Yes, I’m going to talk more about early-2000s webcomics. No, I’m not sorry. Okay I’m a little sorry. But the differences between modern webcomics and, for lack of a better word, “historical” webcomics are fascinating, especially when identifying the strengths and failures of the medium throughout the years. For instance, the most obvious stylistic influence on modern webcomics is clearly other webcomics; there’s a self-sustaining culture that has grown up around putting pictures with words on the internet. But back in the day? The biggest influence on most early webcomickers was newspaper comics.
A common piece of advice creative types hear is “work every day.” That’s not always possible for everyone for various reasons, but generally pushing yourself to practice your craft as much as possible is indeed good advice, and some artists who take that philosophy to heart manage to be incredibly prolific. What the people giving that advice don’t always tell you is that most of that “work” is actually going to be garbage not fit to see the light of day, and that some of the things you work on won’t (and shouldn’t) ever be finished. And that’s okay.
Most of the time, dead comics are just a project that didn’t work out. Collaborators part ways, inspiration evaporates, mental health ebbs and flows, and jobs place new demands on artists’ time. Generally people don’t get paid to put their webcomic online for us to read, so while it can be disappointing when our fave stops updating, hey, that’s life. But some comics die a death that stands as a cautionary tale – or a horror story – and not all readers are as laid-back about the comics they read as I am.
It generally doesn’t help to dwell on things past, especially creative endeavors. When a comic dies – even a great comic – it’s usually for real and good reasons, and in my experience it’s better to move on from failed projects than to try to revive them later. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some that I miss.
In the webcomics graveyard, most of the headstones say “Rest in Pieces”, marking comics that no one misses, not even their creators. But some of the graves are still tended, decorated with fresh flowers, visited often by old friends. Some dead comics made such an impact on the culture of making and reading webcomics that their absence is felt to this day. But I don’t give a shit about all that.