It’s a Comic Strip

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(Byron’s Note: This is a guest article from Scott Jenkins.)

The winds of change are continuing to blow through the comic making universe and there are a lot different opinions about its direction, its future and its viability as a medium. However, there is one thing about the comic strip that is still the same, it’s a comic strip. I find it implausible as to why the name of what we call it needs to change, when all that has changed, is its presentation, distribution and marketing methods. Why are we re-branding an entire art form, simply because the way we deliver it to consumers is evolving?

We no longer need to syndicate our work, or find publishing houses to market our books for us, the digital age has allowed us all the opportunity to open our own doors, rather than relying on the desires and the trends set by corporations as to what the public may, or may not be interested in reading, or buying. If the desire to create is within you, you have an ability to reach an audience and create something with unfettered abandon and limitless possibilities. We can put our comics on the web, we can create e-books and go paperless, we can offer subscriptions to our content and we can even self-print a book if we want, however, no matter how it’s packaged, it’s comic strip. It’s not a web comic, its not a comic on the web, its not an online comic, you are creating something that those before you did with paper, pencil and ink. Their comic strip making window to the world was known as a newspaper, or a magazine, but you, your window to the world is grander, wider and more fluid than theirs, yet, you are still making, what the greats before you made, the comic strip. What has changed, is the new and more innovative places for them to be seen and discovered.

When I talk to my adult peers about comic strips and web comics, many aren’t aware they are one in the same. Telling people I make a web comic has them going “a web-what?” However, saying I self publish my own comic strip, well, that’s something that resonates far more effectively than this term “web comic” has been doing so benignly over the past 15 years. Walk up to any kid today and ask them if they know what a comic strip is and then ask them if they know what a web comic is, you’ll immediately see that saying “comic strip”, continues to be understood, without further explanation as well, the power of those two words still define what we make with instant clarity. My 11 year old niece was the proof in the pudding for this when she showed me a comic strip she made for her art class and referred to it as a comic strip like uncle makes. So, testing her, I told her that what I made was a web comic and what I got was a scrunched up nose, a perplexed look and another vocal “web-what”? Kids are far more aware of branding and buzz words than anyone, web comics do not resonate with them in the same way comics strips do. If you have to explain what a web comic is, it’s already failed you in the same way you have to explain a joke, when someone fails to get it. I’m done explaining what a web comic is, when saying I make a comic strip garners far more understanding and respect and a lot less time to explain.

Coke and New Coke, “new-what?” It never caught on.

Technology will always have us wondering what the next step in the evolution of our creative endeavors are, regarding how to reach an audience and in what capacity to offer them content, but when we sit down to draw, whether its on paper, or digital, we are making, say it with me now, a comic strip. We need to get back to the roots of what it is we’re creating when we sit and draw, or even when we read them. When you think of the influences of all those successful comic strip creators, whether it’s the greats of the syndicated era, or the trailblazers of independent content, its a comic strip that was made. Those independent trailblazers, for whatever reason, renamed our beloved comic strips, New Coke, erm, I mean, Web Comics and I think it’s time to admit, it’s not working. I want my comic strips back.

It may be time to divorce ourselves from words like “web comic”, or “online comic”, those aren’t what we’re really making. Musicians sell their content digitally, they post their video’s to YouTube, so why aren’t they e-musicians, or web-singers? What about independent authors, why aren’t they e-publishers, or web-authors? Just because the delivery of our content has changed, musicians are still musicians and writers are still writers, so to me at least, comic strip creators, are just that, comic strip creators. Shouldn’t we emulate the medium we love by embracing what it is, while learning the process of how take the comic strips we make to a new and evolving audience. We read comic strips and we draw comic strips and we do it in conventional, unconventional and emerging ways, but they’re comic strips and they always SHOULD be.

I no longer desire to diminish their cultural value by calling them something that doesn’t give them the respect and the dignity of their influence and value in our lives. I love comic strips and I thank every artist who’s ever given me the joy of reading their work, whether in a newspaper, a magazine, a book, online, via e-mail, mobile device, cave painting, or carrier pigeon. You inspire me with the words you write and with the pictures you draw in your comic strips. You are the reason my inner child remains within me, a little man waiting for the sun to rise and a comic strip to read!

