Sean Kleefeld is naming names… webcomic names
If you haven’t read it yet, Sean Kleefeld over at MTV put together an excellent post regarding webcomic names and the importance upon hitting a memorable, unique title in the Digital Age.
I was at a conference a few months back, whose focus was on comic creators that were largely associated with the underground comix scene: Robert Crumb, Gary Panter, Carol Tyler and the like. Even the most contemporary creators (Daniel Clowes, Charles Burns, Seth, etc.) were still in that same vein. Not many folks there were very familiar with webcomics, other than a vague awareness that they existed. In introducing myself to one of the other attendees, a college professor, I noted that I write this column and, in the ensuing conversation, he asked for the websites of some of the webcomics I read. I can tell you that many of the ones I read did not get mentioned precisely because there wasn’t a handy way to tell him how to find them.
The problem, if you haven’t figured it out, is that making your webcomics’ name too generic means that it will be that much more difficult to get word out about it. Webcomics largely become well known by word of mouth (both in real life and virtually) and having a name and site that’s easily memorable, but also unique, is a big advantage. If I want to tell someone about Wapsi Square, if the name isn’t searchable enough, it’s easily located at WapsiSquare.com.
But the trick is striking a balance between original and memorable. Once you etch “xkcd” into your brain, it’s not difficult to recall, but because it’s a letter combination that never occurs, it’s challenging to get it to stick in your memory. A combination like “pqrs” is just as unpronounceable, but since it follows the same pattern that’s already in the alphabet, it’s easy to remember. It’s part of a larger pattern you already know. The same with Least I Could Do; it’s a familiar enough phrase that it’s already committed to your memory in some capacity. Because the “word” xkcd is unique apart from any language and doesn’t even have a phonetic pronunciation, readers have to commit four wholly unrelated random characters in a deliberate sequence to memory. Not an easy task, especially for casual readers.