Welcome to our first installment of Pixel Pages covering webcomics news. We’ll be learning as we go (read more here) so feedback is welcome (email, Facebook, Twitter). No doubt this will be an evolving beast. First, playing some catch-up from earlier in the month of February:
# “Stick with print, folks” says the fictional Zonker in a February 2nd installment of Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau, in a quick break from the then current storyline. Naturally, it quickly prompting irreverent Photoshopped responses from webcomics creators and fans, some collected here by Adam Manley. An editor’s note was added to Doonesbury’s Blowback site at Slate to address some of the blow back:
Editor’s Note: Sometimes things really are what they seem. I checked with the home office, and the strip is nothing more than a simple gag about the state of newspapers. It was intended for the readers of the 1,100 daily and Sunday print editions that publish the strip. While understandably sentimental about his roots in print media, GBT was an enthusiastic, early adapter to digital platforms, creating three different CD-ROMS (1995), a web-based motion-capture video project (Duke2000), a milblog (2006), e-book editions of his anthologies, and of course, this website, launched in 1995, long before most webcomics were created. He first wrote about the social impact of computers, a favorite topic, in 1972.
# Hackers took down the main servers of Blind Ferret Entertainment, which provides hosting for a number of popular webcomics, reports Fleen. Local archives were also lost which meant that years upon years of work were potentially gone unless the strips had their own backups. Some webcomics were down for a week. Blind Ferret worked hard to restore most files but each strip seemed to have certain holes to fill in. It looks like most have been able to recover almost everything. R.K. Milholland was going page-by-page to restore broken links and other oddities on Something Positive. Danielle Corsetto of Girls with Slingshots received some help in recovering her hover text thanks to Bernie Hou of Comic Chameleon, which will be carrying her strip when the app launches. Ryan Sohmer and Lar deSouza’s Least I Could Do, which is celebrating its 10th year anniversary this month, lost their forum and had to postpone the annual Valentine’s Day contest but otherwise seems to have made out OK. Goblins by Tarol Hunt and Danielle Stephens also lost their forum, although their fans created a temporary substitute.
# The Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies announced the nominees for the first Cartoonist Studio Prize. Winners will be announced on March 1st, with the winner in each category, one for webcomics and one for graphic novels, getting $1,000. Nominees were chosen by guest judge Françoise Mouly (art editor of The New Yorker and publisher/editorial director of TOON Books), Slate Book Review editor Dan Kois, and the faculty and students of the Center for Cartoon Studies. The nominees in the webcomics category:
- Ryan Andrews, Sarah and the Seed
- Gabrielle Bell, Lucky
- Boulet, Bouletcorp
- Vince Dorse, Untold Tales of Bigfoot
- Patrick Farley, The First Word
- Dakota McFadzean, The Dailies
- Randall Munroe, xkcd
- Winston Rowntree, Subnormality
- Noelle Stevenson, Nimona
- Jillian Tamaki, SuperMutant Magic Academy
# Chromatic Press is launching this summer with Sparkler Monthly, an online multimedia magazine that will include serialized comics, prose and audio dramas targeted for girls and women aged 15-30. The format is based on digital manga magazines in Japan. MTV Geek has an interview with editors Lianne Sentar, Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, Rebecca Scoble, and Jill Astley, all of whom have impressive experience with manga. One of the launch titles is Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat, which was originally published by the pre-bankrupt TOKYOPOP.
Spotlight on… Little Guardians by Ed Cho and Lee Cherolis is an all ages-friendly fantasy adventure epic about two kids trying to follow in their families’ footsteps. One family has been protecting the village from demons and spirits for generations and the other runs the local item shop. It’s about family, obligation, and kicking demons where it hurts. Mix in switched at birth, demonic cults, and battle-Ukulele. There are currently three chapters complete and the fourth one is being released now. Check it out!
In Other News
# Are webcomic artists subway musicians? Steve Ogden and Tom Dell’Aringa at Webcomic Alliance make the argument.
# Gwen Singley reveals the history, development, and design sketches of Saralactra, a significant character (and possibly villain) in the next 100 pages of The Wayward Queen.
# Les McClaine previews 32 Exposures with some lovely and effective animation (without devolving into a motion comic).
# Ashley Davis just finished Chapter 3 of Jailbird, which will go on hiatus for a month; good opportunity to dig into the archives if you haven’t read it.
# Candace Sapach has relaunched Joules on Tumblr: “An incredibly important story told by an incredibly quirky man, starring himself and his two incredibly odd friends during two incredibly horrid wars.”
# Comic Rocket February Meet-Up will be this Thursday, February 21, 6-9 PM, at McMenamins on Broadway in Portland, Oregon. Step away from the drafting table/monitor and join fellow creators for a few hours of conversation. Bring business cards, sketchbooks, whatever and chat with other local webcomickers and Comic Rocket’s creators.
# Webcomic Creators Google+ community is a great way for creators to talk shop with others.
Send your press releases, announcements, news tips, comments, etc.
The internet is a big place. Discovering a webcomic can be next to impossible unless you’ve determined to comb the intertubes for an entire weekend, or you visit just the right sites. Fortunately, there’s a promising new alternative called inkOUTBREAK that doubles not only as a portal to discover new webcomics, but a way to bookmark your current favorites so you never miss an update.
Sure you could subscribe to an RSS feed, but what if you’re at a different computer? Or have no clue about RSS thingies? Or just don’t really like RSS feeds? inkOUTBREAK lets you follow webcomics you like and takes you to the specific website that houses the webcomic, so you get the entire experience. And every time your favorites update, they’re at the top of your screen. Plus, it does what RSS feeds can’t, it recommends new webcomics to discover. Through the use of customized tags, you can specify the kinds of webcomics you’re interested in. Combine that with the “bump” of a thumbs up you can give strips you enjoy, you also get a suggested stream of webcomics, somewhat similar to exploring music on Pandora Radio.
I’ve just never been a fan of RSS and my email inbox gets pretty cluttered, that I’m reluctant to subscribe to webcomics that way. So this is great news to me. Thanks to inkOUTBREAK, I’ve been able to find several webcomics I lost track of because I’d forgotten the title after some late night internet-wandering (notably Amazing Super Powers). And I’ve already discovered some new ones I’m liking (such as I am Arg!, this surreal Cat and Girl, and this visual treat on Ellie on Planet X). And I’m very happy to be able to read some of my favorites without having to remember their update schedule (like Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and The Abominable Charles Christopher).
Having said that, it’s not perfect. It’s still in beta after all. Some of the navigation to work out your settings, like tags and favorites, isn’t the most intuitive to me. You definitely have to be willing to tinker around with it a little bit. Because of just how many webcomics are out there, even a site like this can’t be expected to have everything, especially right out of the gate. But there are a few surprising omissions, as well as some of my favorites that are missing. No Hark! A Vagrant, no Max Overreacts, no Sheldon, no Destructor, none of Kevin Church’s Agreeable Comics, no Now It Can Be Told (or any of Act-I-Vate, for that matter). You get the idea. And unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a way to suggest webcomics to be added to the service. (It looks like that option used to exist but now the creator of the webcomic has to do it themselves.) Friends with Boys is there but something in the code seems messed up. I’m sure a lot of this will be fixed in the near future.
But it’s a promising start and a fantastic idea. For more on the site, check out this walk-through.