Webcomics are another way freelance writers can make a viable career on the web.
For the three of you who haven’t heard of them, webcomics are just like the comic strips you see in your daily newspaper…only on the Internet.
In many ways, this medium is previewing the fate of other writing forms. Independent distribution, direct-to-advertiser income deals and self-published collections have been part of the landscape for 15 years. It’s how a webcomic artist makes a living. In the past few years, we’ve seen the same shift begin in fiction and nonfiction publishing.
Take a moment to check out some of my favorite webcomics. Besides enjoying the humor and art, pay some attention to their business models. What can we apply to your own careers?
- Schlock Mercenary is the far-future saga of an interstellar mercenary company. Author Howard Tayler does a great job of combining thrilling plot with effective punch lines.
- Order of the Stick by Rich Burlew is a comic for Dungeons and Dragons players. It follows the story of an adventuring party, with equal parts of situational humor and pokes at the game and its culture.
- PVPOnline reminds me of 1980 sitcoms. Take the employees of a gaming magazine. Make their personalities over-the-top. Add a troll and a homicidal panda. Scott Kurtz makes it even more fun than it sounds.
- XKCD is for the true geek, with jokes about everything from advanced math to obscure history. Randall Munroe’s stick figures show you can make it as a webcomic with few art skills — as long as your content is excellent.
- Sluggy Freelance has been around for almost 20 years. Join two best friends, their pets and assorted hangers-on for quirky adventures. Was really funny in the 1990s, but Peter Abrams has transitioned the strip into more serious storylines.
- User Friendly is another granddaddy webcomic, with author Iliad’s first panels showing up in the mid 90s. The cast and general attitude remind me of Bloom County, only for geeks.
- Darths and Droids takes panels from the Star Wars movies and adds speech balloons to make it the results of a wildly dysfunctional role-playing game. It’s a team effort, still in progress, that has worked through Episodes I, II and III — and is in the early stages of “A New Hope.”
- Alien Loves Predator experiments with the form. Instead of drawing panels, Bernie Hou poses action figures and takes photos, then adds the speech balloons and other effects. It’s hilarious, often crude, and occasionally NSFW.
This is definitely a geek-centric list, but so is the genre as a whole. We geeks love our comics, and were among the first to enthusiastically embrace the web.
What are some of your favorite webcomics? Comment and link below.