Howdy tweeps! I’m posting a few items of interest here that came out of last night’s #webcomicschat. To open #webcomicschat I asked if anyone had any Webcomics New Year’s resolutions. A few posted their desire to make improvements in their comic art during the next year. I also stated that I want to up my release schedule for my long form comic books from 2 to 3 or 4 per year. During the chat I also stumbled across a few articles of interest that I wanted to comment on.
I’m a regular listener of Webcomics Weekly. I’ve had the opportunity to meet the fellas in person a few times and I really admire their work. I’ve read “How to Make Webcomics” and I follow webcomics.com. That being said I think I’m falling into the category of not relating to Scott much anymore. To me it seems that he’s starting to become a bit of a curmudgeon. He’d probably be the first to admit it as well.
In a recent episode Scott voiced some very strong opinions about what makes someone a cartoonist. I’m not going to try and paraphrase his comments but I wanted to post a few links on the subject. Here is the economist article about the Oatmeal by Matthew Inman he referred to. Here is the Daily Cartoonist.org article where many, including Scott, voiced their opinions. I’ve included these links here so you can form your own opinion.
Personally I don’t think it’s fair to state that one person or another is or isn’t a cartoonist. It may be appropriate to codify a definition but one of the things that’s always appealed to me about webcomics is the fact that they’re open to everyone. Anyone can try their hand at being a cartoonist and I think that’s a good thing. In fact I don’t think artistic ability will ever play a roll in the public’s perception of what constitutes a cartoonist either. Certainly quality art doesn’t equal success. Business practices, including the SEO stuff Scott cites as problematic, don’t really matter to me either. If Matthew has found a way to build up a successful internet business more power to him. I’d love to hear some of his techniques for my own business.
In my mind this discussion parallels the debate on what constitutes Art in general. A basic study of Art History shows that one group of artists always try to define for another what is or isn’t acceptable Art and vice versa. To name one example, think of all the illustrator, comic and pulp artists of the last century who will never be recognized as TRUE artists but had mass public appeal. These nameless artists will never be mentioned in the history books but their impact was felt by millions.
Ultimately, stating that someone is or isn’t a real cartoonist is just as foolhardy as stating that someone is or isn’t a true artist. Artists, illustrators, and cartoonists need to get past the pride (and egotism frankly) which forces them to pursue these fleeting definitions. Letting anyone define for us what constitutes a valid creation is pointless and just plain silly. Now get off my lawn.