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Independent Cartoonists Band Together for Success

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the comic-freedom dept.

Entertainment 194

Brad Guigar writes "Six cartoonists, previously hosted at Keenspot, are banding together in a new approach to self-publishing. They have formed Blank Label Comics, a cooperative group of cartoonists who are helping one another succeed as independents. Each is using his proficiency in a particular aspect of the cartooning business to help the others -- who are doing the same in return. Scott Kurtz, creator of the daily comic strip PVP, applauded the move. 'The forming of Blank Label Comics is a big story in the webcomics community,' he said in a statement on his Web site, insisting that the 'real story ... is that a bunch of really talented guys are taking a chance, putting their necks out and trying to do this on their own.'"

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Independent Labels (4, Interesting)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681126)

It is encouraging to see any independent label for cartoons come into existance. Like music, film, or any other artistic medium it is better to have more outlets than fewer. I enjoyed, during my early teen and, later, my college years, a variety of "underground" comics (e.g. R. Crumb, Gilbert Shelton) that would have *never* existed at established publishing houses. Some probably shouldn't have existed, but there you are.

The only concern I have with independent labels is their ability to fight off incorporation or extinction. Some independent music and film outlets have consolidated leaving these media under the control of only a few companies. We have all seen the result of that outcome.

EMERGENCY: Crisis in Indonesia (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681155)

There is a crisis in Indonesia [cnn.com] .

An Australian woman might be put to death.

Does anyone know how to hack into some sites in Indonesia and cause the Indonesian animals some problems?

ROFL - Check the Cheney Comedy! (1)

montreal!hahahahah (880120) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681828)

From CNN:

"For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously," Cheney said.

Surprisingly NOT posted under news of the weird!

Learn from history, dolts (1, Troll)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681131)

Google search for "Image comics" [google.com]

If you aren't good enough to get syndicated, keep at it until you are. Alternatively you can find your niche audience, but that road is fraught with peril and many nights of eating nothing but instant ramen and tap water.

Re:Learn from history, dolts (1)

EvilCabbage (589836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681148)

Because image did a bad job of keeping their collective shit together, every other independant enterprise is also bound to fail, right?

Re:Learn from history, dolts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681188)

<Putty>That's right</Putty>

Re:Learn from history, dolts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681788)

Classic!

Re:Learn from history, dolts (1)

bergeron76 (176351) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681341)

The difference is that today, geniuses in the comic/cartoon industry can now band together using that 'internet' thing.

The results are likely to be incredible; and I for one, applaude this maneuver. It's one more step toward artistic control for the actual human beings that need to put food on their table (instead of the mega-corporations that force-feed their readers).

Quoth Herr Bergeron in 2005:
Whom among us is the shallow Dolt? Ye which post about something ye know nothing about; or perchance just ye for being a mow rahn?

Re:Learn from history, dolts (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681875)

Right. This also lets the actual authors get the revenue they deserve instead of feeding the parasites. As Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary [schlockmercenary.com] said, right after he split from KeenSpot, mere Google Adsense gave him three times that much.

Oh, and by the way, Schlock Mercenary is the best gem KeenSpot used to have -- and it's probably Howard who triggered the Black Label guys in the article.

Re:Learn from history, dolts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681567)

This topic has already been thrashed out several times over at BCNToonTalk. I suggest holding fire on the insults until you actually read opinions from both sides of the fence. Spouting off as you did makes you sound willfully ignorant.

Re:Learn from history, dolts (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681574)

I suggest holding fire on the insults until you actually read opinions from both sides of the fence. Spouting off as you did makes you sound willfully ignorant.

You must be new here.

Re:Learn from history, dolts (4, Informative)

nunchux (869574) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681628)

I know you're trolling, but for the benefit of anyone who cares...

Image comics has nothing to do with this discussion. It was a group of well-known superhero artists who wanted to get away from Marvel and keep all the royalties to themselves. Of course, they stuff they turned out was more expensive and no better written or drawn than the typical Marvel book, and they tried to maintain a market saturation that couldn't last forever, so they failed and failed big.

Blank is comprised of cartoonists, not superhero comic book writers and artists. It's a pretty big difference that I won't go into, if you don't understand it then you probably don't care. But these guys are like an indie band who's in it because they love what they do and I don't think it could be considered a "failure" if they don't turn a profit... As long as they can generate a fan base that makes it worth doing. After all, what's the cost, the domain name and web space?

And, Image is hardly the only independant comic book publisher. There are quite a few who've been around for a while and do pretty well-- Fantagraphics for one (Eightball by Dan Clowes, or have you not seen Ghost World?), Slave Labor (haven to all the teens who shop at Hot Topic), Drawn and Quarterly... They may not be huge successes or household names, but they have quite a few loyal readers.

