Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bad Webcomics Wiki

I've been reading the Bad Webcomics Wiki.

  The usual problem with trying to study failure is that there is always failure at the left side of the bell curve, just as there is usually genius on the right side. It doesn't matter what group or what quality you study. Even if you remove the worst two percent, they are instantly replaced by the next ones on the list.

  Another problem is that you have to read the bad webcomics. Anything that is so bad it doesn't merit a second reading for thoroughness is probably too trifling to bother with, compounding the problem.

  I don't even want to read webcomics that many people think are good, as I do not find them good, and have no interest, when there are good comics to be found elsewhere.

  The Bad Webcomics Wiki isn't bad, however. It's got typos, errors and a lot of swearing, but you generally come away with a sense of what you will encounter with certain comics, and it clarifies matters regarding comics that are both bad and popular.

  The contributors are aware of their predecessors, and the numerous false claims on the Wikipedia list of "self-sufficient" webcomics. If there work carried enough weight to disqualify some over-rated people from receiving naive awards, it might be worth it, but as far as I'm concerned, rewards are for chumps, and that includes Chris Ware and other people I otherwise admire. (I would gladly trade every door prize and trophy I ever received, pre-boycott, for one truly insightful, thorough review.)

  The critiques cover the usual terrain, from art to writing, but also take a look at creators who are popularly regarded as real jerks. This presents a bit of a problem: how to reconcile such critiques with webcomic embarrassments like Scott Kurtz and false claimants of self-sufficiency like Meredith Gran? (I obviously haven't done an analysis for every claimant, but Gran's comic is a strong contender for the most heavily subsidized money loser in webcomics land.) Can a comic be better than "bad" but still be included because its creators are repellent?

  Perhaps this should be a separate category. I nominate myself for inclusion for my work popping the webcomics fantasy that webcomics offer a viable business strategy that hasn't been co-opted by early arrivals and lucky ducks. "Webcomic Bastard" is a title I would graciously accept, for spoiling so many dreams of work-at-home scribbling by spending a year analyzing numbers and finding they mostly don't add up, or require that you do soulless "crowd-pleasers" and haul your ass to cons.

  When webcomics overall are so bad that I try very hard to distance myself from them and cut way back on talking about them, it's nice to know that some people who aren't obvious axe-grinders are trying to present coherent criticism of what makes them sick, and why.

  Their efforts enhance my faith in humanity. I am so tired of the webcomic circle jerk that it is refreshing to see people coming together to offer an alternate take. Yeah, some of the people mentioned are in my opinion decent folks and I am sorry to see them get reamed, but they are young and will recover, especially if they recognize that criticism is of great value.