A Word… On Pixels Vs. Print

As long as web comics have been around the print industry has been thumbing its nose. They have become a grumpy old giant scoffing at our online triumphs, bashing our artistic styles, our approaches, and the varying degrees of craftsmanship. We can read such things on any forum we wish to peruse concerning the glories of our comic medium. Yet on those same forums the web comic folk have been doing the same. We have been nose turning, scoffing, and finagling the print industry for its archaic ways, its smothering qualities, and its out dated practices. Most of all we web comic folk trash the print’s lack of variety and on our own forums no less.

Which one of us is really right?

Variety is sweet. That’s all there is to it really. No sugar junkie can survive off of runts alone (they need sweet tarts too), likewise comics can not survive on superheroes and bulging anatomy alone. Thanks to our wonderful online medium of choice it no longer has to.

Indeed web comics offer a variety that has never before been granted in the comic medium, and in turn it has been upheld as the greatest testament to their superiority over printed comics in the online domain. Anyone can create a web comic. Anyone. And it costs little to nothing to do so. Happily from this we can draw a great deal of quality work and story that do not have to have triple D boobies nor 42 inch biceps as a means of selling.

Conversely the printed industry has looked down upon the online comic industry with its variety as the greatest testament to their inferiority. Anyone can make a web comic. Anyone. Thus the industry is open to the dregs that would NEVER pass an editor’s desk
successfully. Sadly this has created a rift between an online comic community and a printed comic community with the illusion of The Man. Indeed there is a stifling of ripe new ideas not inspired by Spiderman or, God forbid, some lifeless Japanese manufactory, but the other side of the equation (the editor’s side) isn’t so cut and dried. For instance if you yourself were an editor looking over submissions would you accept this as marketable?

It seems to me as though the rift is a mere illusion created by pixels, print, and “pandamonious puffery from the editor.” (Stan Lee) I believe that our illusions have spun a web far too tangled for most eyes to see through, but we have the capabilities to remove it. Comics are COMICS. Internet or print, they both need eyes and intelligence to read, and they can, essentially, do all the same things. Why, then must we keep them separate? We all have the machetes to disrupt our own skewed visions and blur the culture barriers between the guilds of print and pixels and we have everything to gain from helping each other.

This is indeed a meager call to brotherhood, especially since I am appealing to my own internet brethren (and sisteren), but I hope that this does not fall on deaf ears. Printed comics are terrific (sometimes we need Spiderman to save the day) and deserve just as much place as our online works.
Let us embrace each other.

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7 thoughts on “A Word… On Pixels Vs. Print

  1. I think I\’ve found a new job on DS in being your spell/fact-checker. It\’s Spider-Man, not Spiderman. Last I checked, Spidey wasn\’t a Jew. Although, with Straczynski still futzing with the ol\’ webhead, anything\’s possible.

    Seriously though, I don\’t see how webcomics could ever be taken as seriously as print comic books. Given how much unedited, unexcuseable CRAP you have to wade through to get to the good stuff, it\’s barely conscionable to ask the newbies to search for their own favorites. With print books, the crap is lessened a great deal by the editing process it takes to get a book published (unless you go the print-on-demand route, which is still less successful than being published by an established imprint). Just ask Scott Kurtz and I bet you he\’ll correlate his visibility to the rest of the creative world to his deal with Image Comics.

    So can we ever overcome this amateur stigma? Like all things, it just takes time. While you\’re waiting, however, how about you learn to write, get yourself a competent artist, (or vice versa) build some decent characters and your cream will eventually rise to the top of the crop.

    (All \”you\”s directed towards the general audience, NOT Pookey G. Pook… you my boy, Pook!)

  2. Well, anyone can make a webcomic. Not anyone can make a good webcomic. Print has advantages like portability and familiarity (and it\’s not all folks in tight pants) while webcomics have what the G-Man called \”variety.\” What he calls variety, I call the ability to take risks.

    If I were an editor, would I take Dinosaur Comics? No. No, I wouldn\’t. And though it is successful (now) it is still kind of a niche deal.

    But the concept that, on the webernet, untested talent can do things, create things, and have those things available to others without a publisher risking lots of dollars just to see if it has the po-tential to last is something else altogether.

    Are there a million webcomics that really blow? Yeah. Yeah, there probably are. And no one has to visit them.

    This is completely ignoring the clear fact that at this site, the word after \”Digital\” is \”Strips\” implying that our print opposite lives in the newspaper. You know… Cathy & Garfield.

  3. Digital Publishers like 01Comics are breaking down the wall of the supposed, web vs. print…er…thing. It\’s much too early to tag this digital publishing path as a success or failure. More players need to enter the game. Labeling a venture in its infancy is the kiss of death. It\’s going to take some time and patience. You need to crawl before you can walk.

    We will never be as big as the top print publishers; that\’s already been proven as an uphill battle during the indy boom of the late 80\’s/90\’s. Indy comics, small press and webcomics need to focus on finding their own paths and identities. That is what 01Comics has set out to do. We set out to merge the web and print mediums; set up our own printing process and given Diamond\’s lack of support and interest in the little guys, begin treading the murky waters of online distribution.

    The seeds have been planted for digital publishing, web distribution and print on demand. Being a representative of 01Comics, we believe that we have a workable model that others could work off of and make their own paths into this, hopefully, bright future for comics.

  4. This blog post is ridiculous. What\’s your source for saying that print comics have thumbed their noses at the web?

    It\’s been my experience talking to print people that most of them haven\’t even heard of webcomics, and those who have don\’t really understand it as a movement.

    I don\’t think there\’s really much of a rivalry to speak of. The fact of the matter is that maybe .1% of all webcomics (Regardless of genre) would make any money in print.

    The idea that webcomics are superior by virtue of variety is ludicrous. We\’re still very young as a medium. For all our talk of potential, I don\’t feel we\’ve yet produced a Daniel Clowes, or a Chris Ware, or a Frank Miller.

  5. this is an interesting article , but one question always remains in my mind , is any of this important when the artist/writer begins his labor.

    i admit i read both web-comics and traditional comic books , and independent comics of both variety handed out on badly photocopy paper , and still reeking of toner, the point is still the same . snout is still snout , and a good story is still a good story .

    personally i feel that stories that needed time to mature are simply rejected by editors in traditonal settings , and sadly even worse , the comics become simply filler on a website , and the talent is sucked away by having an immature story simply not distilled.

    personally , i have never found the print people sticking there noses up , they just don’t want to see any more snout , and to be honest there are quite a few web comics , that could compete with what the comic industry considers classics .

    this is not just happening with comics , its a entire shift in the culture of all artistic expression . anyone at any time can and should produce art. the digital vs print will go on forever just as acrylic vs oils has dominated the painting world.

    hopefully eventually both will realize that symbiosis is needed , web comics can take those risks , until the print houses decide its good enough to sell and benefit them , and i believe that many printed comics should be transcribed into the web (not all , but many) to benefit those who cant afford to buy each individual copy.

    maybe then publishers could realize that pixel v. print should really be , pixel vs print vs both.

    when its all said and done we are all doing the same thing , presenting a story to someone new. (and trying to make a living while having fun )

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