Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Hotspot #7: Welcome to the new frontier, and everyone wants to be a critic.

So maybe you've noticed them popping up. Like mushrooms after the rain, they're starting up everywhere now.

Don't know what I'm talking about?

Webcomic Blogs.

Or if you want to be more specific, webcomic-centered commentary blogs. Since the 12th of August 2004 when I first started Webcomic Finds, I've been witnessing the birth of many many new webcomic blogs and discovering many many more. Websnark, Digital Strips, (not to mention all those other blogs that don't focus on webcomics, but mention them frequently) and now even more recently, William G and Phil Khanhave decided to join the fray.

(FYI, it is notable that Eric Burns converted his old blog into Websnark 8 days after I started mine. Perhaps it's a testament to his writing skills that despite starting later, his blog is far far far more popular than mine ;) Dag-nabbit! Of course, I deal more with the lesser-known comics, so that could be it.)

Back to the topic, I'm not pointing hoodoo fingers or bad mouthing the newcomers or accusing them of jumping on the bandwagon or anything. I'm just making an observation that more and more people are realising that serious and regular commentary on webcomics is still a relatively unexploited niche, and there's room for them to fill it. For now.

The webcomics world is growing very rapidly. Some might say far too rapidly, because it is nearing the state of drowning in its own volume. For every good webcomic out there, there's probably another 10(or if you want to be bombastic, 100) crappy ones you have to go through. The webcomic blogs help by doing this job for you. Providing that you and the blogger share similar tastes, chances are you're going to like what the blogger recommends to you.

And if you have a plethora of different bloggers and different personalities and tastes to pick from, it can only be a good thing.

"Wait!" You say. "Didn't the webcomic review sites like Korsil and Comixpedia do something rather similar?"

Yes and No. They reviewed webcomics. They rated them. But most webcomic reviewers had to be impersonal and impartial, just to be professional. Or at least, they had to try to be.

But by doing so they missed out on the spice the webcomic blogs have. The personality behind the blog. The feeling that you're listening to someone you know talking, instead of reading some article written by a faceless someone you will never know.

And this, I think, is the new frontier. I have great hopes that with the new wave of bloggers there will be less insularity and more blurring the lines between the different webcomic collectives. That we might be able to filter more effectively through the great masses of dross from the gold, the serious efforts from the bandwagon jumpers. That more good webcomics get the recognition they deserve.

Granted, for every blogger that can discourse rationally about plot, pacing and execution, there's bound to the odd attention-seeker who sees the success of Websnark and thinks "OMG! All this guy does is sit around and make snide comments about webcomics! I can do that too!". Much like the webcomics medium it spawned from, it is pretty inevitable that Websnark or HB clones will spring up the more popular these sites get. And like bad webcomics, most of them will run out of steam shortly and end up dying by the wayside.

I am no prophetess or clairvoyant. I'm simply an observer of patterns. We saw this pattern happen with webcomics. I see this as something that will happen with webcomic blogs.

Just you see if it doesn't.

Fun fact: The Webcomic Finds system of picking reviews was inspired by this same Comixpedia article of Dalton Wemble's. God, I miss that column.


  1. Ping, although I welcome your welcome, I'd just like to mention that webcomic, commenting... is just a sideline.

    The blog will always first and foremost be about glorious, glorious me, and my many misadventures through life.

  2. I'm curious to see just how many of these things we see, and just how they'll interact with things like Comixpedia and the like.

    And to be honest, Ping, I really don't put what Eric Burns does at Websnark in the same category as what you do with Webcomic Finds. They're completely different beasts. Both are very worthwhile, just very different. And that's good--if both of you did the same thing, it'd get boring quick. What I fear we might end up getting are a bunch of Websnark clones...which isn't to put down the folks who're creating these new webcomic crit. blogs. I just see that as a potential down the road--folks who saw Websnark, saw how popular it became and how powerful it is, and (as you mentioned) think to themselves, "hey, I can crack wise about comics." A very slippery slope, I think.

