Webcomics (also known as online comics or Internet comics) are comics published on a website or mobile app. While many are published exclusively on the web, others are also published in magazines, newspapers or in comic books.
Webcomics can be compared to self-published print comics in that anyone with an Internet connection can publish their own webcomic. Readership levels vary widely; many are read only by the creator's immediate friends and family, while some of the largest claim audiences well over one million readers. Webcomics range from traditional comic strips and graphic novels to avant garde comics, and cover many genres, styles and subjects. They sometimes take on the role of a comic blog. The term web cartoonist is sometimes used to refer to someone who creates webcomics.
There are several differences between webcomics and print comics. With webcomics the restrictions of the traditional newspapers or magazines can be lifted, allowing artists and writers to take advantage of the web's unique capabilities.
The freedom webcomics provide allows artists to work in nontraditional styles. Clip art or photo comics (also known as fumetti) are two types of webcomics that do not use traditional artwork. A Softer World, for example, is made by overlaying photographs with strips of typewriter-style text. As in the constrained comics tradition, a few webcomics, such as Dinosaur Comics by Ryan North, are created with most strips having art copied exactly from one (or a handful of) template comics and only the text changing. Pixel art, such as that created by Richard Stevens of Diesel Sweeties, is similar to that of sprite comics but instead uses low-resolution images created by the artist himself. However, it is also common for artists to use traditional styles and layouts, similar to those published in newspapers or comic books.
Webcomics that are independently published are not subject to the content restrictions of book publishers or newspaper syndicates, enjoying an artistic freedom similar to underground and alternative comics. Some webcomics stretch the boundaries of taste, taking advantage of the fact that internet censorship is virtually nonexistent in countries like the United States. The content of webcomics can still cause problems, such as Leisure Town artist Tristan Farnon's legal trouble after creating a homoerotic Dilbert parody, or the Catholic League's protest of artist Eric Millikin's "blasphemous treatment of Jesus."
Webcomics come in a large variation of formats throughout the world. Comic strips, generally consisting of three or four panels, have traditionally been a popular format for webcomics. Other webcomics may mimic the pages of traditional comic books and graphic novels, sometimes in the hopes of eventually being published in print.
Scott McCloud, one of the first advocates of webcomics, pioneered the idea of the "infinite canvas" where, rather than being confined to normal print dimensions, artists are free to spread out in any direction indefinitely with their comics. Such a format proved highly successful in South-Korean webcomics when JunKoo Kim implemented an infinite scrolling mechanism in Line Webtoon in 2004. In 2009, French web cartoonist Balak described Turbomedia, a format for webcomics where a reader only views one panel at a time, in which the reader decides their own reading rhythm by going forward one panel at a time. Some web cartoonists, such as political cartoonist Mark Fiore or Charley Parker with Argon Zark!, incorporate animations or interactive elements into their webcomics. There are also attempts to combine comic books presentation with live-action video sequences by Scottish company Rextale.
The first comics to be shared through the Internet were created in the mid-1980s. Services such as CompuServe and Usenet were used before the World Wide Web started to rise in popularity in 1993. Early webcomics were usually derivatives from strips in college newspapers, but when the Web became widely popular in the mid-1990s, more people started creating comics exclusively for this medium. By the year 2000, various webcomic creators were financially successful and webcomics became more artistically recognized. Unique genres and styles became popular during this period.
In the second half of the 2000s, webcomics became less financially sustainable due to the rise of social media and consumers' disinterest in certain kinds of merchandise. However, crowdsourcing through Kickstarter and Patreon also became popular in this period, allowing readers to donate money to webcomic creators directly. The 2010s also saw the rise of webtoons in South Korea, where the form has become very prominent. This decade has also seen an increasingly larger number of successful webcomics being adapted into animated series in China and Japan.
In July 2000, Austin Osueke launched eigoMANGA a web portal that published original online manga "webmanga". Within this year, eigoMANGA brought comic book industry attention to webcomics after being featured in many comic book web magazine articles and later appearing in the March 2001 issue of Wizard Magazine.
