Webcomics (also known as online comics or Internet comics) are comics published on a website. While many are published exclusively on the web, others are also published in magazines, newspapers or in books.
Webcomics can be compared to self-published print comics in that almost anyone can create their own webcomic and publish it. In January 2007, there were an estimated 38,000 webcomics being published.1 Webcomics range from traditional comic strips and graphic novels to avante garde comics, and cover many genres, styles and subjects.2 Only a select few are financially successful.3
There are several differences between webcomics and print comics. With webcomics the restrictions of the traditional newspapers or magazines can be lifted, allowing artists and writers to take advantage of the web's unique capabilities.
The freedom webcomics provide allows artists to work in nontraditional styles. Clip art or photo comics (also known as fumetti) are types of webcomics that do not use traditional artwork. A Softer World, for example, is made by overlaying photographs with strips of typewriter-style text.4 As in the constrained comics tradition, a few webcomics, such as Dinosaur Comics by Ryan North, are created with most strips having art copied exactly from one (or a handful of) template comics and only the text changing.5 Pixel art, such as that created by Richard Stevens of Diesel Sweeties, is similar to that of sprite comics but instead uses low-resolution images created by the artist himself.6
Webcomics that are independently published are not subject to the content restrictions of book publishers or newspaper syndicates, enjoying an artistic freedom similar to underground and alternative comics. Some webcomics stretch the boundaries of taste, taking advantage of the fact that internet censorship is virtually nonexistent in countries like the United States.2 The content of webcomics can still cause problems, such as Leisure Town artist Tristan Farnon's legal trouble after creating a homoerotic Dilbert parody,7 or the Catholic League's protest of artist Eric Monster Millikin's "blasphemous treatment of Jesus."8
Scott McCloud, one of the first advocates of webcomics, has pioneered the idea of the infinite canvas where, rather than being confined to normal print dimensions, artists are free to spread out in any direction indefinitely with their comics.910 Other webcomics, such as Charley Parker's Argon Zark! or the work of political cartoonist Mark Fiore, incorporate animations or even interactive elements into their comics.3
However, the format and style of many, if not most, webcomics is still similar to that of traditional newspaper comic strips like Peanuts consisting of three or four panels. Similar to comic books, manga and graphic novels, other webcomics come in a page form rather than a strip form and tend to focus more on story than gags. Webcomic creators often publish print collections when their archive consists of a significant number of strips; artists who create webcomics in nonstandard formats may experience difficulties to come up with an adequate page layout.
The first online comic was Eric Millikin's Witches and Stitches, an unauthorized Wizard of Oz parody comic which was published on CompuServe in 1985.1112 It was followed by T.H.E. Fox, a furry comic strip by Joe Ekaitis which was published on CompuServe and Quantum Link in 1986.13
Other online comics followed in the early '90s. Hans Bjordahl's college-themed comic strip Where the Buffalo Roam was published on FTP and usenet in 1991,14 and David Farley's single-panel gag cartoon Doctor Fun was published on the web in September 1993.15 Stafford Huyler's stick figure comic NetBoy began publishing on the web in the summer of 199416 and NetComics Weekly from Finnish Comics Society was started in mid-1994.17 Among the longest-running webcomics, some of which are still being published, are Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan (a Dutch comic that started in November 1994) The Polymer City Chronicles (March 1995),18 Art Comics Daily (March 1995), Argon Zark! (June 1995), Kevin and Kell (September 1995), Slow Wave (November 1995), and Eric Monster Millikin (Fall 1995). The term "webcomics" was used as early as April 1995.1920
The late 1990s saw the number of webcomics increase dramatically. In 1997, Goats appeared (in April), followed by Sluggy Freelance (in August), Roomies! (in September), Piled Higher and Deeper (in October), User Friendly (in November). The webcomics Pokey the Penguin, Penny Arcade and PvP began a year later, in 1998.
In March 1995, Bebe Williams launched the webcomics portal Art Comics Daily, an online gallery of several webcomics.
