Notoriety

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If you haven't yet seen, the "Year in Review" issue of Comixpedia has begun. It began with a roundtable that both Wednesday and I were pleased to participate in, going over the Year in Webcomics. So, if you want some "Webcomics Year In Review" stuff from Weds and I, that's a good place to go looking. And it was an exciting roundtable, full of smart people who have smart things to say, not always in agreement with each other. And that's a pretty cool thing.

It was a Roundtable that also proved to be really, really freaking good for my ego. Or bad, depending on how you look at it.

81 Comments

Good.... Bad.... You're the one with the Blog

Also, you get the chance to watch me blink a lot and be all, "dude, like I have a goddamn clue about business models? I can't even perform basic arithmetic on a good day."

In what sense is Keenspot "traditional," Eric?

Well, if you want your ego deflated a bit, I notice that you can't count to five, Eric. You list six strips when asked to give your top five. And then say you'd take S*P as your sixth when you already have a sixth.

Chris -- in the sense that over the past decade, we had certain types of structure evolve and move into place, acting like a form of syndicate for the web. They didn't ape the bad bits of the Syndicates, but from Big Panda through Keenspot and Modern Tales and stuff like PVComics, we developed what I think of as a tradition.

The collectives, on the other hand, operate on a different model -- almost like small guild halls. And they had a very good year.

32 -- were you under the impression I wanted my ego deflated? ;)

(I did notice the math error. In the end, I didn't care. ;) )

I don't know, Eric - I certainly could stand to let some of the air out of mine at the moment. ;)

Truth be told, I actually come to Websnark partly to keep my own ego in check. It's refreshing, in a way, to go someplace on the net and just be another face in the crowd. Even as I admit to who I am, it's not like anyone knows it.

Also, on issues with basic arithmatic, I suppose that's why you got an English degree, eh?

So basically Keenspot is "traditional" because it's been around for five years? That's an unusual definition.

Nooooo... Keenspot is traditional because it follows the model that evolved initially. It's a short tradition, but a tradition nonetheless.

And in internet years, it's practically eternal.

(Please also don't assume that traditional==bad.)

Actually, that article did have me wonder one thing, related to my own specialty.

Basically, what do webcomics people think of the PSP? I have a very good feel for how the video game industry sees it. But we often forget that webcomics also have something to do with it. Are more people generally leaning towards Daku's opinion, or Phil Kahn's opinion?

I enjoyed reading it, but at the end, I was forced to consider how often Phil Kahn must hear that joke.

I weep for the man.

I enjoyed reading it, but at the end, I was forced to consider how often Phil Kahn must hear that joke.

I weep for the man.

I weep for him too, but only because he has to put up with the William G so much.
Basically, what do webcomics people think of the PSP?

We should give Sony the time of day right now why?

I enjoyed reading it, but at the end, I was forced to consider how often Phil Kahn must hear that joke. I weep for the man.

I weep for him too, but only because he has to put up with the William G so much.


Bitches, PLEASE!

That is just part of the manly back and forth between two hulking he-men. Like the hilarious racial stylings of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 2.

We should give Sony the time of day right now why?

I agree with this statement wholeheartedly for multiple, multiple reasons, among them being "rootkits" and "PS3 is one of the most ungodly awful looking things I've ever seen, and the controllers look like they would cause instant wrist cramps."

I can't even perform basic arithmetic on a good day.

On a good day, you don't have to.

Part One:

Lately I've been getting the same, um, vibes that Weds seems to be getting, as far as I can tell from the roundtable. As the community grows, there is an attempt to create a sun for it revolve around, a Hollywood of sorts, complete with its Oscars and Grammies. If not, there's surely a willingness to pretend that everyone reads Penny Arcade, loves Dinosaur Comics and was shocked by the QC suicide bomb. This is true for most people reading Websnark, perhaps, but there's a hell of a lot of people out there who are members of the community (generally speaking, as webcomic readers) but don't define themselves as such. They may be reading Bigger Than Cheeses, or Chugworth Academy, or Aikida, strips that somehow never get mentioned in such discussions and whose readers don't bother with voting for awards and Comixpedia.

Like Eric admits, he reads a shitload of webcomics and he doesn't read nearly any of them. And that doesn't just mean that most webcomics suck. It just means that no one can claim to be an authority on the subject anymore. Ebert has it easy compared to the creative throughput of the internet that a webcomics "expert" has to go through before speaking on behalf of the "community".

(Outwards looking in, of course, it's easier to see the important events of the year, as they are simply the ones that exposed this little world of ours to The Rest)

Part Deux:

I agree with Eric that this was the year of the Webcomics Collective, but no one seems to have mentioned Digital Pimp Online , a tiny collective of sorts which has, in my opinion, the right idea: a common main page with at least one comic every day, from one of the artists of the collective. A web site with more frequent updates is more likely to be bookmarked and remembered, and this allows lesser known cartoonists combine strengths and/or get a big boost by associating with a big name. The good thing is that everyone benefits!

(Let's not discuss how this moves the idea of the collective from capitalistic synergy to socialism. It's not worth it.)

Part Trois:

Mr. Kahn can inflict further psychological injury to his male immediate descendant by giving him name which is also Goats sub-reference:

"KAAAAAAAAAHN! Junior!"

