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David Malki! on Webcomics Not Being Comics

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 10:17 am

I’ve heard that the best writers tell us what we didn’t realize we already knew.

In a guest essay over at Fleen today, MT cartoonist David Malki ! does just such a thing.

Here’s some of the meat of it (but please, do go and read the whole thing):

So instead of approaching the whole “webcomics problem” from the direction of comics — trying to win converts at syndicates, comics publishers, and mass media by saying “They’re just like regular comics! Honestly! Only online!” — we should be trying to win converts among fans of funny, interesting things on the Internet in general. The argument then goes, “They’re just as funny as YouTube videos! Just as interesting as blogs! Just as snarky as Something Awful or Fark or whatever! Honestly! Only in comics form!”

I’ve approached this line of thinking before, sidewise and clumsily, but have never been able to express it quite so clearly (and have always accomplished nothing but generate flamewars whenever I’ve tried). My experience has been that the dedicated cultists who currently “own” comics protect that ownership jealously and defensively (what Malki ! calls “the culture of comics” and the less-generous of us call “the fanboys being fanboys”) — and interpret these kinds of statements as meaning: “We hate you and think you’re stupid, blah” when really they just mean, “You’re not the center of our world, and we’re not going to go out of our way to cater to you, because doing so hurts us in terms of the big picture — but hey — really — you’re welcome to come along for the ride, if you want.”

I could be wrong.

Let’s see if Dick Joke draws himself hitting Malki ! in the face with a brick. Then we’ll know.

Can you out-Wally Wood?

Filed under: — The William G @ 1:23 am

Peter Venables recently came up with a nifty little artistic exercise and creative challenge involving Wally Wood’s 22 Panels That Always Work.

I’ve taken up his challenge, and it’s a fairly simple one: You just need to draw the twenty two panels in your own way.

For example:

Big head

Easy as pie, and just as fun. So grab those art-tools folks, and give it a spin.


How Webcomics are Like Programming Languages

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 5:26 pm

There seems to be a long period of initial obscurity for any new webcomic. Then after that comes a long period of semi-obscurity, followed by total obscurity.

(Paraphrased from somebody named Paul Bissex talking about new computer languages, who was quoted on a programmer’s blog I happened to stumble onto today.)


Marvel + Jeep = webcomics

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 3:54 pm

Saw this in my Detroit News:

Jeep has called on Marvel Comics’ super powers and the creative thinking of the masses to help promote its new 2007 Jeep Patriot compact SUV. In a Web-based marketing campaign, consumers can submit dialogue and plot for how they think four young protagonists should handle villains and solve a mystery in an online comic called “The Patriot Factor.” The Chrysler Group, which includes Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler vehicles, and Marvel Comics paired up to create the comic, which can be viewed at …

Full Disclosure: The Detroit News writes me occasional checks for artwork and/or blogging about Chewbacca arrests, mummified Russians.

- Eric


Comic Mix to Bring Veteran Creators to the Web

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 7:15 pm

According to Alex Ness at Pop Thought, longtime comics veterans Mike Gold, Tim Truman, John Ostrander, Mike Baron, Mike Grell, Denny O’Neil, Tony Isabella, Marv Wolfman and Peter David and others are soon to be involved in the launch of a new webcomics/blog portal, to be called Comic Mix. Jefferey Stephenson has possibly uncovered some interesting dotcom industry connections in the venture.

I don’t think that the established webcomics readership will flock to this in droves. I can’t imagine the typical Sluggy Freelance or Penny-Arcade fan — or the typical Modern Tales fan, for that matter — getting excited about these names, or even knowing who they are. Maybe I’m wrong. But it does have a strong and obvious potential to pull in longtime comic book fans — and especially lapsed comic book fans, who, thanks to the 90’s boom/bust, probably outnumber current comic book fans 10 to 1. And bringing those readers back to comics would be a very good thing, indeed. Or maybe I’m just biased — because I was one of those readers (I just came back a bit earlier).

Either way, I wish them luck, and hope they do well.


The Poem as Comic Strip

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 2:47 pm

Tom Spurgeon at Comics Reporter hipped me to this interesting project:

As a way to help readers discover (or rediscover) our archive, has invited some of today’s most vital graphic novelists to interpret a poem of their choice from the more than 4,500 poems in our archive, reaching from Beowulf to the present. Kicking things off is David Heatley, best known for his meticulous renderings of his dreams, always haunting and frequently hilarious. Heatley brings his faux-naïve draftsmanship and masterful color sense to the first two stanzas of Diane Wakoski’s 1966 poem “Belly Dancer.”

