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So why aren't webcomics in the news?

Hey, did anyone notice how typing "webcomic" into news.google.com only gets you joystiq.com ? And the result is a webcomic poll.

One would have to wonder what, if any, official news the webcomic community has, or even a real community. You have comixpedia.com (which you are reading.) You have the comicgenesis.com, drunkduck.com, and smackjeeves.com forums. Then there are buzzcomix forums, topwebcomics forums and probably dozens if not thousands of splinter groups that comprise of a handful of webcomic authors and artists. Yet not one of these is something that "everyone who does a webcomic" reads.

Yet there is no "de facto" source for organizing webcomics to go beyond "just an internet passing fad, everyone has one" . The print comics are going online, and yet webcomics are still trying to get into print? Why are webcomics not taking advantage of the cheapness of the digital medium and making comics that fit on cell phones, pdas, ipods, PSP and Nintendo DS's ? ComicCast anyone?

I'm sure someone is going to point out that they prefer paper, yeah but if you make it available as a digital download, they can print their own, AND in whatever language they want with a bit of editing. Plus, you can burn your comic to a disc, or keep a copy somewhere in case your house burns down. Lose your original? Retrieve from the internet. Win-win.

But why stop there, instead of spending hundreds of dollars on making non-representive print copies (like color comics being greyscaled and illegible), buy a stack of cd's or DVD's and put printable versions on them, then you can practically give them away at conventions. Just don't put any rootkits on them. Hey, maybe you can sign them too.

Or maybe webcomics really are a passing fad. Just how many people on the street know of your favorite webcomic?

But with a growing number of

Greg Carter's picture

But with a growing number of high-quality high-profile webcomics, they are becomming more of an equivalent to mini-comics. There are some excellent titles and it also makes a great training ground for creators to be seen and get feedback. You never know when a crap beginner will become the Next Big Thing(tm) when they progress enough.

That feedback is hugely important for a creator to grow. And to get that you have to be seen. Used to be making your own mini-comics was the only way. Now webcomics fill that void also. And crossovers are occuring as many webcomic creators print their collections themselves in mini format. And vice versa.

Both webcomics and mini-comics are multi-tier systems - high-quality professional level output and rank beginners because the entry level is so easy. We have to keep pushing webcomics as a valid quality format, acknowledge it as a hobbyist and beginner format also, and present both as advantages. Also promote places make the quality easier to find without disparaging the rest. It's a fine line to walk but it can be done. Push the positive.

Greg Carter Abandon UpDown Studio

Greg Carter - Abandon: First Vampire - Online Graphic Novel

You know something

The William G's picture

I've always considered the term "webcomics" to mean "comics on the web" regardless of the level of skill being shown.

Now I can see why some people, (who also seem to be those who are desperate to get into print, just sayin'), would like to drop the term in relation to their works. After all, the print world's (not all that unjustified) view of all webcomics being free because they really have no choice due to their pure shittiness, is a stigma many wouldn't want getting in the way of their childhood dreams. So it's an understandable intent, and not really too condenmable.

On the other hand, it seems to be unfair baggage is being dumped at the feet of a rather unassuming term in an attempt to dissassociate oneself and one's work from their lessers. Basically, it smacks of elitism based on a viewpoint manufactured from self-interest.Â


It works both ways.

RemusShepherd's picture

 I agree, William, but it works both ways. Publishers stigmatize webcomics as low-quality. But a lot of readers stigmatize published comics as stale, mass-marketed productions, and enjoy webcomics because they have edgier art and stories.

I think that even if the label of 'webcomics' is hurting us in the minds of publishers, it's helping us in the minds of the readers. And that's who we should be courting.

 

 

 ...

It's Crumb all over again!

The William G's picture

Much like the term "underground comix" in the 1960s?


That's not to say this is coming from a sense of elitism

The William G's picture

That's not to say this is coming from a sense of elitism. But is does come across that way. I fully admit that I may be confusing it with the "unspoken agenda" vibe I'm getting.Â

Ah, text and it's lack of subtlety


Not Elitism

Fabricari's picture

 I don't qualify, disassociating one form of distribution (print) from another (web) a matter of elitism. It's a matter of letting the reproduced work stand on it's own.

As for my own work - I enjoy having my comic on the web more than in print as a hell of a lot more people read it there. Webcomics don't need print comics help.

Of course I've seen that elitism you talk about - but I've seen it more in webcomics - evoked by terms like "dead tree comics."Â

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison
Fabricari,

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

You Mock Comics Environmentalism?

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

What is paper, but dead trees?