As for "getting syndicated"... That's one route, yes. But not a likely one. The funny pages are incredibly hard to break into and editors are notorious for censoring any joke that wouldn't play on "Leave it to Beaver." An occasional Bloom County or Calvin and Hobbes slips through the cracks but that's maybe once every five or six years. And frankly, no one reads them any more anyway. There are a handful of Village Voice/Your-City-Weekly alternative papers for more eclectic strips, but that's also a tough nut to crack. It's a limited and slowly dying market and I don't think many aspiring cartoonists (who do comic strips) are even trying to go these routes any more. It's certainly not the end-all, be-all that you seem to think it is.

Try this search (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681739)

Try yahoo, you'll get a search result without the "Cruise liner" offtopic stuff and with a proper description for the Wikipedia listing:

http://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=UTF-8&fr=sfp&p=i mage+comics [yahoo.com]

So... (0, Offtopic)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681135)

Where does User Friendly [userfriendly.org] fit in the scheme of things?

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681186)

Where does User Friendly fit in the scheme of things?

Ideally in the "dead and buried" category. Comics should either look good or be funny. Megatokyo [megatokyo.com] looks good. Dilbert [dilbert.com] is funny (or, well, it has its moments, but is funny most of the time). Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com] is both. User Friendly has neither art nor humor going for it, and thus is a waste of time.

Re:So... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681203)

Why is it that the Penny Arcade folks are always picking on the User Friendly crowd?

Re:So... (1)

EvilCabbage (589836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681223)

It's the natural order of things.

Like the jocks picking on the nerds in Porkys films.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681327)

Well... as someone who is not a huge fan of either comic, I prefer dieselsweeties, PA fans are not necessarily picking on a crowd but on the comics themselves.

Looking at the latest commics
http://www.penny-arcade.com/view.php3 [penny-arcade.com]
http://www.userfriendly.org/ [userfriendly.org]

Penny Arcade Advantages
Artwork:
Color, it's almost mandatory for this time in the web.
Text, the text is easily legible and easy to follow.
Drawing, the drawing is nice, again this is a must in the visual age.
Story:
The stories are relatively easy to understand and follow, even for one who is unfamiliar with concepts. It's easy to relate to being snuck into a place, to relate to a gigantic piece of crap such as E3 or most large venues (trade shows, meetings, faires, conferences...) lastly it connects on lowest common denomitator in addition to the other levels, 3 tits? Ooh boobies.

User Friendly Advantages
Random Link... kind of cool
User Friendly Disadvantages
Artwork:
Not pleasing to look at, B&W, lots of text that's hard to read and too much to read for a comic. The art work is secondary.
Story:
Really only reaches out to a niche audience tech support or anyone who's been called on for support. It's rather elitist in nature, suggesting that users only serve to belittle tech workers. Not very funny on any level except the elitist.

That is why PA fans, or anyone for that matter might pick on UF.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681405)

First, you should link to PA's comic directly [penny-arcade.com] , or your commentary on the strip won't make sense in a couple days. Second, black and white is not necessarily bad (Megatokyo is mostly in black and white). The problem with Userfriendly's art is not so much that it's not in color as that it's drawn with all of the skill of a three year old child. If the story was good or the humor funny, it could make up for the bad artwork. Sadly, neither of those are the case.

For the record, I just pulled a couple comics at random. As has already been mentioned, Diesel Sweeties [dieselsweeties.com] is also good, as well as many others (ctrl+alt+del [ctrlaltdel-online.com] , Mac Hall [machall.com] when they update, Angst Technology [inktank.com] , etc). All of these are better than UF, in story, art, and humor. If UF could pull even one of those out of its rear, it might be worth browsing once a month or so. Until then it's nothing more than a reason to laugh at people that think it's good.

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

ag-gvts-inc (844888) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681460)

a reason to laugh at people that think it's good.

Come on, why don't people realize that not everyones taste is the same. Frankly, I don't _want_ everyone liking just the things I like. It'd be boring...

Re:So... (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681532)

Come on, why don't people realize that not everyones taste is the same. Frankly, I don't _want_ everyone liking just the things I like. It'd be boring...

In other words, you want to be so unique that you'll willingly choose to like pure crap just to be different? Well, whatever it takes, I guess.

Re:So... (1)

ag-gvts-inc (844888) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681738)

I don't think that statement holds water even by your own reasoning. If lots of people like User Friendly, how does my liking it make me unique? Be thankful that not everyone likes the same stuff I do. You might not exist ;)

Re:So... (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681810)

If lots of people like User Friendly, how does my liking it make me unique?

First, you're assuming lots of people like UF :). Second, I was being facetious, as in, "You're a unique person, just like everybody else." You know, like the people that shop at Hot Topic because they want to be "different, like everybody else".

