Why Do Webcomics: Quote of the Day

Dan Goldman is currently serializing his eventual graphic novel Red Light Properties at Tor.com.

(I haven’t read it because it uses some weird “click to add one panel at a time to the page” that either never loads or crashes my browser. But I admire the experimentation of forcing the reader to pay attention to each new element. Also, since I spent a half-decade working in the real estate field and ended up watching a noted, two-century-old firm collapse in bankruptcy as a result of the boom-and-bust, I very much look forward to reading this story when it’s on paper.)

CBR interviewed him about the project, during which he said this:

After coming off “08″ for a major book publisher, I got to watch something I’d worked on in relative silence for over a year bounce into stores, onto the front tables of Barnes & Nobles and promptly disappear forever in the span of about ten days. That was really sobering, and made me rethink how I wanted to approach my work going forward. I was really proud of the way “08″ turned out, but the dinosaur-think of our publisher and the speed at which they adapted to a quickly-changing publishing landscape really pissed me off; most of my friends still haven’t read it, and I’ve seen the book only at a few select comic shops. The whole reason I make comics is so people will read them, you know? It made me think back to working online and how strong and steady your readership can grow in that realm. Far more people read “Shooting War” online than ever purchased the book; you can romanticize the physical object all you like, but to me, it’s about transmitting a story around a massive digital campfire, and for that, you cannot beat publishing online.

That, in one story, sums up why so many creators find the web, even without immediate payment, valuable. It’s there as long as they keep it there, and anyone can find it.

Similar Posts: Navigating the Contemporary Publishing Landscape: An SPX Panel § SPX Programming Posted — Come See My Panel § *Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong — Recommended § Quote of the Day: Is Comics Financially Sustainable? § A Few More Notes on SPX 2011


8 Responses to “Why Do Webcomics: Quote of the Day”

  1. Alex de Campi Says:

    I had the same problem with RLP’s interface – I was able to read Chapter 1, but missed 2 due to being on a shoot. Came back, tried to go to P 17 (another annoying factor: no chapter markers/anchors) on three separate computers, crashes/hangs EVERY time.

    But yes, webcomics. The irony is the comics press (except for CBR) almost entirely refuses to review webcomics because they aren’t “actual comics”.

  2. Steve Curcuru Says:

    I loved the per-panel method, it’s something new that can’t really be done on paper and opens up possibilities of new storytelling techniques. As web devices becom cheaper and more pervasive, it will just make more sense to transmit stories rather than printing them. Looking forward to it!

  3. Scott Bieser Says:

    Well, the cat’s out of the bag now. I suppose pretty soon everyone and his kid sister will be doing webcomics.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Alex: Webcomics do provide unique problems in reviewing, though, for someone used to other formats. For instance: How much do you “need” to have read to comment on it, for instance? If the webcomic updates daily, how do you keep your review timely? I can see why someone might be unsure about jumping into the format when they’re more used to issues.

    Plus, there’s the question of whether webcomics, available for free, need reviewers as much as items for sale do.

  5. Alex de Campi Says:

    “Webcomics do provide unique problems in reviewing, though, for someone used to other formats”

    When someone suggests a new manga to you, which is already on volume 16, say, do you jump in at Volume 16? Or do you review it based on Volume 1? If a webcomic is an ongoing narrative with arcs, there is no reason you cannot treat it like a longer-form narrative series. Except, of course, it’s on the internet, and that seems to scare reviewers unduly.

    “there’s the question of whether webcomics, available for free, need reviewers as much as items for sale do”

    That implies that reviewing is purely a marketing service for sellers of goods eg publishers, rather than a way of helping readers discover materiel they might enjoy. I hope that is not the case!

    In some ways, webcomics have greater need of reviews as they do not have a publisher marketing them, just a hardworking cartoonist probably too tired at the end of the day to send out query emails.

  6. Johanna Says:

    Several of the webcomics I’ve tried to start don’t have clearly marked arcs, unfortunately. So then I have to guess at how far back to go, and as you’ve already mentioned, hope that they have a reasonably chaptered navigation system. (When someone suggests a manga at V16 to me, I usually ignore them, because I already have plenty to read and I’m not looking for any longer series. I’m more likely to try a webcomic. But I rarely see people recommending them, which I guess is the same problem we’re talking about.)

    And no, I wasn’t implying that reviewers are marketing services. But I think “you should avoid this $40 hardcover for this reason” is more of a service to a reader, who doesn’t have an easy, immediate way to sample the book, than “I didn’t like this webcomic, but go see for yourself what you think”.

    But you make a good point about webcomics needing more coverage, especially once you consider how many of them there are and thus how much chaff vs. wheat.

  7. New comic, new contest, and lots of commentary | Paperless Comics Says:

    [...] Draper Carlson quotes Dan Goldman at Comics Worth Reading and sparks a discussion on why creators choose to do [...]

  8. Prestwick Says:

    I’m a webcomic creator/writer/whatever and I work with a couple of superb artists from various parts of the world. I pay them a decent amount for the work that they do and the quality of the work they turn over is absolutely fantastic.

    But this is a wholly personal labour of love for me. I am realistic in saying that the chances of me making money from my comic where it would pay for itself are slim. I may make money from the release of books, wallpapers, premium content, etc but that will pale in scale of the cost of getting it created in the first place.

    So I do this as something I love. I wake up, check my stats and realise that hundreds of people a day read what I put there. Its an amazing feeling and something which makes the entire experience worthwhile.

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