A few more webcomic related items of joy

Here’s a few more webcomic related pieces of interest.

  • At Robot 6, Brigid Alverson gives her own spin on the 2009 Eisner nominees. She asks the question on everyone’s minds: do these necessarily count as webcomics if they’re basically just print comics that got put online? Of the nominees, she thinks there’s only one on the list that actually benefits from the webcomic format.
  • And then there’s NPR’s report on the fate of comics after newspapers. The transcript, making waves among webcomic creators, includes this choice line:

    Mallett (of Frazz): Sometimes I worry that they’re just so ingrained and associated with ink on newsprint that they’re just not going to fit quite as well into wherever newspapers go next. All comics are already online, but nobody’s found a way yet to get the web to pay enough so that drawing a strip can stay a full-time job.

    There’s a pretty strong backlash among currently existing self-sustaining webcomic creators in the following commentary. Another entry:

    Cartoonist Darrin Bell has chronicled the death of newspapers in his strip, Candorville, and he actually has a tip jar on his Web site. He says the money coming in from the Web — not just in tips — is only a quarter of his income as a cartoonist. But he’s not worried about comics.

    OK, Darrin Bell, a word of advice on the online fundamentals that I think a lot of experiences web cartoonists have been following: say “No” to the tip jar. And merchandise revenues are not as taboo as you might think.

    Also, the NPR piece digresses into crossword puzzles for some reason. Huh.

    Anyway, John Rabe, the author of the piece, did the right thing and offered the following apology in the comments:

    I owe Marketplace listeners and fans of the online strips an apology.

    I just had a very nice phone conversation with Randal Milholland, who does the online-only strip Something Positive. He told me he was working 40 hrs doing data entry and 40 hrs doing the strip, and when readers complained he was late posting an update or fixing a link, he dared them to support him. Thousands of dollars came in, in $5 and $10 donations, in just a few days, and now, he says, he’s making a decent living solely on the web strip. For those who want details, he authorized me to tell you that last year he made $55k before taxes in 2008, roughly a third each from merchandise, donations, and ads.

    He also wrote, “and if anyone gripes at you and goes on about reading my comic, tell them I asked them to be nicer. Or I’ll find them.”

    Thanks, for that, Randy, but if I got it wrong, I got it wrong.

    — John Rabe

  • Finally, Act I of MS Paint Adventures‘ “Homestruck” story ends… with a bang!

About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on June 10, 2009, in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. “OK, Darrin Bell, a word of advice on the online fundamentals that I think a lot of experiences web cartoonists have been following: say “No” to the tip jar. And merchandise revenues are not as taboo as you might think.”

    Darrin Bell here. Just thought I’d point out a few things:

    (a) The tip thing works just fine for Something Positive and Real Life. Some readers don’t want to buy anything, they just want to tip you when you’ve made them laugh.

    (b) Not only did I not say merchandising is taboo, I do it myself.

    (c) I’ll gladly take all the advice I can get, and give whatever I can in return. But it’s not like I’m unfamiliar with webcartooning. Candorville was syndicated in 2003. Before that it was a profitable webcomic. Since 1995. In fact, as far as I know it’s the oldest webcomic that made it into syndication and stayed (HSotI was syndicated first but it ended shortly afterward). So if I screw up in some way, it’s not because of a lack of experience.

    Incidentally, this is why I just don’t understand the bad feelings so many self-described “webcartoonists” have against supposed “print cartoonists.” I don’t believe in those distinctions. Many “Webcartoonists” make an awfully large percentage of their income from PRINT (in the form of book collections and comic books), and a lot of “print cartoonists” make a pretty big percentage of their income from our websites. We’re all just cartoonists to me, and any parsing of that gets into Hatfields & McCoys territory.

    Lastly, I was there at the convention for the entire interview. John Rabe’s interview was about the fate of NEWSPAPER features during a time when it seems newspapers are going under. It wasn’t about the whole universe of cartooning in all its permutations; it was about a specific medium, and how creators whose work appears in that medium were dealing with that medium’s demise. That’s why he mentions crossword puzzles, and that’s why there was no talk of creators whose features don’t appear in newspapers anyway. That was clear to me, but I can see that it wasn’t clear in the article. So from my perspective, the whole explosion of outrage is based on an unfortunate omission: the article didn’t make it clear exactly who John was talking about.

    • Thanks for replying, Darrin!

      I appreciate the background you gave to the NPR piece. I think most webcomic types understood that the article was aiming primarily at how newspaper cartoonists are dealing with the economy. However, I think the animosity toward the piece stems from the implication that web-based comics are an unprofitable and unproven genre when digital comics have been going pretty strong for over a decade already. It sorta marginalizes the hard work a lot of people put into making the webcomic format a successful one.

      Now, about the tip jars thing. I didn’t mean to sound confrontational or anything. (I don’t think you took it that way, I’m just clearing it up in case.) The question of tip jars is something that comes up from time to time in webcomics discussions. Should tip jars be included on a site or not? One theory, endorsed by the Halfpixel guys, is that tip jars cheapen a webcomic site. The most professional sites don’t include tip jars. The thought here is that tip jars makes the creator look something like a beggar.

      However, if you are making as much money as mentioned in that NPR piece (meager as it may be), I would be a fool to tell you to take the tip jar down. It’s certainly more than I make running this blog. 🙂

      As for the animosity between webcartoonists and print cartoonists — I think it all boils down to competition. The Marvel vs. DC of the Information Age. I could probably get into particulars (independents vs. syndicates, for example), but I think that’s as far as go with my own sketchy understanding of the business.

    • Don’t forget Templar, Arizona; at least if you don’t discount it because of the extra-page-at-$100.

  2. I didn’t take the tip jar thing personally or think you were being confrontational at all. Here’s my take on it: ten months ago I was one of the people who thought tip jars made a site look unprofessional. But that was before the newspaper industry’s collapse began and before the economy went to hell. We’re in the worst economic climate since the Great Depression. In light of that, I think most readers find a tip jar to be perfectly understandable. Ten months ago if they saw it they’d think “beggar!”, but I think when they see it today, they think “How can I get one of those?”

    I’m not making a killing with it, just enough to cover hosting costs and pay a couple bills. But in times like this, that’s nothing to sneeze at, and together with Google ads, Project Wonderful ads & merchandise, it’s substantial. A little bit here and a little bit there adds up. Still, I’m planning on taking it down as soon as the Recession’s over. Or I might take it down sooner because I’m having my site professionally redesigned and it might not fit in aesthetically.

    You’re probably right about the animosity. I’ve been lurking on forums since the old Compuserve days, and I was there when this whole mess started. It started over NOTHING (just a clash of personalities involving a handful of people). What it did, though, was give webcartoonists a flag to rally around. And it does the same for syndicated cartoonists in a different way. It’s competition. It’s tribalism. It’s very human. And it’s also, from my perspective, funny and frustrating at the same time.

  3. tracybradycartoons

    I do believe that exchange between you both about the art and processes of webcomics is the most intriguing and informative I’ve had the pleasure to read . Thank you guys.


  4. Thanks to both for clarifying about those points… I also like the idea of breaking down the distinction between web and print comics. Ideally at some point the really good comics will be available in both formats!

  1. Pingback: Strip News 5-12-9 | Strip News | |

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