Webcomic News: Fall/Winter 2013

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Rebecca Sugar: Cartoon Network Trailblazer!

Steven-Universe-Premiere-post“Adventure Time” veteran creator Rebecca Sugar is at it again, her latest “Steven Universe” show premiered in early November…. and she made a little bit of TV History, according to this Washington Post article. Why? Because she’s female. Which leads us to the usual debate: is it better for the advancement of women in comics (or anywhere, for that matter) to let their gender be the bigger issue, than their talent and accomplishments? Do we need “Women in Comics” panels at comic cons, or would simply including MORE women on ANY panel be more beneficial in the battle for true gender equality?

“By following her artistic passion from Silver Spring to Hollywood, Sugar has become something of a trailblazer. On Monday evening, Cartoon Network will debut its newest program, “Steven Universe,” officially making Sugar, at just 26, the first woman to be a solo show creator in the channel’s 21 years on the air.

She is thrilled to achieve the breakthrough, but with just days until the debut, she’s not focused on being the first female creator — she’s too busy simply being a creator, with plenty to still decide and coordinate.”

 

Ohio State University Museum Reveals Some Pure Awesomeness

n3comicsComic and cartoon art enthusiasts: start planning that trip to Columbus, OH for the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum on the Ohio State University campus — and behold comic masterpieces old and new!

“Today, the museum collection includes more than 300,000 original strips from everybody who’s anybody in the newspaper comics world, plus 45,000 books, 29,000 comic books and 2,400 boxes of manuscript material, fan mail and other personal papers from artists. The university says it’s the largest collection of cartoon art and artifacts in the world.

The museum has originals from everyone from Richard Outcault — whose “Yellow Kid” in a 19th century comic strip spawned the term “yellow journalism” — to Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”), classic “Pogo” story lines from Walt Kelly, Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury,” Chester Gould’s “Dick Tracy,” early “Blondie” strips from Chic Young and the entire collection of Jeff Smith, an Ohio State graduate who created the hugely popular “Bone” series of comic books.”

 

“Wired” interviews Allie Brosh of that comic/meme you’ve seen all over…

Some of the best webcomics wind up being more known as funny memes that invade your social media feed, and Hyperbole and Half is definitely one of them. Wired discusses with Allie her new book, and what it’s like to have your comic turned into a meme that takes on a life of its own.

WIRED: One of your comics, “This Is Why I’ll Never Be an Adult,” inspired a meme sometimes called “All the Things.” How do you feel about having your work repurposed outside your comic in a way that isn’t credited and that you can’t control?

Brosh: I think it’s fine when it’s just the internet playing around with it and having fun with it. I sort of get sick of seeing it sometimes. [laughs] But occasionally someone will come up with a creative new way to use it that really makes me laugh. I don’t enjoy when, say, some cause I don’t agree with uses it to support their agenda. That rankles me a little bit, but there’s not much I can do to prevent that. But for the most part I like that people are having fun with it. It’s not OK to use it to sell things, or anything that would be copyright infringement, but I enjoy its nature as a meme.”

Dear Mr. Watterson… a Documentary you REALLY should have heard about by now.

1384443844000-dear-mr-watterson-xlgCalvin & Hobbes fans rejoice: it’s finally here. And USA Today brings us an interview with the director and a sneak peek. A collection of interviews of fans and creators of all walks of life, by Joel Schroeder in his directorial debut, “Dear Mr. Watterson is being screened in select cites and arrives On-Demand Nov. 15th. Guess you know what you’re watching tonight, eh?

I made a concerted choice to not approach Bill Watterson for an interview, because I respect his desire for privacy. I never wanted this to be a movie about trying to track him down and have always wanted to avoid any perception that that was the goal of the film. I wanted the story to be about the meaningful impact that Watterson has had on countless fans, and not about a hunt for a celebrated “recluse.”

In the end, I have no regrets, and I think it was the right choice. Watterson has indeed seen the film, and we know that he appreciated our choices to make it less intrusive.

 

 

Speaking of Watterson…. You HAVE read this, right?

An Interview. With Watterson. BILL Watterson. Yes, the recluse himself. Yes, really. Go read it.

There is a tendency to rehash and regurgitate properties with sequels and remakes. You had an idea, executed it, then moved on. And you ignored the clamor for more. Why is it so hard for readers to let go?
Well, coming at a new work requires a certain amount of patience and energy, and there’s always the risk of disappointment. You can’t really blame people for preferring more of what they already know and like. The trade-off, of course, is that predictability is boring. Repetition is the death of magic.

Purely for trivia and posterity’s sake, if you could indulge some (even more) inane queries: One story that’s made the rounds is that a plush toy manufacturer once delivered a box of Hobbes dolls to you unsolicited, which you promptly set ablaze. For people who share your low opinion of merchandising, this is a fairly delightful story. Did it actually happen?
Not exactly. It was only my head that burst into flames.”