Sometimes I wonder whether what fanbase there is around UF exists only because back in the day it was pro-Linux when little else was, and thus they formed a community. It didn't matter that the art was shit, the stories were shit, and the humor was non-existent. It was Pro-Linux, and that's all they needed. Now, it's just momentum carrying them on. What's the new reader rate of UF? What's their reader growth numbers? I assume Illiad is able to do UF as a full-time job, but how much of that is related to existing momentum, and how much is due to genuine appeal to new people? How many people have been intrigued enough by UF to go read the entire backlog of comics? (when I pick up a new web comic, that's the first thing I do -- I work my way through the archives, usually over weeks or months depending on the extent of the archives. I only do that with comics that really grab my attention, the latest being ctrl+alt+del)

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

zerbot (882848) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681529)

Well, I looked at those other comics, and I disagree. I suppose you have to have lived the life of a sysadmin (down, not across) to get the most out of UF, but it is funny. A lot of those comics are heavily targetted at gamers, and while I enjoy games, I'm not that heavily into it.

Re:So... (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681625)

Well, I looked at those other comics, and I disagree. I suppose you have to have lived the life of a sysadmin (down, not across) to get the most out of UF, but it is funny. A lot of those comics are heavily targetted at gamers, and while I enjoy games, I'm not that heavily into it.

Two points:

  • While you're correct that most of those I linked to are gaming-related, not all of them are. And for those that aren't, the humor is often zany enough that it doesn't matter if you can relate to it as a gamer. There certainly are strips that require you to have some deep gaming knowledge, but those are few and far between. Besides, who can't relate to stuff like blister packaging [ctrlaltdel-online.com] , used on much more than just video gaming peripherals? See? Funny, without going the "Windoze is sux" route. Maybe the guy getting both of his hands cut off by the packaging was too graphic, which is a valid complaint. Here's [penny-arcade.com] PA's take on the blister packaging issue, without the gratuitous violence.
  • Even if you can't appreciate them for their story or humor, all of the comics I linked to are artistically pleasing, if not amazing (PA, Megatokyo, and Mac Hall routinely astound). Of the art/story/funny trifecta, they at least have one leg to stand on. UF has none.

Oh, yeah, I was gong to also pimp Something Postivie [somethingpositive.net] as a strip that's not about gaming (though they do throw in some pen and paper role-playing every now and then), has decent art (below average when compared against PA or Mac Hall, but light years ahead of UF), is funny, and has an interesting story.

Re:So... (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681842)

I suppose you have to have lived the life of a sysadmin (down, not across) to get the most out of UF, but it is funny.

I could not possibly disagree more.

Reading UF is like spending your coffee break listening to the rookie members of your office network support team bitch about the same fucking things the guys they replaced bitched about (and the guys before them) while thinking it's the first time anybody has ever pointed this shit out before.

Well, it's not entirely like that... It's sort of like that, only really badly drawn.

Re:So... (0)

EverDense (575518) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681365)

Because Penny Arcade is rarely funny, and that makes them feel inadequate.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681522)

Because UF sucks it hard and PA doesn't?

I always thought UF was a terrible comic that got by just because it made geek references.

Re:So... (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681818)

Why is it that the Penny Arcade folks are always picking on the User Friendly crowd?

In the spirit of fairness I would like to point out that neither is even a little bit funny.

Ever.

They both simply put flippant comments about easy targets in word balloons, draw some pictures under them, and call it a comic strip. The only thing that makes them different from the shitty "Kathy" strips in the newspaper is that they are targeted at geeks instead of fat middle-aged spinsters.

The only thing I hate more than obvious pandering from low-quality "entertainment" is when it's trying to pander to me.

Re:So... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681338)

Megatokyo is really good. I used to work in the video game industry so I was cracking up on all the inside jokes. The only problem I had was trying to figure out what direction (left-right or right-left) to read it in. Thanks!

Re:So... (0, Flamebait)

EvilCabbage (589836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681201)

Hopefully being beaten to death with a book of knock-knock jokes while somebody sodomizes him with a roll of his own fresh material (although this would be an amazingly small roll).

Illiad has done approximately two fifths of fuck all for comic entertainment lately. "OMG Windoze ams teh crashest!" wasn't funny to start with and doesn't come anywhere near being mainstream entertainment.

Fuck, even Penny-Arcade are easier to follow for the layman than Illiads painfully trite garbage, and that's saying something.

.. flame suit on...

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681231)

Where does User Friendly fit in the scheme of things?

Featured in a Chopping Block [choppingblock.org] cartoon?

Re:So... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681508)

User Friendly's fanbase can't afford Internet connections ever since the entire technical support industry was offshored.

