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Is it just a bad time of year?

Maybe its just me, but I've noticed quite a few comic artists are having troubles lately, whether due to work or maybe life has just kicked them in the balls(or whatever would hurt a woman most). It seems like everywhere I turn there's a new comic asking readers to spend some cash or the comic will die.

I'm not saying some of the claims aren't legitimate(hell I think there's plenty of online comics that are worth MORE than a few bucks a month). But why now? Is it because Something Positive is now a paying job that people think they can do the same? Or maybe there's a few out there who think they can turn a little profit.

Thoughts? Opinions?

Also, just a side note, anyone want to place some bets on when we can find "Donate to keep this comic alive" buttons(as opposed to the "tip jar" idea many places have) on irregularly updating sprite comics?
:D 5 bucks says it's already being done I just can't find it yet.

-24

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

kjc's picture

With regard to the losing of jobs, the economy still sucks, so I don't find it that surprising. A lot of webcomickers work at the kinds of jobs that are either getting outsourced (technical jobs) or that companies feel they can cut as non-essential or outsource (I'm thinking art jobs for brochure design or internal communications or advertising etc).

And as for working on a comic while being unemployed, well... I don't have a comic, but I AM trying to be a writer. And I got laid off last year.

When you're unemployed, you're always thinking of what you SHOULD be doing (laundry, cleaning, cooking - all those chores you now have the "time" to do) as well as freaking out about money, looking for part-time work, constantly debating whether you're doing the right thing, trying to will yourself back into the soul-killing cubicle farms, etc.

It is truly draining. Self-motivation and self-discipline are much harder than you think they'll be when day-dreaming in the office.

Kelly J. Cooper
Comixpedia Features Editor

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

dunk's picture

I have to agree with you. It's become so common that each new claim leaves me feeling a little more incredulous. Who knows, maybe there is a revolution at hand, and the days are numbered for those of us who do this as hobbyists... or maybe not. More than likely though, it's exactly as you said: R*K and a few others have proven that it can be done if you have the fans, and I suspect that a lot of people are testing that out to see if it will work for them.

There are certainly a few people out there in dire need, and there are also a fe people out there dead-set on sticking it to the syndicates. I won't pretend to guess what's motivating some of these leaps of faith, but I wish them luck.

Hell, if I updated more often I might try it (not).

I understand that real life can be draining, believe me. I had a period last summer where due to some personal life stuff, I had a meltdown and had to take a break from doing my comic. Fortunately my editor/publisher, Joey Manley, was patient and incredibly supportive.

Now I'm going through a divorce, in a new living situation with an adjusted income (not splitting everything with a spouse really does make a difference) and sharing custody of my son.

And creatively, I've never been more productive. Granted, it's because drawing is the main entertainment that I allow myself these days (a lot cheaper than going to the movies or dinner!) and it's a helluva escape from all the other bullshit.

But I can certainly understand the lack of focus/motivation that comes with abrupt life changes, as well. Believe me.

--Steve

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

What I really don't get are the claims of "I just lost my job--that means I can't do my comic anymore!" Um...why not? Your free time just went through the roof! I expect *double* the updates, dammit! Seriously, I know time needs to be spent scouring for new jobs, but that's just not a 24/7 thing. There are only so many jobs out there to apply to, and it only takes a couple of days a week to exhaust the possibilities. I've been there. When you're out of work, that's precisely the time to devote a little extra time to the comic, and maybe try to find a way to make it profitable without having to beg.

PictureStoryTheater.com:Fables & Fairy Tales

TwentySevenLetters.com: Experiments

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

I'm not bitter about where my artwork is, or where it's going, in both instances I'm happy. I'm bitter about people who give other people shit because they can't handle the stresses of life while being unemployed and maintain a webcomic. As someone who is unemployed and has been for a prolonged period yet still maintains regular webcomics i'm just saying that i can completely understand the impulse to put the important things before your webcomic.

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

[quote:bbbed03e44="William G"][quote:bbbed03e44="DanHernandez"]Hell I lucked out by having a girlfriend who is willing to support me
Your soul is so owned. :wink:

yeah i know, I'm glad she did though, because after four years i'm only starting to see any kind of significant return (albeit not of monetary nature) for my efforts.

