with the onslaught of webcomics popping up even more often lately, im starting to question my standards of what i think is acceptable reading and if peoples standards are dropping because of the ‘popular’ webcomics that are out there? if its the only thing available to them than of course theyre going to read it but is that affecting the general standard of acceptable comic quality?? for me personally, i usually cant read a comic that had bad art or story. when i read the first page and im either in or out. if i can tell where the story is going within the first few pages them -50 points. if the art is droll -50 points and im gone. i like to think i have good taste in art just because im obviously a pretentious little cow. many of the webcomics i read and think are excellent in both qualities have few readers in comparison to webcomic monoliths whose art is….and whose story is…..yea. but i imagine its because im picky as a comics creator so i am more critical. as a reader, does it matter as much to you if the art or story is bad as long as its entertaining?? is this and good or bad thing? are we promoting mediocrity? i understand its like the junkfood of the comic world but really this is getting uncomfortable.
My immediate response to this is to remind you that any artist who is “successful” is purely based on interpretation of success. I used to get upset about this, when I would surf through webcomics and I could get an immediate and accurate glimpse into their view count and how much money they get in advertising, etc. I would think “This is nonsense, I don’t like it so how could it be so popular/What is wrong with ‘people’ and why are their tastes so poor?” but this is a very, VERY wrong way to be. There are a few factors to consider here, besides the fact that negativity begets negativity, which could sprout up in unwanted places, such as your art. Anyways:
1.) Widely accepted and successful artists, regardless of “talent” and “praiseworthiness”, are most likely good business people. These artists provide what they promise to provide consistently and, in most cases, you get what you came to see. They’ve also probably been working for a long while, whether that means prior to a new series premiering or their comic has a long, long, long history. Regardless of “talent”, that fact alone is a comparable asset to a “successful” artist. This is based on the idea that a successful artist is one who has a mass audience and is making consistent money.
2.) Chances are that a popular webcomic has invested some money and time into advertising. Never before has is been easier and more affordable to get your name out there than it has been with the internet. Therefore, there are many people, like me, who are cheap and only partake in free advertising. I don’t feel like spending money on an ad to run in other popular webcomic front pages, not just because I’m cheap but also because I lack the business interest and sense that many other artists have. There are many greedy readers out there who will read an entire webcomic in one go, all day long, and then move on to the next if the ad has cleavage or a cute animal character and that could be hook line and sinker.
3.) The internet allows you to see an artist’s readership in the palm of your hand. This is a very fascinating and misleading factor. It is fascinating because you take an artist that is well established in the world outside of the internet, who lives on their art and/or comics and you look them up online, they either have little to no existence online and their online “fandom” is quiet. Compare that to an artist who made their fandom and/or living online - they look like the most popular artist in the whole wide world and EVERYONE loves their work. Also, consider the fact that certain people garner respect and admiration from different types of audiences. Certain artists get very communicative fans who see themselves in every single panel and grain of salt that their favorite artists draws and must make that known to everyone, whereas there are plenty of artists who attract the shy, sensitive type who do not see a need to make their appreciation public.
Asides from everything mentioned above, their are a few more items to mention. A.) Depending on your definition of “success”, many of these seemingly popular comics are not as successful as one might think. Many of these popular comics still only get a marginal percent of their readers to actually care so much as to show their support financially. I know this from talking to many people in the business who really know their stuff. On top of that, quality artists providing truly premium, excellent content that is also entertaining who even have a tremendous fanbase, who also provide an ample amount of ways this fanbase can support them financially, do not receive this support but from a very minuscule percent of this fanbase. This fact of life throws the whole idea of success into the frying pan.
C.) (this is my favorite end all item) Who cares? If you or anyone, myself included, get upset about what’s popular and “successful” in the webcomic world, you and I then need to remind ourselves that we have a job to do. That job is to provide content that we, in all honesty and selfishness, consider better than the mass majority and offer it to the people. Sounds easy, right? No, it’s not. That’s why many people who can do it and have been doing it, regardless of what you or I think of their “merit” and “talent”, are “successful”. People who question the quality of the world around them and who want to make a difference to that quality do not consume as much as one who “accepts the sub-par meal laid in front of them”, but those people who question also often need even more affirmation. When these kind of people do not receive immediate affirmation, they lose hope and give up. I speak for myself as well, I can get discouraged easily if I think no one is interested.
That is why, all in all, in the end, no matter what, this and that, - - - you must create for the sake of bettering yourself. Who cares what other people are enjoying en masse, who cares how “successful” other artists have become, who cares if you think they seem to do it effortlessly. It is a wrong frame of mind to attack other creators and their work/readers and base your desire to create your own idea of quality content around turning this “problem” around. Just focus on being an artist and, if you provide content to this masse, disregard your “lack of readership” or your “revenue”. Be your own biggest fan and create because you want to, and make it as good as you think it should be. If you want your work to be “successful”, that’s up to you to define. You may already be a success, truly. With that said, you say you also want to make a living doing it? You want people to consider your work high quality and worth putting down that competitor’s eComic? Now it’s time to work hard.
p.s. I barely know what I’m talking about and I am an opinionated artist who needs to follow his own advice as well. I have projects that I’ve abandoned and others that are sitting stagnant. It’s hard, but I need to get to work.
I’m with ya J-Fish, all the way. Tish has good points too. It’s a shame I really have nothing to add.