The Economist writes about the rise of the web comic:

In 2012 he is finally getting his way. As the newspaper industry continues its decline, the funnies pages have decoupled from print. Instead of working for huge syndicates, or for censored newspapers with touchy editors, cartoonists are now free to create whatever they want. Whether it is cutting satire about Chinese politics, or a simple joke about being a dog, everything can win an audience on the internet.

This burst of new life comes as cartoons seemed to be in terminal decline. Punch, once a fierce political satire magazine whose cartoons feature in almost every British history textbook, finally closed its doors in 2002. The edgier Viz magazine, which sold a million copies an issue in the early 1990s, now sells 65,000. In the United States, of the sprawling EC Comics stable, only Mad magazine remains, its circulation down from 2.1m in 1974 to 180,000. Meanwhile, the American newspaper industry, home of the cartoon strip, now makes less in advertising revenue than at any time since the 1950s.

sp12212002It tracks the rise and fall of the newspaper strip, to the rise of the web comic. It has all the trappings of an unconvincing web-bang-bam piece, but is actually a quite good article and makes a good case that the web truly does provide a better outlet for cartoonists rather than just acting as a farm system (as blogging often does).

I don’t read any comics, web or otherwise, on a daily basis. The only one I’ve read thoroughly is Something Positive, and at times Real Life. which I will get to in a minute. I’ve heard a lot of good things about MegaTokyo, though it is (like the article says) hard to get into if you didn’t start… a long time ago. XKCD is iconic, of course, but I mostly go there only when someone links to it. It seems that most webcomics are either one-offs like XKCD, in which case I have a hard time getting really into them, or they’re involved like MegaTokyo or Something Positive, which require a lot of investment.

It’s kind of difficult to read the latter on a computer. They sell merchandise, but what I really want is an ebook or ecomic so that I can devote some time and sit down and read it conveniently. Even though they’re free online, I would actually pay – and possibly pay well – for the convenience of being able to read them on a Kindle or tablet. Because I’m bad about reading comics daily, I tend to read Something Positive in spurts. Years at a time. Often, actually, starting from the very beginning and getting up to the new stuff that I haven’t read. I’ve read about 10 years worth of SP, and have about three years left to read, but I’d easily pay $10/yr, or maybe even $20, for every year he’s got.

It’s not entirely unlike how some CD prices have fallen to the price of MP3s, but I’d spend a couple extra dollars on MP3s just to save myself the trouble of ripping the CDs.


Category: Theater

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