Webcomics: The Influence and Continuation of the Comix Revolution by Fenty, Houp & Taylor

With the prevalence of the internet, readers find themselves with the ability to retrieve older, out of print works, or overshadowed works with greater ease than before, whether it be through scans, websites or sites such as eBay and Amazon. “The internet has given rise to a new generation of comic artists who use the internet as their sole means of production and distribution.” [Fenty, Houp, Taylor.2004] This use of the internet as a distribution system, sidestepping the larger publishers, mirrors what came to be known as Underground Comics.

Mentions Gary Groth, Scott McCloud and Charles Brownstein.

The Freedom of independent publishing via the internet, allows creators to be far more free with the choice of subject matter as they do not have to feel the constriction of appealing to a broad demographic. This also shares parallels with underground comics, such as the work of Robert Crum and later, Charles Burns, as their print runs were relatively small, appealed to a much smaller demographic than the mainstream publishers, and covered much more polerising subject matters, such as politics, sex and drugs. “The web allows webcomic creators to write comics with content which is outside of the acceptable bounds for typical mass-released comics.” [Fenty, Houp, Taylor.2004]

The authors attempt to define webcomics as comics made for the web first, with a single or small group of creators, with no originally printed version and no corporate sponsor. The freedom webcomics are given through their lack of sponsor and distribution methods, allow for even the art style to vary wildly. Allowing creators to use assets such as game sprites and more exploratory art styles, frequently parodying “popular culture, video games, and table-top role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons” [Fenty, Houp, Taylor.2004] some focusing on subcultures within cultures, making their desired audiences even smaller. While the writers attempts to define webcomics relies on the definition given by Scott McCloud, they do not use it as it’s only evidence. The authors draw their own definition in parallel by comparing existing webcomics to the underground comix movement. Fenty, Houp and Taylor go into depth of both the limitation of traditional printed comics, and the freedoms awarded to digital comics, regarding things such as space limitations and cost. Borrowing from the works of Scott McCloud’s Reinventing Comics, and Bill Watterson’s The Cheapening of Comics.


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