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The Rebirth of Comics 186

Malfourmed writes "The Sydney Morning Herald is running a story on web based comics and how the new medium can change the traditional "left-to-right in a rectangular frame" paradigm. Concentrating on the work of Scott McLoud it also mentions geek favourites Dilbert and The Matrix, among others. Micropayments are discussed, with the article claiming that after you pay your 25 cents "most of which goes straight to McCloud, cutting out the middlemen that make it difficult for comic artists to make a living from their work, and in the process doing justice to their talents." One of the more interesting sites discussed is the Oz Comics 24 Hour Gallery, the result of a competition in which artists had 24 hours to create an original, 24-page comic. So popular was the contest that the server suffered from a veritable slashdot effect."
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The Rebirth of Comics

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  • Hmmmm. No Sluggy? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dejaffa ( 12279 ) <> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @02:28PM (#6852107)
    No Sluggy Freelance reference. This story describes what it calls "specialized" comics, but Sluggy seems to have wider appeal than much of what they describe.
  • all for it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NetMagi ( 547135 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @02:29PM (#6852116)
    I'm all for ANY distribution method where the artists actually get a sizaeble sum of the profits. .
  • Misnomer? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by The Clockwork Troll ( 655321 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @02:29PM (#6852124) Journal
    How many widely read comic books are really comic these days?

    Wouldn't "dramatic" or "tragic" books be a more apt name?

  • Stan Lee (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Worminater ( 600129 ) <<worminater> <at> <>> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @02:31PM (#6852142)
    Does anyone remember the late

    Ah, such great expectations till it crashed:-p
  • Or if you're bored (Score:2, Interesting)

    by yoshi1013 ( 674815 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @02:35PM (#6852179) Homepage
    I agree that specialized comics are probably one of the best things about webcomics. Plus, since they're not controlled by someone in a suit (unless the artist wears a suit) and they can have content that you might never see in a newspaper. The site of the character in Penny Arcade banging his head against the wall drawing lots of blood comes to mind, or zapping the N-Gage pimp with a cattle prod or whatever that was. I made a webcomic 'cause I had nothing to do while unemployed and needed some type of cheap creative outlet.
  • Lest we forget? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TyrranzzX ( 617713 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @02:36PM (#6852194) Journal
  • by Cutriss ( 262920 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @02:37PM (#6852205) Homepage
    Concentrating on the work of Scott McLoud [] it also mentions geek favourites Dilbert and The Matrix, among others.

    Is this an unintentional spelling error of Scott's last name, or an intentional jab at what some people [] think of his ideals?
  • by Psychic Burrito ( 611532 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @02:39PM (#6852236)
    Interesting article [] about the same subject.

    Summary (from the site): Although micropayment is a great thing in principle, existing implementations contain big problems which block their success. This article analyzes these problems and proposes a new solution without them. The solution lacks most traditional spending features, but still preserves the "spirit of micropayment".

    Cheers! The Psychic Burrito
  • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @02:41PM (#6852248)

    Anyone familiar with the publishing of Web-based ads -- you know, banners? banners with standard sizes and pricing for levels of traffic? -- could tell you that Web publishing faces some of the same constraints traditional paper models do.

    Strips within Flash movies -- to use an example from the article -- just replace the four-panel, left-to-right constraint with another set of limitations. Have the right player? How big a monitor? Do sites that might want to syndicate your comic have a layout that'll accomodate your "infinite" canvas? Maybe we should agree on some standards to help people along... Sound familiar? Take a look at the flash-based ads you see around; they're a standard size, usually more or less square, so as to be set into a variety of text articles.

    I'm not convinced that a subscription service is the model that'll reach critical mass, either. A dedicated site of comics for $3 a month will reach solid fans, but it won't have the same broad appeal as the funnies in your paper. And there was already a specialty market for graphic novels, right? We're talking about freeing the popular, daily strip from the tyranny of four-boxes-in-a-row. To do that you'd want to get to a sort of syndication model: ISPs might allow their users' custom home/news pages to include a certain comic, something like that. Again, you're facing some standardization to make something like that work.

    It's a publishing thing, not just a magic Web thing.

  • by li99sh79 ( 678891 ) <(sam) (at) (> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @02:47PM (#6852318) Homepage Journal
    Also, I'd like to comment on Real Life Comics that it's cute, at times. Whenever the guy is completely obsessed with something painfully irrelevant to his readers and he continues to post shitty strips about it for weeks after, it's not cute. Really, I quit reading it after reading on and on for about three weeks about the guy whining about losing something irrelevant in a MMORPG and the fact he got a net girlfriend.

    If you were to ask me which webcomic was the stereotype for webcomics I would have to say RealLife Comics. And I mean that in all it's intedended good and bad. I mean how many other webcomics are exaggerated stories about the game-obsessed friends of the creative staff?


  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @02:51PM (#6852365)
    ... at a theater near you. []
  • The Devil's Panties! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by computersareevil ( 244846 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @02:53PM (#6852389)
    Think The Devil's Panties [], which is probably one of the most creative comics I've ever seen. Always funny. Usually twisted. %-)
  • by cant_get_a_good_nick ( 172131 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @03:20PM (#6852594)
    Bill Watterson broke this a while back in the later years of his Calvin and Hobbes strips. Once he got popular enough to be able to dictate some things for artistic sake, he declared that his comics will only be published in a rectangular area where he has free rein inside, free from panels or any other limitation within. Most papers required all comics to be broken into panels so they can be arranged how they saw fit. Watterson hated those limitations, especially for a strip that was so involved with fantasy and imagination. Some papers had to actually shrink his area in order to keep the proportions right and for other comics to flow right around it, but he remained steadfast, and thats how the sunday strips were presented until he ended the strip, a strip still sorely missed by me and many others.
  • Irregular Webcomic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ondo ( 187980 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @03:34PM (#6852735)
    I'm a fan of Irregular Webcomic [], which seems more innovative than any of the examples mentioned in the article. The comics are pictures taken with a camera, rather than drawn. Generally pictures of Legos or painted miniatures, with some shots of the script's creator in there.