In 2001, the subscription webcomics site Cool Beans World was launched after a high-profile publicity campaign including extensive print advertising. It won Internet Magazine's "Site of the Month" award in October 2001. Contributors included, amongst others, UK-based comic book creators Pat Mills, Simon Bisley, John Bolton and Kevin O'Neill, and the author Clive Barker. Serialised content included Scarlet Traces and Marshal Law.
In March 2001, Shannon Denton and Patrick Coyle launched Komikwerks.com serving free strips from comics and animation professionals. The site launched with 9 titles including Steve Conley's Astounding Space Thrills, Jason Kruse's The World of Quest and Bernie Wrightson’s The Nightmare Expeditions.
On March 2, 2002, Joey Manley founded Modern Tales, offering subscription-based webcomics. The Modern Tales spin-off serializer followed in October 2002, then came girlamatic and Graphic Smash in March and September 2003 respectively.
By 2005, webcomics hosting had become a business in its own right, with sites such as The Rampage Network and Webcomics Nation. A number of webcomics have also benefited from being featured on the independent comic app Comichaus, which was launched in 2015 and has been described as a "Netflix for independent comics", allowing creators to make money from advertising and subscriptions.
Comic strip syndicates had been present online since the mid-1990s, traditional comic book publishers, such as Marvel Comics and Slave Labour Graphics, did not begin making serious digital efforts until 2006 and 2007. DC Comics launched its web comic imprint, Zuda Comics in October 2007. The site featured user submitted comics in a competition for a professional contract to produce web comics. In July 2010, it was announced that DC was closing down Zuda.
Creators of webcomics are able to do so professionally through various revenue channels. Webcomic artists may sell merchandise based on their work, such as T-shirts and toys, or they may sell print versions or compilations of their webcomic. Many webcomic creators make use of online advertisement on their websites, and some have undergone product placement deals with larger companies. Crowdfunding through Kickstarter and Patreon have also become sources of income for web cartoonists.
Webcomics have been used by some cartoonists as a path towards syndication in newspapers; however, out of the thousands of comics submitted to each syndicate every year, only a few are accepted. In 2000, Scott McCloud predicted that micropayments would become a major source of income for web cartoonists, but this declaration never came to fruition.
Many webcomic artists started creating their online works without an intention to directly profit from it, often instead publishing through the Internet in order to get (instant) feedback on their skills. Other artists start creating a webcomic with the intention of becoming a professional; many don't succeed in part because they "put the business before the art." Meanwhile, many successful webcomic artists are diversifying their income streams in order to not be solely dependent on the webcomic itself.
Many webcomics artists have received honors for their work. In 2006, Gene Luen Yang's graphic novel American Born Chinese, originally published as a webcomic on Modern Tales, was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award. Don Hertzfeldt's animated film based on his webcomics, Everything Will Be OK, won the 2007 Sundance Film Festival Jury Award in Short Filmmaking, a prize rarely bestowed on an animated film.
Many traditionally print-comics focused organizations have added award categories for comics published on the web. The Eagle Awards established a Favorite Web-based Comic category in 2000, and the Ignatz Awards followed the next year by introducing an Outstanding Online Comic category in 2001. After having nominated webcomics in several of their traditional print-comics categories, the Eisner Awards began awarding comics in the Best Digital Comic category in 2005. In 2006 the Harvey Awards established a Best Online Comics Work category, and in 2007 the Shuster Awards began an Outstanding Canadian Web Comic Creator Award. In 2012 the National Cartoonists Society gave their first Reuben Award for "On-line comic strips."
Other awards focus exclusively on webcomics. The Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards consist of a number of awards that were handed out annually from 2001 to 2008. The Clickburg Webcomic Awards (also known as "the Clickies") has been handed out annually since 2005 at the Stripdagen Haarlem comic festival. The awards require the recipient to be active in the Benelux countries, with the exception of one international award.
Though webcomics are typically published primarily on the World Wide Web, some web cartoonists may get publishing deals in which comic books are created of their work. Sometimes, these books are published by mainstream comics publishers who are traditionally aimed at the direct market of regional comic books. Some web cartoonists may pursue print syndication in established newspapers or magazines. In other cases, webcomic creators decide to self-publish their work. Crowdfunding through Kickstarter is often used in order to fund such projects.