Webcomics are the most environmentally friendly comics around

</sarcasm>Â

____

Xaviar Xerexes

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Gnaw.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

...

muttermutterpowerCO2climatemuttermutter ;)

Elitism...

The William G's picture

It does seem to be in the eye of the beholder, doesn't it?


I know this has been debated

Fabricari's picture

I know this has been debated before, but I feel more strongly now about dissassociation of the art from the method of distribution.

I think I'd prefer to label my comics based on how they're originally created. Fabricari, MT, Penny-Arcade, Starslip, Paper Eleven, are all created on paper (or tablet) as static images lined up to tell a story.

That's comics.

It's on the web, or print, or tattoed on your sister's back - doesn't change what it is. They're comics. Some methods of distribution are cheaper and reach a wider audiance than others, but it doesn't define the art.

Even animated comics, can be applied to several different mediums: web, iPods, TV (even if totally impractical).

There is no reason to associate a printed comic with it's web origins - aside from a footnote in the foreward. The goal is to get your art out there. If you accomplished it in the print counterpart to the webcomic - cool! Don't steal the book's moment in the sun - by confusing a reader with semantics. Slap a URL on the back cover and call it a day.

Tangent:

I'm sure I'm out of line to suggest that clinging to the webcomic label for your printed book is really an excuse for what might be lower standards. Let's face it - webcomics have lower standards (compensated by accessibility) I'll admit that while I love my web-to-print collections they really don't measure up to most publisher's standards.

There are, of course, exceptions

 

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison
Fabricari,

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

C'mon Now...

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Let's just take a step back.

I know there is a standard cliche of "there's a lot of crap comics on the web" and the argument is that there's a low barriers of entry. Right, but - news flash - there's a really low barrier of entry to print too - it's called self-publishing, and/or minis, etc. And my perception of print comics as a whole, even before the emergence of the web wasn't that different - there's a lot of crap comics out there, period. I don't think comics are actually much different from other mediums in their quality to crap ratio.

As far as the overall thread, I dunno - I'm personally very much of the mind that comics is comics (my thinking on that has very much evolved over the course of Comixpedia) and various "stuffs" to put the comics on doesn't make them a completely different animal. However, I don't see the implications of this thread as very persuasive. My impression is that among the general North American population there are very strong - and negative - views of comic books and comic strips. They have been typecast in limited, specific roles.

The beauty of webcomics (and a big part of why I still use the term) is that they have not been so fixed in that larger public's mind and so more of that general population is willing to check out a webcomic without a preconceived notion. This is entirely based on anecdotal experience but there are LOTS of people who would never read a comic book because of the perceived social stigma, think comic strips all resemble BC or Apt 3-G and yet still read some webcomics. Why? Because for whatever reasons they have an open mind about webcomics and are enjoying individual webcomics on their own merits. In that sense, webcomics can be a very positive marketing term (in the same way that manga is a very positive marketing term b/c it doesn't carry the burdens of comic book or comic strip in the general public's mind. It may have other/different perceptions that are good/bad but they are not those tagged to comic books or comic strips).

____

Xaviar Xerexes

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Gnaw.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

compare webcomics to "indy comics" or to "all comics"?

Fabricari's picture

[quote=xerexes]I know there is a standard cliche of "there's a lot of crap comics on the web" and the argument is that there's a low barriers of entry. Right, but - news flash - there's a really low barrier of entry to print too - it's called self-publishing, and/or minis, etc. And my perception of print comics as a whole, even before the emergence of the web wasn't that different - there's a lot of crap comics out there, period. I don't think comics are actually much different from other mediums in their quality to crap ratio.[/quote]

Well it didn't occur to me to exclusively compare webcomics to independent comics. But if you want to lower the curve - you're right, there are a lot of crappy ashcans floating around out there.

I have many of these crappy indy comics you speak of sitting in boxes. Hell, I printed quite a few of the crappy ones. But I would argue that there are far more crappy comics on-line. There's a lot less of a financial risk for online artists.

It's not a cliche - it's a fact. There is a much greater tolorance for poor quality comics online. Because they're free. Yes. And because of the typical bite sized morsels, we build up affitinty for comics that would never find love in print. White Ninja, Purple Pussy, and even the first Penny-Arcade comics come to mind.

But it's this very thing that I love webcomics for. These "crappy" artists are going to mature into incredible artists a lot quicker than the old indy print guys. Practice makes perfect and all that jazz. You even post on occassion first/last articles illustrating that very fact. God, look at how much some of these artists have developed.

New Tangent:

Have you ever noticed how tasty a frozen burrito topped with K.C. Masterpiece and a block of melted cheese can be?