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

I've been fortunate to stay employed (keep my fingers crossed), and I think I've worked out a ballance with my cartoons, my life, and my work. But if I was just starting out with work -- or trying to find work --and with a webcomic at the same time, I'd get frustrated too. I'm looking forward to seeing what you're going to do next -- take care

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

[quote:db26764309="DanHernandez"]hell maybe because i'm overqualified for menial labor, and underqualified for typical office or art jobs, I'm exceptionally bitter.

Don't be bitter. You can be a great artist, a great cartoonist, and do something else besides cartoon full time. I've been watching your work progress over the past year, and I think you've got the heart to keep going, even if that turns out to not be full time cartooning. We don't give up on what we love, and other aspects of out lives enrich the things we love best. Well, at least for me...and I hope for you.

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

[quote:f41d50ba0d="TCampbell"]I'm with Alex and Steve. As a freelancer I've had busy periods and fallow periods, but as depressing as being out of work is

theres a little diffrence between a dry spot and being trapped in a fucking desert. freelancing is diffrent because you expect to have down periods and you can plan accordingly or at least take solice in the fact that something will turn up. you're not completely screwed, you know you're work is temporary. But when your minimum wage job which only allows you to have maybe a months cushion of money goes ass end up, you can't afford to be optimistic.

when month five rolls around and all the work you've put into your comics only yeilds a stack of comics, and you have to ask your GF for three bucks to buy one lousy brush, while her dad gives you dirty looks and comments to you about being lazy, spending days by yourself because everyone around you has a life, and you can't ask your own parents for help because your 16 yr old sister had a kid so they are tapped for cash. wishing, pleading that your bank balance said $0.00, while being a recent graduate that can't get a job as dishwasher because they don't want to hire someone who may find a new job in six months.

hell theres people out there who kill themselves for less, so i don't have a fuckin problem with people who take a break from their comics. fuck, I love doing my comics but if it not for the approval and enthusiasm i get from people i've never met and the support of my girlfriend. I don't think i could've pursued them with heart that i have.

hell maybe because i'm overqualified for menial labor, and underqualified for typical office or art jobs, I'm exceptionally bitter.

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

Alex,
As a unemployed cartoonist with two comics. I actually find what your saying insulting. It takes far more than time to do a comic. The mental exhaustion of tracking down jobs, filling out the same crap again and again, following up, worrying about rent, worrying about food, worrying about any number of everyday shit, is more than enough to sap the creative energy of all but the most tenacious individuals. hell, If you get past that theres the guilt and frustration that you are doing something that you enjoy but it does jack squat to improve your current situation. So I have no problem with other cartoonists taking breaks until they get the *important* shit in their life straightened out. Hell I lucked out by having a girlfriend who is willing to support me while I search for a job with the stipulation that i continue with my artwork, if not for her i'd given up working on comics months ago

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

I'm with Alex and Steve. As a freelancer I've had busy periods and fallow periods, but as depressing as being out of work is, I've never felt it lessen my desire to do comics. Indeed, there have been times when doing comics has been the ONLY way I could maintain basic self-esteem-- "those fools at NEWSWEEK may laugh at me, but this word balloon will show them! MAD, they call me?"

But then, I'm not an artist, and that's a more taxing physical duty. Also, those who got into webcomics hoping that the economic model for success would simply spring up around them (and I was one of those, back in the day) may find themselves frustrated that reality is letting them down. And losing your job can really drive that letdown home.

I'll post more about Jamie and Michael later. Things to do...

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

[quote:cc7d664286="William G"]Basically, we're all running around the backyard with metal hats on, hoping that lighting will strike us...on a clear day... and the metal hat is tinfoil. That makes us idiots. Or insane.

I'd have to say that's one of the best descriptions of webcomic artists I've heard yet.

Like most of the people posting in this thread, I've been unemployed or uder employed for the last 2 years, since I graduated college. I haven't made a dime from doing webcomics in that time period but that's not why I do them. I look at it this way: at least I'm doing something art related and putting it out there. I can still look at myself in the mirror every morning and call myself an artist, albeit a very poor one. On the upside, deleveloping my skills might have landed me freelance work doing greeting cards. *shrug* It's a start.

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

Making money on webcomics? A well-known cartoonist out of LA made about $200.00 on a website that cost $10,000.00 to conceive, create, and market. His agent joked, "How do you make a million on the internet? Invest ten million." I value the webcomic medium for the potential exposure it gives work, and how the WWW leapfrogs many geographic, cultural, and economic barriers.