The traditional audience base for webcomics and print comics are vastly different, and webcomic readers do not necessarily go to bookstores. For some web cartoonists, a print release may be considered the "goal" of a webcomic series, while for others, comic books are "just another way to get the content out." Webcomics have been seen by some artists as a potential new path towards syndication in newspapers, but attempts have rarely proven lucrative. According to Jeph Jacques (Questionable Content), "there's no real money" in syndication for webcomic artists. Some artist would not be able to syndicate their work in newspaper because they fill up a specific niche and wouldn't be accepted by a broader audience.
Many webcomics are published primarily in English, this being a major language in Australia, Canada, India, the United States, and various European countries. Cultures surrounding non-anglophone webcomics have thrived in countries such as China, France, India, Japan and South Korea.
Webcomics have been a popular medium in India since the early 2000s. Indian webcomics are successful as they reach a large audience for free and they are frequently used by the country's younger generation to spread social awareness on topics such as politics and feminism. These webcomics reach a large amount of exposure by being spread through social media.
In China, Chinese webcomics have become a popular way to criticize the communist government and politicians in the country. Many webcomics by popular artists get shared around the country thanks to social networks such as Sina Weibo and WeChat. Many titles will often be censored or taken down by the government.
Ace Kilroy is a serialized adventure webcomic that launched on October 31, 2011. In its first season, it ran in daily black-and-white installments, culminating every week with an extra-long "Color Sunday" that also served as a teaser to the events of the upcoming week.
The co-creation of artists Rob Kelly and Dan O'Connor (who met while attending the Joe Kubert School of Graphic Art), Ace Kilroy features the title character — a World War I veteran turned soldier of fortune — who has to defeat supernatural monsters in order to stop plans of the nazis. Inspired by mid-20th century comics and monster movies, the webcomic was well received.Business of webcomics
The business of webcomics involves webcomic creators earning a living professionally through various revenue channels. Webcomic artists may sell merchandise based on their work, such as T-shirts and toys, or they may sell print versions or compilations of their webcomic. Many webcomic creators make use of online advertisement on their websites, and some have undergone product placement deals with larger companies. Crowdfunding through Kickstarter and Patreon is also a source of income for webcartoonists.
Webcomics have been used by some cartoonists as a path towards syndication in newspapers; however, out of the thousands of comics submitted to each syndicate every year, only a few are accepted. Since the early 2000s, some webcartoonists have advocated for micropayments as a source of income, but micropayment systems have seen little success.
Some artists start their webcomics without an intention to directly profit from it, instead publishing through the Internet for other reasons, such as getting feedback on their skills. Other artists start creating a webcomic with the intention to become a professional, but often don't succeed in part because they "put the business before the art." Meanwhile, many successful webcomic artists are diversifying their income streams in order to not be solely dependent on the webcomic itself. As of 2015, the vast majority of webcomic creators are unable to make a living off their work.Faith Erin Hicks
Faith Erin Hicks is a Canadian cartoonist and animator living in Vancouver, British Columbia.
She has created a number of graphic novels, both as sole creator (such as Zombies Calling! and Friends with Boys) and as a collaborator (Nothing Could Possibly Go Wrong and Buffy: The High School Years), as well as serialized works like Demonology 101 and "The Adventures of Superhero Girl".History of webcomics
The history of webcomics follows the advances of technology, art, and business of comics on the Internet. The first comics were shared through the Internet in the mid-1980s. Some early webcomics were derivatives from print comics, but when the World Wide Web became widely popular in the mid-1990s, more people started creating comics exclusively for this medium. By the year 2000, various webcomic creators were financially successful and webcomics became more artistically recognized.
In the second half of the 2000s, webcomics became less financially sustainable due to the rise of social media and consumers' disinterest in certain kinds of merchandise. However, crowdsourcing through Kickstarter and Patreon also became popular in this period, allowing readers to donate money to webcomic creators directly. The 2010s also saw the rise of webtoons in South Korea, where the form has become very prominent.Homestuck
Homestuck is a webcomic written, illustrated, and animated by American author and artist Andrew Hussie, and is the fourth overall webcomic published on MS Paint Adventures (MSPA). The webcomic centers on a group of teenagers who unwittingly bring about the end of the world through the installation of a beta copy of an upcoming computer game.