(Please also don't assume that traditional==bad.)

Well, it IS the internet, and I've heard the terms "traditional", "Classic" and "Old-Fashioned" regarding my own work more times than I care to count.

In our sphere, traditional = old = outdated = bad.

Keenspot is basically a syndicate. The Fab Four take all the risks and keep half the profit. Blank label on the other hand, is a true collective in which everyone takes equal risk (and I'm assuming after expenses) then takes whatever rewards there are for there own work.

Neither concept is that new, it's just new to webcomics.

They may be reading Bigger Than Cheeses, or Chugworth Academy, or Aikida, strips that somehow never get mentioned in such discussions--

Sadly, there are only so many hours in the day. Two out of three of those strips are strips I read regularly. The third I have never heard of.

No, I am not going to identify which is which.

If you were aware of the specifics of the artists agreement each artist has with Keenspot, you'd be hard-pressed to *truly* call it a syndicate. Seriously.

You can't even compare it to an indie record label vs. Sony.

Keenspot has no power or authority to demand specific content from its artists, artists have complete control over their product, and can leave Keenspot without penalty retaining all rights to their stuff. We can enter into publishing agreements with groups outside of Keenspot and leave them wholly out of the loop for books, t-shirts, etc.

Keenspot was formed as a collective specifically designed to interface with other business more efficiently than a traditional collective model -- think of it as a socket wrench adaptor that allows a wrench built using the metric system to work with parts built using english measurements. People have criticized whether or not Keenspot has been able to do that effectively, but it has never taken action to dilute the individual artists product in order enhance that effectiveness.

That, my friends, is not traditional. It's fucking revolutionary.

"We should give Sony the time of day right now why?"

I'm not saying you should or shouldn't. But I've heard some webcomics people talk of it, and I was wondering if it was a gimmick to the webcomics community or not. I deal with the hardcore video gaming contingent heavily, and with video gamers in general fairly well. So I have a good grab on what impact the PSP has had overall as a gaming machine.

However, while I enjoy webcomics, it's not really my sphere. I don't know what the PSP means to webcomics people outside a few easy jokes for Penny Arcade, et al. So I'm wondering, are the people in favor of the PSP for webcomics distribution widely seen as crackpots? Are they seen as visionaries? Or are people playing the "wait and see" card?

Also, maybe because I deal with these companies beyond on a simple consumer/producer level, I typically try not to subscribe overarching motives based on a few massive foul-ups by one or two arms of the company. Sony has some rotten eggs in there, yes. But I wouldn't go so far as to trash the entire company.

Well, Sony *is* a big player in the music industry. I'd say the ratio of rotten eggs to good eggs is a bit higher than "a few in the company..."

curses! my off-the-cuff html tag joke was thwarted!

I'm not so sure about the PSP being a viable means for distributing comics. Most of the people of own one are either early-adopter techies (who would be hardcore enough to probably be exposed to some quality of webcomic already, due to their social circle) or just plain gamers (many of whom probably wouldn't hack their PSP to make it a browser anyway, assuming they know how). T Campbell just mentioned in his blog about using the new Video iPod as a means of distribution, though I don't recall any firm details how he plan to go about it.

it'd be difficult to format a comic so it would display legibly in the video ipod...

Maybe I should just redirect the roundtable article's comment thread over to here :)

Wednesday - I thought you were appropriate skeptical in your answers and a good balance to my unbridled team webcomics attitude. Eric despite protesting that he thought there would be NO MATH on this roundtable was also great to hear from.

I had an interesting year - sort of woven around webcomics but also largely apart from it. I really only came back into it with both feet up to my belt buckle in pulling together the December issue of Comixpedia (the amazing Kelly J. Cooper edited Comixpedia magazine from about June through November) and I'm a bit perplexed where this whole debate over expertise and critics and gosh there's so many webcomics out there how can anyone talk about it and hey you didn't talk about Bigger Then Cheeses (although we did review it this year but I digress..) so... So what exactly? Why does this "debate" feel a bit like the "war on Christmas" Bill O'Reilly keeps talking about?

Maybe I need to write a "Why Comixpedia?" update. I will say that there's a lot of room to persuade me about what to cover, who to review/interview, etc.

Just thought I'd chime in on the topics being kicked around here. Keenspot. I know that Keenspot is not a traditional syndicate in terms of its deal but it does mimic the form. Chris and the other CEOs act like owners. (Granted, if Keenspot did extract all of the rights against creators that a newspaper syndicate or a Marvel did, I would hope that Keenspot would pay a heck of a lot more in guaranteed revenues to creators.) That's more traditional on the sliding scale then BLANK LABEL which is a heck of a lot like a webcomic soviet. If there was a more traditional work-for-hire publisher on the web, Keenspot would look less traditional in contrast. But there isn't so there you go.

People made a big deal of comics on cell phones and now on PSPs and iPods. With all due respect to T Campbell who's hot on the iPod I don't see it myself. Does anyone else remember what reading webcomics was like in 1999? Dial up, 15 inch monitors - I happen to like big screens and broadband, thankyouverymuch.

