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Future of webcomics in print?

The Independent (UK) has posted an article on how the web is forcing print companies, in this case specifically comic books, into transitioning their products to the web to counter piracy – much like the music companies had to open up their catalogs to online stores like iTunes to counter the music sharing piracy. The article delves into how webcomics are maturing and crossing over into print.

To the relief of Pilcher and other shop regulars, there are signs that the webcomic could nurture rather than threaten its print predecessor. As well as getting an immediate audience of thousands or even millions, webcomic artists are increasingly crossing back into print – and it’s readers who are calling the shots. “There’s a vast amount of material online and a lot is dross, but the web allows the public to decide what’s good,” says Pilcher, who believes this democratic filter system is depositing gold at the doors of publishers. “They then say, look, these guys are getting six million hits a day – we should publish a book.”

One quirky example is a satirical webcomic called Garfield Minus Garfield, in which Irish artist Dan Walsh reproduces classic Garfield strips with all characters except the cat’s owner, Jon Arbuckle, removed. “It turned a saccharine strip with a cat into a darkly funny, manic-depressive diatribe by a lonely bachelor,” Pilcher says. The weekly uploads attracted a sizeable audience, including Garfield creator Jim Davis. Tickled, he put his name to a book published last October. “Something that had its genesis in a newspaper was adapted online, became a hit, and then became a book,” Pilcher says. “The industry is linking and crossing over and smart publishers are seeing that.”

Community Comments

#1 Jesse Cline
February/4/2009
@ 1:38 pm

Its true. Perry Bible Fellowship’s first book sold a TON of copies.

#2 Wiley Miller
February/4/2009
@ 2:00 pm

Wait… I thought print was dead.

#3 Alan Gardner
February/4/2009
@ 2:24 pm

Wait? I thought print was dead.

Apparently only the print you work in. :)

#4 Jason Nocera
February/4/2009
@ 2:57 pm

Not another diatribe about how it has to be one medium or the other, please.

#5 Mike Witmer
February/5/2009
@ 11:29 am

Jason: Oh c’mon. You know it’s coming. LOL. This isn’t exactly a new venture by a long shot. It’s good to hear about the success stories though.

#6 Wiley Miller
February/5/2009
@ 11:44 am

It’s those very diatribes, all coming from the webbies, that makes this item so ironic, Jason. Surely you can see the humor in that, can’t you?

#7 Quint Nelson
February/5/2009
@ 12:42 pm

Ask Richard Stevens about this since he quit doing Diesel Sweeties in print and stuck with the web only version.

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