The webcomics blog about webcomics

At Least Digger Is Now A Nearly-Complete Story

I have a dilemma — perhaps even it could be called a Circumstance — involving too many books. Dave Kellett has just announced his eighth sequential collection of Sheldon; I recently obtained the sixth Schlock Mercenary book. Like Kellett Howard Tayler adds to his Well of Strips for Publication at a rate of hundreds per year; Danielle Corsetto, whose fifth Girls With Slingshots collection is now on order. Questionable Content only has one book, but Jeph Jacques will be releasing more than one a year until he’s caught up, which will be in a half-dozen books or so (god help me if Randy Milholland ever starts releasing his Something*Positive backlog in book form).

It used to be that a dedicated reader of comic strips might collect books from one or two creators that were especially liked; at different times I collected volumes of Doonesbury, Foxtrot, Bloom County, and Calvin and Hobbes, and that was it — over the first 35 years of my life, only four strips merited book purchase. But now I have literally dozens, from creators who are far closer to the start of their careers than the end (the list above merely recounts the most recent must-adds), and that’s not counting even more creators whose work I enjoy, but I made the strategic decision to not purchase their collections.

Yeah, I know, first world problem, but I wonder if it’s a concern that any of these creators had considered. Fifteen or twenty years into their careers, are they going to run into fans that have actually run out of room for physical artifacts? I may be the canary in the coal mine with this one.

  • In other news, Otter always sends me the best stuff (cf: the Rifftrax/Axe Cop sighting two days back), best of all she doesn’t have a book out yet. Oh she will, and sooner than my bookshelves would appreciate (at this point, each new purchase pretty much necessitates the removal of an earlier purchase), but for today she is not contributing to the load-bearing test of my office/library’s floor.

    In any event, she pointed me towards an interesting piece on Why Conventions May Not Be A Good Idea For Creators by Tony DiGerolamo. It dovetails nicely with a discussion in a recent edition of the newly-resurgent Webcomics Weekly; as I recall, Kurtz, Guigar, and Straub took some heat for telling creators that jumping straight into conventions may not have the appeal that it once did. DiGerolamo’s logic approaches from a different direction that Kurtz et. al., but comes to a startlingly similar conclusion. Read and consider well.

  • Did everybody see the guest strip Rebecca Clements did for Octopus Pie today? Clements nailed Gran’s style from the first frame while still conceptually (and typographically) referencing Little Nemo in Slumberland and at the same time (perhaps unintentionally) invoking one of the finest pieces of Appalachian literature ever produced. If you should ever come across a short story called The Beard by Fred Chappell, remember that this is what is meant by an elegant sufficiency.
  • I’ll admit — I hadn’t heard of Namir Deiter by Isabel Marks before today, but her husband Terrence thought it worth mentioning that today marks Namir Deiter’s 2896th update, or 11th anniversary. And you know what? It is worth mentioning. I dedicate an unholy number of hours each week to this medium, and the fact that a nearly 3000-strip-deep webcomic has been going for more than a decade that I’d never come across exists has ceased to surprise me. I read a about 65 strips regularly, another 50 or 60 irregularly, and am probably familiar with a few hundred beyond that. Statisticians have yet to come up with a term to describe what a drop in the bucket those numbers represent.

Looks more like Rarebit Fiend than Little Nemo!

I have to admit I was always suprised at the support conventions have. Yes, I can see a huge name doing well at a San Fransico ectera but for everyone else? Travel is VERY expensive. By the time you dig out of a $1500 bill (and that’s not including the fee for the show, time spent preparing and set-up for your booth) it doesn’t take a great deal of math to realize you’d have to sell a metric ton of books to do well.

Now a local convention or one where your travel is paid makes much more sense.

You have to factor in the rarely mentioned element that it feels really, really nice to have people walk up and validate your passion. That’s a hard thing to pass up.

I love my hardcopies of webcomics, but I expect we will see more digital downloads of them, espcially for the drama ones. Load time with thesame speed as turning a page, permanent download of the content, maybe some behind the scenes content bundled with it, and you have content that you own but doesn’t take up your shelf space.

Gary, the solution is simple: Just keep buying Sheldon books to your grave. Best not to over-think that one.

Walter Benjamin (seminal german writer/critic of last century) wrote a really lovely essay about your dilemma as a collector of books.

“O bliss of the collector, bliss of the man of leisure!”

I must admit I’ve only bought one webcomic book, PVP’s first, and that was because I was interviewing Scott Kurtz in the distant times of two thousand and three. I do find myself drawn to buying digital fair now that my wife has purchased an Ipad. We’ll see…

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