The Joy of Webcomics: The Death of Webcomics
Submitted by El Santo on November 6, 2009 - 16:21
Rising from the dead… it’s the Joy of Webcomics! Sorry for not doing updates lately and opting instead for smaller news-related posts. Fact is, I figured This Week in Webcomics, Artpatient, Fleen, Comixtalk, and now Paperless Comics are all doing a far better job of providing up-to-date webcomic news. I’d only be repeating the exact same things said on other sites (and I am, in fact, doing so here). From time to time, though, there are a few tidbits that I find too interesting not to share.
Our first item: where do webcomics go to die? Brigid Alverson wrote a piece on Robot 6 about the struggle some webcomic creators have in concluding their comics. An excerpt:
“Over 15,000 webcomics now exist online,” Wikipedia tells us, but probably 14,000 of those stopped updating after six episodes. This is the dark side of The Promise of Webcomics: It is true that anyone can start a webcomic, and that without the usual barriers to publication, such as editors and budgets, the web has become a seething cauldron of creativity. However, things like slush piles and contracts and editors are there for a reason: Not just to keep the crap out, but also to make sure the creator finishes the damn comic. The internet imposes no such restrictions. Consequently, many webcomics start with a burst of enthusiasm and fizzle when the creator runs out of ideas or has to study for finals.
Some webcomics die a peaceful, natural death: The comic has run its course and the creator ends it gracefully and moves on to something else. That’s what John Allison did with Scary Go Round earlier this year, and it’s worth reading this post to see why he decided to put an end to Scary Go Round and start a new comic, rather than trying to keep the title and take the comic in a new direction.
On a related topic, Jeffrey Rowland of TopatoCo and Overcompensating talks about how webcomics are still the Wild West over at Comic Alliance:
ComicsAlliance: Despite commanding healthy audiences, not every webcomic creator can achieve financial independence through their work. As someone who works both as a creator and a merchant for other creators, how do you think more creators can get to that point?
Jeffrey Rowland: I guess that depends on what market you’re talking about. Historically it seems like only a few comic titles (I’m talking ALL comics, not just webcomics) have been real moneymakers. I mean, how many kids in the 1980s wanted to make a living in comics versus those who actually got to do it? I think with the quickness that webcomics went from “weirdo hobby” to “legitimate business career” we’re doing pretty okay! This is still a pretty young market since it was ever granted any sort of widely-believed sense of legitimacy, five or so years ago. I think the best thing creators can do is just continue to be talented but don’t be afraid to be weird. Just do quality work that’s weird. It’s still the friggin’ wild west out here; if you can get 20,000 people to read your comic about a dog that huffs paint, there is a way to make a living from that.
So, if you’re keeping score, with this post, webcomics are, in fact, undead cowboys. But seriously, though, webcomics are a relatively new medium, and it hasn’t stopped evolving. No one would’ve talked about Marvel and DC entering the market three years ago, but now we have Zuda and Marvel Digital. And who knows where webcomics will go now that smartphones and electronic books seem to be on the cusp of superceding desktops and laptops?