Scott A. Jenkins [Jynksie] is the creator of the COMIC STRIP Bruised Fruit, which can be found at www.jynksiecomics.com You can also find him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jynksiecomics

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Posted in Featured News, Guest Posts.

47 Comments

  1. Okay, the old fart is gonna chime in. I may offend some of you, but here goes.

    I hate the term webcomic. Yet, here I am as one of the founding members of the Webcomic Alliance. The general opinion among my fellow Alliance members is that the term is essentially harmless and is the accepted norm. I disagree vehemently.

    We draw comics. Scott hit it on the head. Why… WHY do we need to differentiate ourselves just because we publish on the internet? We’re COMIC artists. Period.

    I hold no ill-will toward folks who want to call themselves webcomic artists or describe their product as a webcomic. It is after all, a free world. This is just my opinion. It’s like calling a janitor a custodian, it is meaningless unless you are one. And by the way, I worked as a janitor for nearly a year. Made good money too (for the time).

    So, if you like the term webcomic, more power to you. I just think it’s as futile as resisting the Borg.

    • I think it really boils down to one of the key elements we discuss when promoting our work. Marketing… you want to use buzz words that help your audience identify you.

      Comic
      Comic Strip
      Comic Book
      Graphic Novel

      Those are the basics of what I believe people identify our brand of creativity as. Webcomic, after 14 years of being widely used by those who “create” the content, it’s used by us and mostly us, not by the general audiences who go seeking our work.

      I see #comics trend on twitter occasionally, I rarely see #webcomic trending. Words have value defining products and services and I’d rather invest in the buzz words that my potential audience is going to recognize.

      I make comic strips that can be independently e-published, or traditionally printed. Our medium, and this is my personal opinion, is not much different than that of book authors. When I look at how independent book authors have transitioned from the old to the new, they didn’t rebrand their medium, why are we? I follow a lot of independent authors, who follow me, its clear that they continue using the branding and the marketing terms widely understood by consumers. I feel ‘webcomics” has thrown a wrench in our transformation to the digital era.

      The model independent authors have adopted, warrants some consideration, again, my personal opinion.

    • I’m finally gonna chime in here.
      I think it all comes down to demographic, and where you are trying to promote your comic. If a lot of webcomic readers enjoy your type of comic, then you can say webcomic, and the mere mention of the term will excite them. Like a slang term or a secret club’s password, LOL. I have seen this first hand, when talking to a younger demographic who think webcomics are cooler than regualr comics– they LIKE the indie aspect and like to hate-on DC and Marvel. Hipsters, heh.

      If your comic is more enjoyed outside of the webcomic-reader circle, say it’s more geared towards kids… then saying “comic”, “graphic novel” or “comic strip” may be more beneficial.
      In my experience, those who enjoy my type of comic (Z&F) generally don’t read webcomics. They like the nostalgic newspaper comic strips. At a convention, I am trying to sell my books. Promoting my comic as a webcomic is detrimental to selling my product as once they realize they can read it online for free– many of them wonder why they should bother with the books. It’s an odd business model, to those who don’t already read webcomics. So to avoid having to explain my business model (which is now to only post HALF my comics online), I refer to it as a “comic strip” or simply “comic”. I only mention the site if I know they are not going to purchase the books… and show them the URL on my giveaway bookmark.
      As for this site and the Alliance— if it were easy to change the logo, branding, etc I would probably vouch for ditching the WEB and going with COMIC alone. We offer content that could help people who do NOT post on the web, after all. But I am factoring in a couple of other things, including:
      1. all the work of a full brand overhaul (which it would need if we changed the title)
      2. the possible damage we as a group would endure by the mere fact we changed our name.
      3. “comic alliance” is already taken and well-known– so even a slight change wouldn’t be possible.
      4. IMO, I do not think having WEBcomic in our name is hurting us.. at least not YET. Those who come looking for this type of content are NOT readers…. they are ON the internet already, they are content creators, and are probably savvy enough to know the term WEBcomic. For the time being, being the WEBcomic Alliance works just fine. If it starts to hurt our brand because of that term, I/we would have to make the decision to re-brand ourselves and deal with the work and possible damage.

