Crossovers, webcomics, and you

Over at the Eat The Babies blog (which has more to do with webcomics than with the culinary possibilities of infants), Brady Russell gives thought about crossovers and webcomics.

I dream of a world where webcomics creators do crossover storylines. There. I said it. Bring crossovers to webcomics. Not guest comics. Crossovers. Real collaborations.

The positive way to look at crossovers, though, is that the creations of very very different minds can end up working with each other and interacting. It’s as if Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield ended up in the same book as Astrid Lindgren’s Pippy Longstocking. You know?

So what if web-comics creators started doing crossover stories? I think it could be really, really fun. It might also help creators expand their audiences. After all, everyone pretty much agrees that there are lots of people in the webcomic audience reading far fewer strips than they could.

He then arrives at some strange combinations: Wigu and Wonderella; Abominable Charles Christopher meets Forming; Bad Machinery meets Octopus Pie (I could stand behind that) meets Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell (I have no idea what that is).

Crossovers have been done before, of course, whether it’s odd “were there actually fans of these comics in the first place?” jams like Crossoverlord to that one game where Tycho plays poker with Strong Bad and Max. (Not a straight up webcomic crossover, but a very prominent appearance of a webcomic character.)

It’s a fairly tricky proposition, since each webcomic does functionally exist in their own world. Intracompany crossovers with, say, Marvel work because it’s all the same universe. Same with DC. But if you try to cross Marvel and DC, you have to typically come up with some ridiculous reason — like some interdimensional being named “Access” — for them to come together. (Side thought: do you think characters like Shatterstarfire and Dr. Strangefate hang around wondering what they did to get such awful names in the Amalgam universe?)

It’s also probably the reason Image Comics crossovers never really gelled; despite being in the same company, the rights belonged to each creator, hence there was no overall direction since each character had their own direction to follow. Not to mention real world business practices, like when the Wildstorm studio up and got folded into DC. So if you wanted to do a crossover, you’d better make sure that the hero you wanted to use wasn’t suddenly a villain now and that they’d be available to use months down the line. (How twisted is it that webcomics have a lot in common with flippin’ Image Comics?)

Still, I think the one crossover that would work with fairly well known properties would be Sam And Fuzzy and Sluggy Freelance. They operate under the same “anything can happen” method of storytelling. The fact that both stories typically have to deal with demons and ninjas and interdimensional portals and such. There would be no explanation needed for why the Sam is all of the sudden firing lasers side-by-side with Torg. Heck, they probably already exist in the same universe.


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 January 11, 2012, in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. I vote for GWS and QC. Honestly the biggest reason I’d want to see crossovers would be so I could see creators draw each others characters.

  2. Possibly, it’s a legal nightmare…

    Most creators have it in the back of their mind that some TV/Movie studio exec will pick up on their brilliant creation, so when it comes to contracts, exclusivity is a big deal. Suddenly, that book your friend put out last year with your creations in it (and your blessing, participation, and a website credit) is hanging round your neck. Either, you’ll have to convince the suits betting tons of money on you to put a clause in your contract protecting your cartooning friend, or you have to go to said friend and say, you need to destroy all the copies of your book. No, they won’t compensate you, but they won’t sue you either…

    (I did illustrations for a Harry Potter study guide once (before the first movie came out) that was authorised by the publishing company, but not Warner Bros. so it was burned. It happens.)

  3. I feel like I remember this happening a bit until like 2003 or 2004, typically with mediocre results.

    Crossovers would happen because Creator X and Creator Y were friends, not because of a compatibility in the tone or setting, and sometimes there were really large gaps in skill between the creators. Often the crossover would be really poorly archived thus impossible to follow unless you were reading both comics as it happened.

    I rather people just stick with guest comics.

  4. I could totally imagine some sort of T. Campbell/David Willis collaboration, since they seem to get along. Actually, “Dumbing of Age” and “Penny and Aggie” (now that it’s about Sara and Lisa in college) would make a lot of sense. And I know Campbell wouldn’t be opposed to doing crossovers because back in the day “Faans” did a crossover with “Knights of the Dinner Table.”

  5. @canaan as simple as having a stand alone crossover arc lily is totally right most webcomics happen because the authors are friends(not all of them), they are another kind of crossover when the creator is the author of several webcomics(like eerie cuties and magic chicks crossover a while back)

    it doesnt matter if the the theme is totally different one of my favorite
    all time crossover would be the sket dance/gintama crossover(sket dance version chapter)
    and the setting is totally different (school comedy/jobless space samurai)

    but as the big webcomics have kinda a lot of work behind the screens I dont see that to happen a lot probably smaller and younger webcomics have more liberty to do them.

    ps.- have you seen crossoverkill , crossoverlord sequel is totally better than his predesor

  6. “Were there ever fans of the comics in the first place”?


    Yes. Yes indeed.

  7. There was a neat little crossover between Magellan and Mindmistress…

  8. I used to be such a crossover whore. I even had a three-way 😛

    Crossover are a million tons of fun, but they’re a nightmare for the archives. Readers going through your archives need to read the other comic to understand, and if they don’t like it, they feel lost.

    I am done with crossovers, but CRFH and Faans! crossovered twice. Both times, with long-lasting plot consequences. I consider my second Fans! crossover the best crossover I have ever participated in.

    • Did you ever try to do a crossover where each comic shared characters but did two separate stories, only really mixing at the “senses shattering conclusion?”
      Or, better yet, giving different perspectives on the same conclusion?

      • No, but the problem remains. The thing is, people has to know the characters from the other comic to work. Otherwise you’ll have to intro them, and that takes time to do properly. 🙂

  9. There was the Axe Cop and Dr McNinja crossover not too long ago. I was only 5 or 6 pages but it’s a combination that worked pretty well.

  10. I think a crossover would have to be a standalone concept. Completely separate from the two (or three, four, etc) comics current storylines unless it were pre-planned before hand.

    It doesn’t seem as common as it used to be during the early noughties but like many themes in media they just come and go with time so I’m sure we’ll see perhaps the next generation of creators buddying up which sounds awesome…

    …just so long as we don’t have a Penny & Aggie / Menage a 3 crossover then I’d probably go and jump off of the Taipei 101 tower or something while screaming in agony.

  11. At the risk of a visit from Sir Nerdrage McBacklash, I will say that I am enjoying the buck out of “Dan vs. Friendship is Magic,” a fanwebcomic crossover between two popular cartoons on TheHub.

    “Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell (I have no idea what that is)”
    FIX DAT.

    The saddest victim of the DC/Marvel Amalgam disaster (aside from the reader) had to be Paste-Eater Pete.

  12. This reminds me of “the Last Book in the Universe” and some comic about a guy that uses a cat to get to sleep because human are incapable of naturally sleeping.

  13. “Octopus Pie?” Where…..?

  14. I think Irregular Webcomic! may be the closest thing we get to having really usable webcomic crossovers. Alternately, have one comic’s archives lead you to the other comic’s archives.

  15. I think the admin of this website is actually
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  1. Pingback: Assorted Webcomic Interests | Strip News | ArtPatient

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