Since the early 1990s the growth of the World Wide Web has had its impact on comics. Not only has it proved an infinite platform for comic artists to show their work, it also provided a whole new canvas for comic artists to draw their comics on, using new computer techniques such as 3D and animation.
Webcomics are comics published on the web and others may also published in magazines, newspapers or in books.
In January 2007, there were an estimated 38,000 webcomics being published. Readership levels vary widely; many are read only by the creator’s immediate friends and family, while some of the largest claim audiences well over one million readers.
Webcomics range from traditional comic strips and graphic novels to avante garde comics, and cover many genres, styles and subjects. Only a select feware financially successful.
The first online comic was Eric Millikin’s Witches and Stitches, an unauthorized Wizard of Ozparody comic which was published on CompuServein 1985. It was followed by T.H.E. Fox, a furrycomic strip by Joe Ekaitis which was published on CompuServe and Quantum Linkin 1986.
One of the first to signal this development was Scott McCloud, whose ‘Understanding Comics’ and ‘Reinventing Comics’ have become standard works. He has opened the eyes of many comic artists to the possibilities technology provides for the comics medium.
One of the comic artists who has created comics especially suited to the Internet is the Swiss Demian5, who created ‘When I am King’ between 1999 and 2001. It has become a classic for its inventive use of modern technologies, in combination with an entertaining storyline.
Another artist who has experimented succesfully with Internet’s possibilities is Patrick Farley, whose work can be seen on http://www.e-sheep.com. Mainly though, comic artists use the Internet for displaying their work. Instead of putting energy and money into self-publishing and distributing, they invest a relatively low amount of money in their own site, by which they can reach a vast audience of comic lovers and colleagues.
The first comic to appear online was ‘Where the Buffalo Roam’, by Hans Bjordahlin 1991, and it has been followed by countless comics all over the world.
As soon as Internet caught on, artists started making comics with the sole purpose of displaying them digitally. These are the so-called “webcomics”, and early examples are ‘Netboy’ by Stafford Huylerand ‘Argon Zark!’ by Charley Parker.
Many artists use this format to display their ability to produce a consistent, regularly appearing comic strip (which might interest syndicats in taking them on board for distribution to newspapers). Apart from the individual sites, there are also sites which provide a collection of webcomics, such as http://www.moderntales.com.