill I doth hear the cry of The Legions of Artistically Corrupt Glen Keane-Wannabes, and Smarmy Pre-Teen Webcomic Fans Who Don't Want To Pay For Anything They Read Online. I say we smite them with fire. Or with marshmallows. Whatever may be handy.

In all seriousness though... ugh, what in the hell am I talking about? I'm barely qualified to talk about webcomics. I barely read any of them, because most of them seem to be about as interesting as a drunken sorority chick. That's not necessarily many creators' faults - there's a bazillion webcomics out there, so it's easy to get lost in the crowd - but so many cartoonists spend so much time aping material that they've grown up with, that their comics suffer from an act of accidental homogenized. (Although to be completely fair, that's not a problem specific to webcartoonists, either - almost anybody involved in any artistic pursuit has to hit that psychological roadblock someday, but still...)

Then again, I'm just as creatively bankrupt as anybody else. Look at my own webcomics - Anne Frank Conquers the Moon Nazis (which employs a gimmicky art style stolen from old Fleischer Bros. cartoons) and Peter Pan (*snort*), fer chrissakes. But then again, at least somewhere deep down inside, I know I'm being a derivative bastard. Unlike some poor folks. Ack.

DYLAN: Steady on, dear chap. I think there's a spectrum here when it comes to derivation.

At the bottom end are those weird, brain-addled people who plagiarize directly and seem to think they'll never get caught. Next up are the only slightly less deluded folks who essentially rip something off but add a few lame new touches. Next one on the chain are the genre zombies--- that would be, say, the "Two Young Male Roommates Joking About Gaming" camp, namely people who seem to be producing their material by reading a rulebook.

On an entirely different train track are the satirists, folks who do a fine job at mocking the cliches worshipped in the last category listed above;

adapters, who are taking a pre-existing premise and intentionally warping it (and I think, based on what you've leaked about your upcoming Pan, is the case for that effort);

those paying tribute by emulating a style while still promoting a message different from the inspirational artists (which would be the slot for Anne Frank);

and those who are writing an original story but within certain formal or fictional conventions, i.e., folks who are producing good work but not necessarily out to either immediately emulate somebody OR push the formalist envelope.

And lastly there're the experimentalists, who are trying to screw with form and/or content in new and interesting ways. This is not to say that they're "true originals", since most of the experimentation comes from responding to others' theses – it'd be interesting to find out how many folks doing infinite canvas work would admit to starting it in part because of Scott McCloud's book Reinventing Comics, to pick an obvious example.

Goddamn that Scott McCloud, he's like a facial tic.

What I find really cool is that the people who have been concerned primarily with playing with form (in webcomics, that is) are now getting practiced enough that there are starting to be some really excellent stories evolving.

This is where I tell everybody to read Patrick Farley's Spiders over at e-sheep.

BILL: Can I take a quick moment here to extol the virtues of avoiding Hershey's new "S'mores" bar at all costs? It tastes like the floor of a porno theatre, only mashed into a convenient candy bar-shape. I think I'm going to be violently ill in about... oh, three minutes now.

Regardless, yes, you've got people like Patrick Farley populating the more exciting end of the online-comics spectrum – in fact, some of the infinite canvas stuff out there (and I'm thinking Patrick and Cat Garza, specifically) is so visually schizophrenic that it might intimidate potential webcomics readers as much as it could possibly intrigue them. So what we've got here is a kind of catch-22 situation for slack-brained comics readers like myself... On one hand, you've got webcomics that bore the pants off of many readers, either because they don't do enough to indulge in the freedoms that are inherit to the webcomics format or the content of the comics themselves are shoddy as all hell. Then on the other hand you've got webcomics that break the ancient Sunday-funnies mold so effortlessly that they almost run the risk of making themselves unrecognizable (or unpalatable) to many casual comics fans.

But then again, we're talking form over content here. All the infinite canvases and Scott McCloud-styled-posturing in the world won't save a comic strip from The Clutches of Horribleness if there isn't a germ of originality/quality in the cartoonist's ideas (not that "originality" or "quality" should ever be confused with one another, but that's subject to debate for another day).