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

Fabricari,

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

Comixpedia Is In Google News

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

We were added to Google News sometime around late 2003/early 2004 I think. You actually have to ask Google to do that (at least that's how it worked then). We do show up quite a bit for searches related to webcomics - not always on the word "webcomics" but that has a lot to do with whether we use the word "webcomic" in a front page story that week or not.

Joystiq uses the word webcomic every week for it's popularity poll for gamer webcomics. It's also a very popular video games site.Â

____

Xaviar Xerexes

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Gnaw.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Problem fixed forever!

Scarybug's picture

So there's the solution. Put the word "webcomic" in every story.Â

___ Nerdcore: The Core Wars

Webcomic!

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Webcomic! What a webcomic-ly good idea. Webcomic.Â

____

Xaviar Xerexes

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Gnaw.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Webcomic!

Scarybug's picture

"Webcomic" is the new "smurf"!

___ Nerdcore: The Core Wars

Smurfily Webcomilicious

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Who then is Papa Webcomic?

And who is Webcomicette? :)

____

Xaviar Xerexes

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Gnaw.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

webcomic vs "online comic"

xmung's picture

The Comic Shop News (CSN) - a print paper which goes out weekly to Comic Shops, listing upcoming comics and other items - always refers to PvP, PA and MegaT as 'online comics'. I haven't read The Comics Journal (TCJ) for a loooong time... I wonder what term they use. Whenever they talked about comics on the web they were usually pretty snooty... (ie. 'those "lesser" versions of comics...') don't know if they've changed their tune. So I wonder, is only us that call them webcomics? Everyone else maybe does not.

Magellan - superhero cadets... their own worst enemy is themselves!

It seems a lot of

Scott Story's picture

It seems a lot of webcartoonists have made the move exploit the popularity of ipods and PSP, so those avenues have certainly not been ignored. Because of the cost effectiveness of web publishing, I don't expect webcomics to go away, but breaking out of their niche standing? That's only going to come when web cartoonists make comics for lots of other markets.

Will webcartoonists find a way to unite into an unified community? Nope. Making creative people all do something is like herding cats. Cliques are probably the best you can hope for, or tribes, maybe.Â

 

Webcomics seem to be and

Webcomics seem to be and alway will be a niche. No matter how you look at it unless you are one of these big publishers that experment with "e-comics".

Manga are becoming more popluar and well known, but they are still a little niche.
Â

Do we have something that will make webcomics un-nichely?

 Well, there is already success story like Megatokyo becoming one of the best selling orginal english manga in the United States (beaten by warcraft).

I think we even have tools that is still unrealized, still undeveloped, and still largely unknown even to the webcomic community.Â

Here's the problem, and I

Here's the problem, and I think it's the problem with the definition of webcomics. It's like webcomics and the mainstream are two wholly disjoint sets.

When PVP is online, it's a webcomic. But when the mainstream embraces it, it's not reported as "a webcomic." It's printed by Image, so it's a comic book. Or at closest, a comic strip. The fact that it originated online is a footnote, a curiosity. Same with Megatokyo -- I'm sure the DC thing has brought some attention from publishers looking for new material, but when it hits stands, the fact that it was "a webcomic" is disconnected.

It's sort of the whole problem with indie music becoming big and selling out -- "I liked them before they were mainstream." When something hits the mainstream, the ties to webcomics dissolve, or at least become negligible.Â

Kristofer Straub www.starslip.com

Kristofer Straub www.starslip.com

It may be true that PVP and

Scarybug's picture

It may be true that PVP and MT are willing to drop the "webcomic" term when they're printed, but I don't think that detracts from the definition of "webcomic" for everyone else. Especially for those of us who'll never see print.

 So google news has no mentions of webcomics. Has any of the comics communities tried a "press release". It's not like journalists go looking for news.

___ Nerdcore: The Core Wars

On the other hand when Penny

On the other hand when Penny Arcade is talked about the fact that it's a webcomic isn't brushed aside though they have a book that sold ridiculously well and everything.Â

 I'd also be surprised to hear that Megatokyo's webcomic origins are brushed aside once it hits the shelves. The comic is only notable because of its success online. It's success in bookstores comes from that and there's probably a webcomic primer of some sort whenever it's mentioned outside of webcomic centric press.

I think calling a comic that is primarily updated online a webcomic is fine regardless of how it does anywhere else. Collections of strips are just that, collections. On the other hand, I don't think quibbling over titles is really important so people can call them whatever they want, and people that feel inexplicably tied to the notion that they are WEBCOMIC creators and need to stick to doing what they can with the medium in an online environment to lead the way in the next generation of comics and etc etc would probably benefit from stopping with all that. There are plenty of avenues to take in comics and people should be pursuing as many as they can instead of tieing themselves to one for arbitrary reasons.

