One of the things I like about webcomics – that is to say, comics on the web – is that they are simply there.
The discussion of what really goes into the term webcomics is one that has been going on for years now, without any real resolution. The debate over whether it is simply a medium or if it has managed to capture something more than that – a community, a culture – is an argument where both sides are, in many ways, right.
But regardless of the intricacies of it all, one thing is true – comics on the internet are accessible, and that’s a very cool thing indeed.
Recently I stumbled across a comic called “The Unity of Rings.” It was not an ongoing work – it was a single self-contained issue, only twenty-seven pages in total. It may have been published elsewhere before finding its way onto the web – I could find no such indication, but it would not surprise me given the style of the comic. And it is not something out in the open – placed on the web four years ago and then forgotten, it was only through sheer chance that I discovered it.
What it is, however, is a genius little comic that captures the essence of Planescape, a setting for Dungeons and Dragons that focuses on exploring the various wonders – and possibilities – (and inevitabilities) of the myriad planes of existence.
In twenty-seven pages, this comic manages to capture that idea – no small feat. It is a great comic, prime inspiration for an upcoming campaign I am working – and simply one of the countless surprises floating around the internet, waiting to be found.
What makes a webcomic? Should this count? It reads more like a print comic, in layout and length and purpose. It isn’t tied into any of the networks of webcomic communities. It is formed in the standard print comic design, with an entire crew dedicated to writing and drawing and polishing it into existence, rather than being the work of a single soul, or even the rare duo working together to put something on the web.
And yet… here it is. It may not exist anywhere else. Available for anyone able to find it, a small little treasure there for the taking. No fees attached, no subscription required.
Is it a webcomic?
And – here’s the real question – does it matter if it is or not?
1) I think it’s medium of initial publication for the majority of its content. What I mean is: the moment that Girl Genius became a webcomic was when the number of web-published pages in its archive outweighed those initially published in print.
3) See 2.
4) Not really.
Ever since my local comic book shop closed its doors for the final time, I’ve loved the accessibility of reading comics on the web. I get a chance to discover comics that I never would have before. There are some incredibly talented people out there who haven’t had the opportunity to get published in printed-form, but the world is able to witness their talent and devotion.