Why Do Online Comics: Comics vs. Genre vs. Comics

Comics vs. Genre vs. Comics

Is "comics" a genre
in and of itself? Some seem
to think this is so.

Either they think that
comics are superheroes
or they are Garfield.

Yet these same people
can make out the difference
in other media

like T.V. or books.
Comedy is not drama
yet both are movies.

We have a western
section in video stores
and most book sellers,

yet in comic stores
western stories get lumped in
with Superman books.

Why does this work, or
for that matter does it? What
is the point of "genre"?

Genre is used to make
finding the sorts of stories
one is looking for

an easier task.
If someone likes romances
they can go down to

their local Borders
and go right to the romances.
The section they seek

is well labeled and
is organized by last name
of the creator.

Music, as well, is
broken down first by the style
and then by band name.

Even movies, though not
typically organized
by anyone involved

are placed in stores
according to the feelings
they tend to invoke.

Like other media,
webcomics have formed their
own sorting structures.

One such method is
the links page of a comic
you read faithfully.

You trust the judgment
of a creator you like
so you take a chance

on titles they link
which you otherwise may have
never come across.

Subscription websites
like GraphicSmash and Wirepop are
another attempt

to organize works
and take advantage of the
idea that people

often want to read
stories similar to others
they have also liked.

can be in the stories told
or in the art styles.

There are tools online,
like search engines that hold great
potential, but since

there is no one who
is consciously thinking how
to structure results,

they prove to be less
effective than one might find

Webrings continue
to emerge, and in my mind
could be quite useful

but so far have been
poorly implemented, at
least from what I see.

Top 100 comics
lists seem like they might be a
decent idea as well,

but they can be quite
skewed due to the way(s) in which
the comics are ranked.

One of the best lists
I have seen so far has been
at Comixpedia,

but it still does not
help me find comics similar
to those I enjoy now.

The important part
is recognizing how people
filter through things

trying to find what
they like, and then organize
to make it easier.

This will lead us to
wider audiences and
maybe, just maybe

it’s one of the key
profitability tools
for comic creators.

Sadly, in every
comic store I have walked through
the titles are all

massed together
only separated by
"new release" and "not".

If I want to know
what my favorite writer
has done recently

I had better have
done my research beforehand,
or hope the staff knows.

So when someone who
typically doesn’t read
comics comes around

and tries to find the
kinds of stories they might like
where do they begin?

Answer: they just don’t.
This is one of the main things
that stands in the way

of people coming
to better understanding
of what "comics" is.

It is no genre
it is several genres,
like a movie or

a book or a show.
It is a medium, and it
has great potential.

A lot of artists
(myself included) don’t like
being pigeonholed,

and sometimes lumping
things together by genre
can feel like a trap.

Maybe with all of
the possibilities the
internet offers,

there is a better
way than to stuff things into
predetermined genres.

Trying to jam all comics into concise and neat little genres and categories, particularly webcomics where there is so much experimentation going on, just seems the same as trying to write a prose article and formatting

it in haiku form.
It just isn’t meant to fit.
No sir, not one bit.


  1. I just have to say that I’m blessed with a great local comic store (Danger Room Comics, in Olympia, Wa in case you ever find yourself in the area) that does subdivide by genre rather than company and it really does work. I’ve taken people in who have no prior comics interest, and can point out exactly where they might find things that they want. Also, this arrangement allows the store to cater to the kind of hipster college students that are around town far more easily. So it works in practice, not just in theory.

  2. Some interesting points there, but I find the format distracting.

    Which is an interesting comment to arrive at, considering the article.

  3. Keenspace has an interesting indexing feature that could work with webcomics to provide a classification scheme even more powerful than genre-lumping. Comic creators apply labels to their work denoting various genres, ideas, and subgenres which fit, so whether I’m looking for “science fiction” comics or comics which feature the use of anime mallets, I can find what I’m looking for.

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