In this regular feature I have looked at independent web comics created by passionate people who just want to get their work out into the public eye. I have looked at award-winning web comics created by mainstream comic book writers and artists and award-winning web comics created by relatively unknown artists. I have looked at web sites dedicated to bringing together quality web comics and gaining exposure for this art form.
The question that has cropped up often while I have been writing this column is “What is the future of web comics?” Hopefully I will go some way to answering that here, bearing in mind that I am not a clairvoyant or fortune-teller.
The web comic forums and portals that I have come across are a great resource for both creators and readers. Sites like Spacedock 7, which collects seven unique sci-fi and fantasy web comics, are successful because they act as a focal point for people searching out quality web comics. There are so many web comics being produced on varying degrees of scale and quality that any resource which collects high quality examples in one place is a good thing. I think that with the continued proliferation of comics based on the internet, portals like Spacedock 7 will continue to thrive.
Similarly, a site like Thrillbent set up by comics legend Mark Waid and television writer/producer John Rogers earlier this year is a self-contained web site featuring brand new comics by talented writers and artists. The site started off with Insufferable by Waid and artist Peter Krause. It is now home to four other titles including PAX ARENA by Mast and Geoffo, and City of the Dead by Karl Kesel and Ron Randall.
It’s encouraging to see established comic book creators getting involved in web comics in this way, and I think it will serve to focus more attention on the medium. What I’ve also noticed about the work that people like Mark Waid and Greg Rucka are doing on Insufferable and Lady Sabre and the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether respectively, is that it is evident that they are extremely passionate about the work they are producing. It appears that without the shackles of a publisher and without the pressures and demands of print comic book publishing hanging over them, these creators are free to produce experimental, dynamic, exciting stories and art, taking risks they would not ordinarily be able to.
Comic Book Think Tank is a newly launched site which aims to “explore what comics are (or can be) and where we can share the results of those experiments with any and all who are interested.” Set up by experienced comic book professionals Ron Perazza and Daniel Govar Comic Book Think Tank has the potential to be a valuable addition to the web comics medium and it is certainly an interesting proposition.
The site launched a few months ago with Relaunch, a sci-fi comic by Perazza and Govar. It’s a high concept story which is beautifully illustrated. What makes it different from other web comics I’ve read is the multi-layered, multi-panelled pages which change – things added, things taken away – at different points on the screen, with each move forward.
On the sites accompanying blog, Perazza described it as being similar to the dashboard of a car, where your attention is focused on several different things inside the car, while also concentrating on the road itself. He says “I wanted to write a comic like that. Where the reader is aware of the entire scene but where each panel is potentially changing (or not), potentially present (or not), depending on the ever changing conditions of the story. Yet even though the reader is aware of these changes they’re still progressing linearly through the sequence of events at their own pace.”
Another great thing about Comic Book Think Tank is the extra content on the site. Perazza and Govar are keen to share the processes involved in creating their web comic, posting sketches, discussing the methods they employ, and the reasons for doing certain things. It seems they are really keen to explore the possibilities that web comics offer, and they are not afraid to make mistakes along the way.
As we reported during our coverage of NYCC 2012 Oni Press is going into web comics in a big way in 2013. They are completely overhauling their web site, with a repositioned focus on exclusive web comics. The site will feature free comics every weekday, with work from creators such as Cullen Bunn and Joe Harris. It’s due to launch in January next year and I’ll be looking more closely at the new venture in a forthcoming World of Web Comics feature.
It seems that web comics are finding more of an audience than ever before, and with new sites being launched almost every week, the future for the medium looks very bright. And very exciting.