We can all agree that reading is a solidary thing. Like: you open the book, you read it to yourself, and then you put it down. Maybe you join a book club and you can talk about it, but that isn’t as normalized and has the stereotype of being old fashioned. Maybe there are reddit pages, but still it is a maybe. That’s not the case with webcomics.
Webcomics are my favorite medium for many reasons. Artists have more creative licenses to break boundaries in art and storytelling. The fact that they are on screens so I can pull it up anywhere. And (one of the biggest things) they are free. But the thing that I love the most out of it, is that once you find a webcomic you automatically find people to talk to about it. The webcomic depends on the community reading it. And out of the dozens and dozens of webcomics that I have read, the communities only enhance my love for them.
The community doesn’t start at the webcomic though, it starts at where the comic is housed. Such as with Hiveworks! Hiveworks, along with Tapas and Webtoons, is a webcomic housing site. This site showcases more over-arching plots and years long projects with full pages in dozens of genres. Hiveworks as an interface helps build functioning websites, gives comics ratings for audiences, and has a running store to help promote and sell merch for the artists. This large website makes it so that if a reader visits they are able to see a hundred different webcomics and quickly able to join the community.
I found my favorite webcomic on Hiveworks! It is called Namesake and is written by two of Hiveworks’ founding members: Megan “Meg” Lavey-Heaton and Isabelle “Isa” Melançon. Meg and Isa have been publishing Namesake since September 1st, 2010. From the ten years that it has been on the internet, I have been a loyal fan for seven years. Seven years, yes you read that right.
“There’s ghosts at your heels and a fairy tale worlds ahead. What do you do? Jump down the rabbit hole!”Description of Namesake from Hiveworks.
Over the past seven years I have been with Namesake I have seen many changes. I’ve watched them grow as writers and artists. But I’ve also seen the comment section grow and evolve. There are now people who I recognize by their pictures, and there are friendships and inside jokes (all hail the pancake king!). Even Meg and Isa participate in the discussions! The biggest thing that showcases this growing community though has to be the commenter Mad Hatter. During the middle of the comic, Mad Hatter began to write a poem based off of every page. Then their poems would be pinned near the top for everyone to see. One day they disappeared and so many people commented wondering if everything was ok for weeks. Mad Hatter came back a year later apologizing to these people that they knew but never met and started doing the poems again though not as frequently.
Another thing that shows the amazing community in Namesake are the kickstarters! Meg and Isa have met their goal to make print version of their books almost instantly every time because of their large community! And then this year they are publishing the third Valor Anthology. The Valor Anthologies are Meg and Isa’s way of bringing together dozens of writers and artists for the common goal of making stories and sharing their work. And in the process they make friends and larger communities.
Also, in Namesake Meg and Isa don’t worry about having to cancel an update for the week. Unlike other webcomics who post apologies on twitter and leave their comic untouched; if Namesake is a little behind Meg and Isa take the Saturday update for fanart instead! They love their fans so much that its nicknamed ‘fanart Saturdays’ and people in the comments love to promote and talk about the artists and the artists’ own comics. On her tumbler, Isa even reblogs any fanart of Namesake that she sees with cute captions so her personal blog has become a ‘thank you’ blog almost.
One of the relationships that has developed because of the community is their lifelong friendship with Misha Krivanek. Misha is the artist of the webcomic Alice and the Nightmare. Meg and Isa consider Alice and the Nightmare their ‘little sister comic’ and they regularly promote it as well as their own. They helped Misha with the decision of restarting the comic, editing it, and loving it. Misha’s artwork has been regularly shown in fanart Saturdays (including this past Saturday). Below is Misha’s thanks to Meg and Isa featured on her ‘about’ page of Alice and the Nightmare where she pointed readers to go read Namesake as well. Without Namesake and their community, the three of them never would have met and been lifelong friends.
Not all webcomics have the same dedication to their community as Namesake does, but it is becoming part of the norm. It is common to follow blogs and twitters to get updates on your favorite webcomics. And on Twitter, you and the artist can have a conversation about their work. Communities meet at conventions to talk to other fans. And Patreon literally calls their member a ‘community’ which binds them together.
However, there is a downside to having such a large community: that is, when it ends. One of the things with published books is that when it comes out it is completed, but that is not the case with webcomics. Sometimes the projects that start have to be cancelled – this can happen months into it or years. It happened with one of my favorite comics The Black Brick Road of OZ. Because of the personal connection I had with the community, it hurt when it was ripped away. I think that is because with a published book you don’t see people slowly stop coming and the waiting between updates get longer and longer until there is nothing at all.
Webcomics feel so personal in comparison to reading a book by yourself. In books you have to search for people, but in webcomics you just have to scroll down to the comments. There are fan works and memes. And if you put in your own opinion its not like you are shouting into the void but talking to a friend.