I sought out comics on the web as soon as the Wonderful World Wide Web of Color started, being lucky enough to work at a university that had those newfangled fiber optic cables installed. Although providing content for free online would cripple the newspaper industry, it was difficult to imagine it at the time. Besides, I could access recent Peanuts strips (recent because, initially, the strips online were about a week behind the newspapers) and that was what I found first.
Eventually, I could find comics by anyone who wanted to make one. Couldn't get a contract with a syndicate? Don't let it go to waste, just put it online. It didn't take long for there to be too many comics to actually read. As it goes, some of the cream rose to the top and became must-reads.
Then broadband internet access became commonplace and accessing your favorite material online was suddenly more normal than actually buying it. The business model of making money by writing and drawing comics changed after enjoying a good century of smudging our fingers with inky newsprint.
It was bittersweet. I loved being able to read comics online for free, many of which I'd never had access to before, but I was (am am) a huge fan of newspapers. By the time United Features' comics.com started really pushing its services, I was a graphic artist who mostly did work for newspapers and I received copies of several papers throughout the country. Those papers combined couldn't hold a candle to being able to read it all online.
What do I remember about comics.com? Not to speak ill of the dead, but I found it very unwieldy. It reminded me of the Yellow Pages. Like the Yellow Pages, it was pretty darn yellow, and its layout was very distracting for me. Still, it was free access to comics. Who could complain?
Comics.com did introduce me to Jane's World, for which I'll always be grateful.
The site I really liked was GoComics. It had a nice layout with a white background, was easy to navigate, and contained a truckload of comics that I loved. They introduced me to MythTickle, another reason to be eternally grateful (I'm going to run out of eternity.)
As things happen, United Features Syndicate is no more, Universal got their features, and comics.com and GoComics are one and the same. No more yellow, just more comics at my fingertips than I ever could've imagined.
Now, you may ask, why GoComics? Why not simply go to a creator's site or some other site that posts funny comics from around the web? Well, that's not an either/or question. You most certainly can go to many other creator sites on the web. Many are doing just dandy without allying themselves with a company..
One reason I love GoComics is simple. Newspapers didn't die. Mortally hit? Maybe. Dead? No. There are a ton of people out there who go online to find their favorite newspaper strips. Those people are not necessarily sifting through the internet to find additional comics. Maybe they just want to read B.C. because their newspaper no longer carries it, or because they had fondness of that comic as a kid, or because of a rare newsprint allergy. Whatever.
What they're going to find on GoComics is the material they're familiar with next to strips they've never heard of. Yes, it is possible for readers to be completely unfamiliar with Perry Bible Fellowship. As successful as that comic is (I've got my book right here on my bookshelf), we are a world of billions. The crowd that may initially be drawn to GoComics is not the same crowd that saved and shared PBF comics online ten years ago.
So next to Peanuts, Garfield, B.C., Big Nate, Fox Trot and many (to put in mildly) very successful print comics, you'll also stumble across equally successful web comics that many people, like I was a lifetime ago, are completely unfamiliar with. A whole different crowd has access to Dinosaur Comics, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Sarah's Scribbles and many other "internet cream" comics that make life worth living.
It's also worth mentioning that on GoComics you can read the whole friggin' archive of Calvin and Hobbes, relive Bloom County and not have to pay a dime to read the truly American classic, artistic wonderment that is Little Nemo (a strip that you could only read by shelling out some serious cash for hardback reprints). That kind of archive was completely unimaginable not that long ago (ok, maybe it's long ago to you, but it was yesterday to me....and I'm not old. Yet.)
And the current crop of new comics? Fantastic. Candorville, Rip Haywire, Brewster Rockit, anything Richard Thompson or Ruben Bolling does, The Bent Pinky....OK, I'll shut up before I list the whole site.
The exciting part is this:
The comic strip is alive and well.
We are stronger together than we are apart.
GoComics pays its creators.
Oh, yeah, and my strip is on there. It was kind of an accident, I promise. Tired of trying out new concepts, I just kind of kept drawing the same characters I drew as a kid and, whaddya know, GoComics published me (there's more to it than that, but stalking laws prevent me from going into detail).
I am honored beyond words to be tucked in a list of such great comics, so here's today's "one year later" Adult Children strip on Gocomics. Hey kids! Comics!