Comic Non-Sans: Where’s My Fandom?

Oh, there they are.

My grandfather has this book of jokes and one-liners for emcees, and said book made entertaining reading when I was a tiny Kara (despite me not getting a few of the jokes).  One silly story I remember rather vividly was about a six-year-old boy who had never spoken a word in his life.  His parents were worried about him — was he brain-damaged? Was he slow? Did he have some sort of medical condition?  Then one day over breakfast the little boy said, “Mother, can I have some more sugar on my oatmeal?”  The parents practically started crying for joy, and his father asked, “Son, why haven’t you ever spoken ’til now?”  “Well,” responded the little boy, “’til now, everything’s been fine.”

Now, occasionally I check my numbers (like every good internet content provider should do), and I see that I’m not exactly short on page views.  But my readership is notoriously silent.  Occasionally I’ll get a nice e-mail … occasionally a right creepy one … but correspondence is rather limited.  Well, usually it is.  Back in March, I saw a sudden upsurge in e-mails, and was rather gleeful about it — ’til I discovered that pretty much all of them were berating me for ending my longest-running project.  “How dare I” seemed to be the theme of the day.  Now, my reason for ending the comic was because it was time — nothing to do with reader reactions, outside influences, or anything; the story was done and pushing it past its normal lifespan would’ve just been bad.  But this mostly-silent mass came out of the woodwork suddenly as soon as I displeased them.

So when I hear webcomickers concerned that they don’t have a fanbase, the cynical side of me wants to say, “Do something that’ll piss ’em off.  Then you’ll see how many readers you’ve got.”  The bitch of it is that I’m probably right.

Though, all right, I’m going to do my best to be fair.  How many of us write in when we think the cereal we had for breakfast was rather good?  Well, okay, one friend of mine did.  And he got a rather shocked thank-you (and coupons) in response.  But then I imagine the letters they must sort through other than those, re: the cereal being stale or not as good as they expected or having bits of mouse in it or something.  At least with big businesses — and thus with artists who make their living off webcomics — you can measure consumers with income.  The rest of us remain a bit mystified, and sometimes hit counts aren’t particularly reassuring.

So to the frustrated artists: they’re out there.  At least, I’m fairly sure they’re out there.  And if you don’t hear anything, that’s probably because you’re doing things right.  But if you find yourself particularly hard-up for communication of any sort (as my real-world-work editor reminds me, bad feedback is still feedback), you could always kill off a character or something.  Hey, it’s worked elsewhere.

Posted on September 28, 2010 at 10:25 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, Webcomics · Tagged with: ,