      But, we as creators can choose how to promote and label our products. Our suggestion at the Alliance is to consider dropping the WEB, and just call it COMICS. Unless you think keeping the WEB will aid your exposure. It’s very niche…. and you have to KNOW that if you are using the term.

      But I cannot go as far as to say EVERYONE needs to ditch the “WEB”, to better the group as a whole.

      • As an in house term Dawn, meaning amongst us creators, whether or not the webcomic alliance or webcomics dot com [as examples] kept that in their vernacular, really Isn’t as important as the front end, the consumer of our content. The alliance Isn’t selling a product to comic readers, but giving information to comic creators. You could call yourselves the Inkblot club and it only matters to the community within. It’s when we begin talking about our content in area’s where consumers would be listening and looking and we want to be using the terminology they identify with.

        Webcomic isn’t a four letter word, but 15 years later, all it is, is an “in house” word. Webcomic alliance is fine, unless you all decide it doesn’t meet the concept of what you are all doing here. Your tag line, doesn’t that cover the bases beyond the name?

        Where we need to have a discussion maybe, is with the web portals that promote our work. Comic rocket, inkoutbreak, taptastic [as examples]… all have built their sites around “webcomic”. I think the reason they flounder to some extent is because they aren’t marketing their portals to consumers for consumers in respects to terminology. Their first window to be found, is the web.

        I’d love to hear from them on the traffic that comes to them, but keyword search analytic’s are clear on this, webcomic is not a common word used to find any of us. We can be found yes, but then again, we could be doing it better all around.

        • I’m on board with what you’re saying, sure. Reasons I ditched referring to my product as a webcomic. “In-house” is a great way to describe it. Usually the only time I use that term to decsribe my comic is when I’m talking to a fellow creator/cartoonist– to further explain it in an “in-house” way that they would understand.

          It’s like if I said “My previous job was a Vutek Operator”.
          Huh?
          “Large Format Printer Operator”
          Oh, ok. Billboards and stuff. Got it.
          In the field, people may know of the Vutek line of printers, and further understand my job. Outside the field it’s mumbo-jumbo.

          That’s all true, BTW.

  2. I struggled with this when I began my own comic strip a couple years ago, and still do a bit. At a comic convention last weekend, I decided to say ‘comic strip’ and not ‘webcomic,’ and it seemed to help. I agree, pretty much every knows what a comic strip is, even kids.

    • Because the public knows what a comic strip is. As Scott said above, outside our own little world here, most folks have no clue what a webcomic is, which is why I’m against using it as a term to define/brand us as artists.

  3. Hopefully I do not come off too preachy here…

    Okay…language and terminology evolve – that’s one of the factors that show a society is still growing and living.

    Prior to the late 1960’s, the term “graphic novel” didn’t exist.
    A comic strip, the sequential art, is a short series of panels commonly called a strip, it is packed in a comic book, a graphic novel or online as a web-comic. Those distinctions are descriptive of what it is and how it is delivered. I do not think it detracts from the essence or art of what is being done – it just shows the diverse way in which the art form can be viewed. The term web-comic is not in anyway a detraction from the artwork (IMO).

    In addition, if I say I am a self-published comic artist, since today the word PUBLISH normally has the connotation of print – I may be disingenuous as to my professional/hobbyist description.

    As the internet continues to evolve – so will those who publish their comics online. So will the descriptions of what those artists label themselves as.

    So what I am I really saying with this verbose dissertation?

    It doesn’t matter, web-comic, comic strip, comic artist, comic book artist, graphic novelist, sequential artist – art is of itself labeled by the artist – not those viewing it.

    Anyway…for what its worth, that’s my take on it.

    • Not preachy at all. We encourage this type of discussion. I am always open to other’s insights as that is how we learn. I do rant and carry on sometimes, but it is also an attempt to open a discussion. I am the first to say I’m wrong.

      In this case there’s no right or wrong. I just happen to have an old-fart opinion. We cannot just call ourselves artists, even though that is exactly what we are, but for branding and marketing purposes, we have to categorize what type of artist we are.

      My opinion still is that webcomic is a weak term for both marketing and branding as Scott said above, the buying public really does not know what the hell a webcomic is.

      But, by the same token, when I ran a video production company and introduced myself as a video producer, the first question EACH AND EVERY TIME was “Oh, you shoot weddings?” As THAT was the public’s view of a video producer. I had to educate people that there was in fact other types of videos out there.

