Saturday, October 27, 2007

Wikipedia, Notability, and Webcomics

Those of you who follow more than just this comic may be familiar with the WikiDrama back in January where over 50 webcomics were deleted from Wikipedia, with several more speedily deleted or otherwise nominated for deletion thanks to 'lack of notability', as determined by a few zealous mods.

It's about time someone told them what they accomplished. Namely, a lot of ill will from the people who SHOULD be making Wikipedia better. Since I can only edit the article itself so much, I wanted to post my opinions here.

Disclaimer: I create Last Resort, a weekly webcomic. You're probably reading this from the webcomic's page, but if you're someone random who's probably here because you have nothing better to do than argue with me about this, you might be coming here from the blog's permalink or just looking for an excuse to ignore everything I have to say past this point, so there it is.

If you think this makes my opinion invalid . . . you're part of the problem.

Wikipedia was intended as a site anyone can edit, with information on whatever people find appropriate. For the longest time, I even had my default search engine in Firefox set to Wikipedia, because whenever I googled anything for my classes I ended up going there anyway. But Wikipedia isn't for everyone anymore, Google's my default search engine again, and "Deletionist" drama like this is part of the reason why.

Creating articles is daunting, but adding edits to them is easy once started. Deleting them is apparently easier for mods and admins than editing, tagging it for cleanup and letting someone else do your work for you, or even, y'know, leaving it alone because it's probably fine as is. Then again, I suppose it's easier to just delete everything than to deal with the fact people have different opinions of what's worthwhile.

Yes, there are lots of webcomics out there, and quite frankly there are also a lot of bad webcomics too. By this same token, there are also lots of bad magazines, bad restaurants, bad small businesses, bad dot-coms . . . and not everyone is Mother Teresa when it comes to taking criticism either. We just happen to notice the drama surrounding webcomics more because it's all online and eventually if it gets bad enough it gets archived on Encyclopedia Dramatica for the non-involved to laugh at.

Comics in general (and webcomics in particular) get a lot of grief from people, even other artists, because it's either "not an art form", "not profitable", or it's "for children". Naturally, they have irrefutable proof in the inescapable fact that Japan is a third-world country. It's a growing medium, especially in places like the United States where there seems to be a corporate monopoly on creative content, and as such has only taken off with the internet.

Ten years ago if you wanted to be anything that involved creating stuff people actually enjoyed looking at, you either had to go to New York, Hollywood, or Florida and hope you landed a creative gig of some kind, or else you languished in obscurity on page 27X of your local newspaper. Maybe you submitted letters to publishers, and if they weren't immediately tossed onto the slush pile, you'd get a nice form letter back that said absolutely nothing of value beyond "Sorry, Play Again". Of course, all of this is said with the assumption that you already were a United States citizen with enough disposable income to take such risks.

I have seen beautiful works from far-flung places of the globe I never would have found otherwise. I have found stories with huge fandoms, profitable enterprises, and more creative energy expended collectively than any single publisher in the world could manage. I have found piles of absolute crap, and side-stepped the crap to find tales and art to die for. I have found people willing to persue the American Dream doing what they love and telling the stories in their heads to anyone who'll listen, and for a few of 'em it's even worked.

I'm getting flowery here, but hell, we're talking about a revolution in the creative process like nothing seen before, where anyone and everyone who thinks people want to listen to them can give it a shot, and the cream rises to the top one way or another. A lot like Wikipedia, really, except in Wiki-land the admins and moderators seem to think they're better than other users, and somehow this means they have the right to quash their work. If Webcomics worked the way Wikipedia works, Scott Kurtz, Fred Gallagher, and R.K. Milholland would be banding together to nuke ComicGenesis's servers from orbit.

Webcomics seem to putter along just fine with anyone and everyone getting involved in the process. Why can't Wikipedia be the same?

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

That Worked Fast. Bonus Update Tommorow!

Apparently the old adage of having many interested fans vs. one dedicated fan just paid off.

