Daily Archives: January 24, 2011

Incoherent rambling makes a “Best Of” comic critics list

Chris Mautner over at Robot 6 posted several of what he considered the Best Online Comics Criticism of 2010. While yours truly wasnot on this list (nor should I be, since I’m more of a “reviewer” than “critic”), there was one odd piece — not Top Five winner’s circle material, but one that Mautner voted for — about webcomics on The Savage Critics site entitled “Does Abhay Rambling Incoherently about Webcomics Sound Fun? Oh. Oh well. Whoops.” It was published around this time last year, January of 2010. A few meaty excerpts:

If you google “overstimulated“– the seventh link google finds, at the time of this essay, is for a webcomic.

The Webcomic List lists 15,075 comics at the time of this essay. That isn’t the total number of webcomics in existence; that’s just the number of webcomics that signed up for that particular website. So: more than 15,075. Maybe a little more, maybe significantly more– either way, more.

Scott McCloud on March 20, 2009: “I expect webcomics to continue to grow in number and importance to the comics scene in coming years. [...] I was saying that I expected it to be a decade or two before webcomics ‘slowed down’ — i.e., stopped growing.”

More and more and ever more.

How do you find the good one?

I wanted to write about the future. What does the future look like?

Takeaway: there are sure a lot of webcomics.

If you’ve never heard of either, can you tell me without looking which is available for free and which you have to pay for?

Answer: the previous page was free, on the internet; the latter page, Image Comics charged $3.50, for the pleasure.

How about art-comics? Here is a page of comic I strongly disliked recently, Danica Novgorodoff’s SLOW STORM. That one costs about $18.00.

Takeaway: if you’re going to be disappointed, tis better to be disappointed for free.

If the future is digital comics, if the future is webcomics: how do people expect to cope with the deluge of material? How is anyone expected to find what they consider signal in that noise? Surfing through webcomics, past Achewood, past Kate Beaton, past “respectability,” it’s hard for me to stop and pay attention to any one comic. There’s always some other comic to surf over to, you know? With that level of choice, how do you know when to stop and actually spend time on any one thing? How do you know there’s not something just a little better a couple clicks away?

How do you find what you like? How do you find a needle in a haystack? How do you find a cliche to type into an essay? You ask me for one because you know how much I love them. You’re welcome.

Webcomics, for me, are a prime example of the Paradox of Choice. The paradox of choice (which I think Jeff alluded to previously) describes how greater consumer choices invariably lead to greater consumer anxiety. Consumers with fewer choices buy more, are happier with their choices. But “consumer hyperchoice“? That usually leads to “frustration, fatigue and regret.” I know a lot of people are waiting for an iTunes for comics, but frustration, fatigue and regret? Dude, that sounds like a stone bummer.

I probably shouldn’t worry. There’s a lot of free music out there, and that hasn’t stopped iTunes. I’m not the guy to ask about that– between youtube and mp3 blogs, not counting concerts, I haven’t paid more than $10 in a year for music in more than a decade. But I guess somebody out there is…? The internet didn’t stop Lady Gaga. Neither did ears. Go figure.

You can say: “Oh, there should be critics who guide you to the good stuff. 95% of everything is shit, so we need critics to find that 5%.” Who can possibly wade through tens of thousands of comics in a meaningful way? With the number & range of webcomics both predicted only to increase, what will a “knowledgeable opinion” even look like?

If you believe that 95% of everything is shit, and only 5% is good-stuff, if you accept “Sturgeon’s Law”, at 15,000 comics? That means there should be about, oh, 750 great webcomics in existence. I would bet that I can name maybe … twenty…? And I like less than I can name.

Takeaway: only 5% of a sturgeon is edible.

I remember reading this piece way back when (there’s a link in there to a ComixTalk roundtable I participated in), but I didn’t put a up link to it… probably because it wasn’t under consideration for Best Online Comics Criticism yet. Anyway, check it out and see what webcomic criticism looks like through the eyes of someone who’s clearly Robo-trippin’.

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