The webcomics blog about webcomics

Terminology Alert: You Are Now Officially Web Com Artists

I kid, I kid. But surely I’m not the only one that thinks it’s just a matter of time before Kate Beaton becomes the subject of one of those Canadian Heritage minutes?

  • Because I happened to be reading his blog, and double-happened to find a link to his old blog, and triple-happened to find his post noting ten years as a web com artist was dated exactly one year ago — happy eleventh anniversary of web com artistry, Kris Straub.

    As long as we’re noting anniversaries, today would be the anniversary of the birth of one of the most talented, funniest, and all-around greatest web com artists, Meredith Gran. Want to know how to succeed in this business? Do like Meredith does and spend 40% of your life honing your craft before you leave your mid-20s. That ought to do it.

  • Readers of this page may know that I have great affection for the web com artisting of one Ms K Brooke “Otter” Spangler, creator of A Girl And Her Fed. She takes her time with her story, asks some pretty deep questions, isn’t afraid to revisit plot points from half-a-thousand updates previous, and easily takes the Most Improved Art award¹. But I wanted to mention something that she doesn’t get recognized for so often — her prose. Want to get a feel for how razor sharp her writing is? Check out her expose of how department store cosmetics counter reps deal with competition².

    People that write for comics don’t usually spend words as freely as they might like — the limited real estate afforded to speech balloons and fear of the dreaded Wall O’ Text Syndrome dictate economy as the general rule. As a result, most of them don’t really get the chance to stretch their verbal muscles too often, and thus might not be very skilled at it (a notable exception: Rob Balder, who has gotten a lot of practice with his Erfworld text updates, and is in the midst of a months-long page-at-a-time story; in print, Terry Moore used the technique to great effect in Strangers In Paradise).

    I’m mentioning this because Spangler was kind enough to send me a complementary copy of a new, brief, prose-dominant PDF of bonus stories, giving some color and definition to a pair of her minor characters (only seen in a handful pages in the past 10% or so of the story). The thing is, you don’t need to know very much about the (fairly complex) backstory of AGAHF³ to appreciate Issues (for that is its name) and what it reveals about Mare and Rachel (for they are the subjects).

    What you get is a compelling look at the insides of two characters that — had these short stories never been published — wouldn’t affect the overall narrative one whit. It’s an unnecessary set of words, unless you happen to like reading words that are especially well put together for no other reason than it gives you pleasure; in that case, it’s very necessary.

    With AGAHF merch appearing relatively infrequently (Spangler is just now getting to her first big-ticket items — a plush and a book), the majority of the income she’s made to compensate her for the expenses of the comic and time away from paying gigs has been from the sale of PDFs (there were two prior short comic stories, both also worth your time). If you like reading things, you could do far worse than to kick three (3) dollars (US) into the pot and pick up Issues.

    I think it’s great, but one might consider me to have a bias given how much I like Spangler’s work (and rumor has it that a certain hack web com artist pseudojournalist wrote the forward to her first book). Fortunately, as LeVar Burton always used to say, you don’t have to take my word for it — if you spring for the three bucks and utterly hate it, email me and I’ll split the cost with you4. I don’t think I’m going to be out much money.

¹ Second place: Jeph Jacques, who it turns out went to college with Spangler. Small world.

² My niece, who works a counter for a major cosmetics vendor, tells me that Spangler’s piece is 100% accurate in every way.

³ What you would need to know is that Mare and Rachel were agents in an experimental Federal program that involved untried technology and mental conditioning techniques that left the survivors damaged. There, all caught up. If you want the longer recap, it’s here.

4 I am sincere in this offer, and trust that anybody who makes a claim to me for a buck-fifty will likewise be sincere and able to articulate why they disliked it. Those obviously trying to cash in on the (very little) money will be mercilessly mocked, but will also get the $1.50; a deal’s a deal, and I have no desire to face the wheel.

It’s wonderful to see Ms. Beaton (and Cal Johnston) getting some attention from our national news, and good to see that my old college friend Todd Battis is still working in the business. I can only imagine what the story would have been like if they had left it with Bruce Frisko. :P

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