There's always something to be said for smothering lousy writing with snazzy art, though. Huzzah! As cartoonists, fulfilling the roles of both "writer" and "artist" can be a triumph, but more often than not can lead to tragedy. And to be completely fair to my fellow cartoonists who can't write their way out of a soggy paper bag (myself included), only theatre people – those poor schmucks who have to slog their way through singing, dancing and acting lessons – have nearly as many pitfalls awaiting them in their craft as we do*. I mean, it's hard enough to be an artist to begin with, but when you've got to try to develop a golden ear for conversation on top of that... YEESH.

(*Okay, skydiving-gyncologists aside, too. And polar-bear bowel-adjustment technicians.)

DYLAN: The last Hershey's bar I had any fondness for was the Cookies 'n Cream kind, and that was in middle school when I was doing aikido five days a week and weighed about thirty pounds, so I was probably just desperate for calories.

Also, I know a girl here who lives in Hershey, PA. She says that on a good day, it smells like chocolate; on a great day, it smells like peanut butter (from the Reese's factory down the street); and on a bad day, it smells like cow manure.

I think that's all that needs to be said on THAT front.

As for the Intimidation Factor, oh sure, if I'm trying to get a friend into reading webcomics, unless they're "the right sort" I'm not going to send them to something as hugely orchestrated as Spiders or Magic Inkwell. I'd be more inclined to send them to well-done mainstream, more the sort of thing you'd find on Girlamatic.com (which was part of Lea Hernandez's intent when choosing artists for that site, I believe).

(I'm not favoring the Modern Tales franchise over others here necessarily, but since the sister sites have reasonably clear focuses, they make useful examples for indicating a certain "kind" of comic.)

On the subject of originality, I again want to force other people to read my favorites by blathering about the third book in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books, "The Well of Lost Plots." The protagonist gets stranded in the world of books, and discovers that the ultimate commodity is an Original Idea. It's like pure uranium. All the characters tremble at the mere mention.

And Joey Manley pointed out in a recent book review that a possible hallmark of genius is the repeated tackling of original ideas and the inevitable failure of the finished product to live up to the value of its idea. Like I've told you before, one of my personal loopholes is "am I good enough to pull it off, and if I am, doesn't that mean it wasn't very challenging to start with?"

Also, the mention of Scott McCloud-style posturing leads me to the inevitable image of Scott strutting, in heels, down a fashion runway; striking a pose at the end; then sashaying back.

His kids would be so proud.

As for artistic versatility... well, sure, it's impressive when you find somebody who can write, draw, and has the discipline to keep it up. But "triple threats" in showbiz aren't necessarily the ones who make it to the top; I don't know about you, but finding out that the three stars of Chicago did ALL their own dancing and singing was a shock. I assumed they just slept with the producer and then had enough talent to sleep with better and better producers. (alright, that's an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. Right place right time or you'll end up in a cardboard box.)

If somebody draws like a bastard and has the ability to really conform their work to fit a writer, and vice versa, well good god, hurray for us all. We get the better volumes of Sandman.

But in the loosey-goosey freelove disappear-tomorrow-morning world of the Internet, abiding teamwork is necessarily hard to find. There are only a few people I would trust enough online to start a project with, and even then, Life can always interfere and can the whole works.

Thus we have a lot of crappy would-be do-it-alls, and a few real talents, and not as much collaboration as there could be.

BILL: I've been to Hershey, PA a few times. I remember walking the Hershey Kiss-lamp-lined streets as a child, touring the ghostly empty chocolate factory, while wondering the entire time why I felt like I was stranded in Transexual Transylvania. Really. The entire time I kept on expecting Meatloaf to come tearing out of a wall and run me over with his chopper. I was that weird little kid in the tour group who could alternately make the Chocolate Docents either laugh or cry, it seems.