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

You know -- the interesting thing about lightening is that a bolt can travel up to 20 - 30 miles from the storm before striking people under a clear blue sky -- that's where we get the analogy "like a bolt out of the blue"

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

[quote:fdb514d882="timtylor"]I'm being nasty, I know, and I'm sorry about that. I've personal reasons for getting het up about this, but I do admire Rampart and anybody who "keeps the faith" through the hard times. While I'm stuck on my high horse, though: "Credibility" goes both ways. How would you rate the credibility of a fan or "appreciator" if they weren't willing to give anything back in support of what you claimed to appreciate?

Well, you bring up some great points. Clan of the Cats is a pretty damned good comic for a freebie, so I'm now the proud owner of a one year subscription to Jamie's comic. Regardless of losing his job, The $25.00 is well worth it for the work he does.

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

[quote:94923d7437="DanHernandez"]Hell I lucked out by having a girlfriend who is willing to support me
Your soul is so owned. :wink:

Is it just a bad time of year?

Maybe its just me, but I've noticed quite a few comic artists are having troubles lately, whether due to work or maybe life has just kicked them in the balls(or whatever would hurt a woman most). It seems like everywhere I turn there's a new comic asking readers to spend some cash or the comic will die.

I'm not saying some of the claims aren't legitimate(hell I think there's plenty of online comics that are worth MORE than a few bucks a month). But why now? Is it because Something Positive is now a paying job that people think they can do the same? Or maybe there's a few out there who think they can turn a little profit.

Thoughts? Opinions?

Also, just a side note, anyone want to place some bets on when we can find "Donate to keep this comic alive" buttons(as opposed to the "tip jar" idea many places have) on irregularly updating sprite comics?
:D 5 bucks says it's already being done I just can't find it yet.

-24

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

scarfman's picture

[quote:edf496b103="dunk"]Who knows, maybe there is a revolution at hand, and the days are numbered for those of us who do this as hobbyists... or maybe not.

How could that be? Are people going to stop coming to my site because I don't require reader support? Also - as the Websnark guy has just pondered - if there's a boom of webcomic artists coming to rely on readers to make their webcomics their day jobs, will/can webcomic fandom actually support it? And during the time that these questions are being explored and answered by painful experience, won't we who do this as hobbyists just continue to put our work out there as we always do, continuing to be there for the readers while they watch at least some of their favorites go under for lack of support?

If there is a revolution at hand, all the best wishes to the guys trying to make a go of it. But I don't see how it can harm the rest of us. And, in a ghoulish way, it can only make us stronger.

Edit: You know, I take that back. Because it isn't just the hobbyists who'll benefit from this transition, it's the best of those who do make a go of surviving on reader support, the ones who create strong products that earn a share of what support comes into being. So it's not ghoulishness, it's natural selection.

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

[quote:61ac059e71="Rampart66"]
I just took a look at the 24 hour blog and saw several entries that probably spurred this topic, namely The Norm and Clan of the Cat. While unfortunate circumstances have caused these creators to put the pencil down, I wish they would put the comic on hiatus until thier situation improved instead of asking for money. It seems like you get something if you donate to thier causes, but as a reader, I feel sort of guilty reading the comic without donating now.

Then either donate, or don't read those comics. Or else put aside a few dollar's tip-money and spread it around, accepting that you can't feed every tip-can every week and that no reasonable cartoonist would expect you to. Just don't go blaming the cartoonists for guilt you feel about your own choices. And for pity's sake, please don't ask them to shut up shop until some Happy Tomorrow that might never come, just to make you feel better. It's not fair on them, and not fair on the readers who do want them to continue and are prepared to pay something towards that.

About Clan of the Cats: It's a detailed, full colour, painterly comic, not the sort of thing you can do with biros and photocopy paper, and at five newspaper-size strips or three full pages a week it's probably not light relaxation for Jamie Robertson (whose diabetes doesn't exactly help matters).

I'm being nasty, I know, and I'm sorry about that. I've personal reasons for getting het up about this, but I do admire Rampart and anybody who "keeps the faith" through the hard times. While I'm stuck on my high horse, though: "Credibility" goes both ways. How would you rate the credibility of a fan or "appreciator" if they weren't willing to give anything back in support of what you claimed to appreciate?

