Blog No. 137
For someone who spent time in Journalism, I have never been a newspaper reader. There are the local independents I pick up when I see them, but while my parents were avid Windsor Star readers, I never picked up the habit. I ended up doing some work on the radio, but my journalism career ended in less time than it took me to get the diploma. I enjoyed the experience and it contributed directly with me now writing fiction (plus it’s where I met Justin, then Christian through him) but it wasn’t a passion of mine, and if I don’t have any passion, sloth takes over soon enough. While I didn’t read the paper, I did (irregularly) read the comics. For the most part (because I am a huge snob and super judgmental) I wasn’t much of a fan of what I read, but there were a few that stood out and kept me coming back. Calvin and Hobbes is a major one thought I was a fan long before I bothered with the funny pages.
Now, most of the comics I read are online. I found one in the late 90s and followed it until a few years ago (when it went to crap) but in the mean time I’ve found plenty more to read. Regular Adventure Worlds guest artist Nikita Why even has his own flourishing web comic. You should go read it (http://eternalautumn.thecomicseries.com/comics/first). I enjoy those daily bursts of comedy, wonder, excitement, and amazement. The internet is still a new frontier and there are as many new explorations in comics as there are people writing them. It’s exciting and a huge risk for content creators. Newspapers are more lucrative and stable, but also a more challenging field to break into and it’s sinking.
There are experts who say that the decline of newspapers will lead to their collapse. They also say that without the papers, comics will follow. The same has been said for books, movies, and music, as their respective industries dip, plummet, or change. The internet has been a big change, and the people who have never lived without it depend on it in a way that everyone is being led to. I have to read comics online, because most of them don’t exist anywhere else. The ones that do aren’t in any local paper near me. Does that mean that the fate of comics is directly tied into the fate of newspapers?
I don’t think so. The only thing tied to the status quo is the status quo. Will comic artists make as much as they do under the current system, mostly no, but more people can make a living that way than ever before. They can also explore the art form in greater ways. It wouldn’t be right to do a blog about comics and not mention Bill Watterson. Not only is he my favourite (and the favourite of millions) but he risked his career on pushing the boundaries within the old system. He broke through the strictly enforced format and inspired those artists continuing that expression and discovery online. In the same way, there are few people starting their careers in writing (or music) who will have the same notoriety or income as the authors (and musicians) of the past. I will be lucky to be able to pay the bills on writing. It would be amazing to even get a book published. But, there are people out there making a living online. They publish themselves on websites and in ebooks, musicians get on youtube and sell their stuff on bandcamp. They won’t reach the stardom or income as Stephen King or Keith Moon, but they can do it (and make some cash on the side).
Many industries are changing, the arts more than most. Comic books are in a downward spiral, but superhero movies are breaking records. Newspapers are closing and changing business models to stay afloat. Comic strips are tied to them for now, so their fate is in jeopardy too, but only as they are now. When times are good, the medium carries the art, but the art can stand on its own. The popularity may ebb and flow, but one way or another, comics (and books, music, and movies) will continue to exist.