Well, my cold seems to be receding at last, after more than a week. Not fun, but it beats the two-month cold I had around this time last year by, well, about seven weeks.
I expect to have my brain re-combobulated enough to start doing actual creative work again some time over the next couple of days.
Webcomics. I'm thinking about webcomics quite a bit, these days. In addition to creative questions (what can I do to make a good webcomic?) and more mercenary issues (what can I do to make money from a webcomic?), I've been wondering about how people - readers - discover webcomics.
That lead me to think a little harder than usual about how I have discovered webcomics. In no particular order, here are my five of my favourite (currently running) webcomics, and how I discovered them:
Order of the Stick
Read about it on Eric Burns's and Wednesday White's webcomics review blog, Websnark. At about the same time, my friend Rob (a.k.a. Tragic Lad) sent me a link to the very same installment that Eric Burns had written about. I followed the link. I liked. I read through the archives. I'm hooked.
This strip was getting a lot of online buzz during a major story arc about a year-and-a-half ago, the legendary 'Great Outdoor Fight.' Again, I read about it on Websnark first. Burns and White were both raving about Achewood. I gave in and clicked on the link the day they discussed the strip where Ray Smuckles rips a guy's freaking face right off. And wow. And I liked. And I read through the archives. And yeah, I'm hooked.
Essentially a relationship-driven sitcom about twentysomething slackers, which is the kind of story that I can still get really into, if it's smart enough, even though I am no longer a twentysomething slacker. Questionable Content features the relationships of a group of twentysomething slackers who, yeah, are friends and have relationships and hang out in the same coffee shop. But then I found out two things: First, this strip brings real depth of characterization and emotion, creating genuine drama, and second, three simple words - nutty robot hijinks! I read some commentary by, yes, Eric Burns. Followed the link. Yup, read the archive and got hooked.
I've mentioned Galaxion before; it's a sometimes-funny, sometimes-romantic, and always gripping science-fiction epic by my old friend Tara Tallan. It features the crew of a starship who may or may not be stranded in a parallel universe after a hyperspace experiment goes horribly right. I've known Tara for about fifteen years, and I've eagerly followed Galaxion through a couple of previous incarnations, so when it debuted as a webcomic it automatically went to the top of my Must Read List.
Ryan North's comic is a minimalist-art, dialogue-heavy strip with obscure and surreal jokes, pop-culture references and goofy puns. Featuring a Tyrannosaurus Rex and his friends. Oh, and the art is exactly the same every day - only the text changes. It's brilliant. It's the sort of thing I would have created if I were about a decade younger, and much cooler than I ever was. Not many comics, no matter how clever, can make me laugh out loud, and this one is a delightful exception. Back when comics writer Warren Ellis's online community, The Engine, was still active, Ellis would post Ryan North's daily strips. I liked. I followed the link. But I didn't delve too closely into the archives, because that way lies madness.
Some Sort of Conclusion
Well, the key points are pretty obvious. Word-of-mouth, or in this case click-of-link, is what got me reading four of these five webcomics. In many cases, backed up by commentary/analysis/ speculation, or by multiple recommendations. People I know and trust, and people I don't really know but whose opinions I respect, have a far greater influence on me than advertising. Positive reviews are a pull-me-in factor, especially if they're grounded in some sort of analytical thinking.
So, let me ask, you hypothetical multitudes: What webcomics do you read? How did you discover them? Why did that process of discovery work? Pray elucidate.
And a Brief Post-Script
Oh, and my friend Rachel Hartman's Pau-Henoa comics, on Girlamatic under the name The Return on the Mad Bun, are just as good as any of the aforementioned five. But I specified currently running and (sniff!) it'll be concluding shortly. Which makes it easy for you to get caught up on. Go read. You can thank me later.