Question: Do we still need to refer to our work as a webcomic now that there is an increase in digital versions of standard comics & new opportunities emerging through Comixology and other promotion and publication apps?
Before you answer that, read this article and do some heavy thinking. (You should have had ample time to get over that New Year’s hangover. It’s time to get back to work and use that brain of yours…)
A while back, the gang here at WA had a conversation about the term “webcomic” and whether or not it is still applicable now. (Not to be confused with Ken’s articles on getting rid of the term from a business/traffic perspective and on how to explain it to other people.) Actually – the conversation started around me asking the group whether or not we should consider dropping the Webcomic part of WA in our name.
Did that ever open up a can of worms!
It wasn’t because of the investment we shared in that name, but on a different level; we all had separate opinions on what webcomic meant to us. Then we realized – the ‘webcomic’ term isn’t something that will go away any time soon and frankly, doesn’t need to.
Below, you’ll find 5 different types of opinions on the term – webcomic. Give them a read and find out if you fit under one of them yourself, or you may find yourself aligning with bits & pieces of different ones. You’ll note that the types vary from extreme to neutral and back to extreme.
People of this opinion generally feel that the term webcomic does nothing more than place a negative label that diminishes the quality of their work. This comes from a general lack of understanding about the medium (by the layman/viewer) and from past experience with other authors of lesser notoriety and poorer standards. Since the barrier of entry into webcomics is quite easy to breach, the perception is often seen as something that “anyone can do.” Given that conclusion, webcomics could be interpreted as a field where there is a lack of skilled workers and a glut of mediocre to poor workmanship.
People of this opinion feel that the term isn’t necessarily harming the quality of the work, but hampering its ability to move forward and remain relevant. As authors of this type of content, we all understand the semantics – the comic is published digitally, therefore it is a ‘web’comic. But what happens to the comic as you progress beyond the world of the internet – into apps for mobile devices and other digital publication methods? The progressive opinion goes against the use of the term “webcomic” in order to allow flexibility of the delivery of the content instead of appearing to be tethered to the Internet.
People of this opinion just don’t care. They don’t see the term harming or helping – it’s just a name. They’ve been able to get over it and move on, and in time, the name will be discontinued as new ways of delivering content in the future take centre stage.
People of this opinion believe that there is still some validity in the use of the name. Semantics play a large part in this decision (it’s promoted and published on the web, so it’s a webcomic, right?) But those who favour balance also see the benefits of the term’s eventual dropping for a more suitable term. Riding the fence is often the safest bet, and will lead to less ruffling of feathers – but doesn’t offer much in the way of change or remaining status quo. Personally, I suppose it depends on how YOU are feeling on a given day – (today = webcomic does not describe what I do, yesterday = webcomic does describe what I’ve created).
People of this opinion fully support the use of the term “webcomic” for a variety of reasons. It could be semantics, but it may be more than just a title. For some, the term represents more than just pixels on a screen – it could be the representation of everything that surrounds it. Folks who create a webcomic are part of a fraternity – one that promotes and cultivates growth personally and artistically. There is great support, camaraderie and friendships, all created through the love of comics, stories and mutual likes and interests. Where do all of these people meet and find these commonalities they can share and express with one another? Online! Therefore, you can still use the term and be proud of it. You’ve created a comic for the web and crafted a community around it and created friendships within that community. That is the spirit of webcomics – its more than just drawings and updates every second day. It’s a lifestyle!
The Final Word
The arguments for and against the use of “webcomic” as a descriptor for our work will continue on as long as the debate over ‘print vs web’ will. We probably won’t see a full death of print just as we won’t see a mass exodus from the use of the term “webcomic.” What we do know is that the term means something different to each and every person. The five types I’ve wrote about are just simple categories you could find yourself aligning with, but doesn’t necessarily mean that you must believe each part of the position they take (this isn’t politics or religion folks – we ARE flexible, you know…)
Now, based on what you’ve read and the basic criteria – which of these opinions do you find yourself siding with? Got an opinion? Let us know in the comments! Keep the discussion going – chat us up on the Webcomic Alliance FB page or on Twitter!
PS: To answer those folks who were wondering what we agreed upon: We agreed to disagree, and the Webcomic Alliance is still the Webcomic Alliance. And I drew the short straw in trying to write an article about the discussion from the e-mail chain.
Andrés ‘ Drezz ‘ Rodriguez is the author of the neo-noir Online Graphic Novel El Cuervo. He provides WA readers with periodic articles (like this one) to help improve their comic skillz so they can pay their bills. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @DrezzRodriguez