PC World: 5 web comics to make you ditch your newspaper

The Washington Post has reprinted a PC World article listing five web comics “that will make you ditch your newspaper.

Let’s face it: Most newspaper comic strips are pretty dull, rehashing, over the past few decades, the same formulas (and often the same characters). That’s why comics connoisseurs have been turning to the Internet, where artists can create and publish works that are a little edgier, a little quirkier, and much, much funnier. Here are five favorites.

They list:

I know The Perry Bible Fellowship has been given some props from visitors of this blog. What’s your take, are these others worth “ditching up your newspaper?”

UPDATED: From a couple of sources (Drawn!, Slashdot), we learn that Perry Bible Fellowship’s book has made over $300,000 in sales – impressive for a web comic (or print for that matter). Check it out (and purchase copies) over on Amazon.

From an interview with PBF creator Nicholas Gurewitch over on 10zenmonkeys.com

LC: A writer for The Daily Show, Sam Means, described your comic strip as being almost psychedelic.

“The Perry Bible Fellowship is what Bil Keane, Jim Davis, and the guy who draws Marmaduke would see if they closed their eyes and rubbed them with their fists. It’s absurdist, comic fireworks, and I can’t get enough of it.”

NG: I don’t want to make judgments about my artwork, but a lot of people seem to think that it’s good, and I chalk this up to the amount of time that I spend concentrating on it and enjoying it myself. If I enjoy it myself a lot, people tend to enjoy it a lot.

35 thoughts on “PC World: 5 web comics to make you ditch your newspaper

  1. Funny, I stopped reading PvP and started reading the paper.

    The PFB is REALLY good though. But I don’t think he considers it a webcomic, just a comic you happen to be able to get to online.

  2. No, they’re not worth ditching the newspaper for, although all are excellent strips. (PvP and We the Robots are my two favorites out of the group. I read them regularly.)

    It’s true, a lot of newspaper comics are stale, unfunny, etc. But as an example, my local paper (The San Francisco Chronicle) runs a lot of great strips that I read every day–and I actually read them in the print version.

    Here are comic features I read in The Chronicle that I would never want to ditch:

    Get Fuzzy
    Pearls Before Swine
    Sherman’s Lagoon
    Rhymes with Orange
    Non Sequitur

    These comics may not be as edgy as the webcomics listed above but they are still great. (Actually Non Sequitur, Bliss and Pearls are edgy for newspaper standards.) I am one of those guys who reads the newspaper regularly and is also a big fan of web comics. I am probably a somewhat rare breed.

    Of course, if The Chron dropped one or two of these, I’d just go and read them online (and send a “What are you thinking?” email to the editor).

  3. I think we can all keep our heads here. I think it’s great that the web community is maturing. It’s going to happen sooner or later. Maybe (not raising my hopes) it may force print editors to loosen up on some of the restrictions that are placed on print features.

  4. Sorry bout that, Alan. First time commenting, didn’t realize the rules. And my apologies to Scott, that comment came off much more snarky than intended.

  5. Eh, I can’t say that I’m a fan of most of the strips listed. In fact, the only one in the list that I read regulary are “Perry Bible Fellowship,” and that’s technically also a newspaper strip, since it runs in about two-dozen alt-weekly papers (although most of its readers probably come from the web)

  6. As of now, web comics become monetarily successful only if they are geared to the geek community.

    Most people love comics, but they don’t go out of their way looking for them, esp. when there are so many web comics to wade through.

  7. My bad, I should have used my full name. But what if one’s name is a symbol, a la Prince? (thoughts becoming incoherent at end of the day, need sugar…)

  8. That’s true. I used to have several webcomics in the course of two years and, even though I heavily-promoted it, I only got around less than 50 page-views per day. (it doesn’t help that my strips were awful, too)

    There’s alot I can tell you about that experience if provoked, but one thing’s for sure, it’s something that I don’t want to do again.

  9. “My bad, I should have used my full name. But what if oneΓ’??s name is a symbol, a la Prince?”

    I think if you could get that symbol to appear in the name field, you’d get a free pass on the rule.

    As for the topic, I think PVP, We The Robots, and The Perry Bible Fellowship are all funny and well done. The other two, I’m not familiar with.

    I still like many syndicated strips and feel no need to “ditch my newspaper.”

  10. I stopped making a distinction between print and webcomics. There are comics I read and comics I don’t. I get my comics via email or rss feed.

    DeD was a webcomic first before it went into print. Does that mean it became dull the second it hit papers, or was it dull to start with?

    Comics should be judged on an individual basis. If you don’t like something, keep in mind a lot of other people might.

