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Appreciating webcomics above and beyond the call of duty

Happy Halloween from your pals at ComixTALK

Boo! An unexpected update from the undead ComixTALK.  

FANG TEN:  Just in time for Halloween, Boom Studios is serializing Dracula: The Company of Monsters on the web.  About 14 pages so far, it looks like it might be fun, so far jumping between the time of Vlad the Impaler and a present-day ruthless corporate boss.  Also it's credited as created by Kurt Busiek so it's got that going for it.

SUPERTORT: The ABA (American Bar Association and that's bar as in lawyers not martinis... er well maybe both) Journal has a list of the top 10 superhero lawyers. (Side Bar: I'd never heard of the character of Manhunter before but I'd hate to see what DC would do her costume -- there's not much there to be rebooted... if you know what I mean -- and I hope you because I don't.)

DINOMITEOSAUR:  Are y'all reading Hipsters? The hipsters versus dinosaurs storyline is pretty funny.

YOU WILL SUBMIT:  The videogame-themed website Joystiq is still soliciting videogame-themed webcomics to suggest themselves to its Weekly Webcomic Roundup.  I may have found the comic Brentalfloss from there -- I definitely chuckled at the ones I got although some... whoosh, didn't get.

MILESTONES: Brad Guigar made his 2000th pun this month.  Wait wait -- I meant to say he posted his 2000th Evil, Inc strip October 22nd.  He made his 2000th pun before he could walk.

PRINTED THINGS: Shaenon Garrity has a new giant omnibus collection of her first webcomic Narbonic with all six years of the strip into two fat volumes. Copies are available through the Couscous store.

TO THE BOING-CAVE: Cory Doctorow, technologist, writer, possible superhero, has reviewed some webcomics on Boing BOING recently including Scenes from a Multiverse and Red Light Properties.

GOTTA KEEP THOSE:  I watched the pilot online when Michael Jonathan tweeted about it but I'll just borrow a bit from Gary who was diligent enough to keep blogging every single day for EVER.... taking a deep breath for a second... Anyhow Jonathan and others are working on a new MTV animated show called Good Vibes which runs after the resurrected Beavis and Butthead show (which by the way -- I guess they're now going to watch MTV reality shows since the network doesn't play videos anymore).  

MAILBAG: Harvey Award nominated Terry LaBan writes that the webcomic Muktuk Wolfsbreath, Hard Boiled Shaman is nearing completion.  This actually has gotten a ton of praise from other creators and critics and it's on my list to check out.  It's "a dark tale of love, metaphysics and obsession set among reindeer-herding tribesmen in the chilly forests of Siberia" -- probably perfect for this time of year!

NOT WEBCOMICS: And I leave you with this montage of clips from Big Trouble in Little China -- watch it and wonder if Kurt Russell actually knows what's going on!

5 Questions: Who Is Your Core Audience?

For a webcomic to be successful, it has to connect to a core audience. The core audience is the comic's natural readership, a defined group, the people who buy merchandise and recommend the comic to their friends. Core audiences are broad descriptions, of course (any single person in the group won't exactly fit the description), but they're useful in understanding a comic and its readers. For instance, Penny Arcade appeals to folks who enjoy video games (among other things). Hark! A Vagrant readers are educated, and have an interest in history and irreverent sense of humor. Understanding this helps determine what kind of content and merchandise may be well received by those comics' audiences.

Comix Talk for Friday, January 22, 2010

Psst.  Super art fight this weekend..

I think I've mentioned it before but whatever compulsion I might have once had to share with you every scrap of webcomic-related stuff... well I ain't feeling it.  So it's great that others are taking care of it and this week you can't go wrong with this round up of webcomic reviews, interviews and stories from Brigid Alverson's Paperless Comics.

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THE NEW NEW ECONOMY:  Tom Spurgeon writes about Julie Larson's decision to move from a deal with Creator's Syndicate to self-syndication.  You really can't extrapolate much from a story that includes one newspaper comic (Larson's) and one webcomic (Apokalips) as the basis for discussion.  I feel bad for folks like Larson who are stuggling with the double whammy of tectonic shifts in technology and a bum economy.  But I also think it's annoying and self-defeating to write about how the Internet is killing everything.  The Internet is part of the environment now.  It's the least-cost, most effective publishing tool ever invented -- when before in history has ANYONE been able to potentially reach EVERYONE on the planet at the minimal costs needed to put up a website?  That fact is AWESOME and no one in their right mind would trade it away for preservation of past pratices.

