Webcomics As Self-Publishing

Back in high school, I discovered the internet, and shortly thereafter I discovered my first webcomic: Ctrl+Alt+Del by Tim Buckley.

Having grown up in the middle of the woods, in a town with no comic shop, no game store, and no movie theater, in a home with no cable and maybe a dozen movies I’d watched hundreds of times, the idea of a regularly released story was a fantastic concept to my adolescent brain.

I initially thought this was a normal sort of publication, one that went through a publishing company, with a tech team to keep the website running. I also thought it was a fairly rare thing, and that there weren’t many webcomics out there.

As you can see from this list, however, I was more than a little wrong: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_webcomics

This is also a far from complete listing, as there are new comics constantly starting, and dozens of less popular comics that never became popular enough to get listed.

Today, I read close to 35 webcomics, about half of which update daily, and the majority of the remainder update two or three times a week.

The most fascinating thing to me in watching webcomics evolve and grow has been the realization that 90% of them are privately owned and maintained, and the majority of them make such tiny profits that they are more like hobbies than anything else. I have watched many authors struggle to make time for their comics, their personal little pleas written in the comments under the comics. Others I have watched as their comics became more and more successful, and a couple I have seen make this their career. This is really inspiring to me, because the majority of their income, aside from the money they get from advertising, comes from private donations and merchandise purchases made by their fans who would like to see them succeed. This kind of community support for people who might never have been able to make a living doing this if not for the webcomic format gives me a little hope that I’ll be able to get my own support if I decide to pursue such a route in my own life.

Sadly, these artist/writers are in the minority, and for every webcomic I’ve seen successfully come into their own, I’ve seen five or six that just died off or disappeared because the founder couldn’t afford to pay for domain hosting. Yet day after day, and week after week, I see dozens of new comics written, and dozens continue on their storylines.

If you haven’t read any webcomics, I highly encourage you to do so, there are comics for just about everyone.

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