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LIS 518 Webcomics Seminar
Transcript of LIS 518 Webcomics Seminar
Webcomics v. Digital Comics
Webcomics are defined by their online availability and are typically free to view.
Digital comics are more closely aligned with traditional print comics and graphic novels and are similar to e-books, usually available through a subscription service from a major comics publisher. Specific hardware and software may be required, such as an eReader or a tablet computer with a comics reader app.
Although paid subscription services are most common, many comics publishers offer previews and free digital comics, such as Image Comics' comiXology and First Second’s ‘to be continued…’ online serials.
Scott McCloud’s book
(2000) explored how technology might be used to create innovative comics and the possibility of internet as an alternative to newspaper and traditional publishers. It also introduced his idea of the infinite canvas, a design strategy based on "treating the screen as a window rather than a page", with long-form comics published on a theoretically endless canvas (McCloud, 2009).
McCloud's idea of an infinite canvas has been employed by some webcomic artists, but most prefer pages for an easier reading experience or to employ multimedia elements when seeking to experiment with the medium.
The possibilities of multimedia and the freedom of publishing online has created an innovative and exciting alternative to traditional comics.
Popularity & Possibilities
Great for creators
– freedom and control. Offers artists endless possibilities to create comics as basic or as artistically and technologically advanced as they want, from clip art or stick figure drawings to gorgeous graphic novels presented using HTML5.
Great for audience
– there’s something out there for everyone, more acceptance of alternative formats, styles and topics, typically free to access.
Styles, Formats, & Genres
The Wide and
A webcomic is a comic published on the web. The first webcomics were newspaper-style strips, shared online since the early days of the internet on newsgroups and forums available through internet services Usenet and CompuServe (Atchison, 2008).
With the development of the world wide web and the exponential growth of technology, webcomics exploded in popularity and developed into an exciting and fascinating medium with a myriad of formats, styles and genres.
This seminar explores the wide and wonderful world of webcomics, looking at what makes webcomics unique in comparison to print and digital comics, the styles and genres, the innovative formats made possible through technology, how webcomics have been utilized in schools and libraries, and where to start if you're new to webcomics and want to find a strip or a series to suit your taste.
Webcomics v. Digital Comics continued...
In contrast, webcomics are most often created by independent artists, are published on the creator's website or on a webcomics collective website, and the formats and styles vary significantly, from traditional strips and single panel cartoons to scrolling pages and interactive graphic novels.
Some libraries purchase subscriptions for digital comics, but pathfinders of webcomics and free online graphic novels are a great option for tough economic times (Moorefield-Lang & Gavigan, 2012).
Webcomics are also increasingly used in education to promote acquisition of language skills using digital storytelling (Vassilikopoulous, Retalis, Nezi & Boloudakis, 2011) and to motivate and engage struggling students (Metraglia & Villa, 2014).
Beyond Entertainment: Schools & Libraries
Hand drawn cartoons
Clip art and public domain images
Photographs and mixed media
Stylistic graphic novel-style artwork
: newspaper-style strips and single panel cartoons, sometimes referred to as “gag-per-day” webcomics as each strip or comic is self-contained / can stand alone
: can be simple newspaper-style strips or expansive graphic novel-style, carries a story arc that is published over weeks, months, or even years.
Traditional graphic novel style with pages to click through, complete story or series
Infinite Canvas - scrolling webcomics
Innovative/Multimedia - comics that utilize audio, animation, or three dimensional presentation; sometimes are interactive and operate similar to text-based adventure games
Every genre imaginable!
Video game themed
Specific areas of expertise (science, math, philosophy, computer science, history)
Review Compilation Lists
uses the same six panels for every comic; only the text changes.
My Cardboard Life
by Philippa Rice is made using cardboard, paper, and other materials, put together by hand and then digitally scanned.
A Softer World
by Emily Horne and Joey Comeau is a three-panel comic created using photos and text.
by Richard Stevens is created using raster graphics software, and the result is a style similar to old video games.
by Michelle Czajkowski is beautiful and colourful webcomic presented as a click-through multimedia book.
