I read an article that effected me a little today. It was that Webcomics were dying and that nothing new and exciting was around these days. The author of the site has a pay-per-view webcomic site, something that I have been against from the very beginning, because I think you should not charge for something viewed online. If all you have is a failing subscription site than yes webcomics might be dying as for anything new out there … I think one needs to start looking because I have found several, that believe like me, that it is time to raise the bar on webcomics.
Yes, I realize that anyone can just quickly scribble something on a sheet or hit few buttons and make a webcomic and it seems to be a common practice on how vulgar or how can one push the line. Yet… I also realize that there is some incredible talent out there that have taken this craft to a whole new level. In sorts we have to kind of feed off one another in trying to prove that it is possible to create an incredible tale online and still make some sort of income off of it.
So how do we raise the bar? What will it take for artist and writers to find ways to make webcomics something more when mentioned than just a snicker from people who do not understand what they are about.
First off Webcomics are in the phase that newspaper comics were in 100 + years ago. When the art was not always the best, but they taught the world that art in newspapers could be much more than depictions of current events. From there many artist have found there own. In the 20 to 50’s the art of newspaper comics was incredible and deep, truly a craft that showed that the creators cared about what they were creating. Bill Watterson and a few others tried to bring it back in the late 80’s and 90’s.
So where are the Bill Wattersons of today? I don’t know, but they are out there and they are starting to make a say in how web comics can be correctly done.
What makes web comics successful is the willingness of what the creator is willing to put into it. Like the cartoons of print, most comics creators (who update daily) are not willing to put the time in to make it work. The I want it now success stories are nothing more than delusions. Watterson, Breathed, Walker and many more newspaper comics spent many years just finding ways to build their audience and even then it still took many years before their strips became famous.
Web Comics, even though they are digital media, have the same problem. An audience needs to be built and patience on the part of the creator to let the strip grow. Honestly to expect success overnight is foolish, yet success can happen if and only if you are willing to stick out and be consistent in your updates. (If you don’t update you kill your story, so if you want to make this work you gotta put the time in to do it.)
Art- This is huge for me. If the art is substandard or shotty, I do not stay. If the art is well developed I hang out a bit and look at the next thing which is writing (more on that in a minute). Take time to learn your craft. Put the effort in to improve your art. The best webcomics out there have strong art and strong writing. Learn how to draw backgrounds, environments to add to your basic character head shots. Change camera angles and work on texture. Color is good, but there are some strong b/w out there as well.
Writing, is just as important. The deeper the story, the better thought out gags, the more likely one sticks around. If the story is too diluted with bad character interaction and trying to hard to shock readers, I for one loose interest really quick.
Know your audience or figure out who they are. You want your story to be big, make it accessible to everyone, meaning parents who read your tale will more than likely let their kids see it, if you keep it pg- that way you get a whole other generation and kids have a lot of power over what adults choose to look at.
Take time in developing your site as well. Make the presentation good. There are a wide variety of comic hosting programs. Take time to make the graphics strong and clean, make your navigation easy. It’s not the fans that will kill your comic, you will, especially if the presentation is pretty bad.
So improve your art and writing, be consistent in your updates, learn who your audience is, be willing to be patient and now it is time to work with others who are like minded. There are several other creators that understand this principle, many of them are linked in my links section. You will be amazed on how good their work is and that they tend to follow the similar belief that the bar of webcomics NEEDS TO BE RAISED to be taken seriously or else they will always be the same mentality about them and that is that the artist or writer just couldn’t make it in the professional world and so they came to the web to peddle. Honestly don’t be afraid to give love to those stories besides that deserve it, others will give love back to you. People that read webcomics read more than just one, so I make sure they can find the stories I like, and they will also know the stories I like are set to a pretty high standard.
I am a pro. I am here to help raise the bar, set the standard a little higher and yes still make it possible to support my hobbies through webcomics. You see by willing to show the world my story for FREE, I broaden my audience, who in turn support me by buying the trades or comics when they come out. Print and web go hand in hand. Don’t be afraid to publish your stories even if they are online. They are online to help your world grow so reward those that read with printed material and now with paypervisit websites. If you use the web for your stories correctly and smartly you will find your stories will hit large groups of people who will enjoy your work as many of us enjoyed the work of the great newspaper strips along.
Also do not be afraid to chat with those that support you. Talk to them! The web offers a new dimension that newspaper strips could not do and that is interaction with creators. So if creators need to spend a little more time talking to those that support them, those that support them are more inclined to tell someone else, which only makes your readership grow.
Yet if the bar is to be raised, we need a few more strong comics in the mix. A few more willing to step up their craft and find away to blend strong writing, strong art and consistent storytelling. Yet as it gets harder to get distributed through diamond and others I see more and more good story tellers coming to the web and turning webcomics into the newspaper comics of the 21st century.
If you noticed I chose not to name any webcomics here, but newspaper artist instead. I did this for a reason, the correlation between newspaper stip and webcomic are very similar, your dealing with a daily audience that expects you to put something out on a regular basis, and like I said only you will kill your comic.
So if webcomics are going story the bar must be raised by the creators themselves and we just have to want it bad enough to make it happen. I have no intentions of stopping the bean….I hope those creators of other great comics feel the same. Yet the fans need to let them know they are doing job, buy their books and help support and only then will webcomics get the respect they deserve.
Motmaitre » 23 Oct 2011 »
Your art is fantastic.
Agree with your basic premise that quality is crucial. However, i think your perspective of what is a good comic is a little narrow. For example, who says excellent comics must be family-friendly, as you suggest? One of the great things about webcomics is they circumvent the restrictions of traditional webcomics. There are excellent webcomics with adult themes and content- for example, Oglaf.
Also, webcomics allow experimentation with different artistic styles that would not be accepted as mainstream. The creativity is what makes them special. For example, you mention drawing backgrounds as essential. However in my webcomic, I deliberately draw no backgrounds, to achieve a minimalist style that emphasises only the characters.