Is the Golden Age of Webcomics Behind Us?on February 19, 2014 at 9:20 am
If you ever read those essays in Cerebus, you learn a lot about Dave Sim. One thing I learned is that we actually have something in common. Like him, I don’t really enjoy listening to music. My brain is missing that thing, whatever it is that can transform an abstract series of bleeps and bloops into a melody. I remember at age 25 asking my friend Jesse Fuchs to just burn me a CD of all his 5 star rated mp3s. My goal was to sit and force myself to listen until something in my brain clicked. But it never did. Perhaps part of the problem was I ordered them chronologically in itunes and I had to give up some time around the late 1940’s (I later learned that in general most people acquire their musical tastes in the exact opposite order).
When presented with any huge body of knowledge be it literature, music, film, etc., the most beneficial order to acquire said body of knowledge remains an interesting question for me. The Dewey decimal system was famously conceived on the premise that you could take the most primitive society on earth and present all of humanity’s knowledge in Dewey order and by the end, they’d be modern Victorians. I remember taking a film class in college where all the films we watched over the course of a semester were presented chronologically. That order actually made sense because film is so closely tied to technology. It was completely mindblowing to hear dialogue, see color for the first time, or appreciate Citizen Kane as a special effects movie.
All these thoughts have been coming up again as I’ve been working my way through the wikipedia list of notable webcomics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_webcomics). I figure it’s a good a starting place as any. I decided to go in reverse chronological order this time. Before jumping in, just looking at the list caused one thing to pop out at me. It starts off slow in the early 90’s with a notable webcomic debuting ever couple years or so. By 2003-2005 around 30 or so notable webcomics debut every year. Then they drop off to where by the time 2013 rolls around, wikipedia only lists one notable webcomic debut. Huh? Did I miss some golden age of webcomics? What’s going on? Maybe people’s plates are full by this point. Maybe instead of 30 T-Rexes, the field has been dispersed amongst hundred of little rodents. Maybe everyone who wanted to start a webcomic did it already. I don’t know!
At this point, I imagine I must sound like Andy Rooney but less coherent. I promise, this will be the last post where I meander from thought to thought about the confusing and overwhelming nature of modern webcomics. I’ll be back soon with some actual reviews of webcomics I’ve enjoyed and opinions about what webcomics can be. See you then!