Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Audience You Deserve

Ben Huh from I Can Has Cheeseburger? wrote a tip list about building a community around your web site. While it might be pruned significantly for maximum webcomic interest, it still makes good reading. I recommend it.

My own thinking on this topic is not so developed, but I do have one strong opinion. I think you have to be careful about any sort of group, such as a "community," that defines some people in and some people out. Making a clubby site is a good way to acquire a stagnant readership. Being welcoming, and attentive to the newcomers keeps you from becoming a walled city.

Defining the experienced and the new is a good way to divide them. If you must label, use a term that applies to all, such as "readers."

"Fan" is a divisive term that distances creator from reader, and I avoid it. Others wallow in it, and enjoy giving newcomers a pat on the head so they can ignore them later and feel superior. You see this all the time on Twitter with people like Scott Kurtz, who talks out of both sides of his mouth on the topic of how to treat the audience. Just about everyone who wants to follow cartoonists finds his profile and adds him, where they are allowed to eavesdrop on his video game preferences and gastrointestinal follies without a word of acknowledgment. I observe other cartoonists who use Twitter to medicate their low self-esteem, greeting every new follower, then studiously ignoring them.

It appears that snobbery and being genuine are both options, as there are successful practitioners of both. That limits hope we will ever be rid of phonies, but you control how you treat readers and can add class to our profession.

If treating readers in a way that is intended to make them feel inferior is something you're doing, pause. Realize that you will never feel better about yourself no matter how many people you break on your wheel.

You also get the audience you deserve.

Because of submissions to the webcomic list on my comics resource site , I come into contact with many new webcomics. I thought it might be interesting if I posted some here.

Nothing is pre-judged. In fact, I try not to form an opinion about a comic until I know its creator's intentions. I have different reactions to a comicker who wants to go professional and a comicker who is posting comics to amuse their friends.

Precocious by Christopher J Paulsen
short form, black & white
short form, color
mix, short form
Silver Age by Charlie Gavin
short form, black and white
Week Daze by Andrew Cramer
short-form, color
long-form, color

International Webcomic

And here is Geinz , a single-panel color comic in Dutch, from Belgium. It's not new, but it's amusing to see how many you can interpret. Some are quite funny.