Something to rival the old greats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681137)

If only they could create something to rival archie... :)

Re:Something to rival the old greats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681149)

Isn't Reggie Archie's rival?

Re:Something to rival the old greats (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681192)

Only when Moose is not after him, or the girls are tearing him apart for doing something dumb.

Today's version would feature a tech whiz kid in his family's basement, his arch rival would be a fast talking techno-idiot, the dumb jock would always be jealous that his girlfriend can instant message and he can't, and the two girls would be anime babes with lesbian tendencies for each other. Nah... no one wants to read about that.

Dime a dozen. (5, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681156)

Is anyone not an "independant online cartoonist" these days? The only thing there's more of are "internet models" and "blog journalists".

Dime a dozen-Change due. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681309)

I hear that "starving artists" outnumber them.

Re:Dime a dozen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681691)

Too bad there isn't a mod "-1 cynical curmudgeon." Would you rather have fewer artists and writers in this world? This world lacks complete artistry and your view I can't understand. It is so hard to make a living as an artist. Putting your illustrations or writing online is not something that can be understated. How will other people view your art? A gallery, where only the upper class can view it? The internet allows people to be creative and display their work, good or bad (which is an opinion I might remind you).

In your ideal world, variety might be curbed. I don't want to live in your world. I want a world where art is common, where every man draws and writes creatively. this is not the world you want. why not? You imply that ubiquitous art and artists is not desireable. Why?

Re:Dime a dozen. (5, Funny)

Golias (176380) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681861)

Too bad there isn't a mod "-1 cynical curmudgeon."

I think you mean "+1, cynical curmudgeon."

Not everybody considers it a bad thing, snowflake. Curmudgeons make me laugh. Wet blankets like you make me bored and sad. Curmudgeons win.

Re:Dime a dozen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681904)

You are SO right. I think that's what this guy was getting at [adequacy.org] with his hilarious online 'comic'. Well worth a look!

Wonderful news. (1)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681181)

This is a great thing to hear. I've been waiting to see a bunch of artists compleatly buck the traditional system, band together and have a go at it on their own in any media. I'm sure there are quite a few in the music recording field who have tried this, but the recording industry is so entrenched right now that success would be difficult.

The comics industry (as I understand it) still harbors an envrionment where guys like this actually have a chance. I wish them good luck.

And so, in congratulations... (3, Funny)

wyldeone (785673) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681197)

We slahdot their server. Go figure.

Re:And so, in congratulations... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681219)

I'm sure one day when they get big enough they will return the favor. ;)

Re:And so, in congratulations... (1)

Kipsaysso (828105) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681680)

Actually, it seems like they were ready for us. They are weathering the pain really well. Which means they were prepared...or no one is going there...

Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (3, Insightful)

drsmack1 (698392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681200)

I have not seen any consistantly funny web comics. Most are painfully UNFUNNY. What does "unfunny" mean? That means they are the opposite of funny. They suck the funniness out of other things.

Unfunny web comics killed my inner child.

Re:Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681233)

Gotta say that Zippy the Pinhead is probably the single most unfunny "funny" comic in syndication. It lacks even the simplest wit of Family Circus, and it can't hold a candle to Peanuts for wryness.

It's like going to the Louvre and being told by the guardman that the hours are between 9am and 9:45 on Wednesdays and Fridays, 9am and 6pm every other day except Tuesdays on which it is closed.

Re:Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (1)

Ignatius Reilly (821654) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681488)

Do strips like PBF (http://www.thepbf.com/ [thepbf.com] )count as online comics? Anyways, pretty much the only purely online comics I find funny are A Softer World and Dinosaur Comics, but even those are iffy sometimes.

Re:Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (1)

PrivateDonut (802017) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681238)

Try: Bigger than Cheeses Least I Could Do VG Cats but I suppose it is all specific to the type of humour you enjoy. I'm also biased towards Bigger Than Cheeses because it is from Australia, and you know...

Re:Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (1)

PrivateDonut (802017) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681246)

bummer, that was supposed to be a list, but here they are again. Bigger Than Cheeses, Least I Could Do, VG Cats. Sorry forgot how to make new paragraphs.

Re:Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681252)

I have not seen any consistantly funny web comics.

True enough, but very few things in life and art are consistently good. I like Penny Arcade, but they've had weeks full of unfunny comics.

Sometimes I think I like PvP, but then they'll do another "Brent gets mauled by the panda" strip, and I'm reminded that it's mostly dull, recycled crap too.

I love the quote in the summary:
"real story ... is that a bunch of really talented guys are taking a chance, putting their necks out and trying to do this on their own."

Modest, too!

Re:Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (2, Informative)

palndrumm (416336) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681324)

Modest, too!

To be fair, that quote was from Scott Kurtz from PVP, who I don't believe is involved with the project at all...

