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Eric: In other news, the Duke Nukem sequel shipped, O.J. found the real killers and Hell is totally frozen over!

Web Comics Nation has launched.

For those who don't know, Web Comics Nation (or WebComicsNation or Webcomics Nation -- I'm not entirely sure which, but they contract it to "WCN," so I'm going with what I've got) has been Joey Manley's magnum opus for some time. This was the project that would move Manley out of being a publisher and into being a tool supplier. Where something like Keenspace Comic Genesis is there and completely free for webcartoonists who want in, there's a relatively baroque set of tools you need to use in setting your site up. Webcomics Nation, on the other hand, costs ten bucks a month or eighty bucks a year... but is as easy to use (or even easier to use) than Blogger or Livejournal. You take your comic strips, you upload them, the system puts them out. You set up multiple strips if you like. If you want to make one of your strips subscriber only, it just works. If you want to sell ads, you just can. It's not free, but it's simple.

I was fortunate enough to beta WCN, and so I put up an all new Unfettered by Talent site. I put the old Unfettered by Talent strips up as one 'series,' and I put up Sketchbook and Other Unfortunates as another. This gave me a chance to play with the control panel and the like.

And... well, I like it. I like it quite a bit. It works about the way it seems to me it should. I haven't done much to the HTML of these pages, but I could if I wanted. If you look over the current strips using WCN, you'll see a good sized range of stuff people can choose from.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this works as an experiment. Obviously, Manley wants his business's core profit to start coming from this side of things -- he wants to be Kinko's more than Fantagraphics -- and I'd like to see how well that works out for him. For one thing, I want to see if the dirt simple control schema draws people into the service or not. I know that were I just launching Gossamer Commons now, I'd have gone with WCN -- the content management system we went with has caused both Weds and I to age forty years and drink the blood of the living to revitalize ourselves. (And yes, now that it's functional, it's actually significantly cooler for what I want to do with it, but was it so much cooler than just, I dunno, something that worked right out of the box? I don't think so.)

Between this and the Comic Genesis rebranding and relaunching, things are officially getting interesting, all over again.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at July 29, 2005 2:19 PM

Comments

Comment from: Bc9b posted at July 29, 2005 4:46 PM

I'm sorry, but WCN is not going "to do for online comics what services like Blogger have done for personal journals, etc." unless he releases it or free. I'm sorry, but most people would rather have an ad bar than pay $99.50/year, hell $79.50/year, for the service even with the plethora of features. It would probably be great to have a free version with basic features and have an premium version for those who want promotion etc.

Comment from: joeymanley posted at July 29, 2005 4:56 PM

"most people would rather have an ad bar than pay $99.50/year, hell $79.50/year,"

This is categorically and fundamentally true.

WCN is for those other people.

(grin).

Seriously, though, the service is for those who want to make money from their webcomic, and have begun to get popular, but aren't yet at Scott Kurtz proportions of success. And maybe they don't have server-side programming chops to do their own automation. And that's it. This will always be a small subset of the webcomics community. Which is totally cool!

If you're happy not making money from the ads on your site -- but allowing someone else to put ads on your site, and make money from your work, and not sharing that money with you -- (and, like I said, most people are perfectly happy with that) -- then, yeah, cool.

Thanks!

Joey

www.moderntales.com

Comment from: Michael Nehora posted at July 29, 2005 5:53 PM

It is an inescapable fact of life that you get what you pay for. If you've ever used a free (non-comic) webhosting service, you surely can testify to frequent server downtimes, annoying popup or animated ads, monthly bandwidth limits that redefine "miserly," among other problems.

That's why people who have a serious business to run go with a reliable paid webhosting service. No reason why it should be different for webcomic hosting. I've just signed up for Webcomics Nation and, given Joey's considerable experience with such services, I'm sure I'll be pleased.

Comment from: djcoffman posted at July 29, 2005 6:09 PM

I give WCN a big thumbs up. It seems so damn easy. Almost too easy!

I can't wait to see where all this stuff goes.

Comment from: Aerin posted at July 29, 2005 6:42 PM

I've been debating business models for my upcoming comic for quite a while, watching all the furor and fuss over different models with great interest. WCN looks solidly promising. Once I'm actually ready to launch (you know, meaning I still have to WRITE the damn thing and build up a sizeable buffer), I'll probably sign up.

