Thanks for another #webcomicschat. It was great to have everyone’s input this week. I’ve been reading the book “Looking for Calvin and Hobbes” book by Nevin Martell. I am enjoying the book, but the great irony and conceit of it is that the enigmatic Watterson won’t discuss Calving and Hobbes. The author was forced to cobble together a narrative as best he could from scant public interviews and friend’s comments. What the book has made me wonder is whether or not a Watterson could survive in today’s web comics market. This is obviously a rhetorical question but it lead to an interesting discussion.
Back in the day, because Watterson was a syndicated cartoonist, he could rely on the syndicate to take care of his marketing and public promotion. That private and reserved personality type could work in that environment because the cartoonist could rely on others to promote for him. For independent web cartoonists today I think that attitude is a sure bet for failure. In fact it seems that a creator’s personality can even overshadow the strip itself. I think Scott Kurtz with his Player vs. Player strip is a good example of that. As stated in tonight’s discussion web cartoonists MUST embrace social media and interact with their readers. Without that added element of interaction it’s very difficult to keep readers interested. To put it another way, good interaction and feedback from readers can create a more devoted following. In a way readers become part of the strip and feel like they’re “in on the joke.” As was stated in our #webcomicschat how cool it is that an artist can interact directly and immediately with his audience. That has never been possible before and there’s something special about that.
As with all things, I believe that the cream rises to the top so I’d like to believe that Calvin and Hobbes would have found an audience and success in today’s web comic market, but maybe not. If you’re out there sitting on the next Calvin or Hobbes, don’t be shy get on Twitter and Facebook and let’s hear about it. There are plenty of other things online screaming for our attention so it’s a tough gig to be sure, but it’s worth it. In the past a cartoonist could live that secluded life, but today, if you want attention and want to be successful it’s not possible. Along with that, think of how rich your appreciation of the art form is because of the creators you interact with. It’s unfortunate that for those of us that adore Calvin and Hobbes, we’ll never get any closer to the creator himself.