Back in posting no. 62, “Comic Confusion,” I wondered about a webcomic approach to furthering my fledgling “Pause & Reflect Comics” series. To that end I followed up on a recommendation in Jessica Abel and Matt Madden’s Mastering Comics: read How to Make Webcomics, by Brad Guigar (a fellow Philadelphian), Dave Kellett, Scott Kurtz, and Kris Staub.
Abel and Madden note (in their 2012 book) that the book was published in 2008, and guess what? Things have changed in the world of webcomics! But for a total ignoramus like myself it seemed like a good place to start. It has some good tips on the craft and lots of tips on the business of webcomics.
As the quartet of authors note, until webcomics got off the ground the newspaper syndicates were the major gateway to comics publishing and success. The syndicates, if they decided to take you on, did all the marketing and handled all the business end. All you had to do was draw (and draw, and draw, and draw…) You had to provide content for every day of the week. Historically, you might not even retain the rights to your own characters, the syndicates owned you lock, stock, and barrel. Unless, you were so popular, like,Charles Schulz’s Peanuts or Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, it was unlikely you could get a contract where you actually controlled the rights to your own creation.
I have to hand it to these four cartoonists. They and others like them have managed to make a good living for themselves, publishing their comics on the web for free and deriving income from advertising and merchandizing. It’s unlikely any of them will become household names or multimillionaires like Schultz and Watterson, but I’m not sure I’d bet against them. They’ve got the craft and skills of syndicated comic strip artists and lots of business savvy.
Brad Guigar has also written a 2013 sequel to their original book, called The Webcomics Handbook. One of his ingenious revenue streams is Webcomics.com, a site about webcomics, for webcomic creators and wannabes. A subscription is $5/month. It includes a regular podcast called “Comic Lab,” (click link for the latest) which often involves some lively and good-natured banter between Guigar and Kellett as well as practical advice.
Scott Kurtz, has a widely read webcomic called PvP, (Player vs. Player) about an imaginary video game magazine. Kurtz has a few strips in the original How to Make Webcomics book that skewer “alternative” comics. One of the staff, Brent, the character with the shades, is described as a “pseudo-hipster.” Skull the Troll, is his imaginary friend and is trying to do a comic. Since this posting is more or less a review of the book, I think I’m entitled to reproduce a sample:
I don’t seriously take this as a blanket condemnation of all “art comics” creators. After all, it’s all in good fun, right? These guys have my admiration for their success in their realm. They have received well-deserved awards and they are doing their best to entertain their hard-won audiences.
I would bet, however, that none of these artists will be ever be featured in any of the Best American Comics or similar art comics anthologies (and I’m sure they don’t expect to).
“Untalented” alternative artists like Chris Ware, Lynda Barry, Daniel Clowes, Gary Panter, Seth, Chester Brown, Joe Sacco, the Hernandez brothers, Jim Woodring, and many, many others are producing work that addresses a much wider, crazier, and mysterious universe. Many are doing work that expands and invigorates the genre beyond anything previously attempted. I’m glad that our particular universe has room for all of these artists.
Now, back to the Bozobots. If you’ve ever been on a meditation retreat, there are usually opportunities to spend a few minutes talking with a teacher about your meditation practice, in what’s called an “interview.” The following page reflects, in only slightly exaggerated form, one of my first retreat interviews.
Next Time: Devas & Demons and a look at Paul Davies amazing book, The Goldilocks Enigma.
Multiverse Comics and Stories, 106 pages, full color, is available from Amazon in Kindle and hardcopy formats.
Asteroid Stu and the Mind-Duel, 54 pages, black and white interior, is also available in Kindle and hardcopy formats from Amazon. Both comics include Edzl, the Nebboid from the Vague Nebula, who will be the lead character in a running feature story, “Edzl’s Awakening: Or, Yes We Have Some Nibbanas.”