Thursday, March 12, 2009

Webcomic Blogs

Whether you're here because you like reading this column or your keyboard battery failed and you're stranded, don't underestimate the interest potential of some webcomic blog destinations. Here are some to note, with many saved for future discussion.

  • ArtPatient offers discussion and sensitive reviews and commentaries, but lately I notice a lot of people mentioning Delos Woodruff's news roundups. He manages to break down a pile of stories and oddities into a short summary, with links to everything. It's a very relaxing and upbeat blog, easy to read and navigate, and the summaries put you in touch with a lot of information fast.
  • Brigid from Digital Strips , a group blog, is among our best news journalists -- perhaps because she is one. She is well-informed, covers a huge range of topics, makes corrections on receipt of new information and writes well. This is not to slight her colleagues, who have their own strengths. "The Geek"has been writing an installment article about deciding what webcomics to cull from the swollen list of titles he follows, and it's been a hard thing for him to do. I look forward to each episode, and am glad he's the one writing it. These folks also have a podcast.
  • How does El Santo do it? He is writer of Webcomic Overlook and an information resource like a living wiki. He's given me history and background for multiple stories, often in great detail, and writes a great blog week after week. Recently he's invited people to update material in Comixpedia.
A year ago I started the Webcomic Blog List. It's a directory of independent webcomic blogs intended to help us emerge from under all the print comic sites. It's nice to see it's getting used -- you can always find it in my sidebar but I hope people continue to bookmark or link to it themselves.
Since launch, some webcomic blogs have come and gone, but the core is essentially solid and we always have newer ones developing their approach. I think the wider awareness that we are a fairly small group (unlike print comic blogs) has helped most participants feel comfortable linking to one another and trading information.
It also seems like many blogs have found their own beat. People try different ideas and formats and finally decide what they like and what they do well. Some blogs write excellent reviews. Some share news, perhaps with commentary. Some do interviews. Some, like MPD57, occasionally run challenges and contests, or stretch out into related media. I seem to do best with research, analysis and reporting.
When someone mails me a press release I can't use, it's now natural for me to forward it to a blogger who can. It's also a twice a week ritual to visit as many colleagues as I can and read what they are discussing.
I think this is good for webcomics. Everyone seems to have sufficient integrity to remain objective, but we can be collaborative when it suits. When one of my colleagues writes a really awesome piece, I am genuinely proud of them, and pleased to be in their company.
Talk about webcomic blogs is never complete without Fleen and ComixTalk. ComixTalk seems to prefer an independent course, and as long as Xavier knows he is still considered a colleague, that's fine. It might even be beneficial: he can keep an eye on the rest of us.
Since Fleen is a Dumbrella-owned and controlled property, it doesn't fit on an independent blogs list. The fact that this fact has more or less been kept unadvertised for years makes at least a few of us a bit queasy, especially with the frequent Dumbrella product cheerleading. You can't read my blog without tripping over my affiliations, and others tend to be the same way. The issue of Fleen's hostility to some other webcomic bloggers also raises questions about how it would fit in with the network. Perhaps over time developments will resolve these questions.
I enjoy doing a webcomic blog. It's painful when I have a story that reflects badly on someone, because I am by nature a positive, can-do person. The passion that drives me, however, is truth, and I want to understand all there is about webcomics, unfiltered by self-interested parties who not only disregard standards of professional conduct, but seem not to understand them. There's a touch of tragedy recording the blindness of some talented people who will not or cannot see how their behavior heralds their downfall. Even diplomatic, private letters gently explaining why you don't hit girls over the head with your lunchbox result in a spray of tired epithets. There will always be a few like this, but their power to damage webcomics weakens when their actions are made public.
I'm glad to say that the positives far outweigh the negatives, from savvy reader comments to completing and reporting research that will enhance the potential of webcomics for more people. I think I speak for all my colleagues when I say the growth in reader interest and participation is appreciated and encouraged.