By Julia Smith
We are living in the digital age and there are so many things to do on the internet. One of the things you should be doing is reading webcomics. They are exactly what they sound like: comics published on various websites that give the artists a kind of freedom that doesn’t exist in the comic book industry today. Webcomic artists set their own deadlines, decide their own content and are free from the kinds of censorship or political agenda that comes with working for one of the powerhouses of the comic industry like DC, MARVEL or Dark Horse.
Webcomics range widely in style, content, length, and it’s a wonderful world to explore. Do you want to read a comic about revenge in a steampunk-esq Wild West? They have that. Do you want to read about elementary school kids who are also superheroes? They have that. Do you want to read about a shape shifter henchman who idolizes her boss but isn’t good at her job? They have that. Do you want to read a comic about a duck who asks irrelevant but thought-provoking questions? They have that. The content available for readers in the virtual world of webcomics is practically endless. The comics usually get published a single page at a time, once or twice a week, and sometimes it can be agony to wait for stories to update. But that’s part of the fun.
You should also be reading webcomics because well, they’re free. Webcomics provide a free source of entertainment and let people take a small break from the monotony of their Facebook page or the stress of their exam notes. A lot of comic book artists are producing comics because they have stories and characters that they feel strongly about and want to share. So they provide readers with entertaining stories and in turn, the readers provide the artists with a sense of accomplishment. Someone is reading their work, so they get to feel they did something productive with their time. Some sites do require money for monthly access to the artists’ work, but those comics are generally of the “not safe for work” variety. So for the most part, webcomics are a free way to get a comic fix.
Another reason why I find webcomics to be widely important to read is because of who writes them. A majority of the popular webcomic artists on the internet are female. This is important because the number of women working in the big comic book companies in the industry is very, very small. Women in the comic book industry are often poorly represented in the office and in print. Comics are still seen by many as a “man’s world” type of industry and cater to male interests above all else. While some companies are better at including proper female representation in comics now (to deal with the backlash of former sexist portrayals of characters) women still have a hard time breaking into the industry. So the fact that women are dominating the webcomic scene is monumental.
Women are using webcomics to create a niche for themselves in an industry that hasn’t made one for them. These women have produced stories that many people enjoy reading, all for nothing. Some artists accept donations from dedicated fans who want to help them continue to make art while working in the real world, other artists have found such a popular following that they have created Kickstarters to publish their work in physical form. The overwhelming support that these female comic artists have received is slowly showing the figure heads in the comic book industry that the demand for women writers and artists is very high. It’s proving that no matter what they say about girls not reading comics, women are a part of the comic culture.
So to recap, you should all go out and find some webcomics to read today because: The types of stories you can find are endless, you’ll be supporting artists who are expressing themselves in an outlet they love, and you’ll be supporting women in an industry that tries to ignore their involvement. Webcomics are just generally and all around a good way to use the internet to procrastinate and therefore you should all totally start reading one today. One of the easiest places to look for webcomics if you don’t know where to start is with smackjeeves.com, or Googling things that interest you and adding ‘webcomic’ to the end of your search. Happy comic hunting.