Thanks to that, we've got two bonus updates to do. One goes up tomorrow, because this particular fan was eager for his fix, and the other goes up next Wednesday. At some point in-between the two we should have the usual Sunday update as well.

And at some point in all of that I'll be over here in the corner blinking in disbelief. Hoo Boy.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

About the new Recharge Counter

So, you've 'probably' noticed the new battery counter on the front page asking for donations. Dun worry, I'm not suddenly showing my true colors or anything; there's been a donation counter on the page for a while, and my current hosting plan is based on how much I raise (and seeing how image-intensive hosting a comic can be, that's a fair amount of bandwidth).

Here's the deal: y'all are really starting to get into the comic, and truth be told it takes a fair chunk of my time to draw the pages (not to mention all the other little things I do, like picking up a domain name and other things). Ideally, y'all want to get the comic faster, and yet I'd still keep my buffer at a healthy size so I don't suddenly run out of comics right before I skip town for a weekend. This is a good way to test the waters and see just how much you guys are willing to put forward to advance the story, without me suddenly leaping to twice a week right when the semester's supposed to get difficult.

The Battery fills up every $50. I'll be keeping the battery counter around unless and until we need something a little more... accurate, like a monthly counter.

I'm not expecting this to actually launch me to twice weekly — More than likely it'll just give you guys a good bonus page every month or so. If I start getting into a habit (or suddenly speed up my drawing rate), the twice weekly thing might stick. But for now... hey, if you like the story and the art, donate.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Top 10 Ways Morning Coffee Changes how you Read Webcomics

Yes, I've already mentioned Morning Coffee several times, but this thing really is a handy little gadget that I use daily, and I find it to be one of the best FireFox extensions out there next to ChatZilla and ForecastFox. It doesn't take much effort at all to install and use, and once you do, you'll really appreciate what it does for you.
  1. It's FireFox Exclusive! If you don't have Firefox already, get it. I'm serious. It's free, it's uber-customizable, and if you're still browsing with Internet Explorer in this day and age, you may as well be bent over like goatse.
  2. One-Click Browsing. Every day, all I have to do to read dozens of webcomics is click that little coffee cup, and they all load in their own separate tabs, loading in the background while I wait to see whose server responds first. You may already have aggregates or bookmark folders (or even!), but when a single tap does it all for you, why bother?
  3. Browse By Day. As long as you tell it which days to look at a certain comic, it will being up the day's listed comics. No more stress trying to remember what day it is and which comics need checking; it's already there.
  4. Loading While You Read. If one comic takes longer than the others, you read the others while waiting for the last one to load. Certainly less stressful than waiting for each page to load individually, and when we're talking large images (my own pages range from 150-200k each), this can be a big sticking point.
  5. Find Out Which Comics Respect their Readers. Yes, maintaining a schedule is tough, but unless the artist is just starting out in comics, they should know by now what pace they can keep. If you keep visiting a page on the schedule it claims to keep and they don't, then you can either push their update check back a day, or you can drop the page if the schedule is truly erratic. It may be harsh, but if the artist assumes that the fans who truly care will check his page obsessively anyway...
  6. Easier to Remember to Read New Comics! Found a great little site you're on the fence about? Set Morning Coffee to make you check it when it updates, and now you have several chances to read more of the comic as it progresses to decide if you really like it. If you hate it, you can always just remove it from your lists later.
  7. Works at any browser speed! Yes, it's trying to load everything at once, which can be slow. But waiting once beats having to do it dozens of times for several sites each, and even if all that time spent waiting is enough time to make a sandwich, at least it's time you spent some other way than just sitting in front of the computer waiting.
  8. Really Appreciate Little Domain Icons! Lots of Comic sites use 'em because they're cute, creative little details, but they really stand out when you've got 'em all in a row.
  9. Waste Less (Loading) Time! This gadget really is a timesaver when you realize that it's already done the major legwork for you. That leaves more time for your own work (or even just wasting more time in each comic's forums!)
  10. You can check 'em all at Midnight! Granted, not every site updates exactly at midnight, but for the ones that do, you can appreciate 'em properly. ;)
Why should reading comics be any tougher than it has to? People want you to read their comics, you want to read comics, and this makes it so you read them as quickly and easily as possible, with the least amount of effort.