    Lots of funny strips, especially the Star Wars ones.
  • Re:I recall (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mmm coffee ( 679570 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @03:39PM (#6852777) Journal
    I'm a big webcomic fan for the fact that you will find a LOT of comics online that no publisher in his right mind would consider going near. I don't think I've laughed at a mainstream print comic since I was six. But get online and you're looking at a whole 'nother ballpark.

    A perfect example of this is Sexy Losers [], my personal favorite. (Warning, comic so NSFW it's not even remotely funny.) The most quoted strip - Girl is about to commit suicide. Guy asks her if he can have sex with her before she jumps. She calls him a pervert. Guy says "Well, I'll just have to wait until your body washes ashore, then." Man, I wish they'd print *that* next to Garfield.

    Online comics can go, do, and say things that 99% of publishers wouldn't consider printing, and as such tend to be a lot more origional than the rest. Yes, the vast majority of webcomics are total and complete crap, but every now and then you come across a [] few [] gems [] that drag you in and make you read each and every comic several times over. (I am specifically talking about Venus Envy which I linked to above in the word "a", I never dreamed I would become a huge fan over a comic about freakin' transsexuals, for christ's sakes.)

  • Money (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Shky ( 703024 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `yraeloykhs'> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @03:42PM (#6852800) Homepage Journal
    Most of the webcomics out there that are generating profit from their sites are doing so because they never had that intention to begin with. They set out to do something they enjoyed that they hoped others would also. For a webcomic to be successful, the creators have to enjoy it, because it's a lot of work and it takes a long time to build a fanbase, let alone start making money.

    The webcomic I write, BandWich [], has a very limited fanbase despite being having been around well over a year. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication for a webcomic to be successful in such a saturated field.
  • Re:Unfortunatley. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by li99sh79 ( 678891 ) <(sam) (at) (> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @04:11PM (#6853061) Homepage Journal
    If you hadn't noticed, 90% of the comics page is stuck in a rut so big it's been reclassified as a box canyon. It seems that paper editors choose the least offensive most watered down cheap fare they can find for the comics page. This practice has turned the whole thing into a tremendous waste of time, as the same few jokes are told over and over again by the same old tired characters.

    There are also comic strips that run in real time and let the characters grow and change, and then there are strips in between. "For Better or For Worse," "Luann", "Crankshaft", "The Norm", and "Doonesbury" all experience the passage of time and character growth in one form or another.

    The Funny pages are as much a place for "comfort" good as they are cutting edge humor. Most of the big hitters have been in the game for twenty years or more, people are familiar with them and they don't like chance. For years the Detroit Free Press tried to drop Modesty Blaise but everytime they did there were howls of protests. In fact, when artist/writer of Modesty Blaise decided to end the strip the Freep had to run a notice that the strip was over for a week in the strip's palce to make sure people were clear on what happened.

    Then again the technical quality of most of the strips that run in your local paper are better than most of the web comics out there. It's also not a given that all print strips are uncreative crap. Strips like "Get Fuzzy," "Pearls before Swine" and "Boondocks" are all just as good, if not better, than even the top-tier webcomics.

    Besides, how many webcomics did jokes about how big the X-Box is? How much character development have Tycho and Gabe undergone over the run of Penny Arcade? Webcomics can be just as predictable and static as the newspaper funny pages

    -sam, really should start outlining his /. posts

  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @07:40PM (#6854708) Journal
    In general, voice talent for online content is grotesque. But for comics it's positively criminal.


    Because when comic artists use their own, untrained voices to act out the lines they write, you can hear every bit of their insecurity, apprehension, false bravado, delusion, and contempt.

    And if they use their friends', you can hear their inability to understand the material, as well, which is a failure of both acting and directing.

    (This problem extends to Pam Anderson's "performance" in Striperella on the actual television, so don't expect it to get better online just because a few people pro-up.)

    (Okay, Homestar Runner isn't too bad, but after six or eight characters, they hit their limit, and now it's undeniably The Strongbad Show featuring Homestar Runner.)
  • by plagioclase ( 454483 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @08:28PM (#6854963) Homepage
    One nice thing about webcomics, is that anyone can do one, ie: me.

    I have actually been doing mine two days a week for over a year on, and have really enjoyed it. Since the hosting is free, the only thing I have to worry about is setting aside the time to do it - usually at 2am.

    It's really been a good creative outlet, and I've even written a game to go along with it. And though it's not a stand-up great comic, I do have a few fans.

    As far as goals, I don't make any money from it, and don't ever really expect to, but I'll keep doing it because I enjoy it.
  • Hey, cool! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tsuzuki ( 442471 ) <> on Tuesday September 02, 2003 @08:38PM (#6855035) Homepage
    One of the comics in the 24 hour gallery is mine! :D (It's Tabeshounen, hint hint)

    Thanks to the Intarweb it's been a lot easier to get publicity for an Australian (or any indie) comic. The article was really focused on web comics, but there's still a great zine/small press scene happening here. Now all we need to do is get more of the female creators (there are a lot!) into the spotlight and everything'll be just peachy.

I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.