And as far as Kahn jokes go, for gawds sake he just went to PhilCon. Phil Kahn == PhilCon? There's nothing we can say now to top that...

People made a big deal of comics on cell phones and now on PSPs and iPods. With all due respect to T Campbell who's hot on the iPod I don't see it myself.

I'd honestly have to agree with this. To me, viewing webcomics on a PSP or video iPod or similar feels like a gimmick at best, kind of a "hey, look what I can do with THIS!" situation. If they have any impact on webcomics at all, it'll likely be as a minor footnote.

As for people thinking that it's a potential wave of the future, it reminds me an awful lot of the whole ebooks situation. Remember ebooks? The whole "they will forever change how you read!" thing? That's what I thought. (Yes, I know, ebooks and the PSP thing aren't even close to being analagous, but that's just what I'm reminded of.)

Because I realize I hadn't said it yet, I thought Wednesday's parts were the best parts of the roundtable. Just one man's opinion.

As for the PSP/ebooks comparison - actually, TNG, I think it might be more apt than you realize. I don't necessarily mean in regards to webcomics, although it seems like it might apply there, too.

Uh, I apologize for the rant. My pathetic excuse is that I haven't slept in two days. My better excuse is that I'm an idiot.

32 - Your question made me wonder: How many people actually buy movies in UMD? I figured that no one would spend money to buy a film in a format that's incompatible with a television, but if that is catching on then perhaps people are more willing to view media on a handheld now, and e-books were just ahead of their time or something.

All I have to say about the PSP is right now as I am typing, my roommate is watching a movie called Revelations along side a Christian Children's Animated Show I have yet to identify. It's probably circa pre-VeggieTales.

Portablility trumps HDTV graphics hands down!

And both are playing on two PSP, I should have mentioned.

Ah, movies on UMD - now that is a topic I do know about. Eric, Weds, forgive me while I go on about it.

The UMD movie discs have actually been selling better than PSP games themselves, moving somewhere between 500k to a million more total units (all movies vs. all games), depending on whose figures you read. I believe the going figures are around 4-4.5 million movies and 3.5 million games.

There's considerable debate, however, as to how good of a thing that is.

One factor is that converting a movie to the UMD format is considerably cheaper than programming a game for the PSP. Thus, it's much easier to produce alot more UMD movies than games. It could be a matter of greater movie supply = greater number of movies sold.

However, the PSP is marketing itself as a game machine first. Generally speaking, it get low grades for its movie playback features, and there's considerable dissatisfaction even amongst PSP owners about its viability as a multimedia platform. Being a gaming platform is said to be its greatest strength.

Thus, if the games aren't selling as well, you're failing at what you do best at. This is leading some commentators to say that the PSP is a flat-out failure. Probably a bit premature to say that, though.

Also compounding the problems with both game and movie sales is piracy. It's quite easy to find out how to hack your PSP to play ripped DVDs and emulated games. I know quite a few that do. However, this makes the PSP a huge money sink for Sony, as the software is where they make their profits. Also, it forces Sony to actively spend resources on combating said piracy or deal with lawsuits effectively saying that Sony is assisting piracy (and sabers have been rattled).

In short, quite a few people in video gaming are pessimistic on the PSP (for reasons beyond ones I've mentioned here as well). I wanted to see if the webcomics community was a potential avenue for support, or if Sony should look to hang their star somewhere else.

Interesting article to read.

It was interesting to note that no one mentioned, for good or ill, Kurtz's "free to newspapers" gambit from a while back. Considering all the discussions it sparked.

Speaking of which... how's that thing going? Does anyone know?

Meanwhile, S*P characters have shown up in Questionable Content.

Man, it's not as funny when I get on a *real* Best Of Webcomics list. How do I spin *that* into a hilarious blog post? Next time, Karl Kuras, give me something I can work with.

...oh, wait. This thing is five pages? Hot damn, now I have four more pages to do a Find for "Shortpacked"!

People made a big deal of comics on cell phones and now on PSPs and iPods. With all due respect to T Campbell who's hot on the iPod I don't see it myself. Does anyone else remember what reading webcomics was like in 1999?

I didn't start drawing comics for the web till 1999. I believe in easy-loading websites and mine was all text till then. Otherwise I'd now be one of the grand old men of webcomics. In 1996 I was still drawing in notebooks what's known today in webcomics as a "journal" comic; if back then I'd had the will, and a scanner, today I'd be Greg Dean except twice as old.

How many people actually buy movies in UMD?

My stepson does. Loves it. He also tells me that my crappy-lookin' pixellated MSPaint webcomics show up great on the PSP, when there are some webcartoonists who felt they had to reformat their stuff. Burn.

I'm not saying you should or shouldn't. But I've heard some webcomics people talk of it, and I was wondering if it was a gimmick to the webcomics community or not.

Well, the loosely clustered groups of people who masquerade as a unified community for the purposes of sweeping dialogue (this artificial construct is starting to get on my nerves a bit; sorry, it's not you) isn't likely to have a unified opinion. I was answering as a member of at least one of the clusters, despite having all the impact and recognition value within same of a wet dishrag. :)

Seriously, though, I know as well as anyone that painting Sony with too broad a brush is fallacious; the business units plainly have internal communications akin to those of deaf-mute infants in cloisters. But there are just enough things happening at once around the PSP that it seems like a really bad idea for this community to pursue that platform if we can at all avoid it.

