Boy, aren’t Soap Operas just the worst?
Crazy, never ending plotlines, cliched, insipid characters with terrible acting, and don’t even get me started with those weird filters they use on the cameras! You turn on the TV, and the very moment the screen lights up you know if you’re inadvertently watching a soap opera – they’re just that recognisable. No thank you.
But even with all those problems – when you do turn on your daytime TV, these things are everywhere! So they must have an audience, they must have fans and a large community base who’s gots to watch their stories.
But if they have fans, do they have webcomics? This week, I set out on a quest to find out where all the soap operas be at in the webcomic world.
Now, it’s true that webcomics are a massive medium – they cover genres from the classic newspaper strip comic, to the endemic video game comic, to… whatever Homestuck was. So, it’s pretty certain one can find whatever genre they’re looking for out there, right?
Weeeeeeeel… turns out it’s pretty hard to find a webcomic that really fits the criteria of being solely a “soap opera.” According to the ever-trustworthy Wikepedia, soap operas are defined as:
“A serial drama… that examines the lives of many characters, usually focusing on emotional relationships to the point of melodrama.”
It’s worth noting that by that definition soap operas are first and foremost a drama series, and whilst a lot of top shelf webcomics do incorporate character drama on a pretty regular basis – like Questionable Content, El Goonish Shive, Gunnerkrigg Court and even Ctrl+Alt+Del, the majority of those are humour comics first and drama comics second. Even comics famed for being predominantly dramatic, like The Phoenix Requiem, and to a lesser extent Digger, focus more on adventure or the supernatural than they do on melodrama.
So, why is this? How come there’s a massive market for daytime TV soaps, but not for these stories online in comic form?
Most likely, it’s a result of demographics: your average daytime soap opera audience are probably not the type of people who sit down to spend their other free hours on the internet; they’re predominantly the elderly, or the other stay-at-home mums (and dads!) that need a break when the kids are napping. Generally speaking, it’s probably a safe bet to say there’s not a lot of overlap there on the webcomics venn diagram. Is this something that’s going to change as the internet audience ages, I wonder? Does it mean there’s a vast market of untapped potential for the niche soap opera webcomic to fill? Or are there simply a bunch out there already that my terrible Google-fu wasn’t able to discover?
But fear not, dear reader! I didn’t come back to you completely empty-handed: I did finally find one webcomic that you could argue does in fact fit the bill (even if you could also argue it’s another style of video game comic), and that’s A Tale of Two Rulers by FigmentForums (aka: Lorraine). It has everything you know and love (or love to hate) about the classic soap opera – high character drama, melodrama, a plot that revolves around characters and their romantic entanglements, yearnings and thwarted desires, plus a liberal dash of villainous schemes and plotting and even old enemies (apparently) coming back from the dead to boot! I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you have a guilty-pleasure soap opera itch you want to scratch, if you’re just a fan of the Legend of Zelda, or even if you just enjoy stunning artwork.
We’d love to hear what you think! If you know of any great (or so bad they’re good) webcomics you’d call soap operas, don’t hesitate to yell at me on Twitter for my terrible research, or leave a link in the comments below and we’ll definitely check them out! Next week we’ll be returning to our Searching for Strip Search series for the final episode covering the winner and runner up of the competition, and what they’ve been up to in the meantime, but until then – don’t eat the clickbait!