The one other thing that drives me bonkers about webcomics is that you've got to use a clunky computer to read them. Now I know how stupid THAT complaint sounds (it's like bitching about how sad it is that you must ruin toilet paper by shitting on it), but I think one of the greatest strikes that webcomics have to begin with is their utter lack of portability. It's the same reason why e-books have largely failed, too - for most people, the act of reading (even funnybooks) is a brain-bustingly tactile experience...though a subtle tactile experience at that. There's a reason why people are always hounding us comic dorks about when our material will be printed – people want to read comics while riding the bus, or taking a dump.

Feh, now that I think about it, the fact that webcomics have to compete with all manner of other Internet-related entertainment is probably another subtle disadvantage that webcomics share in their current state. When you're reading a wood-pulp comic while waiting for class to start (or what ever), even in that kind of distraction-filled environment you're something of a captive audience. But when your access to comics is filtered through such an entertainment-drenched channel like a home computer, its impact is lessened. It's not as personal.

DYLAN: Well, failing some economic/sociological supertrauma (which, let's face it, is never as far off as we like to think. GIANT ASTEROID AAAAAAAAAAAA *kaBOOM*), electronic portability is going to improve in the coming years. There's only moderate hope for my generation---those of us with the potential to be "paper fetishists" (as the edgy webfolk call them) are going to be that way forever at this point. I will willingly trade a hot meal for a nicely-bound trade paperback nine days out of ten.

(This explains why I don't weigh enough to donate blood, maybe?)

I'll be annoying one more time and reference one of Carla Speed McNeil's books in the Finder series, "Talisman", which is a wonderful treatment of book fetishism, from the tactile angle to the creative angle, in an Advanced Virtual Society. It's a nice emotional, irrational counterpoint to the more clinical treatment the idea of e-books gets in Reinventing Comics and the like.

I also do agree that it's much harder to sit down and read a webcomic when the temptation to flit off and check your e-mail is so strong. Part of that for me seems to be induced by the flickering monitor, and I hope that higher definition screens will mean fewer ADD symptoms after ten pages of reading.

As a webcomicker not yet in print (beyond Kinko's level minicomics), I can say that I also really love the idea of the Internet becoming sort of a farm system for print publishers, at least for some transitional decades while digital-portable media sort themselves out. I don't know how plausible it is, given the scanty number of publishers and their relative dearth of resources, but there are SO MANY gullible young talents lying around, waiting to be exploited.

Of course, I'd like to think we're both examples of the above, so forget everything I just said and chalk it up to youthful optimism. Why the hell did they give this column to a 20 year-old again?

BILL: Oh, hush – as a 20 year-old, you're a voice for the very first generation of cartoonists to come "web-ready" straight out of the box. Whereas I'm the voice of all the cranky old bastards out there who still remember when yellowed 75-cent comics were choking with sloppily-printed 4-color ads for Hostess Fruit Pies and offers to sell "Grit" (in exchange for "exciting money and prizes", of course). And together, we shall raise our collective voices in song as the borders between the printed page and the infinite canvas blur into a technologically impressionistic rainbow of comic-creation and distribution methods!

(And yet despite whatever marvels of science and the ingenuity of the human mind may offer us in the not-too-distant future, our grandchildren will still be subjected to "The Son of Two Young Male Roommates Joking About Gaming". Son of a BITCH.)

Re: Juxtapose This by Dylan Meconis

I've already passed my pre-teens (22), and I don't think I'm smarmy (at least I hope I'm not, If I like something I say so, as well as I say otherwise whenever the case). I don't want to pay for what I read on the Internet, should I too go rot in hell with the little kids?

Look, this is a good article which brings up some interesting points about the webcomics world, but also shows some of the common points of view heard when listening to a lot of webcomic creators, specially here in the C'pedia. Maybe those shared ideas where what brought all of you together and made the site possible, but hearing them over and over again is starting to make me a bit pissed off.

I'd like to bring two major points, more or less related, so you could think that makes 1'5 points, or a big one, or even banana ice cream if you feel inclined to it.

