The webcomics blog about webcomics

Is This Post A Little Too Meta?

Lately I’ve been wondering about some of the less tangible elements of webcomics. I’ve thought a fair bit about how webcomics appear in different contexts; what happens, for example, when webcomics surface at academic conferences, in classrooms, as coloring books, or printed out and taped to your computer monitor (weird, maybe, but it happens) or your fridge. What happens when the webcomics you follow go on holiday or hiatus (for whatever reason, but having kids is a really good one–congrats, folks!) and so you get guest strips (over 18 on that last link please, though I know you’re all gonna click it now)—which I kind of adore—instead? I’ve been thinking about fair use and copyright, in part due to the idea of printing webcomics for later use (be that reading or for the classroom or whatever), and the relative advantages and disadvantages of publishing online and offline.

I had to laugh a little when someone recently described me as “old school� in my publishing tastes; he was right, of course, but it got me thinking about, basically, why do I like what I like in webcomics? What qualities, if any, do these works share with each other? Do they share those qualities with comics that I enjoy offline? (Shouldn’t they?)

Because while my enjoyment of these works isn’t solely due to the context in which I encounter them, or experiencing the works in question, or even hobnobbing, in the archaic verb sense, with the folks who create them (though, embarrassingly, I quite literally squealed with delight recently at seeing new pages of this work-in-progress) those things are each in their own ways a bit of a factor. If someone goes to the effort of putting a book in my hand, it’s way more likely I’m going to look at the website they’re promoting and spend some time, you know, reading it. It’s actually how I got into at least one of the webcomics I now follow (smart marketing, you!). But, in truth, since the only thing I’m losing is a little time, clicking on a link isn’t really all that difficult. It seems more to be A) what keeps me reading that day and B) what hooks me enough to click on it again and again (lather, rinse, repeat).

So, to this end I tried a little experiment this week.

If you look over to the right hand margin, there’s this list of links–called “A Good Start”–to a number of other established webcomics. It was there when I got here, and so I don’t know the criteria for inclusion nor did I need to for the purposes of the experiment. (And the point of this column isn’t to think about taking anything off of that list; we’re not Wik… those other guys.) At the risk of being too meta, I decided that since a fair number of these works weren’t familiar to me (I’d glossed over them figuring that since they were already here, they might not be ones I’d write about), I would look at each and every one of those links (caveat being I wouldn’t click on the ones with which I was already fairly familiar; i.e. had read a few or more webcomics of theirs) and see what happened.

At the end, I was weirdly surprised at finding that my webcomic reading responses in this case were basically identical to how I browse new comics in the shop. Usually I pick something up, look at the art style and the lettering, and, then, if I’m inclined I’ll read a few pages and see what I think. With this experiment, due in large part to the delivery method, that process happened significantly more quickly even though the process itself, in terms of the steps, wasn’t at all condensed. I wasn’t expecting to find that result, but I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised.

There were a few that I clicked on and they didn’t catch my eye, for whatever reason, and there were a few, like this one with very elaborate pages that were impressive because they stood out from the rest of the field. I also found myself really enjoying Patches by Kelly Vivanco. There was also, not surprisingly with summer coming and all, a lot of t-shirt browsing (which is a little dangerous). But, all in all, it was an interesting exercise to think about my own reading preferences, and it gave me some ideas for some future columns.

But keep the suggestions coming, please!

You’re right that the criterion doesn’t affect your experiment, but it’s not difficult to guess what it is: the blogroll contains whatever Gary feels like putting there. (And Jeff may have had something to do with a few of the entries.)

Suggestions sent to Gary for reorganizing it (my favorite: drop-down menus for the collectives) are met with remarks to the effect that only those who submit guest pieces are allowed to make suggestions.

Nonsense! Anyone can make a suggestion, all it requires is email access and a willingness to spout off.

I’m sure Gary meant that only those who submit guest pieces have a chance of those suggestions being *followed*, but due to my innate love of pedantry I must:


Hm… the site ate my awe-inspiring ASCII art show.

You must nit… what??? THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME




That’s it — I give up.


*head explodes*

Nits noted, nerds.

alliteration always alleviates apathy!

I don’t know about how most of the comics got there, but when I saw Sam and Fuzzy wasn’t included, I suggested it should be.

Bam! There it was.

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