Webcomics: Making comics a social medium

Webcomics are a wonderful thing.

I’m sure many many people agree with me, but I have my own personal story to share first.

I started reading webcomics around 2001 or 2002. One of the first webcomics I read was Blue Zombie and I started talking to its creators, especially the artist. He and I remained friends throughout the years, even collaborating on a short-lived webcomic named Silent Journey, and helping me publish my own pathetic attempts at webcomics before I realized I much preferred writing them. In 2008, he moved to Los Angeles and started a new webcomic called Lumia’s Kingdom. We started hanging out and, eventually, dating. Now we’ve been together 10 months and I never tire of telling people about how we met through webcomics. (I would swear that I’m not just trying to plug his work here, but I AM his biggest fan.)

Comics in general have been bringing people together for a very long time, when you think about it. Political cartoons have given the people a wide-spread way to voice their opinions on political and social issues. Back in the early days of yellow journalism, Little Nemo and The Katzenjammer Kids were such reader favorites that people still only read the paper for the funnies section. During the Golden Age of Comics (late 1930s to late 1940s,) comic books became a mainstream medium that started the culture of comic books that had kids and geeks obsessed over superheroes of all sorts.

Now, comic books have become cool again and entered the digital age. Webcomics are becoming an industry, one which even my boyfriend is beginning to look into in order to make money. Now, not only do my friends and I talk about our favorite comics, but our favorite webcomics and how much time we “waste” reading them. Webcomics are accesible, entertaining and able to bring people together.

The creators of webcomics use a wide variety of tools to bring in readers and help keep their current readers close to them. A large number of webcomic artists, at least the ones I read, use Twitter or have a blog I can follow. Only a few of them are at the level where they can support themselves with the webcomic’s income alone, but clearly they are able to do it.

Multiplex, a webcomic I’m currently following, recently started a donation drive to cover the printing costs of a book edition. Gordon McAlpin, the creator, navigated the process gracefully by offering some very nice incentives in order to get people to donate. When the project started, he was a little wary that it wouldn’t make his goal in time, but now he’s almost $3,000 over the original goal with 23 days to go. And get this: so far less than 250 people have donated over $10,000.

There are a number of other webcomics that do similar things, although most just have stores hawking t-shirts or advertisements on the site. Girls With Slingshots creator Danielle Corsetto used Twitter to get help from her readers and friends on design decisions for her new book releases. (She’s already onto publishing books 3 and 4 of her webcomic, so she already knows her readers will buy her books, unlike McAlpin.)

More importantly, it’s just fun to see what the artists are doing via Twitter and being there when they post the next day’s webcomic up. It makes them accessible in a way I would have never thought possible when I was 14 and just starting my obsession with comic books in general. Now, it’s like second nature to find and follow my favorite webcomic creators on Twitter. It gets me, the reader, much closer to the comic without the creators making much more content.

Webcomic Overlook’s Top Ten Webcomics of the Decade -A great place to get started reading some great webcomics that I haven’t mentioned here.

xkcd – A witty comics for intelligent nerds, which has a nice L.A. Times blog story written about its first book’s success.

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