The first point is that noone's perfect. The good thing of the internet (aside from some claims that it makes you stupid), is that free-of-speech, everyone-can-do-it, happy-happy kumbaya feeling. That's the point. EVERYONE can do it. Most online comics originated from people who didn't have the skills or time to created a "professional", "good", "market standards compliant" or "whatever qualification you'd like to use" enough comic. They wanted to show people their works, period. People could see it, and thanks to the magic of TCP-IP, give instant feedback and all that jazz. Now that the webcomics "scene" s evolving a bit, lots of people are arguing about the quality of comics, how everyone thinks they could be the next Penny Arcade, and so on. Well, if you don't like something you see online, move on, there's plenty more around, and besides, is not like your inbox is full of annoying webcomic spam mails right? just members of the nigerian royal family which, for some strange reason, wants your penis to be larger, even if you don't have one to begin with.
Look, if you went and tell every 15 year old that's going to buy a guitar that he's not going to be a rock star, what would you have? Well, probably, a lot more angsty teens, half which would end creating deadjournal sites, a lot of angry salesmen, and, guess what? No new music. No rare, undiscovered gems, no new revolutionary bands, and yet, the industry would be somehow able to create the new Britney.
Last time I checked, there where no quality requeriments in the W3. Probably most of the people who start a webcomic will fail, right. But that's not a reason enough to not let them at least try.
I do a comic myself. Two, to be exact. They're crappy. I know. Although I know (A bit) how to draw, they're made in ASCII, for various reasons (including me thinking it funny and lack of time). I'm learning. One day, I came to realization that if I did never start doing comics, I'd never ever do GOOD comics. Please bear with me, I'll call when I think I'm doing something good enough, if you want, but don't make me close my site. At least my friends seem to like it. I promise I'll try to improve.

The second point is the "paying for online content" one.
I may be a bastard, regarding this point, but I'm used to read a lot of things for free. I read a lot, both comics and books (and comic-books, of course). Money is not infinite, like online canvases, ao I pay for some of them, but not for all of them, as I wouldn't be economically abled. I mostly boy things which I like to HAVE, as in OWN. Sometimes for stupid collector issues, mostly for rereading. There's lot of things that I wouldn't want to own, or are simply not affordable. I go to my district public library A LOT. I've read most of its SF and fantasy catalog. Most of their comics section, too. I use to lend comics and books with my friends too. That lets us read a lot more than we can buy, and keep only what we want for posterity, also being able to not crowd our room in the process. (In case people are wondering, things here in Spain are a bit different, and people usually don't live the parent's nest until 25-30, due to horrible high living costs, both for owning and renting gameplay modes)
Aside form that personal bits, there's still another tricky part in this matter. The "owning" one. I like to pay for something physical, material, something that, in most cases, I can hold in my hands, and say: "Here's my money, just in another form". You can't do it with online content, specially you don't feel like it with subscription sites, (which personally I think are a bad marketing decision, but they more or less seem to work, and that's another subject, so I'll won't ramble about it now) seeing as you are paying simply a monthly quota, not an "forever and ever" reading right. Paying for the printed book (or even a CD with extras, like Maritza does) is one thing, but I don't really like paying for screenshots, sorry. As I said a little up there, I may be a bastard.
The other part about paying for things, is the quality one. Let's face it. A lot of the big web hits wouldn't have had a single chance in the print market, and if they hadn't started (at least) being free. Aside from trends, evil corporation tricks, and the doings of the Illuminati, things need a minimum of quality (or a very good marketing campaign) to be profitable. Be it the art, the writing, or maybe the characters, but it needs something to offer. The online world is different. When something is free you don't mind the overall quality so much. You sometimes see someone who's not good enough, but you read him(her) anyway, sometimes with the hope of his work getting better, sometimes even whith that thought in mind. Online comics seem to be more focused in writing than art, which is a good change from the mainstream print market, but with comics being a visual medium, one can be without the other. As well as a comic is not a pin-up magazine, it's not a read-by-chapter novel either.
Most webcomic creators nowadays are people with "real" jobs, which make their comics in their spare time, which imposes some restrictions. Most of the time the quality, quantity, or both, or sub-par compared to what a dedicated creator can make, and this may be a vicious circle (no full time dedication -> less quality -> can't live out of if -> no full time dedication), but hey! At least is easier to get you noticed (and eventually get a reader base) than when there were no Internet. I think if one is good, He'll eventually make it (although probably in the print, which is nowadays the only suitable solution, at least until people can start living out of bitpass...).