In July 2000, Austin Osueke launched eigoMANGA a web portal that published original online manga "webmanga". Within this year, eigoMANGA brought comic book industry attention to webcomics after being featured in many comic book web magazine articles and later appearing in the March 2001 issue of Wizard Magazine.
In 2001, the subscription webcomics site Cool Beans World was launched after a high profile publicity campaign including extensive print advertising. It won Internet Magazine's "Site of the Month" award in October 2001.23 Contributors included, amongst others, UK-based comic book creators Pat Mills, Simon Bisley, John Bolton and Kevin O'Neill, and the author Clive Barker.24 Serialised content included Scarlet Traces and Marshal Law.
In March 2001, Shannon Denton and Patrick Coyle launched Komikwerks.com serving free strips from comics and animation professionals. The site launched with 9 titles including Steve Conley's Astounding Space Thrills, Jason Kruse's The World of Quest and Bernie Wrightson’s The Nightmare Expeditions.
On March 2, 2002, Joey Manley founded Modern Tales, offering subscription-based webcomics.25 The Modern Tales spin-off serializer followed in October 2002, then came girlamatic and Graphic Smash in March and September 2003 respectively.
While comic strip syndicates had been present online since the mid-1990s, traditional comic book publishers, such as Marvel Comics and Slave Labour Graphics, did not begin making serious digital efforts until 2006 and 2007.27 DC Comics launched its web comic imprint, Zuda Comics in October 2007.28 The site featured user submitted comics in a competition for a professional contract to produce web comics. In July 2010, it was announced that DC was closing down Zuda.29
In 2011, inkOUTBREAK was launched by artist Brian King. A relatively new addition to the scene by comparison, inkOUTBREAK is a webcomic aggregator that helps readers discover new comics and keep track of any updates to their favorite comics since their last visit.
A growing number artists make a full-time living from their businesses and intellectual property, among them Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade,30 Pete Abrams of Sluggy Freelance, and Randall Munroe of xkcd.31 Comics online can generate revenue from many sources, including: advertising, original art sales, merchandising, print collections, subscription fees and reader donations. These methods are not dissimilar to avenues of income available to traditional artists.
Many webcomics artists have received honors for their work. In 2006, Gene Luen Yang's graphic novel American Born Chinese, originally published as a webcomic on Modern Tales, was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award.32 Don Hertzfeldt's animated film based on his webcomics, Everything Will Be OK, won the 2007 Sundance Film Festival Jury Award in Short Filmmaking, a prize rarely bestowed on an animated film.33
Many traditionally print-comics focused organizations have added award categories for comics published on the web. The Eagle Awards established a Favorite Web-based Comic category in 2000, and the Ignatz Awards followed the next year by introducing an Outstanding Online Comic category in 2001. After having nominated webcomics in several of their traditional print-comics categories, the Eisner Awards began awarding comics in the Best Digital Comic category in 2005. In 2006 the Harvey Awards established a Best Online Comics Work category, and in 2007 the Shuster Awards began an Outstanding Canadian Web Comic Creator Award. In 2012 the National Cartoonists Society gave their first Reuben Award for "On-line comic strips."34
Other awards focus exclusively on webcomics. The Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards3536 consist of a number of awards that have been handed out annually from 2001 to 2008. The Clickburg Webcomic Awards (also known as "the Clickies") has been handed out annually since 2005 at the Stripdagen Haarlem comic festival. The awards require the recipient to be active in the Benelux countries, with the exception of one international award.37
Some webcomics, such as Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet, Macanudo, Van Von Hunter38 and Diesel Sweeties39 have been syndicated and published on daily newspapers' comics pages. Others such as The Perry Bible Fellowship and PartiallyClips have been published in smaller alternative newspapers, or printed in magazines, such as The Order of the Stick in Dragon Magazine40 and Get Your War On in Rolling Stone.41
Several cartoonists like Phil and Kaja Foglio of Girl Genius have stopped publishing traditional comic books and instead serialise their content as a webcomic to reach a larger audience. Often, the webcomic is later published in the form of trade paperback collections.42
In August 2000, Scott McCloud's Reinventing Comics, half of which consisted of a treatise on webcomics, was published. Though sometimes controversial, McCloud was one of the first advocates of digital comics and remains an influential figure in the webcomics field. His theories have sometimes led to debates about where webcomics should go and what, precisely, they are. McCloud's early advocacy of micropayments has also been a source of debate.4344
In June 2006, Universal Press Syndicate editorial cartoonist Ted Rall focused on webcomics for the third volume of the Attitude: The New Subversive Cartoonists series, and included comics such as The Perry Bible Fellowship, Cat and Girl, and A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible.45
In 2008, Brad Guigar, Dave Kellett, Scott Kurtz, and Kris Straub released How to Make Webcomics, published by Image Comics. The book covered many practical matters of making money through webcomics, including website design, publishing, and merchandising.46
In 2012, Kevin Jackal Johnston released Demon Dog & Retro Rat, published by Jackal Comics. The book is offered online, digitally and in print.