 

 

 

tieing yourself to one for totally un-arbitrary reasons is A-ok though.

 

A-ok times 2.Â

<a xhref="http://www.kiwisbybeat.com" target=blank>Kiwis by beat!</a>

Actually, I think that

Erik Melander's picture

Actually, I think that Gallagher has always been pretty clear that his ambition is to become a manga creator and that he thinks of Megatokyo as an OEL manga and not a webcomic.

Vir Bonus

I was mostly talking about

I was mostly talking about how his comic is looked at and not the stuff he says in his "this isn't a normal webcomic" blog posts. The reviews I've read have always talked about its interweb roots. If he hired some assistants and drew fifteen pages a week for a straight to print work maybe he could shake the interweb stigma off.

<a xhref="http://www.kiwisbybeat.com" target=blank>Kiwis by beat!</a>

Ah, yes that is true. I see

Erik Melander's picture

Ah, yes that is true. I see your point

Vir Bonus

For a while now, I have

For a while now, I have espoused doing away with the idea of "webcomics." I think this is an interesting subject. Independent comics already exist, and are much more respected. Incredibly, you ask someone at a con what independent comics are, and they can at least take an educated stab at it. The word "webcomics" often elicits vacant headshaking.

But all of us who are "webcartoonists" understand it -- it's comics on the web. We want to have our own space, and not get lost in the shuffle of the broader "independent comics" field. Totally understandable.

So then I consider what the web can offer to a cartoonist, that he should want to be called a webcartoonist. Easy delivery, potential for a wide audience, a direct connection to that audience, and the ability to be very current. All of those are a big deal, and what we all take advantage of.

But follow me -- I'm also considering formatting. Is there anything about PVP or Penny Arcade format-wise that couldn't be printed on paper? No. Yeah, it costs money. But I mean sheer formatting. 95% of all webcomics are presentable as printed material, could be put on a page in a book.

The other sliver, the 5%, is the group doing the work that's only presentable on the internet. Stuff with audio, animations, interactivity. "Hypercomics," things like that. Sprawling, experimental layouts, and unorthodox ways of moving between panels. They are the real "webcartoonists," because they're rooted in the web as a medium. Everyone else is just converting printed/paper-drawn work for display on the internet.

With that in mind, and seeing that most of my work doesn't share much with the Formalist crowd (to use McCloud's nomenclature), I don't know that I need to align myself with "webcomics." What I am is a relatively-unsuccessful independent cartoonist, who uses the internet for delivery alone.

What I'm getting at is, I think webcomics is so marginalized in the outside world because few people know what it is, and if anyone does dig deeper, they say "oh, that's just comics that are on the internet." That shift in medium isn't enough for a big to-do. That's why I'd rather start taking advantage of the existing to-do with the term "independent comics." I love the internet, but if "webcomics" only truly refers to the experimental 5%, I don't know if I should marginalize myself by saying that that's me too.

Kristofer Straub www.starslip.com

The web is more than animation.

RemusShepherd's picture

 I think you're neglecting most of what the web offers comics.

Even the comics that could easily be printed offer things that you can't put in print. Large easily-accessible archives. Fan art. Searchable dialog. Links to other webcomics, or to non-comic pages topical to the comic of the day. If you count all that, I think your ratio is flipped over -- 95% of the comics on the web could not be printed without losing all these extra features.

 Not to mention that the ease of publishing is really the important characteristic of the net. 95% of all webcomics would not exist, period, if print publishing was their only option.

I don't mind calling all webcomics 'independant comics' if it pleases your sense of semantics. But let's be honest -- these are comics on the web, part of the web, and without the web they could not exist.

 

 

 ...

I hear that. I know it's

Fabricari's picture

I hear that. I know it's blasphemy around these parts, but I don't think of myself as webcomic or indy comic creator, just a comic creator.

I draw with the ultimate goal to see things in print, and I format for a dual presentation on the web like a "staging" environment.

The fact that more people are reading the rough draft on the web than will ever see the print version distorts that goal. I'm not complaining about it - I love it, in fact. The web has offered a practical way for hobbiests and amateurs to iron out their skills before blowing a ton of money on printing crappy comics.

For myself, webcomics has afforded the freedoms to take chances with my style and loosen up - focus more on story telling. The web has completely changed my approach to drawing comics. I page thru that latest print collection of Fabricari, and I criticize things that I wouldnt have a year ago. The web has afforded an accelerated maturity as an artist.

