Thursday, March 17, 2011
In About my display picture, I noted that I started reading webcomics in 2008. Those of you who read webcomics or know me from commenting on them are probably wondering how I could have lived before discovering them. Those of you who don't, are probably wondering how I got sucked into such a big and convoluted world.
To answer these questions we must go way, way back; back to when I was 10 years old. For back then, someone at my local TV station thought it would be a good idea to rename the Saturday Morning Cartoon block "Comix" or "Super Comix". Being a naïve little kid, I thought this meant that the people that made the cartoons had decided to call them like this, for what other sensible explanation could there be?
The internet was young and growing in those days, so when I got a chance I Googled "comix". Of course, nothing came up. I looked it up on Yahoo, Altavista, and even Metacrawler, but the "comix" I was watching on TV simply did not exist (and the TV station's website consisted of one page or so at the time, so I couldn't get anything from there). Desperate, I tried "comix.com". It didn't exist. I tried "supercomix.com". Didn't exist either. "supercomics.com"? Nope. Comics.com? Yes! ...but it wasn't what I was looking for.
However, in 2007 two magical things happened. First, Comics.com breifly ran Little Dee –syndicating what, up to that point, had been an independent, cutesy webcomic. Second, it stopped running Pibgorn –an elaborate, hilarious fantasy comic that continually (albeit unintentionally) raised its rating each year.
"Wait, the fact that they stopped running it is 'magical'? Or are you punning about it being fantasy?"
It's not a pun. The fact that I could no longer read Pibgorn (and Little Dee) on Comics.com meant that I had to go to their respective sites to continue reading them. By and by, the Pibgorn site (belonging to Comic.com's rival syndicate) added the possibility to comment on each strip (at first restricting old posts to paying users). Through these comments, I learned of the existence of many other webcomics starting, I hazard to guess, with the classic Ozy and Millie.
"'Hazard'? What, are you too lazy to go back and look for the comment?"
The comments section was "excised" at the author's request on December 17, 2010. He says he got tired of the trolling, though I think the "wild mass guessing" was affecting how he told the story… but we're getting off-topic.
Time went on. The comics I read on Comics.com either ended their run or were dropped by the syndicate (today, of the 12 I read, only B.C. and Marmaduke remain). When Comics.com changed their site layout, the loading time became excessive for my Windows 2000 computer, so I stopped visiting altogether. (Months later, it turned out this change was to incorporate a comments section of their own, but I was already long gone.)
Chris Baldwin (the author of Little Dee) found himself just another webcomic artist again. The late 2000's saw the emergence of many new webcomics, and Baldwin was quick to recommend his readers to support his new colleagues. Since I was now moving in the webcomic circles, I was also quick to follow the links to those new webcomics. And for as long as I kept read Pibgorn, webcomics unknown to me appeared referenced (and recommended) in the comments. The comics I started taking up also saw recommendations of other webcomics: by the author, by the commenters, and even in the advertisements. I kept exploring more and more...
Now I'm probably in too deep. Like I said before, I got to the point of reading some 30 comics a day; cut that down to 3, and now am back up to about 10 (not all of them from the original 30) and I don't think I could live without them. I've grown dependent on them, especially when it comes to relieving stress; yet sometimes I find myself in the vicious cycle of being stressed because I've spent too much time reading webcomics –a stress which I naturally relieve by reading more webcomics.