Why Do Online Comics?: Webcomics Are Alternative

You know those jokes about how "alternative music" isn’t really "alternative" if it’s listened to by the mainstream public? At one point, alternative music was really alternative. If you happened to be into it, you were kind of on the fringe. People thought of you as marching to your own drummer. Have you ever really thoroughly enjoyed something that not a whole lot of other people had ever heard of, then once it "hit it big" and everyone was talking about it, you sort of lost interest?

If you get what I’m talking about, if the idea of being on the cutting edge of something before the edge gets dulled from being used too much is appealing, then I’ve got something that may just interest you.

It’s called…

Online comics.

That’s right. Out there on the Internet, in the crevices and cracks most people still don\’t dare to tread, images and words are coming together and forming stories, and they\’re doing so in ways you could never see in print.

"I’ve been doing online comics since before doing online comics was cool."

I long to be able to say that to someone some day (and have it mean something). We’re not there yet, though. We’re still fringe. Strange and wonderful things are emerging, but they haven’t spread their wings to the masses just yet. There’s still a chance to get in on this thing before "the man" corrupts it.

But you should hurry, because your window for fringe status is closing rapidly. At the San Diego Comic-Con, panels discussing the online comics revolution are more than doubling in attendance yearly, and there’s no sign that it will slow down. The secret overlords of the webcomics world are already shaping both media and marketing. Fashion is being redefined and redirected, with the runway models in Paris shaking in their Prada Boots. Video game manufacturers are noticing the growing influential power of online comics websites, and bending to their will. Music is being created from scratch by the very people who have been at the forefront of this form of entertainment.

The innovators that paved the way for people to be Keen and Modern are out and about, walking around the university campuses and bookstore aisles, spreading the good word. Cat Garza is particularly enthusiastic about the direction in which webcomics are headed:

Like almost all other evolving forms of entertainment, it takes a while for innovation to float to the surface of mainstream consciousness. I believe the more people seek out entertainment online, the closer we’ll get to giving them something that they may even be willing to pay for. This is because we’ve already been here a while working out what will click and what won’t. The process of finding out is what excites me most! Seeing the years of experimentation come to fruition is also very, very exciting and will continue to be as long as people keep trying to bring their creativity, storytelling, music, and information onto the World Wide Web.

So how do you get in on all this before some major corporate entity recognizes the gold mine of potential online comics holds? Simple. Start now. It doesn’t cost much – just a few bucks for a subscription here, a few crumpled up Ones in the tip jar there. Like any "true" artist, the vast majority of the people leading this wave of web-based inspiration are either starving or have second or third jobs in addition to being emissaries of comic goodness. We’re all here in the thick of the battle, creating for you for the pure pleasure of creating, hoping against hope that we can find a way to make some money doing what we love. If you’re a patron of online comics, rest assured that you can walk around acting just as snobby and snooty as any of those New York gallery folks. Sure, not many of us online comics artists are dead yet, but that just means our work is still affordable. Get in now before we kick the bucket and you have to buy your subscriptions to our websites at Sotheby’s!

So relax with a fancy coffee beverage from a non-Starbucks coffee house, pop in a Depeche Mode CD, and open up your web browser. Why do online comics? Because if you do, or even if you just dig, you too can be one of the cool kids.

Iain Hamp