Friday, February 26, 2016

So damn close

As you're reading this, the signing for the house SHOULD be happening.  I can only hope.

Friday, February 19, 2016

So close yet so far. . .

My internet has been crap recently but at least I'm nearly in the house, I hope.  Living in a tin can is getting old guys.

Until next time, hopefully.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Not that it's an excuse. . .

But I'm still in an airstream in someone's backyard.  I am working on a larger project, but I haven't finished it enough to begin publishing.  So yeah, nothing this week.  Working on it.

In the mean time, Sunstone(NSFW) and Head Trip are updating again, injuries be damned.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Are Webcomics Dead?

So over on Talking Time Forums (which I still don't have an account with because I'm lazy, sorry guys) there was a thread that asked the question:  Are Webcomics Dead?

Seems a silly question since, well, they aren't.  But that wasn't the question, the questions was did webcomics fail to live up to their promise, and the answer to that is oddly simple.

The point is that back around the turn of the century, when the first great wave of comics appeared, there was this promise of greatness.  It was a new media, a new future and a new way to do things.  The phrase "infinite canvas" got tossed around, and everyone was ready to jump on the wagon to a new future.

What happened to it though?  Where did it go?  The pioneers of that age, Penny Arcade, Sluggy Freelance, Megatoyko and so many others didn't quite go anywhere, they didn't turn into the future.  So why?

Two things worked against it and amazingly it's the same thing:  Money.  I say two because money drove the webcomic community in two different directions.

Penny Arcade, Sluggy and others were the forefront of the webcomic revolution, and they became very, VERY popular.  In those days, making money off the internet came down to ads, lots of ads, and being very popular meant that the ads made a lot of money.

This resulted in some odd confluences of events.  Penny Arcade began to sell their comics as ads themselves (something they supposedly stopped doing, but whose to say for sure), and as a result the comic didn't innovate any more because, well, that wasn't an ad.  And when they did try, the result was similar to what happened with Sluggy and Oceans Unmoving:  backlash.

Being very popular meant the readers wanted one particular thing and woe to those who went against it.  I mentioned that the doldrums of Sluggy were because Pete Abrams liked to eat and I am not kidding, he backed off quickly and tried to hold on to his audience after they rebelled.  This meant stagnation for many comics, and the promise that they held back in 2000 looked weaker by the moment.

The other direction was still money, and the fact that the vast majority of comics, well, are NOT popular, at all, and in an ad based economy, they simply couldn't support the artist directly.  They like to eat too, but that meant they had to do actual work to support themselves.  The comic became less and less of a priority.  A great many comics curled up and died as the artists, who were mostly high school or college students, had to go out to earn a living.  They took short cuts to get the comic out quicker, or just stopped updating all together.  Those that bought their own domains with visions of glory in their future ended up vanishing into the ether that is the internet.

That's not to say none of what was promised with webcomics never happened, it did.  Comics like Sunstone (NSFW) and Bloodstain take full advantage of the infinite canvas to stretch their comics out to amazing sizes and directions.  City of Reality and Lizzy (sadly gone) take full advantage of flash as a medium and explored how comics could be more than just a static image on the page, often adding sound and interaction to the subject.  It's just hard to make money on ads, and the only other options, the con circuit (which the Devil's Panties does successfully) and books don't really work well with those amazing formats.  The innovation is there, it just doesn't translate to the world where money is to be made, not without a lot of work.

So from those two directions it appears webcomics failed, and instead just became another branch of the comic medium.  That's not a bad thing, and it has happened before and will likely happen again.  I mentioned about "internet reviewers" back in my Going Critical article, and they've been in a rapid decline for the last few years, especially as closed.  Facebook and mobile gaming have experienced the same decline, if not faster.  The "new media" that the interent was set to introduce failed because, well, there just wasn't money in it.

Then came Pateron.  The problem of money is now becoming less of an issue.  Pateron does still over feds the popular comics (see Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal's Pateron), but it means that even smaller comics can make something more than the pennies on the ad that is available today.  In the meantime, comics are backing away from the models Penny Arcade and Sluggy Freelance set up, becoming a branch of independent comics.

In my opinion, the Golden Age of webcomics is now long past, and while we still see their legacy, the current age is far more interesting.  Even now, the Pateron Age of comics is growing to the point that I'd almost have to list the comics that DON'T have a Pateron verses all the ones that do.  Through this the creativity promised back in the day might actually come to the forefront and great things are destined to follow.

Webcomics aren't dead, nor did they fail, it just took a bit longer to get there and those that sought to lead are just dragging the rest down.

Until next time kiddies, still in a trailer in Texas.  House soon, I hope.  Later.