Hi, my name is Jules, and I like webcomics.
The example above is why, while I like Photoshop and all, I endlessly prefer reading comics to doing things like editing clipart in an attempt to make them myself. Anyway, I’m going to be starting a regular blog section here on Beta Fish about webcomics – my favorites, why I like them, why you should like them, and the lot. I’ll be calling it Webcomics Anonymous until I come up with a better title, which will hopefully be soon!
I was first introduced to webcomics in around 2005, when the reader input section of Muse magazine featured a selection of readers’ favorite websites and a link called “fantasycomic.com” caught my interest. That link led me to Chasing the Sunset and from there I never looked back. Close to a decade later, I think I read comics very differently than I did when I was eleven, but I still have a love and appreciation for webcomics that has never lost that initial wonder of “This is art, this is free, and THERE WILL ALWAYS BE MORE OF IT HOORAY!”
Webcomics are interesting for me purely as a concept as well as something to read and enjoy. The comic as an interaction between visual art and written narrative has fascinated authors, artists and readers alike from the time that storyline-based print comics first became popular in newspapers in the mid-1800s. Is the comic art? Is it storytelling? Is it both? There are so many possibilities in the world of comics and the internet only expands those possibilies. The format of web pages allows for a lot of variation in the format of webcomics, in everything from double-page spreads to interactive Flash or partially-animated comics to comics too large to be viewed in one screen and meant to be experienced in pieces. Webcomics have fewer limitations than print comics in terms of artistic experimentation, wordiness, and audience appeal as well, because the free exchange of the internet means they don’t have to worry about making things “right” or “good” or “perfect” in order to sell their products to publishers and to audiences.
Of course, there are those who choose comics as their profession. Successful professional webcomic artists like Randall Munroe, the writer of xkcd, the comic above, make their money solely from drawing and making comics. But as anyone who makes art for a living will tell you, it’s not an easy job. I’ve donated money to artists trying to make the first print run of their comic and gotten the happy announcement two years later that they’re now drawing full-time; I also follow several artists who sell their comics in print but also work as baristas, corporate slaves, and other jobs in order to be able to draw their comic(s) and keep them online. But though the freedom of the internet means it’s more difficult for artists to make money, it also means that many beginning artists can get free or relatively cheap web hosting, a ready readership more than willing to critique their work, and a chance to explore their own styles without committing to publishing with an established company.
If you want to learn more about webcomics, the Wikipedia article has some fascinating facts about the history of webcomics, the different styles artists use, the awards that artists and comics can win, and much more. I’m not going to talk about that. What I want to share with you are some of my favorite webcomics, how I found them, what they’re about and why I love them. The last, especially – the thing that truly brings me back, time after time, rereading and checking for updates every week or every day, is that while some of my favorite comics have been completed for years, others may never come to an end. Because the beauty of any world of fiction, but especially the mobile, changeable, endlessly manipulable world of comics, is that there is always another story to tell.
If you are also a webcomic fan, what are some of your favorite comics and why? Would you like to recommend any to other readers?