I just finished listening to the latest Webcomics Weekly podcast click here. During the discussion Scott Kurtz floated the idea of moving beyond the name “webcomics”. I don’t entirely disagree with him but I believe it’s important to discuss it first. In an odd way it reminds me about the debate as to whether or not Pluto is a planet. Here’s why:
As scientists began to discover more planetoids similar to Pluto in the Kuiper Belt they started to realize that including those objects as planets in the broad definition of the solar system would quickly become problematic. There are so many Pluto sized objects in fact that before too long we would have to name hundreds of additional “planets” creating an indistinct and confusing solar system. Hence the name “dwarf planet” was born forever demoting Pluto from it’s status as a “real” planet.
Webcomics used to be unique, with only a few really good ones. For a long time we had a simple solar system of well known webcomics to admire. Now however there are thousands of artists out there trying their hand at the craft. With so many entering the biz, the definition of webcomics is bursting at the seams to include them all… or is it? To Scott, one of the pioneers, perhaps the novelty and uniqueness of being a webcomic has worn off. Also, as Dave Kellett commented in the podcast, defining an industry by it’s medium is not a good idea either. Cartooning, whether online or in print should be judged as cartooning, no more, no less. These are legitimate concerns but I’m still not convinced it’s a good idea to abandon the webcomics moniker.
I’m also concerned that Scott’s attitude might reveal a bit of “elitism.” Now that he’s reached a level of success he wants to make sure he’s not compared to other start ups. In that way webcomics has become synonymous with amateur. This attitude is also prevalent in other forms of publishing where indy or self-published means unprofessional or novice. As a self-publishing webcartoonist I bristle at the notion that I am less professional than someone else. I’ll be the first to admit however that I am less experienced and less successful. So what are we to do? How do we please both the established webcomikers and the newbies? I propose a new term: “dwarf webcomics”
(No pun intended to my tweep @kevincoulston and his “midget themed” Stale Bacon)