Besides, honest to Christ, at that point we really need to find another name for the point of distribution.

There's an odd thought. Would sprite and pixel comics, because of their vary nature, show up better on a PSP or iPod than hand-drawn ones? On a PSP they'd at least be close to their normal demographic.

How 'bout "eyeballs"?

Or "eyeball" for the politically correct, non-Dumb joke tellers among us.

I'd heard that movies on the PSP were a big deal too and I still don't get it. What's the attraction? Is it all people who can't afford tv+dvd equipment or am I just missing the benefits of watching a movie in locations I hadn't thought of.... I don't have a PSP but the screen looks... small. Maybe my eyes are just gettin' old.

On the Kurtz gettin' in newspaper story - it was a big deal at the time and so was the Keenspot project as well but neither seems to have gotten any traction this year. Kurtz - I haven't asked him but I don't think he's in any papers right now (which is completely stupid on the papers part I think). And Keenspot, I also haven't checked in on awhile but how many papers are carrying the insert and what kind of markets are they in? My impression is: few and small. If this changes for the positive of course it'll be a big story again.

Also compounding the problems with both game and movie sales is piracy. It's quite easy to find out how to hack your PSP to play ripped DVDs and emulated games.

I'll note right away that the only person in my immediate circle of friends that actually owns a PSP does this very thing. He hasn't paid for a single PSP game or movie or anything at all so far.

I don't get UMDs. Hooray, I get to watch a movie on my portable gaming system minus all of the cool special features that make DVDs worth it to me and with power-gobbling batteries to fight with too. But man, I can watch (insert some trendy movie here) on the fuckin' BUS! Kickin' rad!

If anything, to elaborate on my point in a double post here, I see UMDs as kind of the DVD equivalent of MiniDiscs, which is to say enticing for a niche market but nobody else gives a shit.

(I like final exams week and how cranky it makes me! Tee hee!)

[quote]There's an odd thought. Would sprite and pixel comics, because of their vary nature, show up better on a PSP or iPod than hand-drawn ones? On a PSP they'd at least be close to their normal demographic.[/quote]

Depends on the comic. Something like Diesel Sweeties can pretty much work at any size (Rich has formatted strips for cell phones before, and those screens are super-tiny). Something like QC *might* work, although I use so much dialogue that it'd be difficult to format the text and artwork to the point where they're both legible but not competing for space.

I'm with Xaviar on this one- why would I want to look at comics on a tiny screen when I have a 20" cinema display and broadband connection at home?

Well, the loosely clustered groups of people who masquerade as a unified community for the purposes of sweeping dialogue (this artificial construct is starting to get on my nerves a bit; sorry, it's not you) isn't likely to have a unified opinion.

Wednesday is my hero for today!

Actually, I plan to get a PSP -- but I'm getting it because I own a Tivo, and said Tivo is going to start exporting video for the PSP at no extra charge. So I can slurp down my shows for flights and the like with it.

And that's just cool enough.

I really don't plan to do much with webcomics on it. And I'm one of those people who loves e-books.

*shrug* To be honest, I'm seriously considering doing some more research and changing the venue of Tangents. Become more of a critical site than a review site.

But that might be writer's burnout speaking. I mean, I couldn't write /anything/ useful yesterday. Truly pathetic.

Nice Roundtable though. Nice to hear your views. Have fun!

Robert A. Howard

To be honest, the appeal of UMD movies is escaping me. If I could play them anywhere other than the PSP (and I don't mean the A/V cables you can buy for it), maybe I could see it. But Sony even already said that they aren't going to support the UMD format with any other hardware. Seems like too much price for too little bang.

Ultimately, I think that the appeal of the PSP format is the portability. However, for movies, I could buy a portable DVD player for much cheaper. I'm also imagining that some enterprising soul could make a "slide show" DVD that would display comics one at a time, filling up an entire DVD's worth of entertainment. Personally, I'd love to have a DVD like that for some of my favorites. Whether or not there's enough people like me that would justify making such a thing, of course, is another issue.

Honestly, I can't stand watching video on a screen much smaller than a computer monitor. If I want to watch DVDs portably, I'll bring my laptop. If I need entertainment smaller than that, I'll listen to my iPod while I'm reading a frickin' book. Those still fit in my pocket, after all. (Okay, maybe not quite - I'm working on Quicksilver right now, which even in paperback is probably three to four times the size of an average paperback novel. But the point stands.)

Not to be a plug whore, but I did write about webcomics on the PSP in my column at Comicon Pulse yesterday. I used so many layers and levels of sarcasm while writing it, though, that even I'm not sure what I actually meant to say.

http://www.comicon.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=39;t=000113

Joey
www.webcomicsnation.com

Actually, now that I think about it... how much effort would it be to make a slide show of webcomics for a DVD player, with the Next Chapter button going to the next comic/frame? Imagine someone making a program like that and charging a nominal fee to license it out to webcomic artists (like, say, fifty bucks). I'm just imagining having a DVD of Narbonic where I could just sit back and flip between comics whenever I wanted. Or lend to friends.

the business units plainly have internal communications akin to those of deaf-mute infants in cloisters

Okay, this is a TOTALLY RIDICULOUS tangent, but (as a linguistics student and all-around nerd) I can't resist: Don't write off the communications skills of deaf-mute kids shipped off to the cloisters.