I predict that within the next five years, you will see a boom of incredible artists arrive on the print comic scene from the web. It's already begining to happen.

Webcomics also creates, surprisingly, a sort of print-patience. 20 pages later - I don't feel compelled to print a pamphlet comic to justify the work. I and many others on the web are saving their pages and printing the lulu-graphic novels. This is far more practical for the artist AND the readers. If you set up a booth at a con and sell graphic novels, your new print readers will have a much more fulfilling experience, and they won't necessarily badger you for monthly pamphlet follow ups. They can just read you on the web, or wait for the next novel.

OK, I'm in tangent territory, better end this here.

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison
Fabricari,

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

Dont be ashamed of yourself for this in particular...

The William G's picture

Taking into account the news about certain webcomics in print like Earthsong, or Butternut Squash, and even the Fantastic Four Christmas comic that Shaenon and Roger did as well as the Flight anthologies, it strikes me that "webcomics" IS being used as a brand when relating where these products/ creators came from. (I've seen solicitations that use the word while pimping PvP, even)

At least that's my best explaination for why the word tends to get used at Pulse, Newsarama, Comic Book Resources and the like.

And lets face it, you make comics, you're already margionalized in society. No need to split hairs over being a weirdo.


Using Indy comics as a

Erik Melander's picture

Using Indy comics as a measurement, I'd say your certainly not unsuccesful. But to ponder your post a bit I tend to agree that we have a tendency to create subdivisions where non is needed. If you have a comic published on the web, then it's a pretty safe bet that you are an independent cartoonist. But I do think there is a value in the term webcomic because comic published on the web faces a different set of hurdles and opportunities than print comics. Ideally there will be more mixing between the two in the future and the term will not have any stigma attached to it.

I can't help but think that webcomics may not be that marginalized, I have quite a few friends who reads webcomics but not comics in any other medias. Comic books are a pretty marginalized media as it is and I wonder if webcomics is really worse off? After all, practically every syndicated strip is published online as well.

Vir Bonus

Not recommended

[quote=madscott]business card sized writeable CDs[/quote]... which are incompatible with slot-loading CD drives.

 There is that.. It's been

 There is that.. It's been so long since I have run across a PC with a slot loading player I didn't even consider it. I'm not sure what else you would want to run it on that would be slot loading.

Unless your loading music on it

============

The Gigcast

 

============

The Gigcast

Every laptop in the world?--

LineItemVito's picture

Every laptop in the world?

-- Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

--
Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

 They work fine on all 3

 They work fine on all 3 laptops that I use.

============

The Gigcast

 

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The Gigcast

I have a solution to the splintering!

The William G's picture

It requires a day of revolution, a night of bloodshed, and the courage to see it through.

 Who's with me?


Re: I have a solution to the splintering!

LineItemVito's picture

Uh, OK, I guess.

But can we start with the people I don't like?

-- Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

--
Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

Yeah, the problem isn't

RemusShepherd's picture

Yeah, the problem isn't killing people -- the problem is agreeing on the people that need to be killed. Â It's strange, but I agree with William G's methods but maybe not his goals. Â :)

 

 ...

I am willing to die for my

I am willing to die for my belief, but I am not willing to murder people to further the cause.

 

So in short, no :)Â

Yeah, I often wonder what

WillieHewes's picture

Yeah, I often wonder what community they mean when people talk about 'the webcomics community'. I think the field is so wide that it's necessarily splintered, though. Sad as that is.

______________________

Willie Hewes Comics

Comics by a girl who likes sad things (but sometimes they are funny) - www.williehewes.co.uk

Webcomics aren't a passing

Webcomics aren't a passing fad. The webcomic community isn't all that intergrated. It is like made of groups like cliques.

 As far as making them fit

 As far as making them fit on a device I like that Idea and hope some of the communites listed above start thinking about adding that option to their sites. More then just making them fit though, or even making a mobil version of your site. We should talk about making that mobil page subscribable so that my morning dose of webcomics comes to me.Â

As far as giving away CD's at conventions I HIGHLY recomend considering the business card sized writeable CDs. They can hold enough information to give people a great impressionÂ

 

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The Gigcast

 

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The Gigcast

Re: subscribable mobile page

Scarybug's picture

That would be easier given less proprietariness in the world of portable devices. It would be nice to have one solution for syndicating to palm, pocket pc, every mobile phone, every graphical mp3 player, etc. That's really hard right now considering how the market for these devices is set up. It's sad because non-portable devices are more compatable than ever. We need to start demanding that kind of thing from the portable manufacturers.

 

 

___ Nerdcore: The Core Wars