Start using it!

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

BarCamp Recap (and some Comic Pluggage!)

Just came back from BarCamp Atlanta, which is an overnight convention where you put a bunch of hackers, geeks, and otherwise smart people together, get 'em all to host panels on the fly talking about whatever it is they're interested in talking about, and hopefully you get enough folk that want to hear 'em talk too. No pressure, lots of fun, always something to do or see or nibble on . . .

. . . and apparently a good number of folk who had no idea about how big webcomics are. I ended up hosting a webcomics panel last night that went over really well; I'd say 8-10 people in the room, and a lot of 'em grabbed pins after I was done and were just really impressed in general at how much effort people go to in telling their stories and convincing people to just give 'em money. Even managed to get one of 'em to walk me though signing up for a proper domain name, so if you haven't already, check out (yes, the 'o' in resort is a zero).

Most of the panel actually ended up being about a bunch of the comics I frequent and what I happen to think are examples of good stuff in the field. What actually ended up happening through was that I gave a brief overview of the Morning Coffee Firefox Extension and as a result, I showed off the comics that I had listed for Friday's lineup. My apologies if your comic isn't in this list, as it's just a review of the ones I showed off (and a brief overview of what I said about 'em, if anything special) since a couple of the guys asked me to post a list of the ones I talked about. There's other goodies, but hey, I ran out of time as it was.
  • Exterminatus Now - A good class act, loved the big battle scene at the top. One of the better-rendered works.
  • Ugly Hill - Can only say so much about a comic when it's currently in guest strip mode.
  • Schlock Mercenary - Nothin' but good stuff about this one. Good writing, good color, even told 'em about the buffer and how having a few comics in reserve is useful. I'm sure the barely-dressed Elf helped, considering I was one of the few women at this thing.
  • MegaTokyo - Eh... I basically admitted that if I hadn't gotten hooked on it previously, I probably wouldn't be reading it now. Because of the erratic schedule Fred keeps, it's almost better to wait for the books than to try and keep up online. To say the least, not a glowing review.
  • PvP - Same Chapter, different verse. At least Megatokyo's late because Fred knocks himself out on quality; I'm relatively certain that if Kurtz wasn't an early adopter, he wouldn't have near the same following.
  • xkcd - Gloriousness. Come on, it was practically a geek con, what WASN'T I going to say about this one?
  • DMFA - I ended up showing off more about how Amber collects donations than the comic itself, since at least part of the panel was showing how people made money off their webcomics. Specifically the Wallpaper Wars — or as one guy put it, "Choose your Own Adventure, but with money!" In hindsight, I wish I'd shown off the Abel vs. Regina war instead. Much more dynamic and a little easier to read when you've got to work with a projector.
  • StarSlip Crisis - Much love. Mostly talked about how distinct the characters in this strip are, even for a highly stylized form like Straub's.
  • Evil Inc. - Another generally great comic. They loved the general storyline too. ^_^
  • The Devil's Panties - Made for a nice segue into places like ComicGenesis and Smackjeeves. And hey, who doesn't love a local artist?
  • ps238 - Showed off where Aaron has his books for sale on the site elsewhere as well.
All in all, a pretty decent collection of comics, with a lot of examples of how comics differ based on their quality, style, and update schedule, along with a smattering of 'A-Listers'. (and yes, I showed off my own stuff as well, but only after the others — after all, this was meant as an introduction to comics, talking about donations and other ways to make money off a brand, some comparisons with blogging, and so on).

Which just goes to show that even when you're at a place where people are doing nothing BUT talking about how to shape the internet, they're still not always getting the whole picture. ;)

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Friday, October 5, 2007


In case I forget to update the site with the link before the next update...

Last Resort finally has forum space! Go forth and chatter! :)