They’re out there. Passionate, dedicated, willing to support indie creators, and yet so very elusive: The Typical Webcomic Reader. As we have discussed on this site and on our podcasts, although we can easily find fellow creators quite easily on social media, finding the READERS… you know, the ones who keep up with every update and pay for books or merch… is the trick of the trade. We need to figure out where they are hiding, what type of comic appeals to them, how to approach them and how to keep them coming back for more! The best way would be to stumble on someone who is NOT a creator, yet has a handful of webcomics they swear by every day with their morning coffee. Then, we could ask questions to get inside the mind of the this coveted demographic.
Oh wait! I found one!
Funny story. Turns out that a friend of my husband whom I met recently at a township festival where I was exhibiting, reads webcomics. AND she purchases their books. AND she has a lot to say about the subject. She is, indeed, the elusive Typical Webcomic Reader, and her name is Raina. Lets pick her brain, shall we?
My name is Lorraine but everyone calls me Raina 🙂 I am 35 yrs old and a proud single mother of a beautiful 8 yr old little girl. I have been a receptionist for the past 10 yrs.
How were comics introduced to you, or how did you view comics early in life? As an adult, how has that changed and how do they factor into your every day life?
I believe my first comics were the Archie digests. I loved them.. I used to beg my mom to let me get them when we were in the supermarket check out line. As an adult, I haven’t read an Archie comic in FOREVER….I was into Get Fuzzy, Calvin & Hobbes and Opus & Bill during my twenties. Now In my thirties, my tastes have changed again. I very rarely read any comics in the paper anymore… they just don’t catch my interest for some reason.. maybe they are to safe because it is more open to the public.
Yes I believe they did lose my interest because they seems “safe” and the material just seemed to be almost like a rerun. I do think that there should be 2 sets of comics in the paper.. during the week, it should be more adult friendly and then keep the “funnies” for the Sunday paper… because honestly.. how many kids look at the paper during the week? They only look at the funny pages on the weekend. I would definitely read the comic in the paper more if they were more towards me not my daughter 🙂
I honestly have never heard of gocomics.com til you mentioned it. I would not be opposed to paying a fee to have them emailed to me as long as they offered a WIDE variety of comics.
We get the Delco Times at my house everyday and I don’t look at the comics in it because I am not into what they have printed… I used to like Get fuzzy but then I just lost interest . Only time I look at the funny pages is when I hand them to my daughter.
I am ADDICTED to Questionable Content and Girls with Slingshots. I loved the characters, the funny situations they get into, the interaction between the characters and of course…. a perverted mini robot is always the icing on the cake! With GWS, I could relate more to this comic because the main character Hazel reminded me of myself.
I think you can go back if the content is funny and well drawn. Also there are ways to make things funny towards all ages that wont make adults feel like they are kids and yet still funny enough for kids to read. There is an equal medium,.. its just finding that perfect mix for everyone.
See , Like I have said in our past conversation.. I LOVE the idea of being able to mark it P for Pixar because everyone know that Pixar is for everyone and has humor for everyone… maybe you should contact Pixar and suggest the idea? 🙂 I understand the frustration that comic artist must go through and after our conversation, I have racked my brain trying to think of a way to be able to get the comic out there without that stigma but alas, my mind is a blank. Maybe something like, Not just for Kids anymore or like PG16 or something. Wish I could help out on this subject because I know there are A LOT of comics that get passed over by Adults and are missing out on some quality work.
Have you, or would you, consider purchasing books, ebooks, T-shirts, commissions or other merch from a webcomic creator? Obviously, we know you are not made of money, so you have to choose carefully where you spend your money. What qualities does a webcomic or its creator have, that make you WANT to support them?
I have bought 2 books from Questionable Content and 4 books from Girls with Slingshots…… I bought them because I like to be able to reread my fav strips without having to turn my laptop on or worry if I have a good WiFi signal to get online. I like that there is extra stuff in the books that is not available online. Makes it worth it to get it.. kind of like buying a DVD for the extra materials and behind the scene things.
I love the background stuff for the comics when you get them in book form….. as for regular books.. it would depend on the book. If it were the Harry Potter series, I would LOVE to see the background info (ie, character backgrounds, inspirations, etc) but on say a romance novel… yeah .. not so much.
