Webcomics and captions/blogs
Some of you might already know that I have a webcomic (here, and warning for content) and it's something I've been working on for over 10 years now. It doesn't have much of a readership, but it's something I love to work on and pour my heart and effort into. My first influences were Popeye and Peanuts, later on it moved to Bloom County and Robert Crumb, and a few years after that I discovered anime and manga. All of these things influenced me greatly because I love comics, because first and foremost it's a visual form of storytelling -- at least, it should be. I think that the visuals in a comic should do almost all of the entertaining and storytelling -- the dialogue and narration should only be present as auxiliary and certainly not as the foundation, as we see too much of in this boring and wordy new format known as the "graphic novel" but that's an complaint for another time.
Anyway I ran across this today:
This whole comic/caption blog thing is something I find completely annoying, and it's become so prevalent with webcomics that damn near everyone does it, and many of them -- like this fellow -- have made their comic's understandability dependent on this caption/blog. This in itself is his failure of utilizing the medium of comics. Any medium, be it movies or literature or music or comics should be able to convey their intended meaning by simply standing on their own presentation. Sometimes they're not explicit in the process but that's one of those times where we're expected to reflect on the meaning, and that's fine -- but anything else, such as the "necessary caption" the artist is complaining about here, is a crutch; so chopping off the leg instead of the arm would have been far more appropriate.
Aside from that, if people like what you produce and show to the internet, it's going to get passed around. Despite what a bunch of 15 year old primadonnas over at DeviantArt think, this isn't a bad thing at all. It means your works is getting around and being seen, and if you place a url on your work then they'll know where to find more of it, and an explanation of the piece if there's something about it that they have a question about. Expecting them to drag along your additional comment is simply ridiculous.
I feel that I'm guilty of something similar to this.
This is similar to what my friend warned me about with my graphic design stuff when I made a tumblr. The stocks I use are from fan art. I take them and I crop them, and tear them apart. I'd imagine the original artist would either be flattered or very pissed off that I took their artwork and mutilated it.
Sometimes I wish I could draw the stocks myself, but I'm not that talented and I don't mean to take any credit for that.
Of course, the uninformed have tried to muddy the waters with misinformation, half-truths, and flat-out lies. Here's just a few of these myths just off the top of my head:
Then there's the whole legality of all this. For instance:
"The artist can take you to court and sue you for copyright infringement!" The artist in question is going to need a lot of money and time in order to bring such a matter into court. Basically, they have to prove that (for example) you taking their artwork in a wholesale fashion that's well past what could be considered appropriation then and making a nice forum sig out of it has hurt them in a tangible way, mostly in the form of money.
I know of only one time where this very thing ever happened and that's when some guy named Todd Goldman (I think) takes designs, traces them, changes them a bit and then sells t-shirts that appeal to the scroungy hot topic crowd. Well, one day he found a comic on the internet that he really liked and did that once again, except the comic he filched just happened to be by Dave Kelly, who's the artist/animator over at Something Awful -- so you can imagine how that response went. I don't know know if it ever went to court but there you go.
So don't worry about it. If that makes them upset, then they shouldn't put their art up on the internet. Personally, I'm thrilled whenever I see someone do that sort of thing with my work -- a couple years ago a little independent band took one of my comics and used it for their album cover. Totally without permission. And I loved it.
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