When a Webcomic Isn't a Webcomic But Is
Submitted by Ben McCormick on August 9, 2010 - 08:00
There once was a horse named Print vs. Web and it died. Soon people from every corner of the Internet came with sticks. There was much beating of this dead horse. I thought I'd try to edge past the beating grounds with my comments trying not to cause an unexpected restart of the beating or at the very least no to get anything on me.
There are three webcomic sites everyone should check out. Candorville by Darrin Bell, Foxtrot by Bill Amend and Oh, Brother! by Jay Stephens and Bob Weber Jr. All three look like your regular, family friendly, well written, well-drawn webcomics on well-designed ComicPress sites, right? Kind of, but the common point between these three comics is all of the creators are syndicated or backed by a syndicate; Bell with Washington Post Writer's Group, Amend with Universal Press Syndicate and Stephens and Weber with King Features Syndicate.
Syndicates have been posting 'newspaper' comics online for several years, early on under the banner of a poorly designed corporate site that lacked the features and usability to which webcomics readers were accustomed. However, even after the syndicates improved their online sites, it looks as if some creators are showing up on the web in a new/old way.
Three comics out of hundreds and hundreds of syndicated comic titles do not show a trend or a massive shift in the way the syndicates think of the web. But imagine if King Features or the other big syndicates decided to set up a webcomic-style site for each of its popular titles with full searchable archives. It wouldn't be that hard, using one of the several WordPress comic presentation choices, to import those comics into a database, toss up a Google AdSense ad, maybe a Project Wonderful banner or two and they're in business.
With newspapers trimming their comics pages, sometimes eliminating them completely, comics readers could follow their favorite features online where they may discover other comics already there. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are already bringing many people to the web that don't fit the old stereotypes of webcomic readers. These people do, however, fit what is thought of as the typical newspaper demographic. With more of their traditional readership online, it would stand to reason the syndicates will look at new ways to keep their features in front of readers.
So do you think more syndicated comic strips will start showing up on webcomic-style sites? How might this contribute to growing an audience for other "traditional" webcomics?