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

I agree with "Guest" about the art supplies and webhosting. I'm one of the lucky ones who got a free dot com domains and serverspace because a couple of fans who have a webhosting business wanted me to have some space for free. I also agree with what Dan is saying - just because I got a free ride in terms of webhosting, it doesn't mean that I have it easy. I'm saving up money for tuition, paying the household bills, and I'm feeding 3 people other than myself, and a dog, a chicken, and a cat as well. And I'm only 20! I admit that I haven't made much money from my comics or my cafepress store, which is why I also do other work - but it's not enough to pay for my tuition, or my 500,000+ peso debt on the surgical operation of the woman who's taken care of me since birth. There's a lot of shit going on in people's lives, and believe it or not, a lot of them need money. Unless one is financially secure in some way, one will have an incredibly hard time coming out with quality webcomics multiple times a week.

Now, of course the readers can doubt the financial needs of a certain comic artist they're reading, and that's understandable, but to say the following:

<<" "I just lost my job--that means I can't do my comic anymore!" Um...why not? Your free time just went through the roof! I expect *double* the updates, dammit!.... There are only so many jobs out there to apply to, and it only takes a couple of days a week to exhaust the possibilities. I've been there. When you're out of work, that's precisely the time to devote a little extra time to the comic, and maybe try to find a way to make it profitable without having to beg.>>

.. it's just unbearable. I mean, especially since we're talking about an international medium, you have to understand that the needs and opportunities of a person from your country is different from a person from another country (I'm from the Philippines).

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

The economy still sucks. People are hurting economically, and if they get laid off and then get a replacement job, they more likely get paid less and do more. On the bright side, running a webcomic is cheaper than going back to the pre-internet days when you had to pay to create packets of your work, shell out for mailing the packets to scores of magazines & other publications, pay for faxes & follow up correspondences, pony up to buy the latest cartoon market book, pay for long distance phone calls to editors & cold calling publishing venues, etc. I am constantly amazed at how many people can potentially have see my work through the WWW, at a fraction of what it used to cost. So hang tough, I think the economy will continue to have this bumpy "recovery" and starting in 2005 we'll get more traction...

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

[quote:73ebe03b61="DanHernandez"]I'm bitter about people who give other people shit because they can't handle the stresses of life while being unemployed and maintain a webcomic.

I hope my post didn't come off like that. My point was the level of priority a webcomic is to some people.

Those that look at thier comic as an investment with the possibility of bigger things, should try to maintain it regardless of whatever life throws at you. A lot of syndicated artists have troubles making ends meet just with their comic alone. To really support yourself, you need to be in at least 200 newpapers, so many of them hold second jobs while drawing a comic strip. If something unexpected happens in your life, the deadlines don't go away and while it may be possible to take a sabbatical, it's frowned upon by syndicates.

Now, on the other hand - If you put a comic out for the hobby and enjoyment of sharing your work (for free, mind you), then you have no one to apologize to if you can't financially maintain your comic. It's free to begin with (to the reader)and a huge sacrifice of your time. No one should expect rigid deadlines and updates when they are not paying you for them.

Dan, I don't fully know your situation, but like a lot of people here, I was unemployed for a long time. I went through temp agencies and held minimum wage jobs, until I got a break - but that break was a long time coming. I never let the comic die, but I guess that's how I deal with adversity, and not everyone is me.

I just took a look at the 24 hour blog and saw several entries that probably spurred this topic, namely The Norm and Clan of the Cat. While unfortunate circumstances have caused these creators to put the pencil down, I wish they would put the comic on hiatus until thier situation improved instead of asking for money. It seems like you get something if you donate to thier causes, but as a reader, I feel sort of guilty reading the comic without donating now.

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

[quote:f825486eab="William G"]
Let's get some persepctive on ourselves for a minute: Every last single one of us making webcomics are idiots.

We, out of the love for the medium deep in our hearts, have decided to invest a lot of time and effort, and MONEY, into following our muse.

I can't disagree with that.

Personally, my motivation for putting out a webcomic is that it's much cheaper than a printed book (despite the argument of how expensive a webcomic is). At least on the web, I can get exposure and feedback without a huge printing bill and do it all in color. I don't have high expectations; if something bigger comes from it (freelence work, etc.), that's great, but I'm not holding on to any false hopes. I'm fortunate to be a situation now that I can buy webspace and put a comic out without pop-up ads. I still have a non-comic related day job that takes priority, but I make the time for the comics.