Re:Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (1)

maotx (765127) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681288)

I really couldn't agree with you more. After sifting through who knows how many comics, I've only come across three that I'll check.

Re:Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (2, Insightful)

ag-gvts-inc (844888) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681510)

Hey, I don't know if someone else has mentioned it or not, but check out Sinfest [sinfest.net] .

Re:Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681538)

I'm fond of: There may be others that are good, but those are the most consistent for me. The others on my daily list have come close to being bumped a few times, but have recovered each time within the (generous) timeframe before I delist them.

Re:Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (1)

pinchhazard (728983) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681318)

I have not seen any consistantly funny web comics. Most are painfully UNFUNNY. What does "unfunny" mean? That means they are the opposite of funny. They suck the funniness out of other things.

Believe me, I know what you mean. Penny Arcade? Terrible. PVP? Terrible. Sinfest? You get the idea. I don't like Pokey the Penguin or any of this bullshit. I can tolerate Scary-go-round [scarygoround.com] .

Okay man, here you go. I have the one you'll like. I hope you haven't seen it yet and dismissed it. Achewood [achewood.com] . It relies on the characters and usually has a running plot, so don't read the front page or just today's and yesterday's.

Do yourself and me a favor. Go back to the first one and start from there. After you see a couple months worth, come back and thank me (no rush.)

Achewood (1)

pinchhazard (728983) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681344)

Look, I've even done all the work for you: the first Achewood [achewood.com] . Use the red arrow pointing to the right to go to the next.

Re:Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (1)

drsmack1 (698392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681425)

I'm going to do it man!

In case anyone is wondering what I *do* find funny; here is my favorites in order:

Bloom County

Calvin and Hobbes

Far Side

Dilbert

Willie and Ethel

Sadly enough, that is all I can remember. It must be incredible hard to put out consistantly funny strips 365 days a year.

Re:Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681444)

http://www.phdcomics.com/ [phdcomics.com]

You need to appreciate the irony to understand the humor there. Very well drawn and favorite of many graduate students.

Re:Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (2, Interesting)

Bob of Dole (453013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681459)

I have not seen any consistantly funny print comics. Most are painfully UNFUNNY. What does "unfunny" mean? That means they are the opposite of funny. They suck the funniness out of other things.

Unfunny print comics killed my inner child.

(Completely not joking. I have yet to see a single print comic that isn't completly unfunny. Calvin and Hobbes comes close, but cute!=funny.)

Re:Yeah, but are they FUNNY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681714)

Ah yes, but consider this:

What you wrote is clearly trying to be funny.

And yet it's not. At all. In fact, it's "unfunny" whatever the hell that means.

Not as easy as you thought, huh?

Webcomics that are funny: (1)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681923)

  • Real life [reallifecomics.com]
  • Phd [phdcomics.com] (perhaps not as funny to non grad students)
  • Applegeeks [applegeeks.com]
I would include megatokyo [megatokyo.com] , but it has on average been more serious and less funny lately (though I still enjoy it, and you can browse the archives for older, funnier content).

Similarities (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681211)

While I applaud their efforts, isn't this how the RIAA/MPAA got started for music and movies?

Re:Similarities (1)

A1C Lickey (785912) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681450)

Actually most of them are breaking away from a larger publishing house (Keenspot) in order to form this co-op. So in effect they're doing the opposite, they're providing some competition in the market.

Re:Similarities (1)

ne0n (884282) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681891)

speakin' of piracy, here's a quote from the PVP link in TFA Google ads have turned to the dark side Posted on Thursday, May 26, 2005 I can see that my google ads are keying off all the Star Wars talk, and offering up text ads based on the movies. Problem is that one of the ads is for downloading Revenge of the Sith for $1 or something.

I don't condone that. I just don't know how to make that google ad stop showing up. I'll report the ad to google.

In the meantime...nobody download movies illegally, okay? That leads to the dark side.


I think a more compelling argument would be the quality issue, which is really the main reason that people (who would otherwise download that abysmal POS) won't siphon it from the Great Bitstream. Come on man, talk about quality! It's a relevant issue. Piracy is so overdone already. I noticed a similar lack of insightful hilarity in the panels he writes.

I wonder how... (4, Interesting)

OrthodonticJake (624565) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681215)

I wonder how Wiley will mock them this time? He sure didn't seem to think much [journalspace.com] of Scott Kurtz [pvponline.com] when he offered his strips to newspapers for free.

"taking a chance, putting their necks out" (2, Insightful)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681224)

taking a chance, putting their necks out

Umm... does this really take guts, forming a co-op?

Re:"taking a chance, putting their necks out" (2, Interesting)

TelcusFreshbreeze (601347) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681447)

It does take guts to move away from the "protection" of keenspot in order to make a decent amount of money from their comics.