Want I'm trying to say, in so many (pointless) words, is to relax, there might be crap out there, but live with it. Everyone has the right to make its crap, as long as it's not blatantly offensive, and in the long run only the ones will stay. Most of those oh, so horrible subgenres started after one successful case of example, so you never know in which mud pond the newest gem will shine. Besides, how can people hate gaming comics so much yet adore the good/known ones like Penny Arcade or 8-bit theater? (Just in case you're wondering, I like both) Maybe the problem is not the genre, only the quality counts, and quality doesn't come with previous trials and crappy results. Everyone has to start somewhere, Let them do it online.

Pepius

P.S. I love chocolate

Re: Juxtapose This by Dylan Meconis

Shaenon Garrity's picture

If you read the column, you'll notice that Dylan and her loveable sidekick Bill voice no criticism towards webcartoonists who lack craft, polish, professionalism, or even talent. All they criticize is lack of imagination. You don't have to be a full-time artist to tell interesting stories or experiment with form. You don't have to be a professional graphic designer with years of experience to draw something besides a four-panel strip about two guys playing video games. Hell, that's what online publishing is all about: giving anyone with access to a modem the opportunity to be creative. As a twenty-year-old college student who has yet to be published in print, I'm sure Dylan understands this.

No, the only thing Dylan and Bill get wrong is the quality of the Hershey's S'mores bar, which is tasty, satisfying, and ingenious in its simplicity. A classic proletarian treat updated for the modern palate, not unlike the Fleischer cartoon style, it's by far my favorite new candy bar in years. I expect a full retraction and apology from Bill.

Re: Juxtapose This by Dylan Meconis

Maybe I've overreacted a bit, and while writing my previous post, I was pondering if I should post the comment here, or create a forum thread. At last I decided to post it here. It was this article after all what made me write the comment, and I thought that the people towards it was directed (Not (only) Dylan), was more likely to read it here.

That said, I wasn't attacking Dylan or Bill in that post (I wasn't "attacking" anyone, for that matter, outside of gaming I'm a true pacifist), but the post was in fact directed towards the majority of the creators that roam the Pedia, as I've seen countless times people loathing things like gamer comics, pop culture reference based comics, or "Crappy Manga Bullshit". I think people is starting to get too nitpickity, and, as the previous pster said, sometimes you only want entertainment. For example, I can enjoy films like "Mystic River", or "Lost in traslation" as much as I enjoy the typical Leslie Nielsen film. I just enjoy it at different levels. One thing doesn't exclude the other, yet people is deciding what should and shouldn't be made. In the print comics business, I think it's ok to argue how mainstream comics may be doing things impossible for independant, small, lovely crafted comics to get some teeny weeny market and stand space, but... This is da Intanet!!oneone! Things are (mostly) free here! You don't get money out of it, so there's no problem in that sense, and usually, things get structured, (via linking graphs) forming clusters of elements with come things in common so, if you get to know some comics via the link page of your favourite webcomic, it will surely be something similar to your reading tastes, which I think reduces the "fight for stand space" problem.
What I'm trying to say is, if it's not gonna have negative consecuences for you, what's the matter? Let the crap be! It will have its place, as your makings have theirs. Besides, the kind of comics we're talking about aren't exactly the most succesful of the lot, they grew based on the vision of a succesful one, but copies aren't usually favored by fans of the original (see for example how Movie Comics fell after their initial burst of fame). And, maybe they're just copying "big web hit #1", but or maybe, just maybe their doing what they've wanted to read for some time, comics which they can relate to. Have you noticed how most succesful manga nowadays (web or not) involves a group of highschoolers which have some kind of adventures usually involving powers? Isn't it more logical that highschool comic readers prefer to read about people like them, (only cooler and superpowered), than the problems of traditional superheroes that live in the mega-mansion? Ok, maybe superheroes weren't the right example, seeing as how they are usually hated too around here (even if they're todays mithology, and people in the future will study their cultural references and such), but I think that explains the point.