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

I think you have to look at this "problem" at the root. What is the reason a person puts out a webcomic? If it's a hobby and the artist just wants to share his/her work with others, then deadlines and off-time can be accepted, especially if the comic is free to the reader. If the artist has greater goals in mind (like trying to make this a paying gig), then it should be a priority, regardless of whatever life throws at you. If you are that serious about your comic, then you should budget for it and plan ahead. Losing one's job is an unexpected obstacle, but it shouldn't mean the end of your comic. If you can't afford the web space, there are plenty of free hosts out there (yes, they have pop-ups - but beggers can't be choosers). Supplies shouldn't be that expensive. If you can't afford the top-of-the-line supplies, then just use cheaper stuff. Truthfully, all you really need is a paper and pencil (and maybe a pen). I can't see a webcomic using a lot of capital. If you're really serious and worried about the money you spend, set yourself up as a small business and save your receipts as tax write-offs.

It seems to me the people that have "tip jars" on their comic would just like a few extra bucks to pay for the site. It's not a big problem, but I think it reduces your credability as a webcomic creator.

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

[quote:d6ae7a8514="AlexanderD"]What I really don't get are the claims of "I just lost my job--that means I can't do my comic anymore!" Um...why not? Your free time just went through the roof! I expect *double* the updates, dammit! Seriously, I know time needs to be spent scouring for new jobs, but that's just not a 24/7 thing. There are only so many jobs out there to apply to, and it only takes a couple of days a week to exhaust the possibilities. I've been there. When you're out of work, that's precisely the time to devote a little extra time to the comic, and maybe try to find a way to make it profitable without having to beg.

Art supplies aren't cheap and if the artist is paying out of his or her own pocket for a webhost it's an expense they probably don't need right now...

Re: Is it just a bad time of year?

[quote:4553ddb716="Rampart66"]
It seems to me the people that have "tip jars" on their comic would just like a few extra bucks to pay for the site. It's not a big problem, but I think it reduces your credability as a webcomic creator.
I disagree. Mostly because I dont see a red penny from mine. It all goes to my host who's been nice enough to let me use up with bandwidth for free over the last two years. And I dont give a flying crap about my updates. They get done when they get done. That makes me an "Ar-tiste!" by damn.

Let's get some persepctive on ourselves for a minute: Every last single one of us making webcomics are idiots.

We, out of the love for the medium deep in our hearts, have decided to invest a lot of time and effort, and MONEY, into following our muse. The thing is, even at it's strongest, the medium wasn't big enough to hold everyone who wanted in. I have no idea how many people are working on the creative side of Marvel And DC, but comparing them to the number of kids dreaming to get in, I have no doubt the ratio is widely in favor of the wannabes. Some say that the infinite shelf-space of the web has changed that, but has it really?

The audience simply isnt there to support everyone with a comic. There's what, maybe a half- dozen webcartoonists who are making a living solely off of their art? The people who are supporting them do not have the financial capability to support everyone they feel are worthy.

Basically, we're all running around the backyard with metal hats on, hoping that lighting will strike us...on a clear day... and the metal hat is tinfoil. That makes us idiots. Or insane.

But I don't think it's all that bad being somewhat mad.

Back in the 1990s, the area of Canada I came from (Nova Scotia. The place has always been lousy with musical types) had a mirror music scene to the Seattle thing. And much like the Seattle thing, we had hundreds of bands trying to make their dreams come true. As far as I can tell, only one band managed to make a carreer out of it. A lot of them put down their guitars and got on with life. I knew one guy here in Korea who was in a slightly popular band, he even has some awards on his shelf. But he knew that music wasnt going to keep him fed, so he became a teacher. (A legit one, not a fraud like me)

But some of them managed to make a life for themselves as studio musicians. Not great money, and they still had to work outside the business from time to time, but they did get to live their dream... If only a little bit.

Rare is the musician who can put dinner on the table with their music. It's even rarer for a comic artist to do so.

I think the smart webcartoonists are the ones who can put down the pen and say, "Hey sorry, got a family to feed." I think we should always respect those people, thank them for the time they spent entertaining us, and let them go on their way.

My point, I guess would be...

"Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red
Cryin's not for me
'Cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'
Because I'm free
Nothin's worryin' me."

Well, that's not my point, but I think it's a lovely song.