The fan of one webcomic will, 9 times out of 10, end up looking for more webcomics. Comic fans are easily addited, and they will spend hours on the internet reading and rereading their favorites. Then they spend another several hours looking for more. They love to read. They love the art. They love the genre. They love that it's FREE. In normal cases they're not a one shot deal; locked into one webcomic only.
So why can't we share our fans?
As a long time webcomic artist, I like to work with others. I like to plug other comics. I have a link exchange page. I smile at the others at conventions, happy to meet and get to know them. I share tips with newbies. I listen to advice from others that are more successful than me.
I'm writing this because once in a while you run across someone who isn't quite as socially bent. Now if they're doing well by themselves, more power to them. And hoozah! I'm glad for them. Unfortunately there are times that those less than social critters decide to walk up to you without warning and bite your face off. You're often left wondering, "What the hell did I do wrong?" And even if you WERE doing something wrong, you're more distracted by the way you were approached to fix it.
There are times when reading other people's work that I want to scream, "FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS PROPER, FIX YOUR $@#$#$ SPELLING!! GO BACK TO ENGLISH CLASS! I DON'T CARE IF YOU'RE ARTISTIC AND LANGUAGE 101 BORED YOU! YOUR GRAMMAR SUCKS AND IT'S KILLING YOUR WORK!" But... I don't. I don't because it's not nice, it's the wrong way to approach things, and it might be that the unknown face on the other end of my internet line is a 14 year old kid who just happens to be a budding genius. They might be destined to be the Stan Lee of webcomics. What a way to encourage that, yo. -_-
When an opening comes up, I nicely point out that one's spelling and grammar sucks. And when others point it out to me, I look at my work and consider my characters. Do my characters talk that way on purpose? No. Yee gods, I just committed not one but TWO errors: bad grammar *and* my little guy fell out of character. Not good. Not good at all.
Working together has helped me. When I was in financial straits (more so than usual), Gina Biggs of Red String pointed her fans in my direction and suggested they give me a hand. They didn't, but what DID happen is suddenly Akashik had four times the traffic than usual. Did she lose her fans from that? Not really. But I'm willing to bet she won karma points and got some "this is a good person" value points with people in general. When people think things like that, they enjoy reading your comic more so than usual.
Working together has helped other people. There's a successful artist out there who may not remember the days when I told her repeatedly, "Um, you have an art degree and your stuff rocks. Get out of your bookstore job and go to work already." She probably doesn't remember the times I sent her links to find work and showed her different avenues. And perhaps it wasn't me that was the only one (no way that would happen) but I was there, and now she's soaring. I haven't lost any fans for that. But I did gain some joy.
So what happens when we don't work together?
Well I have one-sided examples for that. There's a particular popular comic on Drunkduck that's, genre speaking, in direct competition with Akashik. On Project Wonderful I would advertise on her site, and I spent a lot of money to do so. My ads were always clean, because Akashik is relatively clean, and I like them to be clear in their intent. To this day I'm wondering why she banned me. I've no clue. Well, nevermind. My money can go elsewhere and her fans, who for sure do not only sign in to read her comic and sign out, will eventually find Akashik one way or the other if it was meant to be. And they'll like it or not, depending on who they are. It's not like she can stop them.
There's another not-so-popular comic: same story.
And today I got a nasty email from someone who decided that they didn't like how my ads look. He signed his email, "On behalf of all the other advertisers" and that was that. He used "please" once as if that makes a nasty statement nice and polite and basically told me what to do.
Oy vey; that's petty. And perhaps it's a little presumptuous. I just can't beyond any conceivable notion of imagination picture every single advertiser on the internet grouping together and choosing this one rude guy to send me such a message.
I looked at my ads (all of which were legible except one) and pondered this. The non-legible ad in question is a tiny button, and it's hard to make those legible. So I had a picture of a girl on it. The picture was a shrunk logo from the main website, so the logo "Akashik" was no longer able to be read and looked like a pattern to the girl's left. However, and most importantly, you could make out the girl's face. I liked it that way. It was alluring.
The psychological goal (for all ads are psychological) was for the reader to see the girl and her eyes and be curious. "What IS that? What is that thing by her? I see anime eyes all of the time, but there's something MORE to this and I can't read it. I wanna see what it IS." So far it had been working better than ALL of my other ads. I've had a *lot* of hits because of that little ad. Legible or not, it's been doing it's job. And how it looks is only a reflection of myself and my website; not anyone else at all.
So here is what has happened:
1. I put in another similar-looking ad and I'm going to use them both. I'll see if the one ad continues to do better over the other ad. I've tried this experiment before and "non-legible" won. But what the hey. It's time for me to switch ad looks anyway.
2. I responded to the rude fellow explaining that I wasn't sure what he was talking about. If he had taken the time to explain which ad was the problem and perhaps been more polite, he could have gotten what he wanted. But he didn't, and when I look at my stuff they all work and they're all legible to me. I can't switch to his perspective. Oh well. No skin off of my back.
3. I thought his comic was poor, but worth reading. It *was* on my reading list. And, btw, sometimes I donate to other comic artists. I believe in supporting my webcomic artist wholeheartedly. His comic is no longer on the list.
4. I banned the rude fellow and will no longer pay money to advertise on his site. I don't want to be associated with such a person.
It strikes me that out of the situation more was lost than gained.
The conclusion to my little tale is just a reminder and note to the rest of the webcomic community. I really like working with all of you, and it's fun when we do guest comics for each other and talk shop. The hope is that the rest of you feel the same about each other.
When we tear each other down, we don't get anywhere. We only get a lot of negativity and blockage to our creative processes. So I'm here to encourage you to think about that. We can be each other's strength if we give it a chance.
*steps off of soap box... notices that it was vanilla scented... ponders if this is any deep meaning... probably not*