Re:"taking a chance, putting their necks out" (1)

UserGoogol (623581) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681911)

Nice little webcomic you've got here. It would be a real shame if something were to happen to it.

Re:"taking a chance, putting their necks out" (1)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681865)

Change is scary. For a lot of people the recognition and reader base might be a bit fragile, and they don't want to alienate or upset anyone the regulars.

Congrats guys! (1)

BlueHiro (825914) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681245)

I saw this a few days ago on Scott Kurtz' site, definately nice to hear that some guys are making it out of Keenspots wretched clutches. I realize that keenspot has it's place, but I have to yet to hear anything good about it.

As an avid webcomic reader I'm always glad to see more good artists out there. In fact after reading through just a few of their comics I discovered that I really didn't have time to read them all! Arghh there are too many good comics for me to read.

Re:Congrats guys! (1)

hayfever (113254) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681506)

What have you heard bad about Keenspot? Granted, the only webcomic I read on their servers with any regularity is Nukees [nukees.com] but I haven't heard any real problems with them. Not that I've been looking either (just a reader, not an artist).

Re:Congrats guys! (2, Informative)

Phil Resch (447588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681677)

The short version--for a longer version, see my post just below this--is that people who belong to Keenspot lose some control over their comic.

They:

-Have to share any profits they make off of the success of their strip with Keenspot
-Don't really get to decide who advertises on their site, Keenspot does (I think that's right)
-Have to format their page in a certain way to meet Keenspot's requirements (which includes a large adbox that points to other Keenspot comics)

For some webcartoonists, this loss of control is a dealbreaker. But for others, having the backing of a large-ish organization (which handles some of the more annoying details) and belonging to an established community are very nice benefits.

Re:Congrats guys! (5, Informative)

Phil Resch (447588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681639)

The thing is, Keenspot does have its place.

There are a lot of webcomics out there. And I mean a lot. One of the beautiful things about the Internet is that anybody who can find a place to host their files can make a webcomic. There are no other real barriers (though I might argue that not having any discernable talent should be a barrier).

So how do you find a good webcomic? Well, Keenspot is an option. It's a portal that links to a variety of strips. It has certain standards of quality. It's been around for a long time, and it's well known. So if you're looking for something to read, you can always head for Keenspot.

On the flip side, if you're an aspiring webcartoonist and want to get known, getting accepted by Keenspot is a good bet for exactly the same reasons.

From a business perspective, Keenspot is okay. They sell advertising, and some of the money goes to the webcartoonists. Keenspot has done some work to get into newspapers, too, though I admit I don't know many of the details.

And Keenspot also handles the technical side. They provide the servers and all the website code necessary for a webcomic to function (if I recall correctly, that is). In exchange, you, as a webcartoonist, agree to brand your website with a little bit of advertising.

But Keenspot isn't the be-all and end-all of webcomics. Even though there are so many webcomics out there, the webcomic "community" is pretty small. Many of the artists/writers talk to each other. They see each other at conventions. They hang out. And they link to other comics in their rants. If you're looking for a good webcomic, it's almost as if it's a game of follow the links. All you have to do is find one good strip and read it for a while, and if you pay attention, you'll find out what some other good comics are. Word of mouth seems to be the best way to get known in the webcomic community.

And, as I understand it, Keenspot webcartoonists don't get paid as well as they could. Keenspot is a for-profit venture. It's the same as with any label you might sign with ... some of the money that would otherwise rightfully be yours is going to go to the umbrella organization that's sponsoring you. Going independent might make you more money, if you're willing to deal with the financials yourself. (Ideally, you wouldn't care because you'd be doing it for the love of your craft ... but when you become more popular, the bandwidth and hosting costs more money.)

I've got work tomorrow, so I'm going to wrap it up with a couple of webcomics that have my highest recommendation (not that you'd care, given that you don't know anything about my comic preferences). Both webcartoonists are independent.

Something Positive [somethingpositive.net] : It's pretty damn mean spirited a lot of the time, and sometimes gets a bit wordy, but it's consistently funny, and the characters come across as being very human. They have hopes and fears. They grow as time goes on. I think they're pretty believable.

Schlock Mercenary [schlockmercenary.com] : This is a fine piece of science fiction (certainly much more deserving of the label than is Star Wars), and very funny to boot. It also has very good characterization, and wonderfully twisty, entertaining plotlines. This is probably the first comic I check every night, and I read some 30+ webcomics. I think many Slashdotters will appreciate it too. Incidentally, this strip, like the ones mentioned in TFA, recently split from Keenspot.

Independent? (1)

JeffDaMan (847913) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681263)

Doesn't this contradict their independence?

In Other News (4, Funny)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681305)

Each is using his proficiency in a particular aspect of the cartooning business...