I was lucky enough to study poetry writing under Wakoski in the ’90s. I will always remember her really digging my Shakespearean sonnets with the injury-to-the-eye motif. That, and her completely tearing a new ass on some dude who thought that “poetry is open to interpretation” so his idiotic theories could never be wrong. Good times.

Now that I think about it, poetry and painting crits were more hardcore than any message board flame war.

- Eric

Unknown Webcomic Calvalcade: 02/03/07 — UPDATED

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 10:46 am

North World by Lars Brown is a graphic novel-type webcomic about a monster-fighting, sword-swinging fantasy hero who has been assigned by his guildmaster to go back to his suburban hometown (strip malls, old high school buddies who are struggling to pay the electric bill and raise their children, etc.) for whatever reason, and face the challenges he finds there. In Hollywood pitch-speak, it would be described as The Legend of Zelda meets Clerks. The central conceit (the blending of such two completely different genres) comes off as natural and ungimmicky — no small trick — and the snappy writing, well-managed story pacing, and smooth, slick, but down-to-earth artwork are all outstanding. A couple of weird moments threw me, like the protagonist’s confrontation with his father, but I expect they’ll make sense as the story progresses. There’s already a substantial archive — but, again, no RSS feed. Ah well. It’s the kind of thing you’ll want to read in large chunks, anyway. I’ve only read the first chapter (they’re long, and there are two of them so far, the second one still in-progress). Updates Monday through Friday. Highly recommended.

North World

[EDIT: reader Matt points out in the comments that North World now (as of about an hour after I posted my review) has an RSS feed, linked over on the right-hand side of the page. Yay!]


Jeff Lowrey Said It Best

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 1:50 pm

Fleen blogger Jeff Lowrey didn’t write the controversy-stirring post but he wrote the defining comment to that post, on the subject of the WCCA’s:

Man, they should figure out who won, but then never tell anyone.

That would make the annual (semiannual?) WCCA-related webcomics-wide flamefest even that much more fun that it already is!


Platinum Studios Announces KISS comic

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 12:49 pm

From The Beat, word that the ’70’s glam metal band KISS and Platinum Studios will be working together to put out a comic book and webcomic.

Two questions occurred to me right away:

1. Will the band mix their own blood into the ink?

2. Will Platinum Studios buy up all the copies?

Elitist that I am, I was never much into KISS (I even broke up with a guy once because I thought it was creepy that he liked them — yes, I was a music snob in high school! shocking, I know!). When they come out with a Siouxsie and the Banshees comic, or maybe one featuring the classic lineup of The Smiths in slam-bang crimefighting action, then I’ll probably get more excited.


2007 Web Cartoonists’ Choice Awards

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 1:35 pm

It looks like it’s official: The 2007 Results for the Web Cartoonists’ Choice Awards are posted here and every category is like a five-way tie! Either that, or these are nominations mis-labeled as results.

Everyone’s a winner, but it looks like there are no really huge winners this year. Last time it seemed like several artists were nominated in half a dozen categories; this year it looks like the most nominations a single artist recieved were like four. What does this mean? Maybe there were no big break-away hits this year. Maybe a wider variety of artists are involved in the nominations, and so a wider variety of comics are being nominated. Maybe any comic with more than four nominations was automatically disqualified from two of them. Maybe the new bi-annual schedule has everybody totally confused as to what to vote for.

Here are some of the Modern Tales-related artists that totally brought it real strong. Congratulations to all of them as well as the other nominees.

Spike (Outstanding Comic, Character Rendering, Character Writing)
Shaenon Garrity (Outstanding Comic, Writer)
Ursula Vernon (Outstanding Black & White Art, Anthropomorphic Comic)
Eric Millikin Hey That’s Me (Outstanding Romantic Comic, Single Panel Comic)
David Malki! (Outstanding Comedic Comic)
Ryan North (Outstanding Writer)

AND YES! I know you are all excited that I have been nominated for Outstanding Romantic Comic after having been disqualified last year by the romantically retarded. I’d like to thank everybody who nominated me knowing full well that they were probably throwing away their vote. Before you start partying too hard, I’ll remind you that I was also totally nominated last year, right before getting disqualified, so there’s no guarantee I won’t be disqualified again by somebody who thinks that character with the long blonde hair in my comics is my mom.