The other thing to keep in mind is that there used to be certain channels of content that we consumed because it was there in a format that required us to read/watch/listen to it on the format's terms.  That's going, going, gone.  Watch teevee when it's scheduled? Nope, TIVO.  Listen to radio live?  Nope, not if you don't want to - podcast, iTunes, etc.  Read the daily comics in the morning at breakfast?  Nope, even newspaper comics are ARCHIVED and available on the web.  I can see it in my kids' habits.  I used to come to the content in a lot of cases... for my kids all content is a library.  They watch/listen/read their favorites -- it's RARE that they ever engage with content because it's there.  What does that mean?  I'd bet a lot of things, but one thing that seems obvious is that FAVORITES will win an even bigger share of whatever new business models sustain creators.  If in the past it made sense to appeal to the largest audience possible (which often meant a softening and blanding up of material) to get into the newspaper, I think creators have to understand that's probably a really BAD strategy now.

PODCAST: The long-running webcomics podcast, the Webcomic Beacon, has two more episodes up: Fan Fiction and Black & White versus Color.

JUSTIFY TOM'S HYPE: Tom Spurgeon also linked to Smoke Signals, a free all comics newspaper based in Brooklyn.  The first two editions are available for a free download at their website.

Three New 'Serenity Tales' Online

After a nice long hiatus, the "Big Damn Fan Comic" website "Serenity Tales" is back -- with three new installments (and a few more not too terribly far off):

1. "Yarn"
by Mark Bourne and Neal Skorpen
In this six-pager set after the events of "Serenity," Jayne Cobb's mother proves she's as tough as her son.

2. Notes on a Fridge [on a Spaceship], Vol. 2
by Arwen Bijker; some artwork courtesy Ursula Vernon.
THE STORY: Arwen's remarkable fan-fiction experiment continues with nine (yes, nine) new notes! Serenity's crew just can't stop arguing via a series of handwritten missives stuck on the ship's fridge.

3. Serenity Park #3: Goushi
by Lux Lucre and Wydraz
Meet the "South Park"-ized Shepherd Book.

There's also a fairly massive update to the site's database of webcomics mentioning "Firefly" and "Serenity" -- which now clocks in with well over 70 references.

Joe Zabel Article on Webcomics Community

The Webcomics Examiner has a new article up called "A Shrinkage of the Center".  Joe Zabel was nice enough to ask me for comments on the idea of the piece but of course I've been too swamped to sit down and extract some rational thoughts from my brain  to respond properly.

Maybe the difficulty I had with articulaing a response was in how that article framed its questions.  I've never been part of "the comics community" or fandom generally.  I recognize that there is a tribal aspect to comic book fandom - much more so than any other type of comics readership.  I don't think webcomics has every really had that aspect to it.  Largely because unlike comic books webcomics have not coalesced around a specific genre and I doubt that webcomics ever will (or just as importantly get tightly linked to a genre in the larger public mind).

First Fan Art Milestone

I got my first fan art of my Death character. Thanks Carrie Burton of Dam Beavers.

Comic Updating

In printed comics, the sticking to a deadline or schedule makes sense. It would be disastrous to not have a book ready, by the time you need to print a book and sell it. Is this a practice carried over to the web? Out of all the comics you read, can anyone recall (without checking) what days they actually update?

With webcomics, I belive it's becoming accepted that deadlines or schedules, such as updating on a M-W-F, do not apply. What if you miss a day, or change the updating schedule? I've seen many authors needing to apologize for missing an update. Instead of making the user come to you, the trend is reversing with RSS feeds. People join your feed, and when you publish/update something, they're automatically notified.

Looking For the Next Great SGR Fan Art Webcomic Creator

Are. You. The. Next. ScaryGoRound. Idol?

Draw a SGR comic, send it in and get judged by the Dumbrella guys.  I expect the judges to mimic the American Idol judges: John Allison = Randy, Jeff Rowland = Paula Abdul and R. Stevens = Simon.

limited edition PC Weenies print now available

I've created 5 full-color prints of the PC Weenies promo art that will appear in April's Zoinks Magazine. This limited-run print is the first of its kind being offered by Krishna M. Sadasivam and features the Weiner clan ready for action! Printed on 8.5" x 11" 90lb matte paper. Prints 1/5 and 2/5 have already sold out. For more information, and to purchase your print, please visit The PC Weenies website.

Great Outdoor Fight Site

The Great Outdoor Fight Wiki
Thanks to the public-spirited Plutor, the Great Outdoor Fight of Achewood now has a website worthy of its terrible beauty.