And apparently it didn't go down very well in the webcomics world.
Eric over at Websnark wrote a strongly worded essay on it. Comixpedia has a raging debate going on as the indignant community rush to defend themselves.
Me? I don't understand how something so simple can be so damn convoluted.
Or to be precise, WHY anyone would even want to make it so damn convoluted.
Reading it over, it's an interesting point of view of an outsider to webcomics. It seems to have dragged a lot of preconcieved notions about 'webcomics' into ther article though. I mean look at this quote from the article:
"But when it comes to the content of Web comics, Mr. Groth was right. The comics that use digital technology to break out of their frozen boxes are really more like animated cartoons. And those that don't are just like the old, pre-digital ones, without the allure of the printed page and with a few added headaches for reader and creator alike."
But seriously... What were they expecting webcomics to be? Taking all the fancy-shmancy theory out of it, in the end of the day they're still comics utilising the internet as a means of distribution.
They're comics on the internet.
In case you need it simplified further,
- They are a hybrid of words and art with a message/story/joke.
- They don't get to their audience by being printed on paper
- They use a network of computers to deliver the content directly to their audience.
Some of them may chose to add effects you can't replicate on paper, true. Sure, some of them utilise different ways of trying to earn money. A large portion of them are free. Some blur the line between comics and cartoons, and frankly, why are we being anal about that again? Comics blur the line between art and writing, after all.
At the end of the day, they're still, they're just, they ARE comics. Distributed by the internet. Nuff said. (Have I reiterated that enough times yet?)
I suppose this is point where I confess I have no idea who this "Gary Groth" guy is, and why he seems relevant to this discussion at all. And before you shoot me that shocked look, this is where I say with a straight face: "And frankly, I don't care unless you can give me a good reason to." (In case you're wondering, I did look him up for the purposes of writing this.) I just wish he wouldn't let his opinion of Scott McCloud jaundice his whole outlook about webcomics.
Yes, Scott McCloud may have been a pioneer in many things, but he is not the King of Webcomic-Land, sorry. Sure, I respect the guy. I agree with some things he says, and disagree with others. But not everyone doing a webcomic is an ardent follower of Scott McCloud, and I really resent this viewpoint that we are all in "Cuckooland" and drunk on experimental McCloud kool-aid or whatever it is they're insisting.
I personally never heard of Scott McCloud until my third year of reading webcomics, and never read "Understanding Comics" until after I started making one of my own. And I've run into plenty of people who make webcomics who go "Scott who?"
And here's another startling confession: I have never read Reinventing Comics. And I don't plan to anytime soon. The closest I got to that was reading "I Can't Stop Thinking", and that's it.
So stop challenging points in Reinventing Comics already. My God, this whole thing is stupidity times TEN, and watching all this mud-slinging by the supposed "thinkers" of the form is like witnessing the stupidity trying to spread.
Why do these people have to make things so damn complicated?
Why are they acting so damn anal over a form of distribution?
And why can't someone for once, write an effing newspaper article about webcomics by taking them at face value and not mention Reinventing Comics even once?
Reinventing Comics isn't the origin of webcomics. Comics are the origin of webcomics. (Although, that really should have been obvious shouldn't it?)
Maybe that book advocated it, but let me tell you there are people who got into webcomics (and comics) because a news or gaming website somewhere linked a strip that got across the point they wanted to make. There are people who have never read a single issue of Superman or X-men who got hooked on a comic because someone sent them an email saying "Read this about [topic x], it's funny!". There are people who got their first introduction to comics through a Livejournal entry saying "This page just expresses exactly how I feel today".
Maybe those people who never read comics before started reading webcomics because they realised that hey, comics do not have to equal heroes in spandex, which before always got associated with the stereotype of nerdy teenage fanboys that made reading comics 'uncool' and "for kids" or "not for girls" or whatever bullcrap people spout.
Maybe they liked those webcomics because they were easily accessible through the internet. And maybe because it showed them how easy making comics could be, they too wanted to try their hand at it, not because they wanted make some statement on "art". Maybe they made comics and put them on the internet because it was simply the most convenient way to get it to their audience, and not because they wanted to reinvent the form.
A lot of maybes? I know that in one case at least, the person writing this rant got into webcomics this way.
Has it occured to anyone that there is a whole new audience who don't read comics getting into webcomics, and Oops! They bypassed traditional comics on the way? Maybe some will discover print comics on the way. Maybe some won't because they're happy to remain reading comics online.
Newflash: The comics world does not revolve around the (American) print comic industry, nor does it revolve around webcomics either. And frankly, I think it's better that way.
One more thing: Why is it no one expects comics in print to exploit the possibilities of the paper medium? *snorts* Seriously, Where are the 3D paper-pop outs going "POW!" when Batman punches The Joker? You don't expect paper comics to push the form towards the direction of origami just because they're on paper, do you?
While it would be pretty cool of someone did do that, you wouldn't expect every print comic to, so don't expect every webcomic to, because they're the same things... on different media.
Honestly, did people bitch like this about sequential art being presented on paper instead of paintings on stone walls?
"But when it comes to the content of sequential art on paper, Mr. Caveman Ugg was right. The paintings that use the bark of the tree to break out of the constraints of the immovable cave walls are really more like writings. And those that don't are just like the old cave-paintings, without the majesty of the towering stone and with a few added headaches for reader and creator alike (Due to difficulty in getting bark of tree and the durability of the work after being painted on the bark of the tree.)"
Pffft! I really have to draw that one out!