OH AND, what exactly is the connection between this thing and Keenspot? The WCCA site has been running big banner ads for the Keenspot comics that were nominated, and there’s a big Keenspot icon next to the address. Anybody know the story on this?

Talk to me, people.

- Eric


Webcomic artist wins at Sundance

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 10:13 pm

“Everything Will Be OK,” directed by Don Hertzfeldt and based on his webcomic “Anesthetics,” has won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival, it is reported. As Marc pointed out in comments, “It’s extracool news considering it was up against all the live action movies - animation almost never wins at Sundance! Go animation!!”

Or, as Hertzfeldt puts it “‘rejected’ and ‘meaning of life’ failed to even get honorable mentions out here in their day and i was told it’s a rare thing indeed for an animated film to slay all the dragons and become the sundance grand master champion, so that’s pretty cool.”

Sure is; congratulations, Don!

- Eric


Alabama, Alabama, we will aye be true to thee …

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 10:12 am

Looks like the kids at my alma mater have discovered webcomics. Roll Tide!

Via Journalista!


Hourly Comic Day

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 11:41 am

Just got this in via email. I don’t usually just post announcements verbatim (so, yeah, don’t take this as a hint to start sending them to me — grar), but Hourly Comics Day sounds like a fun project:


February 1, 2007, is the second annual Hourly Comic Day–an event where cartoonists draw journal comics to document each hour of their day. More than 100 participants from around the world took the challenge last year, making Hourly Comics showing how they spent an average day: working, travelling, napping, even going to the bathroom. Contributors showed us the passage of their lives through one rotation of the Earth.

The project began with Chicago-based cartoonist John Campbell. Each January, Campbell painstakingly chronicles the moments of his life in hourly journal comics. The Hourly Comic is viewable on Campbell’s website, and updates each hour in January with a new comic from his adventures the previous day. In a webcomic market overcrowded with daily journal strips, Campbell’s work explores the organic rhythms of his life in rigid hourly increments. Moments of joy, tragedy and humor stand out in sharp relief when laid against the tedium of hourly existence.

The challenge of the project appealed to other cartoonists and Hourly Comic Day 2006 expanded Campbell’s project to a global level. All over the world, no matter their time zone, no matter their talent level, professional and amateur cartoonists alike were drawing the sweep of an entire day and showing a panorama of modern life. You can read last year’s entries here .

Now, in 2007, we’re hoping to make the project even bigger. The rules are simple:

1. For every hour that you are awake on February 1, 2007, make a comic describing something about the past hour. Maybe you ate some cereal? Maybe you rode the subway? So if you wake up at 7 a.m., make a comic some time before 8 a.m. Then, after 8 a.m., make another one before it becomes 9 a.m.

2. When you’re done, scan the comics in and post them here.

Don’t think you draw very well? It doesn’t matter–if you’re awake on February 1, 2007, you’re already qualified to participate. Show everyone how much you hate your alarm clock, what you eat for breakfast, the bland jokes your co-workers make and the song you sing to yourself in the shower. Nothing’s too silly or too mundane on Hourly Comic Day.



Filed under: — Alice Hunt @ 5:54 pm

Hi everyone,

My name is Alice Hunt, and I write Goodbye Chains on, and write and draw Venus in Points, the Sunday spinoff, here on WCN. I’d like to announce the founding of a new webcomic collective, Sugarskull, which you can check out here:

Sugarskull is an eclectic group of webcomics that have banded together to bring their collective Rock to the world–no two are alike, but they play together nicely all the same. Last week we had a series of posts introducing the comics to the curious, and as of January 14th we’ve started posting regular updates and other comic-related goodies to the community; anyone with a Livejournal account can friend us and keep abreast of what’s going on. The list of comics includes established comics like Vampirates, The Awakened, and my own comics, and newer comics like Small Noises and The Reader by Sarah Glidden and Keeps by David Patty (on Comicspace here).

We’ve already been linked to by Warren Ellis, Act-I-Vate, and The Beat, so we may be doing something right. Please come check us out!


Alexa’s Top 10 Online Comics Sites

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 11:22 pm

This is handy. Sort of.

Alexa now has an index of the top online comics sites.

There’s no Penny-Arcade or PvP, but that probably just means they’ve been indexed incorrectly. Most of the sites in the list have “comics” or “cartoonists” or some similar keyword in the actual title. So that means that there’s an emphasis on portals and collectives, rather than individual comics (though Girl Genius does make it in there). There are other weirdnesses — for example, Webcomics Nation isn’t on the list, but Modern Tales is on the second page, in the top 20. WCN has a much higher Alexa ranking than Modern Tales, so that means that WCN is also indexed weirdly somewhere else.

