Friday, March 27, 2009

Questionable Webcomic Features, Part 2

Here is part 2 in my series presenting my case against certain web phenomena. Yesterday, letters from readers convinced me to back off a few notches on feeds, and we have decided to include update feeds in our current site rebuild.

Today I talk about "tip jars."

The case for the donation jar seems to include:

  • it's a way younger and newer artists can make a little money
  • a few artists allegedly do well with them (I am skeptical and would love to hear some fresh accounts)
  • tip jar contributions are just a way of getting money for doing bonus strips, special art, or wallpaper, and are really a form of payment in many cases more than a donation
  • money from "tips' might be used for hosting bills, advertising and other overheads and investments of the strip
That said,
  • Begging puts you in the same category as street derelicts and people who work at certain types of fast food counter
  • Tip jars are often accompanied by begging and whining
  • They are embarrassing and unprofessional
  • They make our profession look amateurish
  • They force some artists to spend time making frivolous giveaway items when they should be focusing on their comic and site
  • Relying on charity may make you unmotivated to learn the ropes of operating a business
  • There are webcomics artists and well-known comics people who have been burned out of their homes in the last six months. Some were seriously injured and spent months in burn units. They have lost everything. To my way of seeing things, those are the people who deserve charity, and people have been pretty good about trying to help. But at some of my favorite tip jar sites, life goes on as usual. May I just share this? If you have never been badly burned, you have not been to hell.

The Supreme Court recently removed its tip jar.
(Courtesy of The Onion)

I know tip jars won't disappear just because I think they're sleazy. But I would like to hear a strong case defending them, because without it I may come unglued and harass a bunch of tip jar junkies, including some who are respected and valued friends.

I just wish you guys with the tip jars would think again. Most of you deserve better. And at the very least, make me some tip jar wallpaper -- one image for each repudiated tip jar.