      We have to do the same. Publishing is a great example. An author who publishes his book on a Kindle is still a published author. The world has not caught up with that fact that digital is just as valid as physical print. And OH MY GOD the heated discussions some folks have over physical prints vs. digital is a topic I won’t even start here. To me it’s mute. I enjoy a comic book on my PC as much as I do in my hand. It just doesn’t matter to me, but I’m the rare exception I think.

      Thanks for you input, we do appreciate it!

      • I think you nailed it, “The world has not caught up with that fact that digital is just as valid as physical print”.

        I think many people envision e-publications (unless it is simultaneous to print) as being less than and not equal to.

        Since I have had no thoughts yet about how to monetize my comic/web-comic idea (as I am in the very early phases of it), I never gave much thought to the marketing aspect of it – I was going to cross that bridge at a later date. All I wanted to do recently was tell the story and display the artwork online.

        With this discussion however – I think it puts this to the front of my thinking.

        Thanks for the discussion!

  4. My experience is pretty much the exact the opposite of this: everyone know what webcomics are, and no one reads “comic strips.”

    I draw an actual printed-in-the-newspaper, weekly comic strip about bars. When I describe what I do, something like 95% of people respond “So, it’s a webcomic?”

    I was at a Geeks Out fundraiser last night, and someone asked me “Do you read webcomics? Which ones?” and we had a long conversation about where our RSS feeds overlap. And we didn’t distinguish between webcomics that are gag-a-day strips (the traditional “comic strip”) and ones that are serialized pages in a larger story (the traditional “comic book”). Using “webcomics” let us talk about what we’re reading without carving it into smaller chunks – it’s more inclusive of the variety of comics you find online.

    Obviously, your experience has been different, and you can call your comics whatever you like. But I really don’t see anything diminishing about referring to comics on the Internet as “webcomics” – and in my (admittedly, very nerdy) circles, I’ve seen that term have more cachet than “comic strips.”

    • Well, you said it yourself, your circle is very nerdy… and right on to that! But, you cannot let your own inner group define how you brand yourself to the general market.

      I have done a number of comic cons and most folks do not know what a webcomic is, but they get comic or comic strip.

      I think what the point here is that if we’re to market ourselves beyond our own inner circles, then we must use more conforming terms until the general populace catches on to the term itself.

      Do you buy an “ice box” today? No. You don’t even buy a “Frigidaire” nowadays. Both terms were accepted and marketable terms 100 or 50 years ago. So I would concede that webcomic COULD come of age, but it still has not some 10 to 15 years into its common usage.

      • You can almost tell when someone doesn’t understand the term “webcomic”. I don’t think I could use “strip” because I’m a long-form, so it’s really not a comic strip.

        It’s a comic… on the web… it’s a webcomic.

        But the circuitry does go batty when you’re selling a print copy of your webcomic. You can see the inner wheel spinning “but wait, he said it was online.. but it’s not online, it’s right here on this table?”

        If they’re looking at the printed copy, I call it a comic and then say that the series is released online each week if they want to continue the story past the point in the printed copy.

        • Wouldnt it be easier to say you make a comic, or a serial comic, that you can read in print, or online at your website? Completely removing the words that make them glaze over and become confused?

          Based on your comic, I’d say its a serial comic book, No? Just because it’s read online [and in print], doesnt change what it is, just the location of where one can read it.

    • Bill,

      I WISH your niche experience were the norm, not the exception! General audiences haven’t identified with “webcomic” in the 15 years I’ve been around it. To reach a broader audience, especially when promoting through social media, comic and comic strip are far more identifiable than webcomic.

      I think, as Byron does, webcomic does not reflect the history and the culteral value of the creators who came before us and inspires us, they made comics, they made comic strips. e-publishing hasn’t changed the origin of it’s roots.

      Google comic strip, or google comics… you get nothing related to webcomics. The word is more like a poorly lit back door to a comic book shop on a side street with little traffic. Heck, the portals we use as independent comic creators, like comic rocket or inkoutbreak dont even come up… its gocomics.

      That alone, to me at least, equals = fail! Again, as always, my personal opinion.

