Monthly Archives: September 2010
Well, it’s around that time again: time to take a break. First week of October is a pretty busy one for me in Real Life, so I’m going to take about two weeks off from blogging about webcomics.
In the meantime, post in the comments section a webcomic you think isn’t getting enough attention! I’ll put together a list of the suggestions, Warren Ellis style, when I get back.
So what’s the future of webcomics? Heidi MacDonald and Scott McCloud think that webcomics may need a little action in the back section, if ya know what I mean.
In other words: motion comics.
Scott McCloud, noted advocate for webcomics providing things that are impossible in print, commented at his blog:
Got two emails in the last few days with links to two new webcomics using navigation techniques that neatly sum up this interesting technological moment we’re in.
Turbo Defiant Kimecan by Mexican artist Ferran Daniel uses Flash to load one panel or element at a time. We’ve seen a few comics like it, but this one gets points for some pretty artwork. Curious to hear what people think of this sort of loading order, now that we’ve seen it a few times. (Maybe time to revisit this discussion?)
Meanwhile, along comes an HTML 5 comic, Never Mind the Bullets (cooked up by Steaw Web Design to show off Microsoft’s IE9). More proof-of-concept than anything else, but it’s kind of cool and got me thinking about how that layered effect could be used in other ways. (thanks again to Randy Oest for the tip).
Of course, the real shoot-out going on this year is between file formats, and with the recent back-and-forth in the mobile space over Flash and HTML 5, it’s helpful to have some concrete reminders of the very different creative directions each might take us in.
McCloud has been pointing to these kinds of formal explorations for a while; neither of the above succeeds as comics or interaction BUT they do present intriguing possibilities. Every technology gets its D.W. Griffith, and it’s just a matter of time before some kid latches onto what’s intuitive and informative about these possibilities.
In the comments, Swiss artist Michael Kühni links to his own experiments with Flash, which are far more successful.
There’s also Boi by Vincent Giard, which uses Flash to convey that hungover feeling–to good effect.
There’s also Dan Goldman’s recently concluded Red Light Properties, another Flash-based story which had several technical upgrades along the way.
Overall, we see an unevenly evolving picture, as individuals mess around and come up with novelty ideas, some charming, some…awkward. The two examples McCloud points to do suggest possibilities however — Never Mind The Bullets, while poorly drawn, suggests the ability to follow stories in a more spatial way (clicking to go into an environment) without going full-on animation.
Both acknowledge that the example have met with quite a bit of criticism. (McCloud: “I’m not endorsing either approach as “the future of comics” or anything. But it’s always interesting to see how many different reading models there are, and even failed attempts can sometimes contain useful ideas.”) This is only right, since Flash, especially the glacially loading variety from our pals at Zuda, is a bad word around these parts. But is this, perhaps, what we are to expect our webcomics to be in the decade to come? After all, just a decade ago, it was enough to have a screen filled with dancing bananas and MIDI files. Is it possible that these two examples represent the next level of sophistication?
If you’re Dorothy Gambrell of Cat & Girl (compete.com places the readership at a respectable 50K, which was up considerably from previous months), roughly $10,000 for six months ($20,000 for the year according to Sean Kleefeld.) That’s income only, and doesn’t count expenses.
From Brigid Alverson:
In one way, Gambrell is living the stereotype: Her biggest source of income in most months is T-shirt sales, although she sold a lot of books in August. Freelance work also gives her a boost. The bottom line: So far this year, she has taken in $10,087.56 from her comic, a respectable second income but not enough to live on. And that isn’t her net—she has yet to deduct taxes, PayPal fees, and other expenses.
Not enough to quit the day job. Here’s Wikipedia’s list, by the way, of “self-sufficient webcomics“, i.e. ones that the creator can live off of.
The sad news comes from Robot 6. DC Comics is doing some housecleaning… with an axe. Among the divisions getting the axe: the Wildstorm imprint, which was the home of comics like WildCATs, The Authority, StormWatch, and Gen13 (which comic diehards probably remember mostly under the Image banner); and, of course, former webcomic imprint, Zuda Comics, home to Harvey-winning comic High Moon, Eisner-nominated Bayou, Azure, Night Owls, Lily of the Valley, Black Cherry Bombshells, and LaMorte Sisters. No word yet on whether these titles will simply cease to exist or whether they will be folded into DC’s existing brands (like Vertigo).
UPDATE: Actually, it seams like The Beat is on top of this (as they always are; yeah, yeah, it was also mentioned in the Robot 6 piece but I totally missed the second link thanks to a lack of quotable quotes). From a note by co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio:
After this week, we will cease to publish new material under the ZUDA banner. The material that was to have been published as part of ZUDA this year will now be published under the DC banner. The official closing of ZUDA ends one chapter of DC’s digital history, but we will continue to find new ways to innovate with digital, incorporating much of the experience and knowledge that ZUDA brought into DC.
Whether the formerly Zuda titles can compete with the existing titles or not remains to be seen.
What’s killing these brands? Superheroes.
“These organizational changes reinforce the strengths of DC’s greatest legacies – most importantly its people and its creative talent – and offer greater opportunity for maximum growth, success and efficiency in the future,” said Nelson. “Our two offices will stretch and build their respective areas of focus, while prioritizing and aggressively striving to connect and cooperate more strongly than ever before between them and with their colleagues at Warner Bros.”
“This strategic business realignment allows us to fully integrate and expand the DC brand in feature films as well as across multiple distribution platforms of Warner Bros. and Time Warner,” said Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, to whom Nelson reports. “We are creating a seamless, cohesive unit that will bring even more great characters and content to consumers everywhere.”
In other words: “We totally missed the superhero movie gravy boat that Disney/Marvel have been riding on, and we need to get rid of all the distractions.”
Zuda already was functionally in the ground when it shut down online. Now it’s time to put the dirt on the coffin.
So what are webcomics? Well, the pat response (and one of my favorite lines from an old webcomic that has since disappeared from the net) is typically that “webcomics are comics … on the web!”
Except when they’re not.
Like the battle between Americans, Canadians, and the rest of the world over what or what not should be called “football,” the term “webcomics” has outgrown the original simple definition implied by the nature of it’s compound noun. So what’s a webcomic? It’s not as simple as it sounds. Webcomic readers have accepted that captioned photos and Venn Diagrams written on index cards can now be counted as webcomics. I Can Has Cheeseburger, on the other hand, is not. Where is the justice in the world?
Here are a few comic examples that often get thrown the red challenge flag for penalties against being a webcomic.
Read the rest of this entry