The webcomics blog about webcomics

I Wish To Apologize In Advance

It started innocently enough, with Paul Southworth musing on Twitter about a movie trailer, like you do:

Why does the old man say “I can make you mortal” in the Wolverine trailer? Wolverine isn’t immortal. He can/will die eventually, right?

If you detonated a warhead in his colon or waited 5,000 years, I feel like Wolverine would probably be dead.

Wolverine healing himself together after being torn in half? Awesome. Reassembling himself from scattered atoms? We have crossed a line.

‘Nother day, ‘nother set of opinions on comics, but then somebody¹ had to go and blow it all straight to Hades. See, the only two things I really remember from high school biology class (which I never did very well with) are genetics (it’s got math! and something resembling certainty!) and the paramecium (the “white mice” of single-cell life). Certain species of paramecia would, if cut in two, completely regenerate into two whole little critters; the parallels were obvious:

If you tear him in half, do you end up with two Wolverines?

As was the cost of such speculation:

@fleenguy You, my friend, have just written the next 7 months of Wolverine. Congratulations!

So, yeah, sorry about that. Marvel’s gonna have to come up with some new adjective to pre-pend to the many, many Wolverine comics and it’s all my fault. On the bright side, maybe Jim Zub can borrow whatever that new adjective might be, seeing as how Zub loves him some adjectives.

Yeah, okay, you got me — while the above exchange did take place spontaneously, I’m really just bringing it up because it’s a good reason to talk about the enlightening Mr Zub again, especially as he’s recently written the first installment of a multi-part series on effective communication as part of his ongoing habit of sharing the hard-learned lessons in a decade of making indy comics. The paragraph I keep coming back to is:

This may seem like an odd topic for a tutorial but, believe me, it’s just as important as anything else I’ve covered so far. The quality of your communication and how you’re perceived as a communicator has a direct correlation to how you’re treated as a professional.

Boy-howdy, I’m glad that Zub said it², because there are people in the [web]comics world that desperately need this lesson.³ Guys, if you are your brand, how you communicate “you” is important; your personality, your POV, your humor can all help to build that brand. But if you’re building something with its own identity, something professional, you have to switch those parts of “you” off that don’t convey professional in your public pronouncements.

You may get great mileage out of lolspeak or edgy humor, but as soon as the conversation shifts from you-personally to you-the-person-that-is-negotiating-contracts-proposals-and-money, you need to be somebody else. Somebody entirely professional, probably a bit boring, and relentlessly correct in your spelling and syntax.

Even if you can pull off the trick of shifting voice, anybody that looks you up and finds the other voice on the same venue (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, whatever) is going to suffer from some degree of cognitive whiplash, with the likeliest outcome being that the people that want to see “regular you” don’t notice the difference but the people that need to see “professional you” don’t get the impression you’re trying to make. Consider it the work equivalent of accidentally sending naughty pics to your Mom.

If you’ve ever found it useful to have different email addresses for personal use versus business use, it’s probably time to make the same decision for your social media interactions. Just remember which account you’re logged into, okay? I know what a pain it is to find one social media client that you can be comfortable with, but if you need that division of message, you’d be better off finding different clients for different accounts to lessen the chances of spillover.

¹ Hi.

² And said it better than I ever could have.

³ No names, so you can assume I’m talking about the person sitting next to you.

I’m not a webcomic artist, but I find the idea that all webcomic artists (or any artists) would have to present themselves as a brand infinitely depressing. But maybe I find it especially depressing for web artists because, that’s why they’re on the internet, right? Isn’t that what they’re escaping? Does everyone need to partner with Wizards of the Coast or whatever? This isn’t even necessarily what you said. Just, you know, infinitely sad over here.

@Andre–only people who are trying to do it as a business really have to do that, not all webcomic artists. If you’re just making webcomics for fun and showing them to your friends as a way to relax, of course you don’t have to present yourself as a brand. But if you want to make money at it, you have to treat it like a business. And if you’re giving things away for free, you have to build a brand if you’re ever going to make money off of it. People don’t buy webcomics t-shirts because the t-shirts themselves are fashionable or amazing. They buy them because they’re Artifacts of the brand that the artist has developed, and people like owning Artifacts of things they’re fond of. And the artist is necessarily the Face of that Brand. There’s really no reason to be depressed over it.

Hi, Danny. I understand why webcomics operate under this model–to an extent (does Gurewich have a brand? Does Onstad?)–but I disagree with it existentially. Basically, it depresses me that human artistic entities should have to flatten their personalities or presence in order to obtain a corporate clientele. Why is everyone so eager to brand themselves? I guess if you want to make a living, that’s certainly one way to do it, and there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that. I just find it personally distressing, and–hysterically, maybe–imagine wave after wave of cartoonists subtly self-censoring themselves in order to, basically, recreate the early-nineties comics page online. But I mean, possibly I just have to look at, say, KC Green’s Tumblr to rid myself of that notion.

There’s a fairly new webcomic by M.C.A. Hogarth about “art, business and their mad intersection” (that grew out of illustrations she wrote for business columns) and it really hits the target: “The Three Jaguars” at

Andre, I think you might be taking too broad a view on it. There’s the business of art and then there’s the business of business–if you’re in “artist mode” and interacting with the fans of your comic, you are you (or you are, at least, the you that people are seeing through the art you create). But I think it’s appropriate adopt a different demanor when doing the nuts and bolts of running your business… if you’re trying to talk to a potential distributor, or dealing with someone you’ve hired to create a book, or even dealing with other artists on a professional level (on a collaboration, or something like that). I doubt Matthew Inman is being “The Oatmeal Guy” when he’s dealing with the non-profit involved in building the Nikola Tesla museum.

I’ll tell you flat out I’m not being the online me when I’m talking to my bank or getting my taxes done–I’m adopting a demeanor that will convince the banker or the tax person to do the best job for me that he or she can, with the least amount of hassle, because the last thing I want to do to someone responsible for helping me manage my finances is give them a reason to associate me with them having a bad day. Similarly, when I’m talking to someone associated with a company who sells something of mine (Amazon, B&N, Createspace, etc.) I am not the guy who spends his time mocking customer support employees, because I want them to help me solve whatever problem led me to call them in the first place.

(I do sometimes take notes, though. Never let good material go to waste and all that.)

Of course, if you’re Scott Kurtz, you don’t need to worry about any of this.

Also, you have an actual Twitter account I can refer to? I thought I couldn’t find one before!

If that’s directed towards me, Morgan, you can find me on Twitter @fleenguy.

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