Still, fairly interesting.

More Big News from Apple

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 10:17 am

If you thought the iPhone announcement was a big deal, this latest news will really blow you away.


Unknown Webcomic 01/07/07

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 6:54 pm

Behind the Blue Door is something. I’m not finished reading what’s been posted yet. I just sort of had to break off the reading to come over here and tell you about it. So far it makes very little sense. I think I like it. I’m pretty sure I do. My favorite character so far is Pope Hat Antoinette. I think I like it a lot. It’s got the dream-logic of a comic jam or a kid’s make-believe session — but it’s also got dying friends (who look like the earliest versions of Porky Pig) and girlfriends who used to be vampires. Or vampires who used to be girlfriends, I mean. Or something. And the Queen of the Faeries, who lives on Death Mountain. The artwork is manga-esque, a little stiff sometimes, but in the same way that actual manga looks a little stiff to me sometimes. I’m talking about the kind of manga that is meant for teens, like Nodame Cantibile, not Pokemon or whatever. That’s the kind of manga artwork that looks a little stiff to me sometimes, just like this artwork does. But I still like it. Too bad there’s no RSS feed. Whenever I find a webcomic I like, and it doesn’t have an RSS feed, I’m disappointed, because I know I’ll never remember to check back to see if there’s been any updates. Ah well.

Wax Intellectual on Measuring Success

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 1:31 pm

Lewis over at the group blog Wax Intellectual has a good post that sums up what’s on a lot of people’s minds, I think:

If you are in a situation like mine, you are probably most interested in measuring your success in terms of just the size of your readership, and also by treating that as an indicator of how well you are executing your comic, which may be your primary objective. So, as a result, I look at my referrer logs pageview totals and the like somewhat obsessively. And while there is an upward trend, I don’t have a good idea of how quickly I should be expecting the audience to grow.

I think there’s a logical flaw here: readership size is not necessarily an indicator of how well you are executing your comic. It’s an indicator of readership size.

Okay, let’s head off the flame war right here: I’m not saying popular comics are crap. It’s true that your comic will probably not be popular unless it’s good.

But it’s not strictly cause-and-effect: your comic will not necessarily be popular if it’s good, or just because it’s good. There are a lot of great comics that aren’t popular. And there are a lot of factors that play into popularity. For that matter, there are a lot of factors that play into, um, goodness. None of these factors can be quantified easily — no matter how many Alexa charts or graphs or whatever people like, well, me, post on their weblogs.

Wish it were otherwise, but it’s just not.

I don’t want to sound like I’m coming down too hard on Lewis, though — I don’t mean to. When you put something out there on the web, you want to get something back, whether it’s money (for some) or popularity (for some) or the respect of your peers, or whatever. Your actions deserve reactions. Spending too much energy worrying about that, though, can lead to frustration and burn-out. That’s all I mean to say here. Measure success by how you feel about the work — popularity, money, etc., those things happen, or they don’t happen, in ways that you can influence, slightly, but never, really, control. You can control how much time and effort and energy and love you pour into the work itself, though — and that’s all that matters, finally.

Finally, a Forum and Posters for Sale

Filed under: — Victor Daniel @ 1:50 am

So after having my webcomic The Vanguard up and running for about 9 months or so, I’ve bitten the bullet and gotten a forum right here at TalkAboutComics. I had a tagboard up before, but it broke my comics site after working well for months, when I tried to put in ad code for the Project Wonderful ad system.

So, feel free to surf on over to the forum and leave your two cents, just mind the (relatively few) rules and don’t be a total asshat. If you’re already registered on TAC, you’ll be able to post right away, if not, registering for the forum won’t take very long.

In other news, I’ve got a couple of Posters for sale at WCN’s small press swapmeet. They’re 11 x 17 miniposters with a couple of my favorite scenes from my webcomic, featuring a few of the main characters. Check them out and see if you like them. Your buying them will go a long way towards supporting my continuing work on the comic, and I thank you in advance for doing so.


More Meaningless Numbers

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 3:31 pm

The phrase “my webcomic” returns 113,000 results in Google.

The phrase “my blog” returns 44,700,000 results in Google.

I have started a spreadsheet. I will revisit these two queries in the future and chart the results, just to see if the gap narrows or grows wider. Just because.

Another meaningless tidbit: the third result for “read my blog” goes to a webcomic.

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