Gutter Space #13 By Leslie Salas
On Taking Webcomics Seriously
This week on Gutter Space, I don’t have a comic review for you. Instead, I’d like to take a moment to muse on something a talented former intern of mine mentioned. She saw my column on The Oatmeal, and noted that it was, in her words, “really refreshing to see him [The Oatmeal] considered as a serious storyteller rather than a just guy who makes funny pictures on the Internet.”
I don’t think she realized it, but my talented former intern really nailed what I’m trying to do here with Gutter Space. I review literary and independent (print) comics alongside webcomics. I put them both on equal footing, give them both equal critical attention. Each comic has something it does well—some element we can learn from to use in our own craft, regardless of the medium we work in. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look, and what we might take away from each of these things.
I like to think of this column/blog as a place where we can look between the cracks and find something valuable lying in the gutter. Indie comics and webcomics don’t really get as much hype and attention as more mainstream superhero comics have (at least here in the US), but I’m hoping we can build some awareness of the fact that there’s some really awesome stuff going on with independents publishers, imprints, and on the Interwebs.
The latter of which—comics created and “distributed” over the world wide web—are the most fascinating to me because of the sheer volume and diversity of what the Internet has to offer. There are many self-published webcomics which have amassed and retained a massive platform of readers and fans over several years. There are occasional updaters, there are beautiful projects that have been abandoned mid-plot, and there are archives of writers’ and artists’ personal and creative growth through their art. It’s a fascinating study in the evolution and power of the medium.
And perhaps what I enjoy most about studying webcomics is that they’ve become a staple of Internet-culture. We see rage-comics and memes; friends post links to poignant, funny, sad, or enlightening webcomics on Facebook and Twitter; the best ones go viral on Tumblr and Reddit. If you’re on the Internet (ahem), then you’re already exposed to webcomics in some way or another. So if this field is becoming such a large part of are continually shifting and growing culture—why shouldn’t we be taking it seriously?
Leslie Salas writes fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, and comics. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida and attended the University of Denver Publishing Institute. In addition to being an Associate Course Director at Full Sail University, Leslie also serves as an assistant editor for The Florida Review, a graphic nonfiction editorial assistant for Sweet: A Literary Confection, and a regular contributing artist for SmokeLong Quarterly.