  3. every couple of days i fight the urge to get a blog... must resist... clicking 'get... free... blog' button...
    whew. it's passed!
    but i think chaos has got a point in the 'different beast' nature... as long as they've got something unique to offer, then they are worth trawling over. i listen to digital strips while i'm working and it makes for an entertaining way to pass the time...
    webcomics based blogging and/or criticism is likely to popular mostly amongst webcomic artists 'cos most of us are hoping to see our name and our comic's name in pixels (along with the linkage and apparent 'recognition' that may bring).
    now i'm just rambling. which is always the reason i resist getting a blog!

  4. It's absolutely true! I am doing it to be like Websnark! I even started growing my beard and everything.

  5. Well, I think I did mention that so far most of the blogs have had their particular differences and niches. Eric concentrates on what is there, I concentrate on the lesser known, Digital Strips has the podcasts.

    And like I said, more variety can only be a good thing.

    More copycats however... well...

  6. It has been said that those who cannot DO, "DO ABOUT" -- and that if you can DO. You shouldn't be "doing about"

    Plus, critics seem to come off as failed at whatever it is they are critiquing themselves. It's still good to see different opinions.

    Now that we have so many wannabe Websnarks around, I'm looking for the people who will jam on Digital Stips clones and start podcasting like THEY are important.

  7. But so many of us are doing both Drew, because up until recently there hasn't been any people to do it for us.

    I do think that webcomics criticism, review, whatever, needs less practising artists, and more fans, writing... Which is why Eric was so successful. But until the day comes that everyone interested in webcomics stops trying to be in the band and starts being the groupies, everyone is going to have to take turns as the Butter Queen.

    So to speak.

    -William G About Town

  8. ..."The Butter Queen" being a semi-famous Led Zeppelin groupie...

  9. I'm gonna start a Webcomic Blogs Webcomic, which will help people pick out the best webcomic blogs from all the crappy ones XD

  10. You know, I had no idea just how many of the things have been popping up until recently. I may just have to make sure I keep it a sideline.

  11. You wanna know something really funny?

    Ever since this hotspot I'm suddenly hearing from webcomic blogs I didn't even know existed thinking I'm talking about them!

    The only thing I can say: If a glove fits, it doesn't necessarily mean it was meant for that person... So no need to panic, dudes. You know who you are.

    But I'm more and more convinced of that we're seeing (and going to see even more) a sudden increase in webcomic blogs population... and Websnark may well have been the catalyst.

    One thing I do dislike is the 'critiques can't do' generalisation though. Because in my view criticism and creation are two different things. You don't need to be an expert brewer to be able to appreciate good beer, methinks.

    But more on that on my next Hotspot.

    ps: Mike, do that and I promise to stopover at that webcomic for the sheet hilarity of the situation ;)

  12. "Critics can't do" is nothing more than a lazy way to dismiss a review you dont like.

    It's no more valid than somone saying, "U R teh ghey!!!1!!!111!!"

  13. One other thing: I'm getting told about review blogs myself... As if I'm a big player in the field or something.

  14. *wryly* Dude, judging by the amount of controversy you manage to stir up, I can see why people would think that way.

  15. I got the idea to do it because Eric (Websnark) said there should be more people doing this. Granted, I waited a whole three damn months to get started, but here I am. Good to be recognized, and only two weeks old to boot.

    And it seems every one of us is aiming to do something different here. Eric uses his to pontificate not only on webcomics, but also on his own life and more philosophical issues. William G is doing a rating style with his webcomic entries, grading comics. Ping, you dig up unknowns for us to see and enjoy. Digital Strips is like a talk radio show. I'm trying to just point out things I think work, and aim to stick primarily to criticism (I'm probably repeating a ton of stuff already said but whatever).

    It's odd when we're all lumped together because we're all aiming to do different things with our blogs. And they remain that, Just Blogs. But on second thought, I wouldn't mind being associated with the other guys. They're pretty cool guys after all.