Short-form / Gag-per-day:
by Sarah Anderson
Long-form Graphic Novel:
by Noelle Stevenson is an ongoing young adult fantasy webcomic, published every Tuesday & Thursday since 2012.
by Patrick Farley is presented with all panels lined up continuously on one page, loading as the viewer scrolls down the screen.
by Stevan Živadinović is a three-dimensional side-scrolling comic, with scenes and characters that move as the viewer scrolls through.
by Erica Campbell & Phil Henderson
Dead on Arrival
by Matt Gibson is an interactive photographic webcomic based based on a 1940s' film noir. It integrates video, animation, music and interactivity with the user able to select a suspect and affect the path of the story (Gibson, 2007).
by Jess Fink is a decidedly NSFW webcomic about a woman and a robot...
The Zombie Hunters
by Jenny Romanchuck
the hole the fox did make
is a creepy ghost story four-panel webcomic by Emily Carroll
A Brief History of Webcomics (Sequential Tart): http://www.sequentialtart.com/article.php?id=850
The History of Webcomics (The Comics Journal): http://www.tcj.com/the-history-of-webcomics/
TVTropes has an extensive wiki with information on formats, genres and tropes and an extensive webcomics listing http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Webcomics
San Diego Comic-Con's Eisner Awards' webcomics category: http://www.comic-con.org/awards/eisners-current-info
Harvey Award, Best Online Comics Work: http://www.harveyawards.org/
Some guidance for finding a great webcomic to try:
The Webcomic List: http://www.thewebcomiclist.com/
17 Fantastic Completed Webcomics to Binge-Read: http://io9.com/17-fantastic-completed-webcomics-to-binge-read-from-beg-1537054538
40 Webcomics You Need to Read: http://www.themarysue.com/40-webcomics-you-need-to-read/
51 Awesome Webcomics the Eisners Failed to Recognize: http://io9.com/51-awesome-webcomics-the-eisners-have-completely-failed-1563898141
Eight Horror Webcomics to Read in the Dark: http://io9.com/5377386/eight-horror-webcomics-to-read-in-the-dark
The Webcomic Overlook Reviews by Ratings: http://webcomicoverlook.com/reviews/reviews-by-ratings/
The Webcomic Overlook: http://webcomicoverlook.com/
Wild Webcomic Review: http://wildwebcomicreview.blogspot.ca/
The Webcomics Review: http://thewebcomicsreview.tumblr.com/
The Webcomic Police: http://www.webcomicpolice.com/
The Bad Webcomics Wiki: http://www.badwebcomicswiki.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Main_Page
"...a super cool, sometimes experimental, always entertaining, bubbling cauldron of comics" (Soto, 2014): http://studygroupcomics.com/main/
Strips, panels & editorial-style webcomics: http://www.gocomics.com/
Creator driven, interactive webcomics magazine: http://girlamatic.com/
Free hosting and automation service / place for independent creators to show their work: http://www.webcomicsnation.com/
(Stripped Doc, 2014)
(Stripped Doc, 2013)
Atchison, L. (2008, January 7). A brief history of webcomics: the third age of webcomics, part one [blog post].
. Retrieved from http://www.sequentialtart.com/article.php?id=850
Garrity, S. (2011, July 15). The history of webcomics.
The Comics Journal
. Retrieved from http://www.tcj.com/the-history-of-webcomics/
Gibson, M. (2007). My work: Dead on Arrival. Retrieved from http://www.matt-gibson.co.uk/work/dead-on-arrival.php
McLoud, S. (2009). The "Infinite Canvas". Retrieved from http://scottmccloud.com/4-inventions/canvas/index.html
Metraglia, R. & Villa, V. (2014). Engineering graphics education: webcomics as a tool to improve weaker students’ motivation.
Research Journal of Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology
, 7(19), 4106-4114. Retrieved from http://maxwellsci.com/print/rjaset/v7-4106-4114.pdf
Moorerield-Lang, H., & Gavigan, K. (2012). These aren’t your father’s funny papers: the new world of digital graphic novels.
