The Problem With Web Comics Being So Easy

Many of you are probably familiar with our purpose here. The only way to keep up with the thousands of web comics is through a lot of categorizing. That’s where finding a comic for the podcast comes in. Last week I finally made it through my queue of completed comics and had to search for more, but as I was going through my bookmarks I found quite a few strips had withered and died.

The web comic medium is most celebrated for it’s ability to allow anyone to jump in and distribute their art to potentially millions of readers. That means that everyone who ever wanted to make a comic now has a ready made market, thus why there are over 8000. That probably explains as while searching through 400+ bookmarked comics I found quite a few “Server Not Found”, 404’s, and comics on hiatus. It was probably Surliness that started the whole spring cleaning but the list continued with adgrunts, Andiewear, and Cascadia. Surliness was one of our favorite new finds out of ConnectiCon 2005 and the later three were the short list of suggested comics to be reviewed on the podcast.

Most of the dead comics simply returned with site not found which is truly frustrating. There’s nothing worst then getting to a site that I am looking forward to getting back to and it has simply disappeared. To be forgiven are those who leave behind a sign post with a promise to return. So is this a problem, the constant dying and birthing of web comics? What about comics that show such potential but vanish due to the artist’s inability to keep it running because of real life?

When it comes down to it there are so many comics out there it’s nearly impossible to find the next emerging brilliant mind. What should we do to help you the reader safe guard or find that jewels that must be out there?

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5 thoughts on “The Problem With Web Comics Being So Easy

  1. I personally have been doing comics on the web on and off since about 1998. However, during that time, I\’ve done the \”hiatus\” at least four or five times, for up to a year at a time.

    I think there are a few difficulties in maintaining a comic.

    First, life gets in the way. Especially early on, when you don\’t really have an audience, it\’s easy to just excuse yourself from comics due to relationship problems, or schoolwork, or family stuff. The fact that most new web cartoonists are probably around the age of 20 makes this a huge problem.

    However, for me, the bigger issue was general life change. For example, after I got out of college, I had trouble writing strips for a while. When you\’re in one place mentally for a while, you\’re able to get into a groove and understand your own process better. If something changes, even if you have the desire to keep going, you may not be able to because you\’ve been pushed out of your element. Many creators would rather draw nothing than draw something sub-par, and so they quit.

    I have two good reasons why I have personally entered webcomics for the long haul.

    The first is anecdotal. I was at work one day, and got to talking to a (now former) boss of mine. Somehow the conversation drifted to my comic. I mentioned that I had a reasonably large audience at one time, but gave up in order to work on other things. She then said \”Imagine if you had kept working on it for five years.\”

    At first, I blew this off. However, truth has a way of sticking in your brain until it\’s had its say. And the truth was, whenever I consistently updated, my audience grew rapidly. I remember thinking to myself \”if I had kept updating for 5 years, I certainly wouldn\’t be working in this shitty job.\”

    That notion has been very compelling for me.

    The second reason is that I\’ve developed a lot of ties with webcomics nuts – artists, critics, journalists, and readers – so now there are a lot of faces I know would be irritated if I quit. Believing that in some small way people depend on me has had a tremendous effect on my desire to keep going at all costs.

    There were a lot of nights where I got home from work at 10pm and had to be up to do deliveries by 7am, and had some take home work on top of it. But, I knew it was worth it, so I kept going.

    I think something that is very helpful is to decide where you want to go with things. Ultimately, if you do ANYTHING long enough, things are going to get tough. When that happens, you are forced to evaluate whether it\’s worth it to fight things out. If you see cartooning as just a hobby, you\’ll probably quit. If you see it as a life goal, you have to be willing to weather the storm.

    I think a lot of people don\’t see it as a potential career because it\’s something that\’s so far off (and, indeed, even if you\’ve got the skills, it takes a long time to get ANYWHERE in webcomics). However, as Seneca said (watch me paraphrase poorly) – if you don\’t know what port you\’re headed to, no wind is favorable. The inverse is no doubt true as well

  2. I took half a month off around the holidays and posted my return date. I returned when I said I would – and the traffic returned to nearly full capacity. In other words, it pays to communicate – trust – your readers.

    I stopped drawing for a couple years, and realized that I couldn\’t stay away. Hell, my wife begged me to get back into it – I was such a mopey cuss. The question is no longer \”will\” but \”what will\” I work on.

    Two things webcomics need: Mandetory RSS feeds. And some non profit community contributed archive for retired/defunct comics. Anyone can create a webcomic – but when the hosting fee runs out – they\’re gone. That\’s tragic.

    *OK, back to drawing*

  3. You guys are already doing what you need to be doing, by keeping people informed. Sure there may be 8,000 webcomics out there but how many are worth reading? How many are good once or twice, but then get lame fast? How many are just inside gags for a small circle?

    I know I don\’t have the energy to go looking for new ones, and I love a good find by a recommendation from someone else.

    I don\’t want to discourage anyone from making a webcomic, but I don\’t expect everyone to have the same kind of passion for the artform either. You\’re not going to get rich overnight with comics no matter what medium you choose. There are only so many Garfield\’s and Dilbert\’s out there and it\’s a rare artist who is a successful marketer too.

    It is fun, but it\’s also a commitment. I did \”In Other News\” for three years, and have been with \”Least I Could Do\” for nearly a year now. I love doing this and it has a place in my life and my schedule so I can do it daily.

    Later!

  4. Holy smoke… I moved from \”the presonunderthestairs.com\” to a new URL (thewilliamg.com) a long while ago.

    Because the new URL is far sexier!

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