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Economist article about the "webcomics revolution"
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Traegorn



Joined: 16 Feb 2010
Posts: 157

PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

afterthedream wrote:
As to the Economist article, I can't deny some of the points made, but overall I can't say I agree. What drew me to comics initially was their unique medium for STORYTELLING. But look at the comics the article is discussing... none of them is really telling a story.
I haven't read the article, but wasn't Megatokyo on the list? That's far from a gag a day.
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vulpeslibertas
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Joined: 19 Dec 2005
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Location: Here and there...mostly there. Sometimes kinda in between.

PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

afterthedream wrote:
...but I wouldn't call it a revolution, since to me revolution implies progress or a step forward... ...But I think comics have the potential to be so much more... ..but so far none of them come remotely close to matching the popularity or financial success of the ones mentioned... Not sure what can be done about it, but until that day comes there hasn't been the type of publishing revolution I'd like to see.

Imagine a bell curve. Raise the whole bell curve upward. Progress has been made. Yet the same guys are still leading the pack.

I would surmise that gag-a-day comics are naturally more successful due to human nature. Unless you change human beings themselves think, I suspect that the revolution you look for will never come.

If you look at revolution as large step upward, then we have had one. If you look at revolution as an overturning of the current social order, then this is more debatable. If you look at revolution as an overturning of the system of social order itself, then what you seek will never happen.

Someone will always lead the webcomic world. There are movers and shakers, and someone will always move or shake more than others. Increases in technology have allowed more people to become shakers, and this has shaken up who is in the top spots, and how many people are up there. Personally, I refuse to blacklist a genre of comics simply because they are successful and I am not. If something stupid is successful, then more power to them, so long as they are not in my way.

On that note, I suspect longform comics will never be as popular as gag-a-days. Gag comics are easily shared without context (I can post a gag comic link on Facebook, and all my friends will get it without having to read the entire archives). Longform comics need serious investment of time from the reader to maintain context. This is especially difficult with longform comics which update slowly or go on indefinite hiatus. Gag comics do not have this problem.

Also, the comic medium itself is better suited to gag comics. Comics promote instant processing of visual information. To be funny, a gag needs to be perceived instantly. Longform plots thrive on complex interweaving of information which is slowly revealed. In essence, every longform story is a mystery novel, where the appeal is the anticipation of the slow reveal of information. Just as movies are a better platform than books for action and explosions, books are a better platform than comics for longform exposition. Comics are a better platform for gags than books are.

That's not to say that a longform story couldn't be a successful comic, or movie, or radio play, but that the characteristics of particular stories (gags, etc) fit more naturally with certain mediums than with others.
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afterthedream



Joined: 24 Mar 2011
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Traegorn wrote:
I haven't read the article, but wasn't Megatokyo on the list? That's far from a gag a day.


I skimmed parts of it, so that is possible. Generally speaking though, there is no question that single strip comics are vastly more successful than longform ones.

I'm actually curious now, though... I wonder how the comic strips you see in the Sunday paper stack up financially against the comic book industry (be it superheroes or more serious fare).
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afterthedream



Joined: 24 Mar 2011
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vulpeslibertas wrote:
If you look at revolution as large step upward, then we have had one. If you look at revolution as an overturning of the current social order, then this is more debatable. If you look at revolution as an overturning of the system of social order itself, then what you seek will never happen.


A very long debate could be had about them big notions you're tossing out there, but perhaps another time. Wink

vulpeslibertas wrote:
Someone will always lead the webcomic world. There are movers and shakers, and someone will always move or shake more than others. Increases in technology have allowed more people to become shakers, and this has shaken up who is in the top spots, and how many people are up there. Personally, I refuse to blacklist a genre of comics simply because they are successful and I am not. If something stupid is successful, then more power to them, so long as they are not in my way.


I don't read those type of comics because they aren't my cup of tea, not because I begrudge their success.
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vulpeslibertas
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

afterthedream wrote:
A very long debate could be had about them big notions you're tossing out there, but perhaps another time. Wink
A very long debate. Wink However, it's my ongoing policy not to mix webcomics with politics*, and this is about as far into that as I will go. If you can find me elsewhere, I'd be glad to discuss the issue ad nauseum, although at the moment, I have further limitations on what I'm prepared to discuss. I'm really pushing my limits here, but the subject is dear to my heart and I love debating on the internet.

*I find it very irritating to be reading a good webcomic when I'm interrupted by the author's political, religious, or social rants. Anyone who does this is basically throwing away half of their readers. The exception being, of course, comics which are inherently political, religious, or social in nature. Since I don't run one of these comics, I avoid the subject.
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ewomack
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Joined: 05 Jun 2007
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Newspaper comics started out largely as running serial narratives. Popeye first appeared in a strip called "Thimble Theater" that had continuous storylines that lasted for weeks or months - Popeye debuted in the middle of one of these stories. "Bringing Up Father" was also immensely popular in the early 20th century and also included storylines akin to soap operas. Countless other examples exist from the history of comics.

The era of television and radio likely initiated the transition to gag comics since people probably started to split their time between new media. And the continued frenzy of modern life (why do people no longer have free time?) seems to favor the gag comic format. As already said, you can send a gag to a million friends and most of them will get it instantaneously. It also seems that many long form comics on the internet are sci-fi or fantasy in nature and, though definitely popular genres, are still considered niche by the mainstream whereas gag comics are already established. This in no way means that gag is superior to long form or vice versa. I don't find the comparison useful. Either genre can be done well or horribly. And popularity almost never guarantees quality (and quality has a huge subjective nature to it).

I would probably read more long form comics but I sadly don't have time and I'm not even sure where to start. Digging through the archives of even 10 of the most acclaimed long form comics could take weeks of time that I simply don't have. I'm sure they're great and that I would get sucked in to many of them, but I wouldn't be able to keep up.
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