As I said in my first post here, I used to be a serious comic collector. While I gave up collecting, and for the most part buying comic books, it doesn’t mean that I gave up an interest in comic art. One of the little “hints” you may have noticed is my blogroll. It’s a set of webcomics I read on a regular basis. Yes, I will eventually get around to adding in the “serious” sites, but those are the “fun” ones. The ones on the blogroll are just a small selection of my bookmarks, and that leads me into today’s post.
Web comics are comic strips or other comic art forms that are principally on the web. They range from ones that could (and sometimes do) run in your local newspaper to those that are esoteric or even pornographic. There are thousands of them, and more appear all the time. No matter what your taste – or lack thereof – there’s probably a webcomic out there for you. The good thing about them is that you can read the entire series, so if you’re coming in new, you’re not trying to figure out what is going on, or at least for long. Some have been around for a very long time, and there are some examples on my blogroll. Kevin & Kell is one of the oldest, having run daily since 1995. Not far behind it are Sluggy Freelance (1997), and Schlock Mercenary (2000). Others have cropped up, and made it onto my “favorites” list.
That said, there’s a down side to them. Unlike the comics in your daily newspaper, the webcomic creators frequently aren’t getting paid for it. The number of “really successful” ones, where they’re making a living doing it is at best in the low double digits. There’s another “successful” group where merchandise sales and advertising revenue are making them a modest second income from their efforts. The rest often barely cover their expenses, with maybe a little more here and there.
That’s an explanation for why the single largest folder in my “comics bookmarks” is the “Defunct” category. These are the ones which are no longer being produced. Some, a small number, were because the creators had a defined story to tell and had finished it. Atland is an example of one where the creators did what they wanted to, announced that they were wrapping it up, and moved on. Most though, stopped in mid-stream. Occasionally there’s an explanation, which is why there’s a “Hiatus” folder in my bookmarks, but more often without one. One day there’s a new comic, and then a gap …. which never ends.
Which is the major gripe I have. I’m disappointed when a comic I really liked is coming to an end, or that real life has intervened for the creators, preventing them from continuing. But I understand it. After all, I’m the guy whose blog production drops like a stone when his paying job gets into serious overtime, has had more than his share of writing blocks, and who decided to shut down a blog he’d been working on for three years and start a new one. So yes, I get that “stuff happens.” But what irritates me is when there’s no explanation. It’s not that hard to write a quick note saying “Sorry, this is ended,” so at least the readers know.
Overall though, webcomics are a great way to spend some spare time on the Internet. There’s a lot of really good ones out there, and I’ve whiled away more time than I probably should reading them. I do appreciate the effort the various artists and writers have put into them. So, what are your favorites?