“What’s the point?” That is the question I’ve been asking myself lately. Not about life in general (though I do ask that question about life in general, after all, I tend to be a bit philosophical) but about making comics for the world wide web. I love comics plus I’m an artist and a writer and I make comics. At least I’ve made comics in the past. Not as much in the last five or so years. No one payed me to make comics and I came to the inescapable conclusion that no one was ever going to pay me to make comics. So I stopped making them and concentrated more on my paintings, prints and photos. No one was paying me for those either but I find that easier to take because because in those mediums I end up with a finished something. A physical object. Art. Unless you actually print the comic you just have a stack of original comic pages that no one will ever read. Forever unfinished. A comic isn’t finished until it’s in a format that people can read.

So lately I’ve been thinking about and working on a comic for the web. That’s not so odd. A lot of people are thinking about the same thing. Web comics are supposed to be the future of comics. At least according to what I read on the web. But I keep asking myself, “What’s the point?”.

There are a lot of problems with comics on the web. The biggest being that no one is going to pay me to make one. A few people are making money with comics on the web. Mostly through selling some ads and hawking merchandise but every cartoonist is looking for a way to make the web pay off for them and few succeed. Wow, it’s just like paper comics.

A lot of people now read their favorite newspaper comics on the web but that only helps the already established guys who are already getting paid to syndicate their strips. A little extra gravy for them. A few dedicated comic strip fans search out new comics on the web but the searcher’s numbers are small. Like any other web site comic sites are all about getting people to go there. Hits, baby. That’s why money buying publicity wins. Most of the time. I have neither money nor publicity so how would I get hits? That’s a rhetorical question.

My second problem with making a comic for the web is that the comic strip form dominates and seems to be the best fit for the web. At least for now. I find the strip form very limiting. Especially since gag a day strips are almost the only kind that exist. Even on the web. I don’t want to do a gag a day strip. If I do I’ll just be adding to the vast pile of mediocre strips out there. I’m just too artsy fartsy to be making a gag a day strip. I don’t have that many gags in me. Most don’t.

Another problem is the huge amount of work in making a comic strip. Most web comic guys I’ve seen have their methods streamlined so as to make a strip in the least amount of work possible. I understand this because they are not getting paid but the lack of craftsmanship is what creates the vast pile of mediocrity. It takes time to make a nice strip. I can make better use of my time expressing myself in other mediums. Writing this blog takes a fraction of the time it would take to make a single comic strip. And I can get more ideas across. So I would have to have something original to say that wouldn’t work in any other medium to make a comic strip worth my creative time.

Comic strips are also relentlessly narrative. I like narrative but when I’m making a painting, print, photo, or writing a blog narrative is just one of my choices. With a strip it’s almost the only choice. That cuts down on the creative options and when I am making art on my own it’s all about options. So I have to see if I can explode the strip form and give myself more options. That’s not easy let me tell you.

For a while I’ve been searching for that something to say with a strip. Despite the passing months and many hours crafting many ideas I’m not there yet. I’ve started, spent much time on, and rejected a lot of ideas. I almost finished my first strip but not quite. This one has a chance succeed but unless it can stand beside my other work and be just as interesting to me it will be abandoned too. It’s the first one to be teetering on the edge of completeness and that’s a good sign. All the others were rejected at the color stage when I just couldn’t see myself tying them together into an interesting coherent whole.

Maybe this week I’ll be able to pull it together. Maybe this week I’ll finish the first strip. I’m still not sure yet. I also have to think about presentation and that is a whole other ball of wax. Such is the creative life.

I did finish a couple of prints last week. That’s solid.