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Cameron Stewart on the stigma of webcomics

Cameron Stewart of Sin Titulo is embarking on a tour across Canada, the US, and England to promote the print version. Robot 6 guest contributor David Scheidt interviews him. Of particular interest to me is Mr. Stewart’s insights into the world of webcomics, and the differences in perceptions between webcomic audiences and traditional comics fans.

I hate to admit this, but I had no idea this comic existed until I saw it on the shelves at Challengers, and I’m fairly familiar with your work. I just assumed it was a new graphic novel you released that I somehow didn’t hear about.

It is new to a lot of people because there are a lot of people out there who just don’t like reading webcomics. There’s an opportunity there to treat it as a new book.

There definitely seems to be a distinction between webcomics readers and traditional comics readers. Where do you think Sin Titulo fits between those two worlds?

A lot of webcomics seem to be these humor strips or long-running, almost soap opera-type things. I didn’t want it to be a humor strip or something that I’d want to run indefinitely. I set out to do it as a finite story, even though I started it not knowing what it was gonna be. The end game was always to have it in print. I definitely like using the Internet for publishing comics — I think it’s a really, really valuable too, and in a way I think it’s much better than self-publishing. It’s closer in spirit to typical, printed graphic novels compared to other webcomics.

Yeah, It seems like a lot people already have a preconceived notion of what webcomics are. It’s great that more and more that different genres are popping up, since it’s just as capable a medium as print comics.

Absolutely. I think a lot of people kind of look down on webcomics. I won an Eisner Award for it [Sin Titulo] for the category Best Webcomic and it doesn’t really seem to me be fairly judged against other webcomics, but there’s a stigma kind of attached to them. Almost like they aren’t considered real comics. One of the things I wanted to do was, because I already had an established career in print comics with Marvel and DC and mainstream comics, I wanted to be if not the first, one of the early people to go and attempt a serious work on the web in that medium and to see if it was successful, and hopefully by doing that encourage other major names to do the same.

The stuff Mark Waid and all the creators at Thrillbent have been doing with digital comics, those could just as well be print comics but they are created and played to the strengths of the digital medium.

I think there’s no distinction certainly between what’s possible in the medium. I don’t think there is any distinction really, between webcomics and print comics other than your reading them on a computer or tablet rather than in print. I think as time goes on, as digital comics grow in popularity, I think that distinction will fall away completely. I don’t think there will be a distinction between the two. It’ll just be the same thing.

Why is this interesting to me? Well, mainly because webcomics have been around two decades, and it seems folks are still talking about how the distinction between print and digital will fall away. Maybe so, but I think fans for Thrillbent and Comixology offerings will always be a distinct crowd from the webcomics group in the same way that fans of Marvel and DC aren’t necessarily the same fans as those of Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes.

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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 13, 2013, in webcomics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This is a pretty interesting discussion that I don’t think is ever going to go away in regards to webcomics. You have some, like Gunnerkrigg Court, which are just as at home on the shelves of Barnes and Noble as they are on the web, and then there’s others like Homestuck, which push the boundaries of what a “webcomic” can be and actually lose something vital when transitioning to print. And of course, there’s a million hobbyists and aspiring arists out there who just want to create, but have no hopes (internally) of a “real” publisher picking it up, which might be part of the stigma against them – but is also something kind of special about them.
    I think you’re right, though, that the audiences tend to be different. And given that it’s the internet and most webcomics are free, there are no boundaries to the webcomic audience.

    Unrelated, but I shilled my webcomics back in the post for doing so, but after DrunkDuck’s meltdown, I went and got some new webspace for them. Would it be possible to update those links? Or, if that’s too much of a hassle, have them removed from the list? (You did me a big favor putting them up in the first place, I don’t wanna get greedy! But I don’t like having the wrong links up, so whatever works for you!) My comics are Twisted Mirrors (new url – http://www.twistedmirrorscomic.com) and Firefly Cross (url – http://www.fireflycross.pensandtales.com/). Thanks for linking them to begin with, though! It was much appreciated!

    • DrunkDuck meltdown, huh? What happened?

      (And thanks for the heads up. I’ll update your link either tonight or tomorrow.)

      • Thank you!

        DrunkDuck went down for about a month and a half – starting at the beginning of September and coming back in the middle of October, but they had to rebuild the entire site from scratch, so while they had a backup and recovered everything, the site still isn’t full working properly and they had to change the url (from drunkduck.com to theduckwebcomics.com, I think).

        …all of which makes me glad I now have a second site to post my comics to…

  2. Some of the “stigmas” that webcomics have aren’t exactly unique. They’re just following after print comic traditions. Newspaper comics are gag-a-day and often continue long after the original creator has retired or died. Manga and Superhero comics are story driven dramas that are often padded out to keep the story going as long as possible. Webcomics are infinite and meandering for the same reason their print counterparts are: if you have a popular and profitable series, it makes more sense to keep with what works than risk it all for a new series that bombs. If anything, graphic novels are unique in their need to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end (though webcomics really ought to consider letting their series end on a high note instead of dragging on forever or ending on a hiatus).

  3. Yes! Finally someone writes about translation and interpreting services.

  1. Pingback: Episode 341: We Missed This (Did You?) | Digital Strips: The Webcomics Podcast

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