Strip Grab Bag – Why Your Webcomic Idea Won't Work

This Boing Boing post inspired me to consider the common response to new webcomic ideas. You’ll have to let me know if you found it amusing or have anything to add…

dollar_kois_by_orudorumagi11First of all this new “Webcomic Idea” of yours won’t work because it is:

(X) technical

( ) legislative

(X) quality-based

( ) crowd-sourced

But also:

(X) This isn’t the way we’re used to doing things.

( ) It does not provide an immediate income stream to the working comic artist.

( ) Nobody will spend the eight hours required to code it.

( ) Actually, no one will be able to find anyone who can code it.

(X) It is defenseless against piracy.

(X) It tries to prop up a fundamentally broken business model.

( ) Users of the web will not put up with it.

(X) Print readers will not put up with it if your comics ever make it to print.

( ) Other artists will resent it. And you for being successful.

(X) Requires too much cooperation from unwilling sources like blogs, traditional news outlets and other artists.

( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once.

(X) Requires the reader to get out of the house and ask the local comic shop to special order something from a website.

(X) Many creators cannot afford to lose what little business they have to try this, even though it is unclear how they could lose by simply trying this.

( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else’s career or business with a single bad opinion on a blog.

(X) Readers’ sarcastic and rude comments don’t just get mailed to the Syndicate and ‘filed away.’ They get posted right beneath the comic.

( ) Fans of other comics will refuse to be fans of my comic unless those other comics continually link to my comic.

Specifically, your idea fails to account for:

(X) Readers’ unwillingness to pay for comics online.

( ) The existence and popularity of GoComics, the premiere site for online comics.

(X) Unavoidable availability of many other free comic alternatives.

( ) The difficulty of comic creation.

( ) The massive tedium of actually posting a comic on the web.

(X) The high cost of having a website (outdated.)

( ) Unpopularity of weird new comics that don’t have traditional page layouts.

(X) Comic operations small enough to be profitable are too small to do real comics.

( ) Legal liability of using unowned IP in passing reference.

( ) The effort required to be even a competent comic creator can take years. YEARS!

(X) And can’t really be good without an editor.

(X) What readers want, in the main, is celebrity and football. They will try to figure out political cartoon references but just skip to the comics page sooner or later.

( ) What artists want is fame and money from the readers.

( ) The editing process is not part of the process which impacts quality.

(X) Reader’s huge distrust of site advertising.

( ) Reluctance of advertisers to advertise on a comic site.

( ) Inability of most comic sites to demand real advertising money for all the site real estate devoted to the ads.

( ) How easy it is for readers to ignore online ads.

(X) Research shows that readers of newspapers and magazines respond 100% to every print ad we can stuff in to our publications. Disclaimer: Let’s be cautious and just say we think it’s ninety percent or so which is ninety percent better than online ad response.

( ) Readers will somehow insist on including rare Manga, cosplay or pirated works in this new venture.

( ) The inextricably competitive nature of the webcomics world. How can print artists compete? What are the rules?

( ) The dependence of the work’s success on Social Media promotion.

( ) The dependence of traditional press on Twitter and Facebook to spot digital trends like…Wait a minute! Comics are on the internet?!? What will happen to comic books and newspapers? You people better stop.

( ) Technically illiterate traditional press.

( ) The tragedy of the Creative Commons License blurring the ability of corporations to make money on every square inch (millimeter) of the web.

( ) The advertising-driven business model can’t support the costs of groceries and rent.

(X) The tiny amounts of money to be made from online ads for small sites. This apparently is worth repeating.

(X) We can’t control the distribution and every instance of the work and therefore the profit. Also worth repeating.


  1. Ha ha! Good post! I think I heard all of these, including the ones you didn’t check, several times while I was trying to get funding! And I still hear them fairly often today with potential partners. Just keep plugging away — the webcomics business has a surprising ability to just surge past any objections, as long as you put something of quality out there.

  2. Thanks Joey. It sure does seem like if you work at creating something noteworthy it will pay off eventually. I’m sure that TMNT didn’t strike anyone like it was a pot of gold at first blush.

  3. Antione

    A brilliant post! Yeah a web comic has to take a different tact to get a tack and I think advertising is the way to go. But you have to get quality page rank which means you have to get quality links and visits. I think it can work if you want people to pay for you web comic if you get popular and publish mini series that are part of but not the main story. Of coarse you need the first two I stated above to be able to pull that off.

  4. Rick

    Great post, also add the following

    [x] Doesn’t appeal to the short attention span of audiences.
    [x] Tries to be serious with limited humour.
    [x] Requires more than a few strips to comprehend.
    [ ] Bombard the web with Facebook, MySpace accounts and blogs related to the webcomic.
    [ ] Believes in creating the webcomic as an expression for art/philosophy rather than entertainment.

  5. Rick

    Here’s more:

    (X) Because your art style is too conventional and somehow just looking different with cheap slapstick is original

    (X) It’s subtle

    (X) Readable standard fonts

    (X) Doesn’t incite a flamewar between themselves and resident grammar nazi, comic book geek and graphic designer goth girl who can’t accept the author has the right to ignore their opinions and take it with a grain of salt.

    ( ) Has smartass product placement.

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