To sum up: all I am saying, is give people a chance. I bet even Scott McCloud fantasized about his super alter ego McCloudMan before he was a pro which started to ponder the comic principia

Pepius

Re: Juxtapose This by Dylan Meconis

kjc's picture

Look, this is a good article which brings up some interesting points about the webcomics world, but also shows some of the common points of view heard when listening to a lot of webcomic creators, specially here in the C'pedia. Maybe those shared ideas where what brought all of you together and made the site possible, but hearing them over and over again is starting to make me a bit pissed off.

I should put this in the FAQ or something.

The creators of ComixPedia DO NOT SHARE A GROUP MIND. We really don't. Anyone can write for us, about almost anything so long as it relates to comics/Webcomics. Just send an email & explain what you want to write about.

We even tried, with the February issue, to give you some insight into how we create the 'zine. If you want to rant that's a column/soapbox & you should drop a note to Xerexes. If you want to write up a well-researched piece with minimal personal opinion, but lots of data points, that's a feature and drop me an email. If you want to review comics, reach out to Damonk. If you want to interview webcomickers you think are cool, talk with Leah. If you want to help illustrate pieces, chat with Bill. You can find us by clicking on the ABOUT US link.

There are a LOT of writers for this 'zine. Some write for us once and drift away. Some write every month, bless their hearts. Some write when they have time, maybe once a quarter. Some write for a while, then move on. We rarely tell them exactly what to write. We might tell them the theme, provide some ideas to jumpstart the process, but for the most part they shape their work themselves.

There is no over-arching agenda. There is no conspiracy. There is no meeting for NAMING THE TARGET OF MOCKERY each month.

But it does turn out that people who are willing to put an effort into discussing webcomics in public - i.e. they are willing to do research, be edited, and put this stuff out there for the public to read - occasionally have similar ideas. Ideas like repetativeness is tiresome; plagiarism is bad; experimenting is good.

If you want to change the conversation, write it yourself.

Kelly J. Cooper
Features Editor

You know, it just occured to me...

You know, it just occured to me that that first part of your column reads a *lot* like a Pound essay. I wish I could remember its title. But your ladder is built almost exactly like his.

The only thing you fail to include is the part where he goes on about how critics usually take about a decade to realize what the experimentalists are doing, and the public usally takes another 5-ten years after that...

Mere coincidence, or does this mean that you're the reincarnation of Ezra? ^_^

Re: Juxtapose This by Dylan Meconis

I never intented to say that, please calm down. The only thing I'm saying is that most people here think that way, and although not on purpose, the fact that you share some ideas (not necessarily that one), is what brought you together. I don't think you would have contacted with someone whose vision of comics is "something to make merchandising of in order to get rich and fat" or "those things for kids", but people who likes the medium.

Seriously, I never intended to imply that, so sorry if I gave you that impression. It's just there are similar opinions here which are repeated a lot. I'm not talking about the staff, but the whole group of people which gather 'round here, being members, posters, or even forum trolls, given the case. I only tried to give my opinion. As others do, I was just discussing webcomics in public, and only wanted to note how people (MOST people) have grown a certain animosity towards some webcomics that may be bad, sometimes even horrible attemps at instant Internet fame. Something that I, as I exposed before (not in a "U 5UXX0R" way, I hope) in my other posts in this article, think is a bit harsh, and may discourage future creators.

We can move the discussion to the forums, if you like, continue it "privately" by mail, or terminate it if you think is a bad thing, but really, I didn't really want to bash anyone, just comment an issue that I thought was important, and was willing to talk about. You just got me wrong in one single paragraph of the whole text. I never intended to question the staff objectivity or its professionalism. Hell, I wouldn't come every monday to read you if I didn't like it, would I? And if I left a comment, it was for discussing a topic, not to offend anyone.
Please don't hate me. Pretty please?