  5. I don’t use webcomic or comic, I use “CARTOON” Unless you say “Comic STRIP” many people have too many connotations regarding “comic”

    But if I were to use it this is how I would delineate (for myself only)

    Webcomic (Hobby that I don’t make money from)
    Comic (Money making venture) And in the words of Scott J {SMIRK}

    • ~applause~

      YES! (to quote Brain, from Pinky and the…) We are simply cartoonists. I seem to battle some folks thinking I do animation, but at least we’re communicating on the same level/genre. Well said Mr. Bearman.

      And that is mostly why I DON’T like the term Webcomic, as it’s looked upon as a something unprofessional. Until it reaches the proper level of understanding (and it could) I don’t think we should be using it.

    • I dont think of webcomics as a hobby one makes no money from. I think of it as a word that misdirects consumers from finding ones work, so you can actually make money. While they are typing “comics” or “comic strip”, those words point to a totally different industry of success. The one that doesn’t know webcomics is actually part of it. [smirk of derision]

    • There it is 🙂 I started referring to myself as a “cartoonist” after another comic/cartoonist/webcomicker/illustrator guy used that word to describe me one day, and I thought, “Ooooh, that sounds good”. It sounds good because it is right. I draw and write comics that are online, and soon to be in book form. That makes me a cartoonist. And I’m friggin’ proud of it 🙂

  6. First and foremost I always say I’m a cartoonist (well, actually second…I won’t say what I think about myself first and foremost 😉 ), I never say I’m a webcartoonist…because that would just be silly.

    • I use that cartoonist term as well. The only time I’m using “webcomic” is when referring to specific sites that use the terminology in their [cough] names.

      You are a fantastic cartoonist BTW! If someone can draw a comic strip and write a character I dislike so much I want to crawl into your strip and push her off the planet myself, its got something good going on! [smirk]

      • Aww, thanks! I know you have a deep hatred of her, which means all the seeds I planted along the course of the grand story arc took root somewhere. 😉

        Of course, I never really leaned one way or the other whether she was good or bad, I just left it up to the reader to decide for themselves how they felt about her, either sympathetic or deep hatred. I think if folks met the person she is based upon, there’d be little room for doubt;) And I will leave that intentionally vague.

  7. I completely agree with this. Even though my comic has been self published digitally from the start, I still tell people that I do a comic strip, even if it’s all digital.

  8. I put my single frame comics on my site for the entertainment of my following but also to interest them in buying my create space book and am ready to make 3 more(100 cartoons each). One problem is high sale price because production full color page costly. I am still pen, paper and ink.

  9. On the other hand, I’ve heard comic strips referred to as “newspaper strips” as a way of indicating where one might find the work… in which case the term “webcomic” becomes similarly functional. I haven’t noticed any confusion caused by my using the term for my own work… it seems to prepare people for the idea that they need to go online if they wanna read it.

    • Oh John, its like sticking a daggah in me tickah when you suggest that comic strips aren’t the industry standard for what they are called. You can’t tell me you didn’t grow up knowing Johnny Harts BC, or Sparky’s Peanuts, weren’t comic strips and that comic strips weren’t the institutional way to define them. I mean, you can tell me otherwise, I just won’t believe you good sir! [grin]

      Webcomics, that word is not in the general consumers vocabulary and when they go looking for you online using comics or comic strip, because you are defined as a webcomic, they wont find you. Webcomic is an obscure term outside of those making them.

      Go type “comics” or “comic strip” into a google search, what webcomic anything comes up? You can’t prepare people for a word they don’t know they need to know, that has been around for 15 years and Isn’t widely used outside of those of us in the field, making them.

  10. Great discussion folks!

    I see the web as the distribution method I choose for my comic book. I have print copies as well.

    I do a comic book and I do think most people get that term more than ‘webcomic’
    There are artists out there who really utilize the web technology with scrolling pages and animations which is awesome too but I think most see their work as either a traditional comic strip or comic book that they post online.

    I do think industry-wise there’s still a stigma associated with the term ‘webcomics’ otherwise why would we all be segregated into only the ‘webcomic’ category for comic awards such as the Eisners, Harveys, and Reubens? I guess until we can crack into the ‘best artist’ best writer’ ‘best story’ categories, there will still be this distinction. (Not that I think we’re doing this to get awards or that it’s all-important)

    That’s why it made my blood boil a bit when I saw a clip from STRIPPED where (in my opinion) the over-rated Scott McCloud said that lots of webcomics look like they were just a page from a comic book. Well yes, Mr. McCloud that’s what we intended.