Comics in short and long form have also been published online in languages other than English. For example, in 2000 Joscha Sauer started the German-only nichtlustig.de (translation: not funny) and published a free daily black-humour cartoon. His work quickly became well known in Germany and gave him confidence to keep submitting to publishers until Carlsen Verlag offered him a contract in 2003. From then on he published his comics in an annual book, sales of which comprise his income.4748
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|Look up webcomic in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Manley, Joey (January 3, 2007). "The Number of Webcomics in the World". ComicSpace Blog. Retrieved 2009-11-28.
- Lacy, Steven (November 21, 2007). "Webcomics are profane, explicit, humorous — and influencing trends". Charleston City Paper. Noel Mermer. Retrieved 2009-11-28.
- Rall, Ted (2006). Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists. New York: Nantier Beall Minoustchine Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 1-56163-465-4.
- Arrant, Chris (April 25, 2006). "It's A Softer World After All". Publisher's Weekly. Reed Elsevier. Retrieved 2009-11-28.dead link
- Rall, Ted (2006). Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists. New York: Nantier Beall Minoustchine Publishing. pp. 115–121. ISBN 1-56163-465-4.
- Hodges, Michael H. (January 8, 2007). "Diesel Sweeties tackles nuts, bolts of love". The Detroit News (Detroit: Jonathan Wolman). p. 1E.
- Crane, Jordan (April 2001). "A Silly Little Coat Hanger for Fart Jokes: Talkin' Comics with Leisuretown.com's Tristan A Farnon". The Comics Journal (232): 80–89.
- "Michigan State President Acts Presidential". Catalyst Journal of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. November 2000. Retrieved 2009-11-28.
- McCloud, Scott (2000). Reinventing Comics. New York: Paradox Press. pp. 200–233. ISBN 0-06-095350-0.
- McCloud, Scott (July 2001). "McCloud in Stable Condition Following Review, Groth Still at Large". The Comics Journal (235): 70–79.
- "Webcomic ". PC Magazine, Ziff Davis, Inc.
- Stratton, Erik. "A Brief History of Webcomics". The Rutgers Review, Vol. 40, Issue 1, Page 15
- "T.H.E.-FOX.TXT". The Commodore 64/128 RoundTable on GEnie. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
- Bordahl, Hans. "Where the Buffalo Roam -- First Comic on the Internet". ShadowCulture. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
- (December 17, 2000). "Readers know how to find "Fun"". Chapel Hill Herald Pg. 9
- Silverman, Dwight . (August 24, 1994). "Cybertoons: Comic artists find an instant audience on the Internet". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Pg. 5C
- "What's New With NCSA Mosaic and the WWW (June, 1994)". Retrieved 2006-11-03.
- "Dr. Otto's Do-It-Yourself Bomb Disposal". Game Zero magazine. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
- "rec.arts.comics.strips (April, 1995)". Retrieved 2010-05-14.