Comment from: Arachnid posted at July 29, 2005 6:54 PM

The front page of unfettered by talent - you drew that, Eric? It's fantastic! Nobody who can draw like that has any right to complain about their lack of artistic talent. ;)

As for the top of a cathedral, I don't know about that, but that's the angel on the Anzac Monument here in my home city of Christchurch, New Zealand.

Comment from: Kristofer Straub posted at July 29, 2005 6:55 PM

It's pretty compelling that webcomics are at the point where a service like WCN can exist. I'm interested to see how it turns out.

Comment from: Kate Sith posted at July 29, 2005 7:19 PM

Woo!

Though I really wish I had the money to pony up for the full year's service this week (damn it, it's my frickin' birthday, I shouldn't have to pay for things I want), I managed to at least finagle a small loan from the First National Bank of Bitch Better Fuckin' Pay Me Back (that is, I borrowed from my brother) to get a monthly sub going. Hooray.

I am currently waiting for my activation code like some kind of crazy waiting machine. It didn't come at the same time as the PayPal veri like they said, and I've sent an e-mail to customer service, and now I wait.

And waaaaaaait.

argh. Just when I was done waiting for the shirt (which is awesome, by the way), I have a new thing to wait for. All this waiting.

Comment from: joeymanley posted at July 29, 2005 7:32 PM

Kate:

I'm at the coffee shop working on the FAQ & manual, and don't have access to the customer service email account right now -- soon as I get back home, I'll fix you up!

Joey

www.webcomicsnation.com

Comment from: Kate Sith posted at July 29, 2005 7:42 PM

Awesome! Thanks! ^^

Comment from: Kate Sith posted at July 29, 2005 9:54 PM

...dude, he seriously did run right home and set me up. That was awesome.

Really like what I'm seeing thus far. Considering I'm fairly code-tarded and all, I haven't really been stumped or annoyed yet.

I'm gonna work on transferring BAU and whatnot over to the WCN site over the next few days, if I can.

This is so totally cool.

Comment from: Flower of December posted at July 29, 2005 9:54 PM

I am in awe.

Comment from: William_G posted at July 30, 2005 12:31 AM

I'm sorry, but WCN is not going "to do for online comics what services like Blogger have done for personal journals, etc."

I dont think you're actually sorry...

Damn, Joey! Looking at this makes me want to start making webcomics again. Before my nefarious plans come to fruition.

Comment from: Kris@WLP posted at July 30, 2005 12:44 AM

For comparison's sake (not that anyone cares), WLP has been paying $45/mth for web hosting with domain registry for the past 4 1/2 years. That doesn't include much in the way of HTML, database, or anything else, but it does include a huge chunk of storage and bandwidth and space for quite a few web comics.

Compared to that, $10/mth would be tempting if I was -only- doing a webcomic.

Comment from: Arachnid posted at July 30, 2005 1:36 AM

Kris: Sounds like you're being overcharged, depending on your definition of 'a fair chunk' of bandwidth. For example, for $20 up, linode.com will provide you with a virtual server, yours to do with as you see fit. Admittedly, that requires a fair bit of linux knowledge, but there are plenty of good hosts around that do shared-hosting solutions for similar prices.



I can even put you in touch with a friend of mine who runs a hosting company (he hosts UF), if you're interested. :)

Comment from: Brendan posted at July 30, 2005 1:42 AM

Geez, between this, the 2004 World Series, and the end of the Big Dig, what the hell are we going to use for metaphors now?

Comment from: Merus posted at July 30, 2005 3:30 AM

I'm thinkin' Duke Nukem Forever shipping will last us long enough.

Ooh, how about 'When Mickey Mouse falls out of copyright'?

Comment from: Bo Lindbergh posted at July 30, 2005 3:31 AM

Quoth Brendan:

Geez, between this, the 2004 World Series, and the end of the Big Dig, what the hell are we going to use for metaphors now?

The Last Dangerous Visions is still good.

Comment from: Karacan posted at July 30, 2005 3:54 AM

This sounds and looks like an amazing deal indeed - now I actually wish I had any kind of artistical talent at all and the time to start my own webcomic. :)

Well. I'm a sucker for ads from the good guys. Thumbs up, all the way.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at July 30, 2005 10:16 AM

Duke Nukem Forever is hardly the only project video gamers make fun of. Though Doom 3 did finally ship, there's still Infinium Labs' Phantom console (no, seriously, they named it the Phantom). For those unfamiliar, it's basically promising to be the video game version of cable (pay monthly subscribing fees to get games piped to you, no discs or carts for games). And they've been talking about it for 5-6 years now.

My gut feeling is that there has to be an equivalent joke for table-top RPGs, but I can't think of one.

