The webcomics blog about webcomics

Warning: Thinky Piece Ahead

I have two brief stories to tell you, and they intersect in a way that’s been turning over in my head of late; time to get the ideas out where they can play in the sunshine.

I saw something at a comics show (no names, but it was a big one) that’s bugged me ever since — a pretty famous comic book illustrator (pencilling, covers, you name it) for the Big Two was showing/selling pages and originals from this comics work, and had a steady stream of fans wanting to talk about how great his work was and how much they loved it. He also had some art there from a side project — a webcomic, all his, not playing with characters that have been around for fifty or sixty years. Beautiful, personal, wonderful stuff … and the capes fans were having none of it.

He’d point it out, talk about how much he loved doing it, and the attention immediately went back to the splash panel of famous characters beating the crap out of each other. They were fans, absolutely, but it seemed they were fans of the book or the character, or the artist’s particular interpretation of the character. The disconnect between their interests and his was practically tangible.

POV shift: some years ago, I was flipping through a Free Comic Book Day issue of something or other, and on the inside back cover, there was a list of TV shows and movies, paired with comics. The idea being, if you knew somebody that didn’t read comics but liked a particular story, here is something they’d probably dig. It was an attempt to bridge the disconnect between non-comics-readers and the world of comics; IF YOU LIKE X, it said, TRY READING Y (and Y: The Last Man was one of the recommendations, for fans of Lost).

That bridging has happened a few times … Stephen King and Buffy fans have (respectively) buoyed sales of the Dark Tower adaptation and the Joss-approved “Season Eight” comics. But I keep coming back to that one artist who couldn’t bridge what should have been a much smaller gap — after all, the difference between comics and webcomics can’t be that great, can it?

I prefer to think at this time, it’s a matter of education. If a fan of JLA or The Avengers doesn’t know that there are webcomics they might enjoy, we can’t expect them to check them out. So I’ve been throwing around a mental list of IF YOU LIKE X and TRY READING Y, which I submit for your consideration and suggestions; it’s down below the cut.

Before you check out the list (and help me out, because there’s a whole lot of suggestions that I’d never come up with on my own), there’s a a quote I’d like to point you at, from the 3rd part of Shaenon Garrity‘s Ghibli trip report:

Now I’m back in the States, and my friends all want to know what Hayao Miyazaki was like. My friends are cartoonists, writers, artists, editors. They are amazing people. Not a single one has not been touched by Miyazaki’s films and comics. He is loved by top animators at Pixar. He is loved by struggling webcartoonists. There is such love in his work. It makes you see the joy of living, and the joy of making art, and that these two things are not so different. It makes you want to live and build.

Someday, yes, Miyazaki will die. And when that happens we will pick up our pencils and brushes and Wacom styluses and carry on his work. There is only one Miyazaki, just as there’s only one Totoro with the umbrella. But the sky is full of Totoros. All different.

Have a good weekend, and those of you in Freedomland, enjoy the holiday on Monday.

I’m not bothering with a table; the first item is a print comic, the second is a webcomic that I think has a similar sensibility and appeal. Here’s twenty to get you started.

Ambush Bug :: The Non-Adventures of Wonderella
Any crossovers involving Aliens or Predators :: Alien Loves Predator
Batman/Superman: World’s Funnest :: Dr McNinja
Blankets :: Anders Loves Maria
Blue Monday :: Questionable Content, Something*Positive
Box Office Poison :: Octopus Pie
Fables :: Family Man
Girl Genius :: Girl Genius
Iron Man (old school, with the rollerskates in the armor) :: Diesel Sweeties (trust me)
JLA (the Giffen-DeMatties run from the ’80s) :: Overcompensating
Owly (but you’re a bit older) :: The Abominable Charles Christoper
Sin City :: Sin Titulo
Star Wars: Tag & Bink :: Goats
Steven Colbert’s Tek Janson :: Starslip
Strangers In Paradise :: Achewood (yeah, I know, “weird” … but I think it works)
The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius :: Wigu
The Cartoon History of the Universe :: Hark! A Vagrant
Transmetroplitan :: Templar, AZ
True Story, Swear to God :: Girls With Slingshots
Usagi Yojimbo :: Digger (again, trust me)

Sandman :: Gunnerkrigg Court?
Sandman :: The Phoenix Requiem?

I think there should be many pairings for Sandman. Another one that should have many pairings is Calvin & Hobbes. Count your Sheep for instance.

Another one:
Any and all Sci-fi stories :: Legostar Galactica

Finder :: Finder, Dicebox
Bone :: Digger
that weird Warren Ellis necromancer story :: Necessary Monsters
The Tick :: Wonderella
readers who’ve outgrown Archie :: Penny & Aggie
Calvin & Hobbes fans who now have kids of their own :: Planet Saturday
Courtney Crumrin :; Agnes Quill
Shutterbug Follies :: Motel Art Improvement Series

Man if someone told me that Wonderella was like Ambush Bug, I’d never ever read Wonderella.

But here’s the thing, I don’t think there’s a huge struggle getting people who are into Box Office Poison or Transmet to look at webcomics.

The people you describe up top seem to be capes fans, they like the power fantasy, they like the over exposed blockbuster nature of that stuff. I don’t think there’s as much of an issue getting people who like story based/ independent comics to read webcomics. And the people who really love comics for the classic superheroes, probably won’t find much they like online. I don’t see the issues you do. I think webcomics is a great way to expand to different fanbases. We don’t need to go chasing after the mainstream comics fans because we have the power of the web to cater to a million different niches, like a Scott McCloud dream come true. There are romance fans and slice of life, (and yes a lot of gamers). It would be nice if mainstream comics fans found something they liked, but their lack of participation is far from a major problem in the webcomic-o-sphere.

Yeah:

It’s “similar subject matter” you’re looking for. I mean,

Teen Titans :: The Abominable Charles Christopher

would probably not appear on this list even though Karl Kerschl’s done them both. So maybe

Teen Titans :: Smithson
Teen Titans :: Magellan

to introduce the idea of webcomics to the “cape fan.” I’ve lately been offering folks

Harry Potter :: Gunnerkrigg Court

with some success, too.

Mike

blatant self promotion of the other great comics found at txcomics.com…

Dungeon or Groo or Amethyst (Princess of gemworld):The Princess Planet

EC Horror or anything of the Living Dead: Raising Hell

Buffy: The Port

Nemo in Slumberland: Kukuburi

Kissing Chaos: Kissing Chaos

You always need a backup if you’re recommending Achewood, because there are people (like me) who can’t stand it. I’d almost suggest Strangers In Paradise :: Scary Go Round.

Craig Thompson:Voids

Maybe?

[...] [Commentary] If you like X, try Y Link: Gary Tyrrell [...]

[...] of the former to something that has a similar tone or feel on the web. Or, in other words, “If you like X, try reading Y.” This Usagi Yojimbo fan is now subscribed to Digger as a result, and I plan to check out [...]

RSS feed for comments on this post.