- "What's New With NCSA Mosaic and the WWW (July, 1995)". Retrieved 2010-05-14.
- Yim, Roger. (April 2, 2001). "DOT-COMICS: Online cartoons skip traditional syndication and draw loyal fans on the Internet". San Francisco Chronicle. Pg. D1
- Newman, Heather. (February 2, 2001). "See You In The Funny Pixels Michigan Cartoonists Draw On Web Sites To Find Readers". Detroit Free Press. Pg. 1H
- Rogers, Jean. "Comics and New Media". Retrieved 2007-03-15.
- Martin, Jessica. "Cool Beans or Dead Beans: can the comic barons cross onto the web?". Archived from the original on October 18, 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
- Ho, Patricia Jiayi (July 8, 2003). "Online comic artists don't have to play panel games". Alameda Times-Star (Alameda, CA)
- Walker, Leslie (June 16, 2005). "Comics Looking to Spread A Little Laughter on the Web". The Washington Post, p. D1.
- Soponis, Trevor. "Publishers Look to Digital Comics". Publishers' Weekly. Retrieved 2007-05-02.dead link
- "PERAZZA ON THE LAUNCH OF ZUDACOMICS.COM".
- Perazza, Ron (July 1, 2010). "The Future of Zuda". The Bleed. DC Comics.com. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
- xkcd - A webcomic
- Bosman, Julie. (October 12, 2006). "National Book Award Finalists Chosen". The New York Times, Pg. E2
- De Benedetti, Chris. "Bay Area films keep it real at Sundance festival". Oakland Tribune. Retrieved 2007-01-16.dead link
- Boxer, Sarah (August 17, 2005). "Comics Escape a Paper Box, and Electronic Questions Pop Out". New York Times.
- "Attack of the Show". G4TechTV. Aired August 12, 2005.
- Mirk, Jeroen. "comicbase.nl's blog". Comixpedia. Archived from the original on June 15, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-31.
- Memmott, Carol (December 29, 2005). "Comics pages make room for manga; Newspapers target the young". USA Today, Pg. 1D.
- Astor, Dave (January 2, 2007). "'Lio' and 'Pearls' Among Comics Replacing Daily 'FoxTrot'". editorandpublisher.com
- Paizo Publishing Creates Strategic Alliance with The Order of the Stick creator Rich Burlew, Paizo.com, September 30, 2005. Retrieved on November 10, 2007
- Balog, Kathy, et al. (September 9, 2004). "Our critics' top picks". USA TODAY, Pg. 6D
- MacDonald, Heidi. "Webcomics: Page Clickers to Page Turners". Publisher's Weekly.
- McCloud, Scott. "Misunderstanding Micropayments". Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- Hammersley, Ben (August 7, 2003). "Making the web pay". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- Rall, Ted (2006). Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists, New York: Nantier, Beall, Minoustchine. ISBN 1-56163-465-4.
- Guigar, Kellett, Kurtz, and Straub. How to Make Webcomics, Berkeley, CA: Image Comics. ISBN 1-58240-870-X.
- Acid (2005-07-25). "Der Ignorabimus-Blog » "NICHTLUSTIG bin ich!"" (in German). Retrieved 2008-12-21. "kann ich nun endlich auch von NICHTLUSTIG leben" (quote translation: at last I can now live from NICHTLUSTIG)
- Maqz (2008-08-12). "Joscha Sauer: NichtLustig 4 :: Comic Radio Show :: Comics erfrischend subjektiv!" (in German). comicradioshow.com. Archived from the original
|url=(help) on 2008-12-21. Retrieved 2008-12-21. "einer der wenigen Comiczeichner vom Bücherverkauf leben kann" (quote translation: one of the few comic artists that can live off book sales)
- Yanapax - The Open Source Comic Book Viewer. "comicbook.yanapax.com", This comic book viewer is designed to work seamlessly on any current browser and mobile tablet platforms.
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