Sounds like they also created a new team of superheroes... I give you the Blank Comic 6! Cartoonist during the day and upholder of the first amendment on the Internet by night.

Congratulations! (5, Funny)

Mard (614649) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681311)

And as a true test of your preperations to strike out alone, we'll slashdot your server(s) and drive you bankrupt from the resulting bandwidth fees. No no, I insist, there is no need to thank us!

I'm still waiting (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681503)

...for independent bands to cartoon together.

/ suck it, RIAA

AlP (1)

NiTr|c (130325) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681516)

Personally, I find Alien Loves Predator [alienlovespredator.com] to be pretty funny most of the time. Even being funny "most of the time" is still good. I can't imagine how hard it would be trying to find comic filler for every day of the year. Some people do a fantastic job, and even if you only get a laugh from the material once in a while, it's still making you feel good. I hope these guys succeed at this.

great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681527)

yawn (1)

slashdotnickname (882178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681528)

Guess I was spoiled by Larson. Since Far Side I've yet to find any consistently funny comic stips. Sometimes they'll come up with a refreshing view of things but then completely butcher the art of subtlety by overdoing the punchline.

One exception, though, is FreshMeat which has done a good job of not falling for those trappings... especially the Milkman Dan scenes which always get me genuinely laughing.

Re:yawn (1)

slashdotnickname (882178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681543)

edit: Red Meat long weekend... tired... another exciting week of school bus driving ahead of me... god i need more boose

Brewster Rockit: Space Guy (0)

rewinn (647614) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681568)

... is consistently funny. Not intellectually stimulating, but funny!

zerg (3, Informative)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681552)

If we can dream for a moment that David Willis won't turn Shortpacked! into another infinite loop of "I can't have sex w/ you because I love you" like his other comics, then Blank Label might actually have a decent comic. 1 out of 10 ain't that bad...

Modern Tales [moderntales.com] has American Born Chinese, Ice, Narbonic, No Stereotypes, Odd Jobs, Paradigm Shift and Wahoo Moris. 7 out of 63.
Graphic Smash [graphicsmash.com] has Aces High, Ascent, Digger, Fans, Gun Street Girl, Johnny Saturn, Life's a Croc, Little White Knight, Magellan, Rip & Teri, The Jaded, The Replacements and Vigil. 13 out of 31.
Girlamatic [girlamatic.com] has Jupiter, L'il Mell, Sevenplains and The Stiff. 4 out of 23.

YMMV.

Re:zerg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681836)

If we can dream for a moment that David Willis won't turn Shortpacked! into another infinite loop of "I can't have sex w/ you because I love you" like his other comics, then Blank Label might actually have a decent comic.

Actually, now that he's gotten laid, I'm pretty sure that's changed.

In fact, I know it has.

Re:zerg (1)

solios (53048) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681883)

Everything on your list still spanks the shit out of Marvel, Image, and DC's offerings in terms of signal to noise. The same could be said of record labels - I liked Front Line Assembly before they turned into Just Another Haujobb Wannabe, but I'd be hard pressed to wipe my ass with the majority of the Metropolis catalogue.

Signal to noise aside, the biggest issue facing webcomics isn't the quality of the work but the quality of the presentation. Horrible site aesthetics, whiny or distracting ad placement, bad standards compliance... worst of all, bad archive interface... comic artists obviously aren't web designers and it shows.

Hell, my own project [amongthechosen.com] went through several layout revisions before my friends stopped browbeating me about the navigation, so I'm not the only one who takes issue with information design.

That's great for them... (4, Interesting)

MagicDude (727944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681554)

Going independent is a good move for these people who look like they are looking to turn their cartooning into their primary job. However, for most internet cartoonists, I think Keenspot is still the best option for those who make 1-2 comics a week and don't want to deal with the hassle of having to maintain a server, deal with bandwidth issues, etc. The downside of working with Keenspot is that they take a big chunk of the advertising revenue that a site generates. A few weeks back, Tycho at PA had a comment about someone he knew who left Keenspot and went independent and started making triple what he used to make from advertising. For its flaws though, it seems that Keenspot (Or Keenspace rather for those undiscovered comics) is still the best place for a new cartoonist to start.

Re:That's great for them... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681872)

The cartoonist you're referring to is Howard Taylor of www.schlockmercenary.com. And he has since updated saying that the revenue from Google's Adsense is 1/3 of what it originally was, which is still better than what he was getting from Keenspot, but shows that it'll take more administration and effort than having Keenspot handle it for him. So there's a definite tradeoff and you're probably right that people who aren't willing to take on a substantial burden and aren't hugely popular are better off with an outfit like Keenspot.

