Out of my Element

So, I'm rather out of my element as a webcomics blogger. I really do neither anymore, so I'm really at a loss for what to write about that doesn't come off as just me venting about how different webcomics are today than in the "good ol' days." I say, why fight it?

It may be hard to believe, but back in 1996 there really were no "webcomics." In fact, I don't think the term came along for at least a year after that. I know only of a couple of online comics that predate Melonpool (which started its Internet saga on April 28, 1996). There was Help Desk (March 31, 1996), Kevin and Kell (September 3, 1995), Dr. Fun (that started in September of 1993), as well as a few other, but none of us could even find one another at the time because Yahoo and the other search engines wouldn't list us until 1997 or 98 — when the syndicates started putting their offering up on the web. And even then, they lumped us webcomics in with online art portfolios because we weren't "professional comics."

Back in the day, it was a labor of love — since there was no way for most of us to sell advertising. Our comics had to be tiny and our archives had to be tinier — since bandwidth was extremely expensive and most people were reading on 28.8 baud modems. The fact that so many of the people that started the webcomics medium are still around is amazing to me. The fact that some of the pioneers actually were able to make money at it is even more amazing.

As I reminisce about "the good ol' days" — and wonder what was so "good" about them — I also wonder how many of today's webcomic cartoonists would have survived under the same conditions. With the advent of Project Wonderful, online communities, instructional sites like webcomics.com and the advances in Internet technology, it's a lot easier to see a success of some kind in a relatively short amount of time, but there also is an incredible amount of competition compared to the five or so of us in the beginning. Today, it seems like everyone has a webcomic.

I guess it's a case of six of one, half dozen of the other. I would love to have the excitement and joy I got from doing the first few years of my strip now when I actually could use it to fuel an audience — and my bank account. But I don't know how my particular brand of humor would compete against today's breakout strips, either. I think a lot about how Charles Schulz must've felt when he saw the success that The Far Side or Bloom County had. Maybe there's a "generation gap" that I'm only now becoming aware of.

Or maybe I should just go get back in my rocking chair and listen to my Victrola.