Looking back at November
Submitted by Erik Melander on December 1, 2004 - 21:02
When I first did one of these "looking back" thingies I knew that it was likely that there would be months when nothing much happened, or perhaps at least nothing major happened. I am also willing to admit that I've been pandered with the news available for September and October. Enter November. And mind you, I'm not saying nothing happened in November, just that not a lot of similar or connected things happened. Still when reality lets you down, make things up. So sit back and enjoy a ride on the Apophenia railroad, next stop Speculationville.
A lot, most probably, of the creators of webcomics are happy amateurs, they write and draw comics because they enjoy it and because they have stories they want to tell. Some, however, have loftier dreams, they dream of print. I imagine that those are also the creators who dream of making comics their dayjob, but I may be wrong. Two news items from the beginning of the month made me contemplate the goal of webcomicers. The first was that Amber "Glych" Greenlee's No stereotypes got a publishing deal with Sonic publishing, the second was that Dave Johnson's Dog complex got picked up for online syndication on Universal press' Ucomics, not quite newspaper syndication, but a step on the way. I'm probably stating the obvious by saying that print, be it as a collection or as newspaper syndication is the holy grail for most webcomic artists that want to make comics their career.
This was once again brought forth when T Campbell and Gisele Lagace's Penny and Aggie left Modern tales for Comics sherpa as a first step towards traditional newspaper syndication. Now, no-one can accuse T Campbell of being a webcomic luddite, he has two other strips on Modern Tales sister site Graphic smash, but it is clear from a post on the Penny and Aggie board that he is not a believer in the syndication schemes put forth by Keenspot and Scott Kurtz. It seems that no "look back" is complete without linking to Websnark (I actually can't remember if I linked to him in the October look back, if not I'll buy Burns a beer if we ever meet, since I live in Sweden I'll categorise that as doubtful). I imagine that most people reading this has already read Burns' essay on the syndicated cartoonist's view of Kurtz and Keen. If you haven't read it I implore you to do so. Don't bother finishing reading this thing, you can come back to it later.
The point I'm trying to make (or think I'm trying to make) is that if online and print is going to clash it won't be in comic book stores or the graphic novel section of Barnes and Noble, it will be in the funny pages. Perhaps I'm wrong about syndication as a goal, I once again refer you to Burns and his comment on Penny and Aggie:
These days... there's a real feeling on the web that syndication isn't needed, that it isn't even desirable -- that if you syndicate, you lose control over your creation and your licensing and you undergo restrictive editorial oversight. It's almost odd to see a couple of webcartoonists saying "hey, I want to be in the newspapers. I want to get paid for this -- paid by someone else, someone who isn't me doing all the grunt work -- and get the exposure of hundreds of newspapers printing my work."
This opinion is certainly present in the replies to Campbell's post. But I also note that before launching his free syndication scheme Kurtz did negotiate with Universal (I believe it was) about syndicating PvP the traditional way and Tatsuya Ishida is now up to 11 rejections by syndicates. Perhaps the old syndication model is dying, but it's not going to go peacefully.
And to end with something complete (or almost completely) different I note that Michael Jantze's The Norm now has 2431 members, but has extended the deadline to reach the 4000 needed for Jantze to keep it alive to December 31st. Jamie Robertson (Clan of the Cats) has 191 of the 200 needed to keep his comic alive.
Oh and the next time we take a look back it looks like it will be in the form of a real Comixpedia column, I suppose that will mean that I will have to try to actually make some sense instead of these stream of consciousness posts.