Thoughts about working on a webcomic – why aren’t more people doing these?

Why aren’t more people working on webcomics? Just a couple of years ago, it seemed like webcomics were all the rage but I’ve been getting the impression that this isn’t the case anymore.*

Since I’m just finishing up with ON THE VERGE and hard at work on LAST CHANCE (my new comic project one that I intended to post online as a webcomic), I felt like this topic was pretty relevant to me.

Plus, now that I’m working on a comic project that (A) isn’t just mine alone, and (B) isn’t a webcomic, it’s given me a better appreciation of working on my own stuff and publishing a webcomic. What I mean by that is working on your own webcomic provides a certain amount of freedom that working on a larger comic project with other creators just doesn’t.

So this got me to thinking… why aren’t more creators working on their own stuff and publishing webcomics?

The thing is, there are tons of outlets for posting stories and pages nowadays. There’s hosting your own website, blogging, Tumblr, or social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+. Then there are artist communities like DeviantArt or Behance even. So I wonder why more people don’t.

The thing is, some creators do work on their own stuff but very few actually post it as some kind of a webcomic. The only comic that I’ve seen go this route lately is SUNSTONE which I think had more to do with Stjepan Sejic trying to work on a different story that was “outside” of the normal comic stuff that he was producing. But at the same time, it built a very good sized fanbase on DeviantArt and that’s translated into good word-of-mouth for when it was published. It also helps that he had a fanbase for his art already…

I get that it takes time to do this stuff. Heck, I get that 100% since I spend my days working full time and freelancing at night. Comics, specifically OTV, get squeezed in where and when I can (and LC is going pretty much the same way so far). This is why I started drawing on my lunches in the first place – I actually had a free block of time where I wasn’t doing too much.

It seems like everyone working in comics has at least one other story that they’ve got on the back burner or in a sketchbook somewhere and I always wonder why more people aren’t actively putting those stories out. It seems like everyone’s goal is to draw Batman or Spider-man and not tell the story that they’ve been figuring out for years. And I just find that really weird. But maybe that’s just me. I always see interviews and hear writers and artists talk about how they have this story that they want to do at some point. Well why not do it right now? You’re trying to tell me that as a creative professional, you can’t do one page a week? That would easily amount to 48-52 pages a year. And here’s the part that maybe needs pointing out: you don’t actually need to post 100% finished art. Heck, I’d read penciled pages by somebody whose art I liked.

Now it could be that money is an issue and again, I get that. Making comics is expensive and I can’t emphasize that enough. Then again, so is making movies and lots of people are doing that outside of the “Hollywood system”. Artists, like myself, definitely have it easier to an extent in comics because we’re pretty much the biggest expense in the process (besides printing), though we may not be the best writers. I think most comic artists can at least tell a story which is really half the battle. For existing professionals though, I get the impression that the desire is to make money from whatever is done and I wonder if that’s putting the cart before the horse a bit. If you create an interesting story with good characters and art and stuff, and give it to people via a webcomic, there are ways to monetize that.

Maybe it’s because webcomics aren’t viewed as “real” comics? I always get that impression when I see the way people react when I say I make a webcomic. I mean I’ve always viewed it as a real comic, I just happen to release it online. At some point I definitely want to publish these things in print, I’m just not there yet. But that doesn’t mean what I’m doing now isn’t real! Heck, ANDREW JACKSON IN SPACE was a “real” comic project and my work on it is the EXACT same as anything I’ve done for OTV.

Anyway, it’s just occurred to me that webcomics are a super ideal way to make comics and hopefully find an audience. And for unknown creators (like myself), finding an audience is actually pretty hard! But for an established creator, you’ve already got a fan-base to tap into. I just think there may come a time when this is an actual outlet for starting a project.

So yeah, I definitely think that I’ll keep working this way – at least for my own projects. At the same time, my hope is that working on projects that aren’t my own webcomic will lead people back to my own stuff. Heck, every OTV story is posted here on the site and you can read it all for free. So if you like my work, why wouldn’t you want to tune in!

*And this could just be me! If I’m being honest, I don’t have a ton of free time to read a lot of webcomics (let alone go looking for new ones). But I used to see people talking about webcomics more and I used to see the larger comics community and industry talking about them more. So I get the impression that they aren’t all the rage.

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