  11. Thank you, Brian Anderson for tossing in some level-headedness that I usually strive to add. πŸ™‚ I think the web is just another medium to get information…I still watch CNN sometimes, but I also go to cnn.com. I watch ESPN and read the sports page in the paper, but I go to ESPN.com and si.com all the time. Webcomics to me are just comics delivered by the internet that either haven’t been picked up by the syndicates, or have no intention of being picked up by them. They can be “edgier” because they have no restrictions, but it’s like anything else…a comedian who screams horrible obscenities isn’t necessarily funnier than anyone else just for that fact. If he’s screaming and he’s Sam Kinnison, then he’s funny.

    And a minor point for Dawn…you’re right in that the vast, vast majority of webcomics making a living at it ARE indeed geek/sci fi based, but I’d say that the Perry Bible Fellowship isn’t in that category at all, and if he pulled in $300,000 in book sales, he’s doin’ just fine. Exception to the rule, to be sure, but a ray of hope out there. Syndication doesn’t mean success for the majority of strips that make it to that level, ’cause most of them tank in a couple of years…and the odds of getting THAT far are slim to none as it is. We should all heartily applaud ANY cartoonist who, in any medium, can pay their bills with their insanity. (I HAVE used all caps for EMphasis FAR too many times in this POST. And I apologize.) πŸ™‚

  12. Yeah, this shouldn’t be about the web vs. paper thing. That’s the slant the columnist took (unfortunately). The important thing here is that the Washington Post noticed some pretty funny comics on the web (I’m speaking not of myself here, but of the other comics mentioned).

    There are a ton of non-geek centric strips doing very well online. Scary Go Round, Sheldon, Goats, Perry Bible, etc. You don’t need to do something video-game or nerd related.

    I kind of wish there was a stand out Webcomic Family Strip out on the web.

  13. Not sure if anyone noticed, but We the Robots is done by Chris Harding, who was syndicated by Universal a number of years ago.

  14. Scott, Sheldon is a great strip and I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who thinks so!

    I believe that Dawn’s observations of the success of geek/sci-fi webcomics is simply a matter of smart marketing. By definition, most of the fan base for that particular genre is going to spend alot of time on the internet, so the presence of those types of webcomics is a no brainer.

    Having said that, I’m curious to know why most web cartoonists choose to publish webcomics. I mean, I know why I do it, but I would assume the most prevalent reason would be to break into the industry. But is that the only reason? It’s very interesting to me.

  15. Garey,

    I think that most Webcartoonists publish to the web for the same reason we used to make comics and send them to publishers or trade them with our friends: they’re hungry for people to see their work and read their comics.

    I remember making comics and taking them to school for my friends to read. These days, kids just scan them in and post them to myspace, facebook or their own websites. It’s just a natural progression.

    It’s not isolated to cartoonists either. I’m sure young musicians are posting MP3s and young writers are posting their manuscripts and novels online. It’s an instant way to get your work out to a large audience quickly, easily and with little cost.

    A lot of what you see online, is the same stuff that old syndicate editors were only privileged to see. Think of 90% of what you see online is the public submission of amateur work to the world. Now we ALL get to see it. Now we all get to critique it and send out the electronic rejection letters.

    A good portion of young cartoonists now dream of making a living with their Webcomic as opposed to dreaming of getting syndicated. I’m sure the prior seems the easier to obtain since it’s all up to the creator as opposed to being up to an editor somewhere.

    I posted my first comics to the web in 1996-1997 because I thought maybe another cartoonist or editor would see it and I might get an email or some helpful advice. I certainly never set out to make a living online. At the time it wasn’t even possible really.

    But now, there are more and more people making a living from their online comics and I think a lot of younger cartoonists are hopeful they can achieve the same.

  16. Comics that are intended for the web, versus comics that happen to appear on the web, seems to be an interesting conundrum. My comics happen to be on the web, but some refer to my work as “webcomics” (to which, for some reason that I can’t reasonably justify, I take exception). I have found that a large number of webcomics might be tightly illustrated, but lack in the gag / content department. Ironically, I’ve also found that in newspaper strips, putting my foot firmly in the line of my gun-fire.

    That said, I really enjoy PBF (which isn’t strictly a webcomic, I believe).

    Of course, fighting technology seems silly. I read, recently, about “digital paper” (which looks like real paper, and can even be crumpled up) being developed, which supports animation…

  17. Tom, I was wondering about TPBF myself some months back. Even though it’s not technically a geek strip, turns out that his audience is essentially the same as for any other strip that is financially viable online.