Comment from: Merus posted at July 30, 2005 10:46 AM

I think there's a critical difference between the Phantom and Forever: the first a lot of people heard of the Phantom was that Infinium Labs was extremely suspect, thanks to HardOCP. There was going to be widespread surprise if the Phantom ever made it out. Forever, on the other hand, started out as just any ordinary game project, and scaled the heights of vaporware greatness from humble, will-probably-ship beginnings.

A lot of the things I would have said for table-top gaming, like a reissue of the Paranoia rules or White Wolf releasing a game that doesn't allow people to play children of the night, have pretty much already happened. Maybe not that White Wolf one, but then scrapping all of their existing franchises and starting again is a gusty second place.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at July 30, 2005 10:47 AM

Even beyond the Phantom, there is Daikatana. Remember Daikatana? "John Romero's about to make you his bitch?" Huge promises, huge cost overruns, long long long delays, and then the game came out.

And was terrible.

I don't know a tabletop game that's promised to come out and then failed. There has been a Daikatana or two, however.

Comment from: Flower of December posted at July 30, 2005 12:23 PM

The fabled Narcissist supplement for the time travel game Continuum: Adventures in the Yet, has been in development for about seven years now. I've given up on it.

Also I'm pretty sure Gareth Michael Skarka has a habit of declaring he's gonna make a game about X whenever a cool concept comes to mind which is neverr followed up on.

Comment from: Zaq posted at July 30, 2005 12:30 PM

Duke Nukem? Duke Nukem is not the Eternally Promised Sequel, guys. EarthBound is.

Comment from: SeanH posted at July 30, 2005 1:39 PM

Chinese Democracy by Guns N' Roses? Or a new Sisters of Mercy album - it's only been fifteen years...

Comment from: Wednesday posted at July 30, 2005 2:33 PM

Did anyone ever actually end up playing Daikatana?

Comment from: gwalla posted at July 30, 2005 3:53 PM

Weds: Yes. They're still undergoing therapy for it.

Comment from: AndrewWade posted at July 30, 2005 3:55 PM

I played the demo for it. Highly mediocre.

Comment from: PatMan posted at July 30, 2005 4:01 PM

Dammit, Joey! Don't spring things on us like this! At least you could have given us some warning. One second you're anouncing this new service, then BAM, it's here.

My god, I procrastinated past WCN's launch. I am a lazy god.

Comment from: Kris@WLP posted at July 30, 2005 4:57 PM

"Kris: Sounds like you're being overcharged, depending on your definition of 'a fair chunk' of bandwidth."

Current account is at about 15 GB of disk storage space, 478 GB of bandwidth per month with $0.50 per GB overage charge. (I'm only using about 80-90 GB per month at present.)

And I'm pig-ignorant of Linux.

Comment from: Aerin posted at July 30, 2005 9:03 PM

Okay, so I'd e-mail Joey about this question, but I can't find an address for him: will my comic's URL have to be webcomicsnation.com/accountname, or can I have something a little more descriptive?

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at July 30, 2005 9:21 PM

Mother 3? Oh, don't get me started on that. Part of the reason I ever bothered to learn Japanese was so I could finally play Mother. However, given its relative absence from the American gamer (seriously, how many people asked "who's Ness?" when they played the Super Smash Bros. games?), it doesn't have quite the kick that Mother 3 has.

Or then there's the band Boston... I remember my mom complaining for over a dozen years that the band was never going to record a follow-up album (and then did something like 4 in 3 years).

Also, since this thread is fresh and everyone will appreciate it, a little story. I threw a party this evening, featuring massive amounts of both games and lasagna. Several people were playing 1000 Blank White Cards (Google it up; it's quite a kick) when I went down to check the mail. I had finally gotten my "I Aggro Damage" shirt. Happy, I went upstairs, and what's the first thing I hear? From the BWC game: "Gain 1000 points if you reveal the major spoiler from the new Harry Potter book, -1500 if you don't." Sweet mercy, not only does the shirt aggro drama, it aggros the same type of drama Websnark does. I think that makes me an official grade-A Snarkoleptic now.

Comment from: Merus posted at July 31, 2005 12:45 AM

Surely you aggro drama, not damage.

Comment from: joeymanley posted at July 31, 2005 12:59 AM

Aerin:

Some of the cartoonists are using redirects (see www.survivingmars.com), or framesets, or are simply tooncasting their comic from WCN to their own personal website (see narbonic.com -- though technically she's tooncasting from Modern Tales, but the same idea applies). I'm currently not able to do private domain names for WCN comics. WCN itself is one big application, and it all has to be on the same domain to work.

