Thursday, March 6, 2008

Web Comics Portals, Part I: Types of Portals

I maintain a giant list of web comic portals here. It's the sort of central registry I was unable to find when I first went scouting for such sites, so I made my own.
There are different types of hubs included in my list. Some are hosting sites, which allow you to upload your comics for free. People come to read various comics and the site owners reap ad revenue.

At least, that's how it's supposed to work. The reality is that the better hosts have grown unmanageable. They have rosters exceeding ten thousand comics, meaning most of their content will not be accessed by most visitors, and they cannot leverage it efficiently. Open door policies bring the dead weight of weak material. The owners work long hours for little money, inspiring recent mergers and buyouts.

The mega-sites which result will be able to attract investment capital and put on a shine. Slow servers and sloppy programming will disappear. How this will resolve the leverage problem, I'm not sure. I have some ideas of my own for if I ever become involved in a site. I assume the venture capitalists and veteran site operators have some too, but so far no one is displaying anything that threatens to resolve the issue.

Besides hosting sites, there are also link hubs. The business model is the same: links attract traffic which supports ads. The smaller link hubs on my list include some that are merely sizable personal link lists incidental to the web site where they appear.

There is also a wiki, Comixpedia, which is a linkfest and reference. There are also collectives, in which allied comics authors create a hosting site for themselves. These are usually small but in a neighborhood kind of way. Admission to newcomers is by rare invitation.

Some free hosting sites sell enhanced memberships for a monthly fee, usually under ten dollars. The primary appeal is that ads are removed from the viewing experience.

Future articles in this series will appear approximately 2 - 7 days apart.

Next: The Keen Sites