Why Do Online Comics? by Iain Hamp
On a personal note...
When I began "Why Do Online Comics?" it was my intention, above everything else, to have it act as a spur.
I wanted to get new people excited by the prospects of doing comics online, and I hoped to give people who are already in the trenches some reinforcement. I've delved into the issues of cost, creativity, and connectivity. We've discussed the unique ability the Internet provides to interact with your readers and with other creators. I've shared my passion for the medium, and ways to get others passionate about it. I've tried to spur the economy of online comics. The financial aspects, or lack thereof, have been worked over pretty well. Breaking into the industry. Tools of the trade. Working long hours for little money. Importance of good website design. Interviews. How great Nowhere Girl and When I Am King are. Infinite Canvas. Art for art's sake.
Blah, blah, freaking blah.
Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy with the work I have done up until this point with the column. From its incarnation on the original talkaboutcomics.com, to its home on my own site, and now in the version you see here at the Comixpedia, I've built a reasonably solid foundation of why to do comics online. Lately though, it has been brought to my attention that I am, quite frankly, beginning to sound like a broken record. The footprints in the dirt are beginning to get fairly deep from covering my own tracks as much as I have in the last year and a half.
So it's time to make a new path.
One complaint I hear a lot of regarding the Comixpedia as a whole is that it doesn't offer much in the way of innovation or new thoughts on the subject of online comics. I don't necessarily agree with that statement, or for that matter with the notion that that should be or is the focus and/or purpose of the Comixpedia. Being reminded of the danger of complacency and stagnation, however, was like being punched in the gut. Hard. By a guy who wrestles grizzly bears for a living.
The foundation is finished, and now it is time to begin building upon it. How do I begin work on such a project, though? For that matter, am I even cut out to take on such a task? I don't have the answers to either of those questions yet, to be perfectly honest. In order to make this project what I hope it to be, I'm going to have to reinvest myself in the world of online comics. It's going to take a meticulous picking apart of what's happening in the industry today. I'm going to have to spend hours in my car talking to myself about what the most critical things to get out into the open for discussion are, things that aren't being paid much attention right now.
As I read through threads on different online comics related message boards, I find there are certain things creators and readers are beginning to take for granted. I don't want to go into specific details yet, so as to not spoil any element of surprise I may hold, but one of the primary goals I have with this project now is to challenge those things I see that just seem to be "assumed" by many in the industry now. The purpose isn't to rip things to shreds just for the sake of ripping, though. I want to take things apart that we assume are one way, and make damned sure they really are that way. I don't know if you've ever tried to build muscle, but to build strength you first have to pretty much tear your muscles apart. Eventually, through this process, they rebuild stronger than they previously were. That's what I am looking for, ways to do something similar to online comics. Am I going to be able to accomplish my lofty goals, or am I just going to get discouraged and stop going to the gym altogether? I can't be certain, though I am certainly excited to take on the challenge.
What I do know is that if I am not capable of taking "Why Do Online Comics? to the next level, then there's no point in my mind to keep doing it. I'm as passionate as I ever have been about online comics, though, and with the San Diego Comic Con coming up in July and more time to work on my comics now that summer is here, things are looking about as well as they can to have this project make the difference I desire it to. So sink or swim, I'm diving into the water head first.
Hope to see you at the other shore.