The comic consists of a combination of static images, animated GIFs and instant message logs, as well as animations and games made with Adobe Flash. It has been noted for its complex plot and considerable length: over 8000 pages and 800,000 words.JL8
JL8 is a webcomic by Yale Stewart based on the characters of DC Comics' Justice League. Having started in 2011 under the title Little League, the webcomic presents the members of the Justice League as 8-year-old children. Stewart has used JL8 to raise funds for charities, and the webcomic has been positively received by critics.Keenspot
Keenspot is a webcomics portal founded in March 2000 by cartoonist Chris Crosby (author of Superosity), Crosby's mother Teri, cartoonist Darren Bleuel (author of Nukees), and Nathan Stone.Keenspot.com is currently the exclusive webcomics home of Twokinds, Brawl in the Family, the Luther Strode saga, Marry Me, Last Blood, Fall Out Boy Presents Fall Out Toy Works, Flipside, and dozens of other features.In December 2016, Keenspot began publishing a new line of print comic book titles distributed to comic book stores by Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. Their launch titles included monthly ongoings of Hunters of Salamanstra and Marry Me and book collections of Thomas Fischbach's Twokinds.List of webcomic creators
This is a list of notable webcomic creators.Lists of webcomics
This is a list of all webcomic lists, sorted by varying classifications.Manhua
Manhua (Chinese: 漫画; pinyin: Mànhuà; literally: 'impromptu sketches') are Chinese comics produced in China and the greater Sinosphere.Mob Psycho 100
Mob Psycho 100 (Japanese: モブサイコ100, Hepburn: Mobu Saiko Hyaku) is a Japanese webcomic created by ONE, which began publication on Ura Sunday on April 18, 2012, and concluded on December 22, 2017. It has been available online on Shogakukan's mobile app MangaONE since December 2014. Dark Horse Comics has licensed the series for English publication.
An anime television series adaptation produced by Bones aired between July and September 2016. The English dub of the series was released by Funimation in December 2016. A live-action series adaptation premiered on January 18, 2018. A second season of the anime series began airing from January to April 2019.
A spin-off manga series titled REIGEN was serialized in the MangaONE mobile app from March 19, 2018 to February 19, 2019.Nimona
Nimona is a fantasy webcomic by the American comics writer and artist Noelle Stevenson. Stevenson started Nimona while a student at Maryland Institute College of Art. The webcomic was first published in June 2012 and doubled as Stevenson's senior thesis. Nimona has been published in the form of a graphic novel by HarperCollins in 2015. An animated feature film adaptation, produced by Blue Sky Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, is scheduled to be released on March 5, 2021.Penny Arcade
Penny Arcade is a webcomic focused on video games and video game culture, written by Jerry Holkins and illustrated by Mike Krahulik. The comic debuted in 1998 on the website loonygames.com. Since then, Holkins and Krahulik have established their own site, which is typically updated with a new comic strip each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The comics are accompanied by regular updates on the site's blog.