    Alexa used to give “people who visit this site also go to that site” info, where I looked up all this stuff before. I don’t find that now, but there is this page, which largely supports the same conclusion:

    Of course, it would be helpful to know exactly what the demographic makeup is for all strips’ readership, be they online or in print. I’m sure each of the major players vary somewhat, but I doubt its by much.

  18. >>>>I kind of wish there was a stand out Webcomic Family Strip out on the web.

    “You Damn Kid” is brilliant irreverent dysfunctional catholic family humor…Owen Dunne is in a league of his own….the only web comic that makes me laugh out loud.

  19. I prefer to read the comics in the paper, however, so many of my old favorites are no longer carried in the Washington Post, or the Times that I come on-line to read them. As an added bonus, I’ve found some new ones to add to the list. Maybe somebody will publish a paper that’s all “funnies”… I’d buy it!

  20. Comics are comics.

    There are good “print” and “web” comics as well as bad “print” and “web” comics.

    I enjoy both quality comics no matter their pigeonhole.

    I don’t understand why there always has to be a line drawn in the sand between the two. Maybe it’s the lame flame wars that always seem to erupt online regarding print v. web?

    Also…Dr. McNinjaBlondie…

    However, I know where to find the listing for quality syndicated comics, but is there one or two comprehensive lists of webcomics? I know there are many good comics online that I am missing because I don’t know about them…

    …here’s a quality b;last from the past:

  21. “As of now, web comics become monetarily successful only if they are geared to the geek community”.

    As the creator of a web comic I can only speak for my own objects, I create my strip as if I would for print, with the exception of extensive use of color for the dailies. I think the expectation for any strip, print or web, is to entertain the largest segment of the readership with characters & humor that they can relate to–and hopefully will wish to visit day to day.

  22. Like Eric eluded to a couple posts up, I think the distinction between “webcomics” and print comics is harmful to the industry. The term webcomics does have a “geeky” connotation which unfortunately disconnects the content from much of the intended audience. Comics should be called comics – no matter where and how they are published, online or not.

    We NEVER use the term webcomics at Zingerding even though our whole platform is being developed for ONLINE comic strips. Strip readers span multiple demographics and we don’t want the thought of technology to get in the way. Most of us here are web savvy but you have to remember that not all of your potential readership is.

  23. It’s neat, really, I love these print/web discussions… many webcomics today ARE maturing, coming into their own. To be honest, this reminds me of the origin of comic strips and their original inclusion into newspapers so many years ago by Hearst and the like – to bring in new entertainment content to attract readers to sell newspapers. Newspapers today have lost sight of that premise entirely (read your stamp-sized comic strips in the morning, all of which I love at ANY size, that are being squeezed out for more of the same national news you can get anywhere, and advertising), and yet, webcomics are all ABOUT that premise. And the cartoonists who do them do so for many hopes, but I think at its core, it’s out of the love of doing it. The dream and reality of having a webcomic to show to millions of potential readers is not nearly as hopeless to some as submitting one out of 6,000 strips (in a year) to a major syndicate only to be beholden to that syndicates hit-or-miss demographically-driven standards. I am no stranger to print syndication, I love it, I work professionally in that field full-time. And yet, I’m doing a couple of webcomics out there, and just posted on my site the desire to do another one. An enterprising cartoonist, young or old, with the desire to draw comic strips, the know-how and maturity to write AND draw well, and the business sense to promote it can be successful. I’m a firm-believer in literally doing anything you put your mind to, and the unlimited canvas of the web is a great playground. I’ve sent a print comics submission every year (usually 2 a year) for the last 10+ years, and this past year was the first time I really didn’t do that, and turned my attention to web opportunities. And I’m glad I have. I love it. (Although I haven’t counted out print either by any means, I love that too – I say anywhere you can get published, gain experience and share your world is a good thing!). There is no print vs. web in comics to me, anymore than there is paper vs. digital execution of art to me anymore. I’ll bet a caveman once scoffed at his cave brother when, as caveman #1 was scribbling his cartoons in the dirt with a stick on a windy day, caveman #2 started doodling on the cave wall with a stick dipped in pigment. So Alan’s original question, based on the Washington Post’s article: Are these comics worth ditching up my newspaper? No! They’re worth bookmarking (I have them all bookmarked already anyhoo!) and ADDING to my newspaper comics! πŸ™‚

  24. Being a web cartoonist is like how The Marx Brothers, Jack Benny or Burns & Allen started in Vaudeville. The web gives my strip a forum to be seen, reader’s responses offer me the chance to fine-tune the act, all while setting my sights on playing ‘The Palace’, which in this case is syndication.

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