The fellow came to my table and listened to my rather poor pitch for Akashik. (I'm terrible at the pitch. I've gotten so that I just point to the back of Volume 1 and say, "Read this.") After I was done, he said something along the lines of, "Well, this comic sounds fabulous and I love the art. I'll definitely read it for free on the internet, but I don't like to support new comics because they might go down. I don't like taking the chance and collecting stuff only for the comic to disappear on me."
I told him that Akashik had been around for 3 years (this November as a matter of fact) and, even through some scary hard times, I was pretty sure we weren't going anywhere unless I died or the story finally ended. This did not impress him, even armed with the knowledge that it's making it to the 2 year mark that's the real test for most webcomics.
But his words stuck with me. There are two sides to this, and everyone has their point of view. It's definitely a philosophical conundrum, especially in today's society.
On the one hand he's right: a lot of webcomics go down. In some cases the creator suddenly doesn't have the time; they fall sick or get deployed in Iraq or their desk job becomes too taxing for them to find the energy to do it. In other cases, the creator doesn't have the motivation - and those are the saddest ones because so many good comics are abandoned simply because the author didn't plot things out properly or perhaps they did but they simply don't want to do it anymore.
For someone who has been supporting a comic or reading a comic, it sucks gigantic toenails when their webcomic disappears. And disappearing webcomics is such a common thing, "I'm afraid to commit" was something I heard a LOT at Tsubasacon. I could hardly blame them. I've been abandoned a few times myself. It sucks.
But then there's the other side of the story: what it's like for the artist who is creating the comic faithfully (unlike others who just don't want to work) but has no support.
To summarize, it sucks and after a while you grow discouraged and maybe you don't want to waste your time anymore. You wonder why you're bothering when no one likes your story, and maybe you should sit in front of the WII and play Animal Crossing instead. I mean geez, you think to yourself, it's not like anyone even posts in the bloody forum. And it takes hours and hours to maintain that stupid website, too. Why am I bothering again? It's not like anybody *cares*.
And so the webcomic artist quits.
That almost happened to me. For the past year up until July I was feeling that way, but I produced faithfully. I annoyed my letterer on schedule and often thought, "This isn't working. I need a JOB." Yeah. A job. I was that discouraged. For an artist, that's like saying, "This isn't working. I need to blow my brains out."
And then one single fan emailed me a note. That little bit of support gave me the fire to get going again. It was amazing.
In another situation, sometimes that comic needs financial support or it's going to go down despite the artist's best intentions. They can't help that their car blew up or that the light bill is overdue because their husband's pay was cut by nearly 2 thousand dollars. -_- They can't help that if the website bill isn't paid it's going to go down, and they could draw the rest of the pages all they want but with no internet connection the comic will not continue.
Yes, that was happening to me too. LOL. And then that single fan donated money the day the website bill was due and the site went down. That donation came with his note. And suddenly I had the fire to get going again.
I've been thinking of the two sides of the equation for days now: fan disappointment vs. artist emotional sink. Both sides have valid points, and I don't think one side overpowers the other. You don't want to lose your investment and you don't want to waste your time: both sides feel that way.
I dunno. Just saying. What a conundrum.