Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Worthy Role Models in Webcomics

Lately I've written that many of our webcomic role models have negative qualities that hurt webcomics.

Would you be interested in people I think make great role models in professional webcomics? What the hey. Here they come:

nemu nemu is by a married couple (pen names Kyubikitsy and Kimonostereo). Their web site is one of the best balances of clean and complete I've seen. They've explored many angles of development, and they create that rare thing: a comic that any age can enjoy, but isn't easily classified as belonging to any age.
'Kitsy's art keeps improving (not that anyone was critical), and they work the convention circuit together quite seriously. They are some of the few webcomics people I would be happy to meet, because I know wouldn't be reclining in sunglasses, swilling yellow beer in clear bottles, roped off from readers by a pile of unsold anthologies. They make the best animated GIF ads I've seen, and we were privileged to have one on Lil Nyet for a week. I stared at it so much one night I lost my balance. But I do that anyway sometimes, so they don't get all the credit. You can learn more studying these two than I can cover in weeks. And once you are familiarized with the strip, you'll probably find it highly enjoyable, able to restore cheerfulness and gentle mayhem. Artistically, you can study the mechanisms it uses to move from human reality to stuffed animal events. When you find yourself at some event, seated next to a journalist who takes an interest in webcomics, this is the kind of site you refer them to.

We the Robots  by Chris Harding is a more complex choice, because I think Chris has a tough time telling people he's busy. There's such a thing as too polite, Chris! But we forgive you.
We the Robots took a long time to design. Note the textures, like old paper, and the unique construction of the characters. Recently, Harding had to cut the frequency of WTR to accommodate his main job (in arts), his film making hobby (he's remarkable) and his kids. I'm not up to bothering him to inquire about some of his commercialization efforts for WTR, so I don't know any sort of bottom line, but this isn't a "can't wait to quit my day job" strip. Watch what he keeps and what he drops and draw your own conclusions. Most important lessons: you don't have to be a people person to be a polite, good-hearted guy; and when you've got a vision, it pays to develop the details prior to launch. This is a great example of what can be called a secondary pursuit, useful for those who want to do a really good strip and maybe make a little money without it being the center of their life. Yes, I am guessing a bit at his intentions, but the current reality would be quite acceptable to many people.

Best Band in the Universe is just celebrating its first anniversary. Two pals, Louisa and Katya, created the strip, a wacky, satirical romp through power chords and solar systems. (There's vomit, too.) I admire Lou and Kat because they greatly enjoy doing their comic, and it rubs off on the story, and in how they talk to you. Is likability an asset for success? I think so. It even shows in their coloring scheme, which is vivid but not crazy. It's early to talk about merchandise and that stuff, but it's important to recognize that our temperament comes off on our comics, and if we want our comics to work, we have to work with who we are. Honesty with ourselves is essential.
BBITU was an early member of a nice comic collective, Comic of the Month, that collapsed amidst management issues. Everyone moved on and founded Inkspot Comics, and while the members can tell you better than I how it helps them, they've maintained a friendly reputation and solid roster.
Color, original theme and exuberance can make a young comic inspiring. The right collective can help, but choose wisely. These women inspire me for steadily finding their way and developing, bringing a great attitude and serving as a model of what a comic can do in its first year.

It takes time to visit each site and form your own opinions. As much as I'd like to add, I'll stop at three, so you have more time, and pick up another day. Please keep my point: regardless of whether you love or hate the strip, these are examples of class operations. When I think of professional comicdom, I think of professionalism, dedication, conduct and attitude.

Real role models have flaws, and aren't afraid to admit them. They are always focused on improvement, so they are aware of weak spots and willing to hear criticism instead of going banshee. You can turn to them and find honest, friendly people who care about craftsmanship and aren't busy trying to be the next internet micro-celebrity.