Machine of Death: the webcomics game changer

So why haven’t I been talking about Machine of Death on this site? You know, the book written and illustrated by webcomic creators like David Malki !, KC Green, Ryan North, Kate Beaton, Dorothy Gambrell, Rene Engstrom, Ramon Perez, Cameron Stewart, Kris Straub, John Allison, and many others that debuted #1, beating out both John Grisham and Glenn Beck? Well, like Glenn Beck, I was totally blindsided. Distracted. Likely by video games.

Fortunately, Lauren Davis at Storming the Towers is far more astute. She’s written an excellent post as to “Why ‘Machine of Death’ is important for webcomics.”. An excerpt:

What better way to defragment your audience than to show them stuff they already love alongside stuff they might love? If I’m already reading Dinosaur Comics or Wondermark, I might pick up Machine of Death and suddenly it’s “Ho! What’s this Cat and Girl business?”

And there are more projects like this in the pipeline. It won’t have the same broad appeal as Machine of Death, but TGT Media is publishing Webcomics: What’s Cooking? which is exactly what it sounds like: a cookbook with recipes written and illustrated by webcomic creators. Spike Trotman’s Smut Peddler, which is accepting entries through December 2011, is bound to find a cushy audience with porno comics from the likes of Erika Moen, Tom Siddell, and Spike herself.

Some of these creators still have a lot to learn about their own ecosystem. But what Machine of Death tells us is that they are organized; they are skilled marketers; and they are sprinting happily into the future of comics, whatever that may be.

Full disclosure: as part of her post, Ms. Davis refers to an odd little list I put together on this site. It’s pretty humbling, especially since I think Ms. Davis’ post is far more lucid than mine.


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 November 4, 2010, in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Personally, I find it interesting that the Machine of Death authors’ list consists of an elite, of whose webcomics I only follow one. By my judgement, then, it’s hardly representative of the field. An interesting thought.

    • I kind of agree with this assessment. Topatoco has sort of become the establishement.

      I think we need a new set of creators to become the NWO and come in and shake things up.

    • I wish I understood the accusations of elitism. Why would anyone but the authors and artists who worked on the book be included in the book? It is hardly representative of the field, but it isn’t trying to be representative of the field.

      No one is stopping anyone from producing their own anthology and promoting it! And new cartoonists do need to become the new world order and shake things up. Always. What is stopping you?

      • The accusations of elitism are easily explained; here we have a number of artists I am often told I should like, coupled with the implication that I don’t know webcomics if I don’t. In my opinion, one of the greatest things about webcomics, is the total equality of all contenders. With a product such as this, it’s very clear that the authors collected in it are thrust ahead of their peers in terms of perceived quality.
        That is my issue, I suppose. This anthology has no bearing on the vast majority of webcomics, yet I am told it is a great thing for the field. And to claim that success for a few means success for all, that is elitism. Especially if one argues that by appearing in print, the “web” is taken out of webcomics altogether.

        • So, essentially, if I’m reading correctly, you’re putting forth the idea that this list of webcomics creators are elitists due to a perception that outside forces uphold them as elite?

          I just want to be clear here, because the distinction is very important: if one is held amongst the elite, that is extrinsic, while true elitism is an intrinsic value. So before the castigation really gets underway, I want to be sure it’s on the basis of what these creator’s proclaim or instead the ideas outsiders to the creator group have thrust upon them.

          • A good question, and thanks for asking it. My last post was written after a ten hour bender that ended early in the morning, which may have something to do with the confusion. I don’t hold the contributors to the anthology to be guilty of elitism. Accusing authors of such for publishing their work is quite nonsensical. What I refer to as elitism (in following of Straub’s post, I guess) in my last post is explained pretty well, there. It is the doing of those who prop this work up on a pedestal, and would denounce those who disagree.

          • @Piet I don’t know if it’s elitism so much. I mean the webcomics that are part of topatoco are… /good/. They’ve shown consistency and quality and obviously have large fan bases. They’re popular, and by not reading them you actually ARE missing out on a big part of webcomics.

          • “Good” is a relative measure. That’s my entire point. There is no reason that these authors are better than anything else out there aside from personal preference. And personal preference is just that: Personal.

  2. This is preposterous.

    They are only “elite” in the sense that they are each independently popular and have mutual respect for one another an willingness to work together.

    You wanna get down with the team? WORK HARDER, end of story.

    I’m not down with Topataco or Dumbrella or any of those teams. But I understand that they’re not trying to screw me or anything like that!

    C’mon dudes! Get on your grind and stop worrying about what somebody else isn’t doing for you. “Get up, get out and get something.”


  3. It’s always good to read about different webcomis and how they work even if one doesn’t like all of them. I guess sometimes one has to be impartial although that doesn’t mean giving everybody a free pass.

  4. I side with darrylayo and Kris Straub. The artists who put out Machine of Death may not have work that appeals to everyone personally, but there is no denying the years and years of hard work they put in. Of the ones I know and follow, they have all been at it for multiple years at least.
    Every webcomic starts out unknown and it can be a long time before you gather any sort of fan base. The artist spends a long time working in obscurity with little to no feedback purely because of the love of the art.
    It would be awesome to one day to be able to attend conventions and work on projects like Machine of Death with other artists, but even if I never do, I will still do my comic because I love it.
    And there are no sour grapes for those willing and able to work harder than I do.

  5. Appeciratoin for this information is over 9000-thank you!

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