Recently Bookriot made a big announcement that they are launching a new site called Panels devoted entirely to webcomics. If you haven't yet delved into the world of webcomics, you're missing out on something big here. The evolution of this medium has been a long process considering webcomics have been around as long as the interwebz. From standalone single panel comics that appear in both print and on web to long running novels that are updated daily, webcomics come in a huge variety of genres and formats.
For the uninitiated it's nearly overwhelming knowing where to start exploring. But if you take it in small bits, you'll find that webcomics are an absolutely fascinating medium and there are many that have strong literary merit.
When I first became aware of webcomics, I was already behind the popular culture curve. Because guys, there are thousands and thousands of webcomics out there. I am not kidding. They are everywhere yet I remained blissfully unaware, keeping my nose safely ensconced in library tomes, e-books, and the occasional audiobook. Once in a while someone would craftily sneak in a single-panel comic on Facebook or Tumblr, book-related of course, but that was the extent of my webcomic experience. I remained completely ignorant that most of these single or multiple panel webcomics, like the one below, were actually located on a webcomic site where the author(s) produce all of their work for you to peruse or even purchase in bundled PDF or dead-tree versions. Their comics might be stand-alone, like this:
Or they might create a webcomic that is a series, just like a graphic novel, updating the story perhaps once a week or maybe even every day. Just like your favorite blogs, you can subscribe to their webcomic sites in your RSS reader to keep up with the story. Oh, and don't worry if you missed out on the beginning - the archives are right there and you can binge read to catch up (better than Netflix!).
|Post-apocalyptic Freak Angels (2008-2011) is 864 pages long!|
Other webcomics build an entire virtual world incorporating various other media, using sound (very Lost-esque) clips and animated gifs. Pretty edgy stuff. The sub-genres run the absolute gamut. From gorgeously illustrated children's comics and illustrations pretty enough to decorate a nursery to haunting horror rivaling Stephen King (indeed, even Joe Hill - the master of horror's son and best-selling author in his own right - is well known for his comic book work), every conceivable format and subject is covered. From novellas to short-stories, from poetry to stand alone panels....if you can dream it, webcomics has it.
|Tiny Kitten Teeth (2009- ) Ongoing Panel Webcomic|
And while there are many websites and portals available to explore the thousands and thousands (did I mention that it's overwhelming?) of webcomics out there, it's been my experience that too much of a good thing can be...well, too much. Finding myself caught between not wanting to devote hours and hours each week in the rabbit hole of webcomics yet simultaneously refusing to ignore an art form with such literary potential, the idea of Sunday Webcomics was formed.
So feel free to join me here every Sunday morning where I'll feature one particularly notable webcomic that is worth knowing about. While there are plenty of fantastic graphic novels out there (and many webcomics are also sold as graphic novels), I'm not going to focus on those. Instead, I'll be looking at the ones that are currently available online, right now, and free. Both the ones everyone is talking about right now and the ones that have made their literary mark and are still freely available online. It's webcomics, but in a smaller, bite-sized form. If you'd like to explore the genre further, I'd highly recommend watching for Bookriot's new site Panels which will launch this fall where more in-depth articles and reviews are sure to tempt webcomic fans everywhere. Meanwhile.....see you on Sundays.