  11. Ok, that does it! Comic Strip it is! I’ll make the appropriate changes to my site. I can’t believe this didn’t occur to me! Thanks for this article, Scott! 🙂

    • Yer welcome sir! I am glad it resonated with you. We make comics in the shadows of the greats before us. Why wouldn’t we carry on their legacy via the medium they crafted?

    • Do it, change it to Comic Strip! I’ve always had the phrase ‘ A spooky comic book you can read online’ right up on top! Proud and loud!

  12. Spot on, Jynks! Some years ago I was at a con and someone on a panel expressed this same opinion on the term “webcomic,” and that really resonated with me. Honestly, I suddenly found myself a little embarrassed by the term because it really does sound “less than” a “regular” comic. And trying to explain what a webcomic was to non-internet/geek/tech types? You’d see the interest fade from their eyes. I consciously began calling Autumn Lake an “online comic,” which sounded better and kept people at least listening (if not reading). My new project I simply refer to as a “comic” or a “graphic novel.”

    • The term has always been a misfortune for independent creators. I’ve been watching “webcomics” unfold now, since 1998 and while there has been success with the independent model of e-publishing ones own content, the entire branding of and renaming of the type of content created, remains obscure under the umbrella of “webcomics”. It’s foolish. No other industry has taken themselves from one era of creation to another and rebranded it into an unidentifiable medium.

      I’m mad and it has nothing to do with my personal successes or failures with my own work, I’m mad because I understand the basics of how an industry works. I also get how an industry evolves with the invention of new technologies -and- how we went from comics to webcomics, it just completely screwed consumers ability to identify with its transformation to the internet and our ownership of our content.

      People on the outside of comics, looking in, all they hear, is how the medium is fading. This is based on the falling revenues of large publishing companies, failing newspapers and not factoring the independents who are succeeding without the newspaper or that publishing company. People, who could probably be succeeding by larger margins if the average consumer could, ya know, find them.

      I’m on a bit of a soap box, I know. I think comics are losing touch with consumers and I think it has to do with what we aren’t calling our work, more so than what we are calling it. Who am I though to question it, what credentials do I hold to change it?

      I’m glad though, through this website, we all could discuss it though, it takes some of that unspoken frustration, which I see I am not alone in feeling and getting it out.

      Cathartic if nothing else!

  13. Lest we forget, a blog was originally a “web log,” and people blogged about their daily lives, then blogs were monetized, now we have professional bloggers who are well-respected journalists. I think there is time and room to sort out potential hybrid terminology in the print/electronic publishing world of comics.

    I make comics but my comic is a webcomic because it is free to read, you can subscribe via email or RSS, and it is updated on a semi-regular basis.

    I 100% agree that to lessen confusion for your audience the simple term comic should be used, but I am not ready give up a term that connotes such positive virtues as creator-owned independence from THE BIG TWO et al., Diamond, and Comixology via Amazon, free for all to read publishing, and from my experience, a community that is very friendly and supportive.

    • I don’t think that letting go of the word webcomic is going to lessen the value of the friendliness and community that independent comic publishers have with each other. Webcomic doesn’t have to be set afire and burned, by any means and its not what I’m trying to suggest or convey. You don’t have to give the term up, as an in house terminology for the craft, but at the front end, where consumers are looking for you, webcomic is not a common vocabulary word for what comic creators make. It’s like going to pick up your medications at an apothecary, when what you mean, is a drug store. Some people know what an apothecary is, everyone knows what a drug store is. Some people know what a packie is, everyone knows what a liquor store is. Same thing.

      All comics today, offer free online content to read, regardless of whether they are syndicated or e-published. The “web” is just the tool to market it. So your webcomic, is a comic, published online. Yes, the syndicate paid the creator to put the comic on the site, but you are your own syndicate, so you put your own work there. It’s up to you how much of your content remains free and how much of it gets seen. Your comic is your marketing tool in and of itself.