BitStrips: Good, Bad, or Silly Fad?

bs-app-smSo, Facebook feeds are annoying enough as is. The endless game requests, political memes (most half-truths and exaggerations), people STILL playing Farmville, and now your parents have even signed up. Along comes Bitstrips, and your friends are being sucked in, one by one. Well, the non-creator/artist ones anyway. Now EVERYONE is an artist! Or so they think. Or maybe they don’t, maybe they just consider it a time-wasting fad and a fun little app. Either way, it seems everyone has an opinion on the latest app. The casual comic fan getting reacquainted with their love of comics could be a GOOD thing, but when a social media feed is filled with a TON of cartoony comics, your “real” comic could get lost in the noise… losing its value. Or are we getting worked up over a flash-in-the-pan fad? Robot6 covers a bulk of the reaction…

“….that doesn’t mean they’re good comics. Cartoonists probably feel as if they’re being stabbed in the eyes and then stabbed in the back. After all, if you want a good comic, why not hire a real comic artist? It’s not much different from how talent and crew probably feel watching one of those painful GoAnimate videos with the Speak ‘n’ Spell voices and vaguely Family Guy designs. As with many things on the Internet, free usually wins out, especially for something so casual and ultimately inconsequential.”

There certainly is an element of “Get Off My Lawn!” backlash from artists regarding Bitstrips. It makes me wonder… is this how professional published authors felt about the emergence of self-publishing and Print on Demand? Another extension of the Print vs Web war?

 

 

 

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9 Comments

  1. My head explodes every time Watterson craps on the subject of merchandising “Calvin and Hobbes”. Most know my opinion on this subject, but I’ll repeat again: What an idiot! Let the spew of replies begin, but you won’t change my mind. He signed the deal with the devil and then bitched about it. Grow up.

    Great round-up Dawn. I also HATE BitStrips. Total crap. It will pass quickly, like Sunday dinner through a goose.

    The old fart is on fire today.

    • easy, old man. no coronaries up in here. ;0)
      I honestly see both sides of it. After watching the documentary this past weekend, Stephan Pastis explained it pretty well from both sides.

  2. Re: Bitstrips
    I discovered Bitstrips site right after it came out of its beta testing in March of 2008. I was one of the first 10,000 users, so it has actually been around quite some time. I fooled around with it, made some characters and strips here and there and used it to do 24 Hour Comic Day in ’09, ’10 and ’11. I made a few strips for the forums at majorspoilers.com ‘starring’ the hosts of their podcast, and eventually did Major Spoilers Adventures for that site every week for 2 years using Bitstrips for the art.

    I came to really enjoy creating comics, but had frustrations with the limitations of the tools and the homogenized art at Bitstrips. I quickly began working on my own art skills with the idea of eventually doing my own hand drawn comics, which I now do, thanks in large part to Bitstrips and my discovery of the Webcomics Alliance! I abandoned the site about a year and a half ago in favor of my own pen and ink.

    I think like any tool, it can be both good and bad. I learned a lot about constructing jokes, and pacing a strip from using Bitstips. I think it can be a good tool for someone who likes to write, but may not be artistically inclined, or know/afford an artist to collab with. I know some filmmakers that use it as a storyboard tool.

    That being said, the art is very homogeneous, and it was challenging to make characters that didn’t look like all the others. The site has a VERY high signal to noise ratio, but there is some good stuff, some funny and well written strips there. And I met some very cool people there, especially early on when we were pushing the tools to their limits and showing the developers what it could do in the hands of creative people.

    Bitstrips is now a victim of its own success. When the Facebook app exploded the main site and those tools were knocked out of commission, and have been unreachable for more than a month. I can’t access any of the work I have there. The dev’s focus is the 20 million people using the app. It has been very frustrating for those early adopters who rely on it as the tool for making their comics, many of whom feel abandoned even while they built the initial community.

    I’ve kind of watched the whole thing unfold with some amusement, having been VERY involved with it since early on, then moving away from it.

    • Thanks for this, Bruce. This is the reason I can see Bitstrips as possibly being a good thing, despite its detractors. It can be an inspirational tool– and isn’t quite diverse and customizable enough (yet?) that true artists can’t be born out of it, those whom need more control over their ideas! You are proof, so thank you for sharing.

    • … and after Bruce, Tom brings us the other side of things LOL! I felt this way at first too.. like, “HEY! Get off my lawn! This is MY talent, step off!”… but it’s also flattering. People wish they could do what I can do naturally… and this is the only way for them. Most users I have spoken too don’t consider themselves real cartoonists/artists anyway. Hell, my husband uses it for kicks… he says it’s simply a time-waster app.. instead of Bejeweled (which is/was my sickness), he went this route.

  3. Personally, I found the Dear Mr. Watterson film to be a bit on the boring side. Mayne it’s just me, but having to listen to everyone gush over the work (I do enjoy the work, just not the gushing part) was a bit of a turn-off.

    Bitstrips: I make them to be as obnoxious and/or perverted as possible.

    • I did get a chance to watch it, and I see your point. Regardless, I woulda totally gushed all over the place (eww?), so I enjoyed it. It was a well-produced doc funded by kickstarter and directed by a super fanboy. That’s what it felt like for sure. Still worth watching.

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