So I finally carved out a couple of hours last week to sit down and read T. Campbell's History of Webcomics. I knew the book had been the subject of some controversy. Some had postulated that writing the history of something that was less than a decade old seemed a bit superfluous and that perhaps one should wait until a bit more history has occurred before the history is written.
I might have been inclined to agree with that supposition had I not written an article for Sketch magazine a year or so back detailing my quest to uncover the indentity of the first Photoshop colored comic book. It turned out to be a surprisingly difficult task even though it was certainly a comic published sometime in the early 1990s. It's undeniable that Adobe Photoshop has ushered in a new era in both comics production and comics aesthetics, yet no one (at least no one I was able to find) had bothered to document when exactly this phenomenon began.
(NOTE: I'm honestly not sure if Sketch ever published that article. I know I was never paid for it. Also, for those of you wondering … I was never able to confirm with absolute certainty which comic was the first to beÃ‚ "Photoshopped", although it is my belief that it was an issue of Legion of Superheroes colored by Digital Chameleon some time in late 1991 or early 1992.)
So back to T. Campbell's book … I read it. I enjoyed it. I learned from it. And I appreciate it. I think T's done us all a service in writing it. I can't help but believe that T's well aware that he's written a book with a relatively short shelf life. History has a fluid quality to it. The dates and the events don't change, but often their significance does. What seems momentous now, may be seen as insignificant later. And vice versa. A couple of years from now the history of webcomics will no doubt look very different. Ten years from now it will look different still. Certainly there will be subsequent histories written and those writing said histories are sure to disagree with some of T's findings and assertions, but they're going to owe him a debt as well.