      I’ve only played around with comixology a little bit, but its set up seems similar to the amazons book sales concept. Published and e-pubished, by genre, they are all found together. If you make a horror comic, you’ll find it in the horror section and if its classified as a webcomic, it’ll be there as well, or under the publishing company producing it. At least thats how it seems to be functioning. People looking for a comic, are going to look for super hero, or horror, or sci-fi comic, they aren’t going in to find “webcomic”. A few may, but it’s not a general term consumers use. If I have misunderstood the functionality of comixology, hopefully someone will correct me.

      Webcomic has less purchasing power, than the word comic, to your audience. That sums up my 2.5 cent tour of an opinion.

      • Yes, I am definitely on board with being able to use one term (which I concede may totally fade away into oblivion) within creators circles but for clarity and marketing’s sake using another term for our audience. Makes sense to me. However, I think it was important for me to “attempt” to explain why the term “webcomic” is not only NOT a pejorative term but instead has many positive connotations. I will treat this discussion as a positive, teachable moment.

  14. Okay, I admit, I have only read the first 15 or so posts so far but since we’ve already talked about this in pre-recording sessions for various podcasts, I’ll throw my little ol’ opinion in to the ring by first pointing out a little trend in the fast food industry. Bare with me. This will have a point.

    For YEARS, McDonald’s was pretty much the only fast food place that serviced any kind of breakfast menu. But wait, you say. McDonald’s is a BURGER chain… not a breakfast chain. And yet, they have been making a killing on their breakfast sales.

    So much so that Burger King added a breakfast menu. Than Wendy’s did too. And now even TACO BELL has a breakfast menu.

    Why did all of these fast food chains suddenly add a breakfast menu to their offerings? Because they saw the mass appeal McDonald’s was having with their breakfast sales and wanted a piece of that very profitable pie.

    So, what does all of this have to do with “webcomics” versus “in other form you want to call it”? Very simple.

    Be a McDonald’s.

    Don’t be a Burger King, a Wendy’s or a Taco Bell by only insisting on selling burgers or tacos. Do like McDonald’s did and reach a much wider demographic.

    How do you do that?

    Easy.

    When you’re at conventions, you’re a “webcomic” to the 30 and under crowd. For anyone over 30, you’re a “whatever you want to call yourself except a ‘webcomic'”.

    Now, you have just reached a wider audience with less confusion. The people who want breakfast (webcomics), can get breakfast and the people who want burgers (printed comics or whatever) can get burgers. And both can feel right at home with your product.

    The hard part is getting someone to dress up like a clown to sell your product.

    You’re on your own with that though. 🙂

  15. Fascinating discussion! I do think “webcomic” is a useful term in the correct places. If you’re making a Project Wonderful ad, you’re probably posting it on another webcomic’s site, so the audience isn’t going to freak out about what it means. In that case, I do want to see the word “webcomic” on there, not “comic”, so I know it’s not a physical thing you want me to buy before I click. I also think when another artist does a “webcomic”, they’re going to be much more interesting to follow online than just a “comic” artist, because I know they have an update schedule and will be around a lot trying to engage, and that’s a big pull for me.

    For real-life conversation and outreach at cons, I agree “webcomic” gets misunderstood. I haven’t done much with my physical book yet, but my approach so far has been “this is my fantasy adventure comic that I just Kickstarted in March” and let them believe that’s the only context in which it exists (some of them don’t know what Kickstarter is, either, so maybe they just think I’m using a fancy word for “started drawing it”). If they seem interested, but not enough to buy it, then I encourage them to take a business card and tell them I put out a new page every Tuesday and Thursday, which they can read on my site.

    It’s also on the back of my book: “Sombulus is a webcomic series that started in May 2010, and updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays at http://www.sombulus.com“. And maybe it shouldn’t be there, but if they’ve got the book in their hands, I’m going to TRUST that are interested in its physical form too.

    • The first lady didn’t even call it “webcomic” she called it “web strips” and referred to us as “kids”. “I don’t know how they make money.”

      And for the large part, we don’t… off our strips. Our comics, for the most part, are the “loss leader” product to get eyeballs on US, our TALENTS, and our other SKILLS.

      This is why I’m so adamant that we NOT use the term “webcomic” for marketing/branding… at all. In general purposes, the term has meaning and merit, but not to make us money.

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