Years come, and years go. We're looking at the end of another one. And we're looking at a discussion of it.
A lot's happened this past year. A lot of TEH DRAMA, a lot of really cool things, a lot of minor things. There's been tons written about it already, and there will be a ton more.
And me? What am I doing as we sit on the cusp of 2006?
What else. I look forward.
The very nature of webcomics is immediate. We have archives that let people delve into our past, but our present and our future are all encompassing. Tomorrow drives us more than today, because we always have to be thinking about tomorrow. It's the nature of webcomics. We're always producing to deadline. Our first drafts become our only drafts.
And yesterday? Yesterday becomes just that. Every morning is a new day to load up tabs in safari, check pages, see what's happened today. Yesterday always seems so... yesterday in comparison.
So, here in the Year in Review issue, let's look ahead to 2006, to immediate hopes and long term plans. Let's see some predictions, baby!
- Splitting the fandom for energy: with the emergence of Comixpedia.org's wiki and Oh No! Robot! we are seeing more and more tools that let the passionate fans of a webcomic put their passions to good use. Already, Girly now links to its Comixpedia.org entry for cast lists and other information, and I suspect that other tools that let fans do the updating and management will emerge over the next year. The fan base of a popular comic is a zealous and potent entity, and giving it productive channels for that energy will both make things better for comics and keep them out of trouble.
- We will begin to see increased nexii for comics recommendations: a plethora of independent critical commentary and review sites have begun to rise -- Websnark, obviously, is one of them. The increased profile of some of the others shows that the model will continue to grow and the discourse will grow along with it. That's fantastic for the evolution of the art form -- however, one of the clear needs out there is core level communication between the critics and the fanbase. I get a lot of comments from folks saying that they found a number of their favorite strips through Websnark. I know folks like Phil Khan and Robert Howard say the same things. Now, with the rise of blogs and podcasts and other forms of critical commentary, the iron is hot for independent sites devoted only to recommending webcomics. Somewhere between Websnark and The Webcomics List is a website of eight or nine contributors who do nothing but maintain lists of their favorite comics with short blurbs about them. These nexii (it's the plural of nexus. No, really) will be the next step in getting the word out there. There are good strips none of us have ever heard of. It's time to build an infrastructure that will let that happen.
- More minimalist experimentation: Dinosaur Comics really paved the way to an entire subgenre of comics. By reducing art needs to next to none, Ryan North managed to effectively parlay a lack of art skills into a dynamic (and funny) comic strip. We'll see more static and minimalist art strips (Alexander Danner's already taken the next step, in making a blank panel comic strip), and more people jumping in as a result.
- A lot more crap: With all the really cool stuff, there's also going to be tons more crap. More Drama. More imagined slights. More really bad comic strips full of bad art and bad writing. Horrible strips, written by mean people -- the textual and artistic equivalent of flinging feces against the bars of our collective cage. And of course, there won't be any consensus oÃ¯Â¿Â½n what is crap and what isn't, which will lead to even more crap and more Drama. Drama without end. Crap without end....
- Someone will produce a comic strip that will blow your mind: along with the crap -- and with perfectly serviceable, even competent or good strips -- will be that entirely new strip you never saw coming. It will all come together perfectly. It will excite you. It will thrill you. You'll discover it has archives, and you'll devour them as quickly as you can. You'll get to the end of those archives and gasp out in pain as you realize you have to wait one day at a time for the rest. It will reaffirm everything you love about this medium. You will find yourself evangelizing the strips to all your friends about this new strip, and about webcomics in general. You will find hope again.
- Someone will absolutely savage that new strip you found that you love, on a forum or in a review, and your hope will curdle into rage and ennui. Hey, no one promised an end to human nature.
Happy end of the year, gang. I hope you have fun with the year to come.