, 40(3), 30-35. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslpubsandjournals/knowledgequest/docs/FREEArticle_TheseAren%27t_30-35.pdf
Smith-Hockley, S. (2014, April 22). Interview with Zack Soto of Study Group Comics [blog post]. Kickstarter. Retrieved from https://www.kickstarter.com/blog/interview-with-zack-soto-of-study-group-comics
Stripped Doc. (2013, March 5). "How Webcomics Work": from the documentary Stripped [youtube video]. Retrieved from
Stripped Doc. (2014, January 30). STRIPPED: official trailer (2014) comic strip documentary [youtube video]. Retrieved from
Vassilikopoulous, M., Retalis, S., Nezi, M. & Boloudakis, M. (2011). Pilot use of digital educational comics in language teaching.
Educational Media International
, 48(2), 115-126. DOI 10.1080/09523987.2011.576522
Webcomics used in this prezi, in order of appearance:
Wilson, K. (2013, October 19).
Cyanide and Happiness
. Retrieved from http://explosm.net/comics/3338/
Weiner, Z. (n.d.).
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
. Retrieved from http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=3444#comic
Krahulik, M. & Holkins, J. (2014)
. Retrieved from http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic
Dee, N. (2008, February 2). Whales are assholes.
Natalie Dee: a sharing machine comic
. Retrieved from http://www.nataliedee.com/index.php?date=021008
Ambaum, G. & Barnes, B. (2010, June 16).
. Retrieved from http://www.unshelved.com/2010-6-16
North, R. (2014).
. Retrieved from http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=2671
Rice, P. (2009, November 6). Bad weather.
My Cardboard Life
. Retrieved from http://mycardboardlife.com/comic/bad-weather
Horne, E. & Comeau, J. (n.d.).
A Softer World
. Retrieved from http://www.asofterworld.com/index.php?id=1148 and http://www.asofterworld.com/index.php?id=1146
Stevens, R. (2007). She called her math tutor the liberace of fibonacci.
. Retrieved from http://www.dieselsweeties.com/archive/1752
Czajkowski, M. (n.d.).
. Retrieved from http://www.avasdemon.com/pages.php#0001
Anderson, S. (2014, January 12).
. Retrieved from http://www.gocomics.com/sarahs-scribbles/2014/01/12
Stevenson, N. (2012).
. Retrieved from http://gingerhaze.com/nimona/comic/page-1
Farley, P. (2002)
. Retrieved from http://www.electricsheepcomix.com/spiders/
Živadinović, S. (2011).
Hobo Lobo of Hamelin
. Retrieved from http://hobolobo.net/
Campbell, E. & Henderson, P. (2009, September 4).
. Retrieved from http://guildedage.net/comic/chapter-1-cover/
Gibson, M. (2007).
Dead on Arrival
. Retrieved from http://www.dead-on-arrival.co.uk/
Fink, J. (2008, August 30).
Retrieved from http://jessfink.com/Chester5000XYV/?p=34
Romanchuck, J. (2014).
The Zombie Hunters
. Retrieved from http://www.thezombiehunters.com/index.php
Carroll, E. (2014).
The hole the fox did make
. Retrieved from http://www.emcarroll.com/comics/fox/one.html
Munroe, R. (n.d.). Tab explosion.
. Retrieved from http://xkcd.com/609/
Do you read webcomics? What are your favourites? Do you read mostly short-form or have you read any long-form webcomics?
There are a staggering number of webcomics in existence. Do you think webcomics could be well utilized in a library? Would you have concerns about recommending webcomics without fully reading to check for quality and any questionable content (violence, sex, etc.)? There seems to be a lot more webcomics targeted at adults than kids - what do you think? Do you have any recommendations for kid friendly webcomics?
Do you think the difference between webcomics and digital comics/graphic novels is worth noting, now that many webcomics artists are creating professional quality online graphic novels and publishing their comics through traditional publishers, and many publishing houses like Marvel, DC, Image, etc., now offer free digital comics? What is the most important aspect of webcomics that makes them unique?
Take a look at a few of the interactive and multimedia webcomics listed below. Discuss whether you think you’d enjoy reading these comics. Are they interesting? Too gimmicky? Easy or hard to navigate?
Are these interactive webcomics still comics, or are they a new and different experience, analogous to how audiobooks or radio adaptations provide a different experience to reading text?
Dracula: The Interactive Webcomic: http://www.draculacomic.co.uk/
Soul Reaper: http://www.soul-reaper.com/
Hobo Lobo of Hamelin: http://hobolobo.net/
Dead on Arrival: http://www.dead-on-arrival.co.uk/