This has a good history of working (2, Interesting)

RebRachman (144344) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681587)

This kind of alliance between creatives has a good history of working in the comics industry. Malibu was that kind of a cooperative at first, started by a bunch of creatives who turned to someone with passion for comics and business sense. In the end they sold to Marvel, which didn't end well, but it could quite clearly be considered a success for the people who founded the group.

Right now the founder is doing this: http://platinumstudios.com/ [platinumstudios.com] , and that seems to be going quite well. While they don't make much on the comics themselves, they leverage the best of their materials to go to mass market and to Hollywood. It's a good business strategy, and they seem to have tremedous respect for their creative people.

David Adams resigns as publisher of OSNews! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681592)

David Adams has announced his resignation [slashdot.org] as the publisher of OSNews.com [osnews.com] following the terrible incident involving him [slashdot.org] that was reported here yesterday.

Nice to see some personal accountability. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681760)

Meanwhile Michael Sims keeps his job here for YEARS after he hijacks censorware.org in a hissy-fit. Hell, EVERY Slashdot "editor" has done worse than this David Adams guy. If I were in charge, I'd sweep the ranks of Slashdot "editor" clean and start anew. And I'd give them a fucking spell-checker. Sadly, Artificial Intelligence hasn't progressed rapidly enough to develop a useful grammar-checker.

People who can't get They're/There/Their, Too/Two/To, or Then/Than right should be shot.

On a slightly related topic (1)

Borg453b (746808) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681613)

Watch spacetree the spacetree in space (http://www.spacetree.com/ [spacetree.com] Kurtz linked to at some point on pvponline.com.

A wacky keentoon featuring the escapades of space tree and his buddies.

watch until episode 3 at least - it's pretty funny.

Forseen by Bill Watterson? (3, Informative)

line-bundle (235965) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681698)

Bill Watterson (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) did give a speech where he did talk about cartoon syndication.

Here is the link: http://hobbes.ncsa.uiuc.edu/comics.html [uiuc.edu]

Re:Forseen by Bill Watterson? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12681784)

The world of webcomics is a lot different from newspaper comics. It is really difficult to get your comics published in newspapers, the syndicates are necassary to get in the door with the papers. With webcomics there's always the ability to go independant, so places like Keenspot are just helping with the technical aspects, advertising and promotion. They may use their editorial control to keep the comics they host bland, but the cartoonist who doesn't like this always has this freedom on the web to go it alone (or with some partners) that they just don't have when working with newspapers.

Now I've Seen Everything (1)

pikayou (654094) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681699)

A cooperative of independents? Now I've seen everything...

Dumbrella (1)

eexlebots (203658) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681809)

Isn't this sort of what the Dumbrella [dumbrella.com] guys do for each other as well?

Marvel - Image split on a (much) smaller scale. (2, Informative)

solios (53048) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681813)

Groups like this are all over the place.

Just in terms of webcomics, fleen [fleen.com] was one of the earlier "networks"... and there's also dayfree press [dayfreepress.com] . The bit of Major News, as it were, is that it's a bunch of comics that were previously keenspace "titles" peeling off- ugly hill [uglyhill.com] is the only newcomer to the batch. Keen isn't the Mount Awesome some people have made it out to be - if anything, it is to webcomics what livejournal is to drama... and these guys have all apparently realized it's time to move on.

Personally, it's nice to see shortpacked [shortpacked.com] free of keenspace advertising feces- bullshit reduction is something I can always get behind. Joining a network looks like it's a good thing for all parties concerned, if it's something you're comfortable doing.

My own comic [amongthechosen.com] is going into its third year without being a member of a network, without having run a single ad. I might get shit for traffic but I know exactly what I'm displaying on my site- display and control of presentation is a huge concern of mine, at least for the time being. I'm sure one of these days I'll get sick of obscurity and spend more effort on increasing project awareness than I currently am on project production. Maybe eventually, like these guys, I'll find some like-minded media creators who want to conjoin into some sort of co-prosperity sphere.

Logical move (2, Insightful)

BAILOPAN (694545) | more than 9 years ago | (#12681901)

I read many Keenspot comics (maybe around 10) religiously; it's a nice central place to read a bunch of stories on a regular basis. A long time ago it was slow and unstable, but lately it's been great, and has a few comics that are very professionally done.

My big gripe is that a few of the comics that moved off are the ones I read. Now they're not in one area anymore, I probably won't read them regularly. That is of course selfish -- but I imagine other readers don't like the move for the same reason. I'd expect an initial loss of readership for these authors, except for very dedicated fans.

On the other hand, it's a logical move for the cartoonists. Keenspace and Keenspot are great ways to jumpstart a budding talent or hobby and watch it grow. From what I can tell, the Blank Label starters quite liked Keenspot and regretted leaving it -- but now that their work has matured, they'd like to take it in a direction they can't do under Keenspot. So good for them :)
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