I can't remember in what country (or in what year, I'm afraid) this happened, but irrespective of those glaring failures, I'll try to soldier on with the story as it was (otherwise) related by a professor in my school's linguistics department:

Wherever this happened, it was common practice to send deaf-mute kids away (as soon as it was understood that they were both deaf and mute) to these cloisters. It was assumed that these kids were incapable of either communicating, or being communicated with (to put it kindly), as they lacked the ability to speak, and so they were shut away. Their basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) were taken care of, but that was about it. Their caretakers didn't bother to interract with them other than as much as was minimally necessary in order to tend to them and they didn't bother trying to communicate with them.

And then, eventually, someone noticed that they were gesturing at each other.

By the time it got through that what they were doing amounted to a form of communication and someone managed to formally study them, it was found that -- lacking any other means of communicating, and deprived of any outside instruction -- the residents of the cloister had evolved their own gestural language! In fact, it was found that their language had evolved so naturally that the older residents (who had first begun communicating through gesture and passed the system down) could no longer communicate effectively with the most recent generations of gesturers. Beyond the group of initial gesturers, the language had begun to develop a complex system of syntactic rules (a system too complex for the first gesturers to acquire, but which was learned by the newer arrivals with as much ease as any child learning their first language).

See, the difference is the cloistered kids couldn't communicate because they had no means. So what'd they do? They invented the means.

Whereas Sony? Well, the various arms of Sony just don't seem to have any will to communicate.

Great, I want to respond to about six different things. This never happens to me. (whimper)

Liked the article okay. Liked what Weds had to say about the limited usefulness of some of the questions. Felt bad for Weds when she would give an effective non-answer that pretty much addressed the next three or four questions to come. It was all worth it for Phil's final contribution.

Everytime I see "on DVD and PSP", I mentally add "and DivX, five years ago".

Jeph: You have to beat the technology to death! Speech balloons out, audio balloons in. Plus, you get to apply some nasty filter to make Pintsize's voice.

I had other things, but they have departed.

Just to prove my unfitness to live, what's a PSP? Izzat one of those little game boy thingies?

Dragonmuncher: Nobody talked about Kurtz's free-to-newspapers thing directly, but Eric mentioned Wiley, which was at least an oblique reference to the heated arguments about it at the time.

AFAICT, the idea didn't really go anywhere, and Keenspot's page was only ever carried by one newspaper.

I love how UMD stands for Universal Media Disc, yet it is only usable on a single model of hardware. Doesn't seem very universal to me.

Hey, if the PSP2 was built with the ability to play two discs at once, do you think they'd call 'em Double UMDs?

UrsulaV: More or less. It stand for (I think) "Playstation Portable".

Me, I'm digging up SNES games for $3.

I think the best way to do comics on the PSP/iPod would be to do it panel by panel, and have each panel be the full screen size. Wouldn't work well for comic book page style comics sometimes, but for the standard 4 panel newspaper style one, seems like it'd work well.

Basically, what do webcomics people think of the PSP?

As a webcomic reader, I dislike it. As Scott McCloud roughly said "I want a bigger canvas, not a smaller one." If people like it, great. But it doesn't fit my needs (and I -do- read e-books on my PDA and I think that's the future of books).

As a webcomic creator, I'm more then happy to allow people to read my webcomic on their PSP. And when I do get an RSS feed, I will advertise it as a method to read my webcomic on the PSP. However some people have provided PSP versions of their webcomics. That isn't an avenue I would want to pursue. Because time spent on repackagaging old webcomics, is time I could have spent making new webcomics. If I ever do get to a stage where it would make sense to collect my webcomic in a book, I'd have to have a pretty large demand for it (comparatively speaking anyway) to get me to do it, because it's time spent repackaging old webcomics, when I could have spent it making new webcomics. But who knows if I'll ever get to that stage anyway ;)

We should give Sony the time of day right now why?

What do you mean by that? I don't know what Sony has to do with readers getting the webcomic in a format they desire (granted I don't know much about the PSP ;)). I don't see it as helping out Sony, but getting webcomics to new readers. If you want to "punish" Sony, by not allowing readers to read your webcomic in a format they desire, then you're welcome to do that. But I think you're hurting yourself more then anything.

I'm at the tiny small fry stage, so it's probably affecting my opinion. But if I can get new readers, or give readers what they want with next to no effort on my part, then I'm going to. It being too difficult, or cutting into your revenue source, or it significantly lessening the enjoyment of the comic (imagine getting Penny Arcade on the PSP without the news posts), then I see those as valid reasons to not offer your webcomic on the PSP. To "punish" Sony, I don't see agree that's a valid reason (especially if your buying ANYTHING that is Sony, anything). Why don't I see it as valid? Because Sony isn't affected, I doubt very much webcomics is going to make or break web-based content for the PSP (granted I do know next to nothing about the PSP, so I could be wrong). It only hurts your readers, the innocent bystanders.

