Comic Strips on the Internet!

Comic strips have made quite a splash on the Net since the World Wide Web came into play in the 1990s. This led to an explosion of amateur webcomics, comic-strips created solely for Web sites.

Webcomics differ from published comic strips, in that anyone can start his own strip and publish it on the Web. No longer is there any need for a creator to meet the approval of a publisher or syndicate. Currently there are hundreds of webcomics. Many of which are low quality and sporadically updated. However, a number have endured, and the best ones rival their newspaper and magazine counterparts in terms of quality and quantity. Megatokyo, Penny Arcade, PvP, Sluggy Freelance, and User Friendly are considered to be among the best of the webcomics.

The majority of traditional newspaper comic strips now have some Internet presence. Syndicates often provide archives of recent strips on their websites.

A Bit of History

One of the earliest online comic strips was T.H.E. Fox. This strip was published on Compuserve and Quantum Link in 1986. “Where the Buffalo Roam”, Netboy and “Doctor Fun” went live on the Net is the early 1990s.

Following was “The Polymer City Chronicles” beginning biweekly updates on March 13th, 1995 as the first video gaming themed webcomic.

In February 2000, Chris Crosby and Darren Bleuel founded Keenspot, which became one of the larger webcomics portals. KeenSpot features invited artists selected for their popularity, talent and/or quality. Crosby and Bleuel also started a free webcomic hosting service in July 2000, originally called KeenSpace but renamed Comic Genesis in July 2005.

In August 2000, Scott McCloud created a book on Internet comic strips entitled Reinventing Comics. Though sometimes controversial, McCloud was one of the first advocates of webcomics and remains one of the most influential figures in the field. His theories have sometimes led to debates about where webcomics should go and what, precisely, they are.

In March 2001, Shannon Denton and Patrick Coyle launched serving free strips from comics and animation professionals.

On March 2, 2002, Joey Manley founded Modern Tales, offering subscription-based webcomics.

Currently, some of the most popular webcomics include Mac Hall, Megatokyo, 8-Bit Theater, VG Cats, Penny Arcade, PvP, Questionable Content, Sexy Losers, Sluggy Freelance, Something Positive, and User Friendly. The most popular strips are often older, more established strips, partially due to the growth in the number of webcomics making it harder for new artists to stand out.

Internet Comic Strips as a Business

Usually, webcomics artists have to pay for the costs of art supplies, server hosting and other expenses out of their own pocket. This can make many artists’ endeavors labors of love rather than income opportunities. For comic creators who pay for their own hosting, bandwidth is a concern. The more popular the comic becomes, the more costly hosting becomes.

There are a variety of webcomic hosting sites. Some provide free hosting but require advertising, while others are paid for and have no such requirements. Webcomic-oriented hosts will often provide software to reduce the technical knowledge required in setting up a comic strip and its corresponding webpage.

There are different ways for webcomic artists to earn money, such as donations, advertising, and merchandising. Some use tip jars (through PayPal, for instance) or solicit donations through drives. Some sell merchandise featuring their artwork, or sell their artwork directly, sometimes under commission. If a comic site has enough traffic, advertising revenue can also be generated. Some successful webcomics have subsequently been reprinted in compilations although some artists have also self-published their own work. Examples of webcomics in print include PVP, Sluggy Freelance, Megatokyo to name a few.

Bottom line though, if you are interested in trying to make a living with your own Internet comic strips, a lot of up front research is involved. This will determine if there is even a profit in it. And a very good knowledge of what Internet marketing is all about is needed.

Alas, too many individuals think that just throwing up a site on a free hosting service is going to bring in their share of fame and fortune. Tis not the case. Just ask me how much time, energy and knowledge seeking I have had to do.

More for Comic Strip Fans

Here is a pretty amazing site that I have found that offers up quite a plentitude of comic strips . Be careful though or you could get engrossed all day and you might want to come back here.

You may also find a few pieces of literature worth reading at Amazon that may tickle your comic-strips taste buds. Just click on the image at the left. Don’t stay too long though, and come back here.

If you want to keep up on the varied and interesting activities going on in the world of comic books, then feel free to sign up for my newsletter “Comics Galore” in the form below. And by all means, I would love to hear your comments and opinions on comic strips as opposed to comic books. You can sure leave them for me at my contact page in the menu at the left. I may even be able to include them in my newsletter. I thank you ahead of time.

Dave Gieber

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