Pepius

Re: Juxtapose This by Dylan Meconis

kjc's picture

Pepius, dear Pepius, I don't hate you. I don't even know you!

My apologies for sounding like I was yelling, I was being emphatic. Sometimes I forget that people aren't used to the way I like to emphasize particular thoughts in my own, obnoxious way. I have been online for 15 years now. I am old and cranky.

And you kinda pushed some of my big red buttons - the ones that start flashing and honking when I read people saying things like "you are all snobs who think alike" and "when I dislike one article on this site, I condemn the entire site to Hades!" I know you didn't say those things, but they are what I thought I was reading into your post.

I love discussion, especially interesting and fruitful discussion! Please continue...

Regards,
Kelly J. Cooper
Features Editor

Re: Juxtapose This by Dylan Meconis

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

There is no meeting for NAMING THE TARGET OF MOCKERY each month.

No but there is the meeting for NAMING THE TARGET OF CROCKERY each month. I got dibs on the glase vase over there.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Re: Juxtapose This by Dylan Meconis

Well, I think that my points were exposed already to death, so, to try to avoid boring everyone, I think the question is what kind of "lower limits" oneself should impose while creating a webcomic. (Since I don't think anyone should impose limits aside from things like child abuse and such)

Seeing how there are lots of different people with lots of different motivations and skill levels, I think the key should be some more organization, 'cause even if you do silly sketchy comics for your friends, they can have their audience online, and the main problem comes when you just find the kind of comics you don't like again and again, when looking for some more content to justify the DSL line. groups and communities are ok, but maybe some kind of clasifications like the ones the semantic web fans propose may be a better thing, given the case that the semantic web gets to be something for than an utopic concept, of course.

What I'm sure about, is that a global clasification based on ratings or the like is not a thing to do, I don't think that's a suitable method anymore. Recently, I've been wandering through DeviantArt, ( http://www.deviantart.com ) deciding if I should create a gallery there, just to have some more exposure, and hopefully, receive some feedback aside from the "OMG U R0XX0R/5UXX0R!" that you usually see there, but that's beside the point. The thing I like about DA, is that you can't rate the works (although yo may rate the comments, so people can avoid the stupid ones). You have the 'favorite' feature. That means you can marks some pictures as personal favorites, and the latest favorites will be shown in the main page, thus allowing more people to see your work. Of course, that system is far from perfect, being ravid fans as well as fame vampires out there, but I think it's a good one. Translate the concept to top lists. You could have a list in which each member, (maybe only the featured creators, maybe registered users too, although that could inbalance the list) have a given number of votes, to mark some other comics on the list as "favs". You always have the same number of votes, but you can change them anytime as your tastes change. The list could have monthly resets (you re-cast your votes at the beginning of the month), in order to avoid ghost accounts. People wouldn't be constantly asked to vote, nor given "voting prizes" and, when both webcomic #1 and webcomic #2 are beggin for your vote, but you can only have one, you'll truly decide who you like better.

Excuse me if I'm naive, but I think there's still hope for top lists...

I know I'm just shooting random concepts one after another, but those are just the ideas i get (with the bright lightbulb and all) when I start thinking about how things are and how they *may* be improved. The bottom point (and one I should folow more than I do) is: if you want to do good comics, you must start with the "doing comics" part, and then go to the "good" segment. There may be loads of crap out there, (mine included) but everyone has to start somewhere, and knowing that most webcomic creators (based on numbers) are "young grasshoppers" still, I say: "Do what you want, don't worry about creating a masterpiece, then once you have done it, try to improve". I mean, you have to always ask for quality, but wait till you see the creator is able to provide it. Don't crush the little plant before it grows to be a tree, but use a guide for it to grow straight, and use organic, all-natural fertilizer (yes, crap!) to make it grow strong. Someday that creator tree will be able to help others, and we'll all have great panel leafs arranged in an infinite canvas sort of thing. (Man, i DO suck with metaphores!)

I hope for one day have enough quality in my works being able to say "All new stuff you see nowadays is pure crap", and enough memories to remember this days and not say it instead.