"PS3 is one of the most ungodly awful looking things I've ever seen, and the controllers look like they would cause instant wrist cramps."

Your not going to give Sony the "time of day" (okay, I admit. I'm a bit unsure what this actually means ;)) partly because you don't like the PS3? Sony rootkits I can understand. I don't necessarily agree, but I understand. But because of the way the PS3 looks? Yeeesh.

I can't even perform basic arithmetic on a good day.

On a good day, you don't have to.

Oh I like that. Good one.

Well, it IS the internet, and I've heard the terms "traditional", "Classic" and "Old-Fashioned" regarding my own work more times than I care to count.

I took a very brief look at your comic, and yeah. I'd say the artwork at the very least is very traditional and classical (old fashioned does have a rather negative connotation). But I don't see that as a bad thing, but instead as you having a very professional art-style. I'm not saying it's better, but when I think of professional comics, I think of your artstyle. I don't see that as a bad thing (despite never getting into the comics scene, and never reading a comic except once or twice before I began reading webcomics).

Sadly, there are only so many hours in the day. Two out of three of those strips are strips I read regularly. The third I have never heard of.

Interesting, because I've heard of all three myself and would have thought all three fairly notable. It does just go to show, we can't have any experts in webcomics. But Eric's the next best thing ;)

If you were aware of the specifics of the artists agreement each artist has with Keenspot, you'd be hard-pressed to *truly* call it a syndicate. Seriously.

You're right (from what little I know) when compared with comic syndicates. But Keenspot really is as close as it gets when it comes to webcomics, and it is thought of as fairly old in webcomics. That isn't bad. I see Keenspot as a stable "place" in the ever changing and growing webcomics. You know what the deal is with Keenspot, it's been around for a while now, it does what it does.

Apparently Scott McCloud says (or at the very least, use to say), he didn't want middlemen in comics (I'm assuming he included webcomics in that). But middlemen in webcomics are great. Because they're not giants, they don't make or break a webcomic. They can help a lot, but they aren't necessary (like the middlemen in music and paper comics have become). They're great, because for those who don't want to deal with it, they take away all of the management and worries, and let people just churn out a regular (or not so regular ;)) webcomic. I doubt anyone could say that's a bad thing (whereas syndicates in traditional comics are a parasite).

That, my friends, is not traditional. It's fucking revolutionary.

In all honesty, it was revolutionary. Just as putting comics on the web was revolutionary. But it's no longer the case (at least in the webcomic community), it's become old and safe (for webcomic artists ;)) and regular. All the things you mentioned, were once revolutionary, but are now expected. They were part of that, their role shouldn't be belittled. But they can't expect to be thought of as revolutionary anymore.

I was wondering if it was a gimmick to the webcomics community or not.

I don't know to be honest. It's like webcomics, I'm sure people once wondered if putting comics on the web was a gimmick or not. I guess the key on if something's a gimmick, is how long it's around to stay. Is it going to be around for a long time, or a short time? I'm sure reality tv was once considered a gimmick. Now it's considered a fucking genre.

I don't think there's anything visionary about it to be honest. So I guess I'm playing the "wait and see" card. I just don't care about it enough, to have a strong opinion on. I'd say I do doubt it will ever become the main distribution channel for comics, but only because anything that can be done on the PSP, can be done on a computer, except for portability. But even so, there's no reason to only offer comics on the PSP, and not a computer-accessed website.

Remember ebooks?

Remember them? Hell, they're my preferred method of reading books. I believe that e-books (and yes, even portable "web"comics) will become the main method of reading books and "web"comics. They won't take off until they're cheap enough and big enough (e-book readers need to become as big as paperbacks, with "web"comic readers needing to become as big as comic-books), and I don't know if that will happen in my lifetime. But I strongly believe it will happen. The idea that we'll forever use dead-tree books, is laughable in my opinion. Portable "web"comics I do believe will eventually become the form webcomics will take, in that a system (most likely far, far in the future, after paper-comics have become extinct, except as collections for webcomics) and business model will be created. But it hasn't happened yet, and there'll be lots of intermediary steps anyway. Is the PSP a significant step? I don't know.

Also compounding the problems with both game and movie sales is piracy. It's quite easy to find out how to hack your PSP to play ripped DVDs

See, I don't view that as piracy. And the fact it is becoming seen as piracy, I find really, really scary. I know they try to say I don't own the movie, I own a limited license. But I think it's bullshit, no matter what they or the law says. I'm not speaking from a legal standpoint, but from a moral one (which admittedly is worth about as much as this post).

It was interesting to note that no one mentioned, for good or ill, Kurtz's "free to newspapers" gambit from a while back. Considering all the discussions it sparked.

Unfortunately it has failed (in that it hasn't gained acceptance from the giant newspapers. If it's worked in getting at least one new PvP reader for Scott, I think he'd view it as a success. But I'm not him, so take it with a grain of salt). But if the rumors are true that syndicates threatened to pull some of their comics from any newspaper that accepted it, I don't blame Scott Kurtz at all and I'm sickened by the syndicates. But I don't know if anyone DOES know whether or not the rumors are true, so it's impossible to comment on it in a meaningful manner.

