Scott McCloud states, “The connection between artist and reader is — and always will be — the one indispensable part of the comics industry…” (McCloud, 79)
This is a perfect quote to start with as it encapsulates so much of how our cultural viewpoint has changed over the last decade. While we have witnessed the decline of the industrial age, the rise of the information age has exploded with growth, surpassing a critical mass point and now a need-sustaining beast. I can’t speak for other countries, but Americans have a voracious appetite for information and getting our noses as far as possible into everyone’s life.
We want the 4-1-1, the digits, the data, the info, not only about those we allow into our friends list, but about those we may purchase items from too. This includes our favorite authors and building a connection. WebComics offer a unique platform for the artist and reader connection. “As the interests of the large…no longer accept the innovations of the small” (McCloud, 75), the smaller artist needed to search for a medium that would allow them to innovate yet still each an audience.
By choosing to publish online, the artist can bypass the complex direct to market system of commerce and create a path to distribution and innovation all their own. The affordances of Web 2.0 allow an artist to set up a website fairly quickly and cheaply (free in some cases). By using a template, they can be up and running in hours. Shortly after that, an artist can have their first publications online and ready for viewership! A community of followers can begin to build, the artist can share information about themselves through the use of their About Me and Contact Me pages. And the artist can connect with their readers in a personal way through maintaining a blog on the website, offering their point of view in relation to the digital narrative they are presenting. Mailing lists, subscriptions, followers and reader interaction can all take place in an almost instant gratification environment which cannot be achieved through a print publisher-store distribution model.
While the direct to market commerce path can allow rewards such a printed piece and possibly a steady income through royalties — as diminished as they are after everyone takes their cut — the web offers a much more direct source of connection to readers. If an artist is truly creative, passionate about their work, dedicated, and patient with their audience, then in time the venture can result in direct dollars. Many successful authors have established a presence which allow readers to fund them directly in order to continue to generate new content.
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