How Mary Worth Beat Superman

Anyone on the street will tell you that “comics” mean “superhero comics.” With the rise of Batman, Captain America and the Avengers from the back of the dingily-lit comic store, to the summer blockbuster every year (forever) that person on the street might even be able to tell you everything about their favourite Hero, without ever having seen a comic book.

By Yale Stewart – JL8 #2

Online, it’s a different matter. Sure, superhero webcomics exist, but how many of them do you see in a given ‘Top 10″ or ‘best of‘ list? How many of them do you read?

Not many – because Superhero comics lack something special, something integral to digital success: something comics like Mary Worth figured out a long time ago. Continue reading

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[Edit: OMG! This is my first top comment! Ty, Ty (UwU)] The Psychology Behind a Webtoons Phenomenon

If you’ve been following the podcast’s recommendations over the past few years, then odds are you’ve ended up somewhere on Line Webtoon once or twice.

Webtoons offer a great reading experience for webcomics: posting multiple pages for each chapter means you can blitz through really meaty chunks of a comic each update, and the way the posts flow into one another (particularly on mobile devices) leads to a real sense of ‘just-one-more’ishness equalled only by a packet of crisps or free booze at a work Christmas party.

Many regrets were had. Photo credit: istolethetv

But as you’re scrolling to the bottom, waiting for that little arrow to bump and tick you over into the next strip, you go past the comments. And inevitably, you see some variant of the following:

Witty comment pertaining to the latest update. (Edit: OMG! This is my first top comment you guys! Thank you, thank you, please remember that [cartoonist] is the real hero here, please like and support their work. Who thought this little thing I dashed off with barely any thought would be so popular haha I love you alllllllllllllll)”

The psychology behind commenting on the internet has been subject to a number of investigations, articles and academic papers over the years – but it seemed to me that this phenomenon was a little different to the standard trolling or ‘First!’ comments that plague other creative platforms like YouTube. So why do people feel the need to edit their comments once the original achieves some popularity? Continue reading

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The End of Something Wonderful

Clicking through the world of webcomics any time since 2006 there has been one small bit of text, so omnipresent that you might not even have noticed it, that has been with you as surely as the pixels on the screen translating colour and shape into humour and drama:

These nine words (plus a price tag) have been the staple of every self-respecting cartoonist or comic artist who’ve placed their work on the web (and even some of the not-so-self-respecting ones). However, an announcement by Project Wonderful creator Ryan North on June 11 2018 that the service was shutting down for good has brought this experiment in independent advertising and democratisation of ad revenue to a close.

So if you only know of the service as someone seeing the ads, what even was Project Wonderful – and what made it so different to the other advertising options out there? Today, we’re looking back on the service, what it promised, and what it means for webcomic creators to see the service go extinct.

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Ready Player: Webcomics

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Steven Spielberg’s latest movie Ready Player One– based on the novel by Ernest Cline – was a commercial hit. In an age where the real-L.I.F.E immersive qualities of Virtual Reality are only beginning to be explored, Cline’s story of a digital Willy-Wonka-style Golden Ticket hunt clearly spoke to modern audiences.

Of course, Webcomics long pipped Parzival at the top of the leaderboard, having used their digital platform to explore life within simulations for almost as long as the medium has existed. Today, we’re looking at one of the clearest examples, and dissecting how it’s built its own Oasis for readers to escape to.

Not a Villainby Aneeka Richins Continue reading

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Talking *to* webcomics – Part 2

In our celebration around the show’s 500th episode, we looked back at some of the Digital Strips interview Alumni – people who, since their appearance on the show, had gone on to either great webcomics success, or [INDEFINITE HIATUS].

Today, we’re going to have another look back on some of the names and personalities that have graced the Digital Strips airwaves in times past, and examining what these creators are up to today. Continue reading

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Worth 1000 words…

We’ve spent the past month looking at words – podcasting webcomics is, after all, dependant on the hosts or interviewees talking (or else is dull listening, indeed).

My experimental podcast series “Enemy Mime” never got off the ground for some reason…
Image credit: Bandita

But webcomics are a vast and descriptive medium that doesn’t, itself, always rely on those words. We’re talking, of course, about the pantomime comic, and how they speak to us simply and effectively through their art – not their dialogue.

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The Big 500 – Thirteen Years talking *to* Webcomics (Part 1)

Last time on the blog, we took a retrospective look at some of the people who’ve helmed the fair ship Digital Strips as it sailed the still-virgin waters of 2005 internet radio and beyond. But those stalwart few aren’t the only voices who’ve been heard on the podcast – in fact, a wide variety of people and perspectives on the Webcomic world have graced this digital stage. If you’re a relatively new listener, you might not be familiar with the proud lineage of the Digital Strips creator interviews, as they more or less came to a close in 2009 – therefore, this week we’re looking back on some of the Digital Strips interview alumni and seeing where those creators are today. Continue reading

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Digital Strips Episode 500: Then, Now, Forever

Five hundred episodes is a long time to do anything. Daily, weekly, monthly, annually, it gives you perspective on the subject you’re taking a good, hard look at and makes you appreciate the creativity at work. To celebrate the milestone, The Midnight Cartooner and The Geek welcome back co-founder Daku the Rogue to see where it all started, and where they think it might all lead. Along with nostalgic messages from Becky Dreistadt, Frank Gibson, Ryan Estrada, Gary Tyrrell, Meredith Gran, Chris Grine, and Terence “The Average Joe” MacManus, the guys talk about everything from anime beefs to the challenge having kids presents to your beloved hobbies. It’s been a wild ride, and thank you, loyal Strippers, for being with us for it. Here’s to an indeterminate number more!

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In your dreams! The Magic of LeyLines

Robin Childs’ masterwork LeyLines is one of those comics which seems to have lurked on the internet since forever, so it’s easy to forget the comic has ‘only’ been going since 2011. Part of that longevity probably comes from the author and her involvement with projects like the Webcomic Alliance, but much of it also comes from the unique and well defined world in which the comic is set. This is a world where magic meets industrialisation, where society struggles to integrate their new values with the old, and where the Gods can visit you in your dreams. If you haven’t read it already, here is a good place to start. If you have read it, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the unique way Childs’ delivers her magic system in the story: through the power of the very Gods themselves, deities who live in the realm of dreams… Continue reading

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Book Club Bookmark: The Order of the Stick

The year was 2011. The challenge was epic: Over 800 updates of possibly the wordiest webcomic to have ever graced the stage of the Digital Strips “book” club. Steve and Jason tackled them all, and came out on the other side changed men – with strong opinions on what makes a good webcomic great and a great webcomic… something that might want to consider prose.

It was Rich Burlew’s The Order of the Stick and it’s time, fellow adventurer, to return to the bookmark we left in this comic all those years ago. Continue reading

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