Many creators are looking ahead to the digital age, and creating ebooks for people to download, for an easier way to read their comics than the usual archive-clicking format on websites. Do you think you would give a $1-2 ebook a try, to sample a new comic?
Oh definitely. I have a Nook so I am not sure how that would work since it is still black & white but I think it would be awesome on the Kindle Fire.. or even to download it to the computer.
So, you have your favorites all set. Can you remember HOW you found them? We creators do all we can to get our comic exposure, but often fall short in terms of actual results.. we try every form of social media, paying for advertising on other (more popular) webcomic sites, promoting at comic cons or other fairs/festivals, or all-out spamming our friends and begging them to share our comics with others. So, tell us… which method would pique your curiosity enough to actually start reading another webcomic?
An ex of mine got me into Questionable Content. He sent me a link to comic 1291….. It was funny, awkward, sexual and somewhat a mirror of life. So I figured I would check it out… after reading a few strips.. I was hooked. From there I discovered Girls with slingshots because Danielle did a guest comic for Questionable content. I went to her site and just like with QC, I fell in love with the characters.
Honestly, I don’t pay any attention to the ads (I know that sounds horrible) . I would be more inclined to check out a new artist / comic by seeing them doing a guest strip on a comic I already read / follow. If i like either the drawing or the spin they put on it, I am more willing to check their comic out to see if it catches my attention… I will try any comic once 🙂
Pure honesty is what we want and NEED to hear, so no worries! Many of us spend a great deal on advertising, both in money and time designing ads, but many of us say the higher statistics numbers go away once we stop paying. That means the new visitors who dropped by because of an ad, don’t stick around. Plus, there are plenty of readers like yourself who just ignore the ads all together. Heck, so do I. Making solid connections outside of social media & banner advertising is what we need to strive for, to hook readers like you! Guest comics seems to be a good suggestion. Do you have any more (brutally!) honest advice? What should we NOT do as creators, what turns you off or makes you not even WANT to check out our comics?
I am tired of Big chested female characters!!!!! Make them real people; not every woman is stacked…. some have small bust and big hips, no bust and no ass…. I say make it real. That’s what keeps me coming back but then again I am not the core audience either. I say keep the gags coming, keep the drawing crisp, keep the characters interesting…. if you are going to do an ad.. try to (legally) imitate a popular tv show to grab our attention… I think that might help bring in some audience. They will see you are tuned into whats going on now and will show off the art… they will click and then continue from there.. but thats just my opinion 🙂
Thanks so much for your time, input, and point of view Raina! And THANKS for being a webcomic reader!
So, there you have it.
Raina hath spoken. Even though she claims to not be the “core audience”, she’s a paying customer who would be thrilled to meet her favorite creators, and any of us would love to find more like her. What do I take away from this discussion?
- Webcomic readers and those who still enjoy newspaper comics are a different species.
- Adults who love reading any type of comics will probably pass down all-ages comics to their own kids. So, even though a Webcomic reader may not personally enjoy all-ages/kid-friendly content, they may still support a creator by sharing their comic with their kids.
- Extensions of syndicated comics like gocomics.com or apps may be just another side to the business that is dying. It’s more about the content than the distribution method.
- Most people have access to digital media and would be willing to spend a couple bucks to try out a new comic if it falls in line with other comics they read. Time to get those ebooks made!
- Time spent on guest comics or pop-culture art that the masses can relate to, may be more worthwhile than $50 thrown into Project Wonderful or Google Ads. Advertising may get you more immediate numbers, but in terms of sustained readership, you have to reach out with more than an ad begging the viewer to click on it… especially when most will ignore the ads anyway!
What did you take from this article? Did you find anything surprising, or did anything make you reconsider your approach to promoting or even creating your own comic?
Dawn Griffin is a self-described “crazy chick”. She likes steak, Cleveland sports, video games and oh yeah, comics. She spent her high school years either playing street ball, pitching, or drawing comics and submitting them to syndicates. Once she –accidentally– discovered the world of webcomics, the syndication route became a pointless hurdle. After all, “Crazy Chicks” do things their *&%$ selves. Dawn is the mastermind behind Zorphbert and Fred, and the illustrator of the Abby’s Adventures kids book series. She can be easily bribed with ice cream.