Penny Arcade is among the most popular and longest running webcomics currently online, listed in 2010 as having 3.5 million readers. Holkins and Krahulik are among the first webcomic creators successful enough to make a living from their work. In addition to the comic, Holkins and Krahulik also created Child's Play, a children's charity; PAX, a gaming convention; Penny Arcade TV, a YouTube channel; Pinny Arcade, a pin exchange; and the episodic video game Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness with Hothead Games and Zeboyd Games.Pepe the Frog
Pepe the Frog () is a popular Internet meme. A green anthropomorphic frog with a humanoid body, Pepe originated in a comic by Matt Furie called Boy's Club. It became an Internet meme when its popularity steadily grew across Myspace, Gaia Online and 4chan in 2008. By 2015, it had become one of the most popular memes used on 4chan and Tumblr. Different types of Pepe include "Sad Frog", "Smug Frog", "Angry Pepe", "Feels Frog", and "You will never ..." Frog. Since 2014, "Rare Pepes" have been posted on the (sarcastic) "meme market" as if they were trading cards.By 2016, the character's image had been appropriated as a symbol of the controversial alt-right movement. The Anti-Defamation League added certain incarnations of Pepe the Frog to their database of hate symbols in 2016, adding that not all Pepe memes are racist. Since then, Pepe's creator has publicly expressed his dismay at Pepe being used as a hate symbol.Questionable Content
Questionable Content (abbreviated QC) is a slice-of-life webcomic written and drawn by Jeph Jacques. It was launched on August 1, 2003. Jacques makes his living exclusively from QC merchandising and advertising, making him one of the few professional webcomic artists. By 2004, Jacques was able to support himself and his then-fiancée based on income from merchandise and advertising sales. In May 2019, the comic reached its 4,000th strip.The plot originally centered on Marten Reed, an indie rock aficionado; his anthropomorphized personal computer Pintsize; his roommate, Faye Whitaker; their mutual friend, Dora Bianchi; and their neighbor Hannelore Ellicott-Chatham. However, over time a supporting cast of characters has grown to include employees of the local coffee shop, neighbors, and androids. QC's storytelling style combines romantic melodrama, situational comedy, and sexual humor, while considering questions of relationships, sexuality, dealing with emotional trauma, and, as of late, artificial intelligence and futurism.Randall Munroe
Randall Patrick Munroe (born October 17, 1984) is an American cartoonist, author, engineer, scientific theorist, and the creator of the webcomic xkcd. He and the webcomic have developed a large fanbase, and shortly after graduating from college, he became a professional webcomic artist.VG Cats
VG Cats (short for Video Game Cats) is a webcomic written and drawn by Canadian cartoonist Scott Ramsoomair. Published on its own website, it features the adventures of a pair of anthropomorphic cats, who often play the roles of characters in popular video games that are parodied in the strip. Strips are usually presented in a large format and in full color. The author generally set Mondays as days for updating the comic; however, the update schedule has a reputation of being incredibly sporadic; he frequently mocks his tardiness in updating in various strips due to personal reasons, drawing nude drawings on Patreon and frequent convention appearances. As of March 2018, the site had approximately 380 comics listed in its main archives. Based on this archive alone, VG Cats averaged 25 comics a year while it was at its peak. During 2017-2018 that average has gone down to 5 comics a year. The last posted comic was uploaded on March 26th,2018.The VG Cats website also hosts Adventure Log, a Final Fantasy XI webcomic written and drawn by Ramsoomair, and Super Effective, a webcomic parody of the Pokémon game series. Adventure Log has not been updated since 2008 and "Super Effective" has not been updated since 2014.
The comic series often includes video game-based humor and satire targeting the video game industry.Webcomics in India
Webcomics have grown in popularity in India since the early 2000s. Early webcomics created by Indian people were written and illustrated by people abroad and focused primarily on the differences in culture the creators experienced. Later webcomics put a strong emphasis on social and political issues present in the country, usually from a liberal perspective. Webcomics can reach large audiences in India when shared through social media.Xkcd
xkcd, sometimes styled XKCD, is a webcomic created in 2005 by American author Randall Munroe. The comic's tagline describes it as "A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language". Munroe states on the comic's website that the name of the comic is not an initialism, but "just a word with no phonetic pronunciation".
The subject matter of the comic varies from statements on life and love to mathematical, programming, and scientific in-jokes. Some strips feature simple humor or pop-culture references. Although it has a cast of stick figures, the comic occasionally features landscapes, graphs, charts, and intricate mathematical patterns such as fractals. New cartoons are added three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.Munroe has released three spinoff books from the comic. The first book, chronologically, published in 2010 and entitled xkcd: volume 0 was a series of select comics from his website. His 2014 book What If? is based on his blog of the same name that answers unusual science questions from readers in a light-hearted way that is scientifically grounded. The What If column on the site is updated with new articles from time to time. His 2015 book Thing Explainer explains scientific concepts using only the one thousand most commonly used words in English. A fourth book, How To, which is described as “a profoundly unhelpful self-help book,” is planned to release September 3, 2019.
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