Paul Gadzikowski: While I'm glad you're enjoying what you're doing, I would be interested to check out your comic, I just can't. The bad artwork is just too much of a turn off for me. I'm really glad more artists haven't gone your route.

I really don't plan to do much with webcomics on it.

You might as well experiment a bit with it, you might find yourself pleasently surprised (I know I was surprised with e-books on my PDA).

Not to be a plug whore, but I did write about webcomics on the PSP in my column at Comicon Pulse yesterday.

I liked it. But to be honest, I had trouble paying attention to the PSP portion, simply because I have no interest in buying a PSP, or using my brother's to read webcomics.

I'm just imagining having a DVD of Narbonic where I could just sit back and flip between comics whenever I wanted. Or lend to friends.

I can't help but think, what would be the preferred method. On a computer, or on the tv? Because the same content can be viewed on either format fairly easily.

Actually, College Roomies from Hell has CD Compilations of each year's comic except for 1999, and that's because 1999 and 2000 are combined on one CD.

Also, Clan of the Cats is putting out a CD Compilation.

[quote]Actually, I plan to get a PSP -- but I'm getting it because I own a Tivo, and said Tivo is going to start exporting video for the PSP at no extra charge. So I can slurp down my shows for flights and the like with it.[/quote]

Wow - had no idea that TIVO to PSP is possible. But so is TIVO to laptop so I'll stick with that for now.

And Tangent - you should email me sometime (xerexes AT comixpedia DOT com) - I tried to find yours earlier this month but couldn't.

And hey just for the record ALTBRAND did a year in Webcomics Sampler compilation CD in 2002 for the Pittsburgh Comicon. If webcomics ever does become huge that thing is gold - it has about 1000 comics from 30 webcomics of that era. Other than my work on it, it's all gold :)

Paul Gadzikowski: While I'm glad you're enjoying what you're doing, I would be interested to check out your comic, I just can't. The bad artwork is just too much of a turn off for me. I'm really glad more artists haven't gone your route.

Thanks for the feedback. You're the first person in 573 days to tell me that you can't bring yourself to read it. Perhaps, probably, not the first person to feel so, but the first to tell me.

Your not going to give Sony the "time of day" (okay, I admit. I'm a bit unsure what this actually means ;)) partly because you don't like the PS3? Sony rootkits I can understand. I don't necessarily agree, but I understand. But because of the way the PS3 looks? Yeeesh.

First, you're, not your.

Second, I wanted to condense my argument down to a couple of things, one very very serious, and one not so serious but still an irritant. If I wanted to, I could go into a gigantic rant about the rootkits and what seems like Sony's increasing disregard for their own customers, but I might as well save that for some other time.

Paul G.
Worth noting that non-readers are not going to be your primary source of feedback. Personally, I read through a good chunk of your comic recently. I have to agree that the art is a significant drawback of the comic and may be a reason it didn't go on my regular trawl. There is much to like about your comic, but the art could definitely use improvement.

Eric:
Congratulations on the ego-stroking. I saw nothing that was said about you that I find untrue.

just as a quick 'defense' of AKOTAS, the art really isn't the point. While it's not polished, it gets the job done, and at times, its roughness charms me. Admittedly, though, art has never been much of a factor for me in comics (rather strange, since it's a visual medium). Just my twenty Lira

I don't understand watching movies on very small machines like the PSP. I really don't understand the thing that could overtake the PSP as a movie-selling device: watching television shows or movies (and especially porn) from your digital cellphone. Am I going to have to hear a computer voice tell me, "I'm sorry, the party you are trying to call is presently watching 'Jenna Jameson: a Porn Autobiography' and doesn't want to interrupt his viewing to take your call..."?

If you want to know what the future of entertainment is going to be, look at the ways porn is being reached to you, and thing about the non-porn implications. I can imagine the number of accidents that will happen because someone can't wait to finish the last five minutes of Season three of Firefly from their cellphone.

(And again, I tell you portability beats cooler technology hands down!)

The discussion has moved on, but a few notes about comics on the iPod:

Scott McCloud's intrigued by Clickwheel, particularly by the starting lineup it had in its version 1.0. Check out his blog post on 6/24/2005. Actually, he's partly responsible for getting me involved. Once he announced the participation of Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, Demian5 and Colin White-- three artists known for their work in INFINITE canvas, not the iPod's finite canvas-- I felt like there was something here.

I see comics as liquid. The availability of large screens and large canvases is a blessing, no argument. Our electrified fluid can spread wide and shine bright. But the availability of small, portable screens is another vessel we can fill in exciting new concentrations. Would you really dismiss PEANUTS because the panels were too small?

That's to say nothing of the fact that you can comfortably fit many more panels into an iPod shuffle, and that the color depth per square inch is far richer than your Web browser's.

And bottom line, this is not about a cartoonist's convenience or a cool "hey look what I can do." This is about comics reaching new readers. Readers who spend as much time with their iPods as you and you and you do with your computers.

They're out there. And there'll be more of 'em after Christmas. That audience can't get away from us.

Yeah baby! Uncle Ghastly's bringin' his A game.

^_^

That's to say nothing of the fact that you can comfortably fit many more panels into an iPod shuffle, and that the color depth per square inch is far richer than your Web browser's.