That said, with the "Pro" version of the service, you will get your own private installation of the WCN engine on your own virtual server, with your own database, and your own domain name, and more control of the site's design (using the Smarty tag-based templating system).

That version of the service will launch Someday, and will cost More. AmericanElf.com is the only beta test site up right now for it.

The best place to ask these kinds of questions is the WCN Support Forum at TalkAboutComics.com -- I'm on there all the time during working hours (when I'm not actually coding, that is, or hanging out at the coffee shop). If you send an email, you're depending on the luck of the draw when it comes to getting a response. I get about 2000 emails/day on a slow day. That's not counting spam.

Joey

www.moderntales.com

Comment from: William_G posted at July 31, 2005 1:13 AM

Part of the reason I ever bothered to learn Japanese was so I could finally play Mother

Really? I only did it so I could hit on Japanese chicks.

Comment from: lucastds posted at July 31, 2005 3:00 AM

It's pretty easy, though, to do your own website up, especially with all the tools around for webcartoonists. With a pretty minimal amount of knowledge, I was able to get PHP running my site pretty good.

I guess this site is for those who don't want to bother. But I think part of the charm is struggling through the learning process

-lucastds

Comment from: Merus posted at July 31, 2005 6:51 AM

I think WCN is more like a hosting service that comes with everything you need to put your comic on the web*, so part of the convenience is that it's a package deal.

Like how you can build your own computer, and it's fun and rewarding, but not everyone wants to build their own computer.

*scanner not included

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at July 31, 2005 12:47 PM

http://www.webcomicsnation.com/arthurkingoftimeandspace/
would just be too long.

(Actually, as I've already written somewhere recently, the reason I'm disinclined to join a collective is because I'm disinclined to make a business out of my webcomic. Collectives are usually formed by and for people who are interested in webcomic business and, reasonably, have the expectation of same from prospective members.) (Now, were someone to start a collective specifically for - as we seem to have been labeled at Comixpedia - hobbyists, perhaps I'd be tempted.)

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at July 31, 2005 12:53 PM

Merus: Oops... it's times like this that make me wish I could edit my posts. At least this time, my story still makes sense, unlike the last time I needed a post edit.

William_G: Well, by the time I started learning, I was already in a relationship for 2.5 years. So learning foreign languages to widen my dating pool was no longer a concern. It basically broke dow to wanting to play video games I couldn't otherwise get to, wanting to watch anime I couldn't otherwise get to, and natural linguistic curiosity.

Now French, I started that before I met anyone. And that, I started studying for its dating potential (specifically, the typical gender split in French classes).

Comment from: UrsulaV posted at July 31, 2005 1:18 PM

I just tried WCN out, putting up my old short-story comic "Irrational Fears," and it seems to work very well. Arguably, I'm biased, since I get the free account and all, but it was really easy to use. Were I not on Graphic Smash, rendering such things moot, I'd probably seriously consider putting Digger up on WCN--ten bucks a month is peanuts, as such things go, and my own struggles with PhP did not end well. I'd be delighted to pay somebody a small fee to take care of the programming AND host stuff--damnit, Jim, I'm an artist, not a webmonkey. Etc.

Comment from: J.(Channing)Wells posted at July 31, 2005 9:58 PM

May I make a brief aside from the main thrust of the discussion, slip into fanboy mode for a moment and suggest that you all go read "Irrational Fears" immediately if not sooner?

I may?

Good.

I suggest you all go read "Irrational Fears" immediately if not sooner.

Clicky clicky.

...and that's all I'm contributing today.

Comment from: Kate Sith posted at July 31, 2005 10:24 PM

Seconding the Chupacabra love.

Though some part of me feels I should watch out..

Comment from: Daniel "Teammayhem" Orta posted at July 31, 2005 10:46 PM

Interesting idea... I perused the features available to WCN members and was genuinely impressed by the features available... but for me... I'd rather not make any assumptions at the moment. Congradulations on the launch.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at August 1, 2005 9:02 AM

I ought perhaps append my comments dismissing the relevance of collectives to my own particular circumstances by mentioning that I'm one of the webcomic creators who takes advantage of the free discussion board feature at TalkAboutComics.com which I appreciate and am thankful for.

Comment from: UrsulaV posted at August 1, 2005 9:27 AM

Aww, thank you, guys. Send my love to Mothman!

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