...on the shuffle's nonexistent display? The nano, surely?

I have to agree that the art is a significant drawback of the comic and may be a reason it didn't go on my regular trawl. There is much to like about your comic, but the art could definitely use improvement.

The original subject was the MSPaint image processing, rather than the art processed. Which do you mean? Or, the combination of both? Ought we adjourn this discussion to the AKOTAS message board?

"Our electrified fluid can spread wide and shine bright. But the availability of small, portable screens is another vessel we can fill in exciting new concentrations."

Am I the only one who's reading this in the entirely wrong way?

Please forgive me for stating the obvious, but interesting discussions like this are probably the first rumblings of the future coming to us like a freight train.

Any of you who are print comic fans probably know that the medium is in trouble due to it's VERY narrow distribution channel (Diamond Distributors, which has recently taken steps to vastly cut the number of small run books it carries)

As much as we may argue about which venue that comics come to us, be it PSP, IPOD, PC or Cell phone, I'm heartened by the fact that so many DIFFERENT distribution "tubes" are appearing.

Am I the only one who's reading this in the entirely wrong way?

I wasn't reading it that way before... but I am now.

Damn you, Joe Zabel!!!!

Any of you who are print comic fans probably know that the medium is in trouble due to it's VERY narrow distribution channel (Diamond Distributors, which has recently taken steps to vastly cut the number of small run books it carries)

The thing is? I actually see that as more a death knell for comic book stores than for comics.

The simple truth is, the Manga explosion is largely happening in bookstores, and bookstores have lots of distribution channels. Going into my local Barnes and Noble, I find a bunch of small press stuff right now. Surprising amounts, really.

Giving a certain group of comic book fans less of a reason to go haunt the shelves of the FLCS is giving them less of a reason to care. Graphic novels? Buy them at the bookstore. Manga? Buy it at the bookstore. Superman Comics? Dude, who buys comic books?

But then, I'm old and bitter, and I remember the days when mainstream comics were something I got at my local drugstore. The comic book store was a rare treat, because it had things mysterious and glorious in it. Who knew ultimately the drugstore would be replaced by the comic book store, and the comic book store would be replaced by the bookstore.

I'm rambling. Old people do that, too.

Yes, but Eric, back in those days you had to walk uphill both ways through snow drifts 14 feet high in order to GET to the drugstore...

*ducks, runs*

You think you're kidding? I'm from Fort Kent, Maine. Fourteen Feet high drifts were a luxury!

Dude, where we come from? You still have to walk uphill both ways through fourteen-foot snowdrifts to get to the drugstore. Or the comic book store. Or the bookstore. Or any store.

The St. John River Valley: No wonder people leave.

And people say we aren't balanced.

Any snow deeper than 7'6'' doesn't count for walking purposes.
You just have to dig a tunnel.

Mmmm. I'm getting some fourteen-foot snow-drifts now.

The idea that we'll forever use dead-tree books, is laughable in my opinion.

I would be completely fine with an e-book format.. if it felt like a "dead tree" book in my hands. I like the weight, and the smell of the paper. I like propping the book open in front of me while I fold the laundry, or shuck peas, or whatever. The idea of having a book that feels like paper in my hand, has the same soothing scent and weight, but has the ability to load a new story, and another, and another behind it..well, that rocks.

But the e-book players (if that's the word) I've seen are still somewhat clunky, and do not at all convey the same sense of "snuggle in bed with me before sleep" that a "real" book does. Yet. alas.

Of all the topics to get the most comments I thought it would be either the drama question or the one on the best article of the year. What's the wave of the future? Frankly it may not be up to us as a community. As much as we dislike the small screens of the iPod and PSP they have huge gigantic companies behind them that have only to hire Frank Miller, Stan Lee, and Scott Adams and they've cornered the market.

Personally I agree with everyone that watching a movie or playing a game on a tiny screen seems like sticking my eyes into a meat-grinder but frankly my opinion doesn't matter when it comes to millions of kids and their parents's buying power. The best analogy I can think is in my own back yard. Podasts where simply a gimmick until they were hooked up through iTunes. Now 95% of all podcasts are listened to or subscribed through iTunes and the top 10 podcasts are produced by major companies/personalities. Bottom line is it may not be up to us where the next generation web comics are accessed from.

The PSP appears to be the first attempt by a large company to make a true universal media device and it's being sold, even if it is a failure as a gaming device. As much as we may hate the whole concept we should defeinitly keep our eye on the PSP.

I suspect that the PSP will go the way that Betamax did; something more accessible, with more "stuff" available for it, and cheaper will come along, and put it out of play, and in 20 years, kids will say "what is a PSP? I have my AMD (All Media Device). Never heard of a PSP, thought. Geez, you're old."

Weirdly enough, I lust after the PSP.

I lust after it more every day.

In large part, it's because of the Tivo things -- I love the idea that I could transfer my shows and programs and things to a portable and bring it with me, and that it'll work with the machines I already own.

But I generally lust after it now. Even as a game machine.

And now that I know you can buy a hard drive for it, I want it even more. MUCH THE TELEVISION DOWNLOADS!

Sometime Februaryish, I'm hopeful I can swing one.

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