the_gneech: (Default)
[personal profile] the_gneech
Pop art is a business. I know that. Comics were always intended to be entertainment-for-money, and any art that happened along the way was a nice bonus.

I'm not happy about it, but I also recognize it as reality.

But in this era of crowdsourcing, Patreon and the like, the relationship between the artist and the consumer is more tightly-knit and blurry than ever. The script I'm working on for issue six started out as a commission someone wanted me to do, for instance.

And in the world of webcomics, this is complicated by the fact that there is a certain "amateur hour"-ness about it. Some of the most popular comics are stick figures; some of the most gorgeous art is done by people who refuse to monetize at all.

There aren't a whole lot of us who make a sustainable living off webcomics; however there is at least one prominent one who's been in the business a long time and is making money by the bucketload. I'm being cagey about naming said artist here because some of this particular artist's methods really put me off but I'm not in the business of calling people out. I'm talking here about my own mind, not to pick fights with other people.

The artist's regular comic frequently includes what I call "Rat Pack humor," the sort of casually sexist and privileged crap that make Joel and the Bots on MST3K say things like "I would like to apologize on behalf of the entire male gender, thank you" or "I'd slap this movie if I could." It always annoys me to see this kind of thing get applause in the first place. Said artist then takes this a step further by doing what is basically a porn spinoff comic as well, that is behind a paywall.

(In fact, almost everything this artist does is behind a paywall of some variety. They really buy into the idea of "content sold separately.")

I don't object to adult comics; I've got no problem whatsoever with Oglaf (wow, that's a NSFW link) or Oh Joy Sex Toy (holy crap that's NSFW) for instance. Gene Catlow's silly sex-addled side-stories get a thumbs-up from me. But I am very uncomfortable with the prostitution of characters.

At a convention some years back now, when I was still learning what to say "yes" or "no" to, someone commissioned me to do a picture of Tiffany in lingerie with one of his OCs. The guy had sheets of OCs to choose from– all of them being variations of the standard comic book woman figure, in different cliché "sexy" outfits. (Insert rant about it always being guys who do this shit... later.) I was uncomfortable with the request, but as I say, I was still learning these things. I did the picture, but I was unhappy the whole time, the result was not very good art, and I ended up only charging a portion of what I would have normally asked for.

And... well... I felt like I owed Tiffany an apology. ¬.¬

According to the philosophy of the artist referred to above, this is exactly backwards. The correct reaction would have been to let out a whoop, charge an extra $75, and draw the Best Damn Tiffany Tiger Porn any fanboy could dream of.

Said artist has set themselves up as a kind of industry expert on webcomics, sort of like the business writer whose main qualification is that they sell a ton of books on becoming a business writer. I can't really argue with their reasoning I suppose, given that they are one of the few people making a ton of money as a webcomic artist.

But their actual content makes me itch. -.- Their business practices make me itch. -.- And seeing people flocking to them and emulating them makes me itch more. >.<

Everything they do, from the format the comic is shown in, to the pacing of every gag, is designed to maximize the money squeezed out of the audience. If the artist's blog is to be believed, even things like character design/story arc and personal connection with the readers are also weighed against this metric. I used to follow their blog and social media presence on the grounds that they were, y'know, actually making a living in a field in which I am not, but I have finally reached the point where I just can't keep looking at it.

If money is the object of the game, why bang your head against webcomics? There are easier and more profitable ways of making money without caring about what you do.

I don't pretend for even a second to have a viable business model for my own work. And yes, that's a problem. But I can at least look my characters in the metaphorical eye without wanting to slap myself.

-The Gneech

Date: 2017-03-31 04:35 pm (UTC)
sirfox: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sirfox
Believe me, i understand The Feeling When your particular field of employment's Best Practices Business Model doesn't always sit well, Morally. 15 years in Pharma does that.

Thing is, perspective is important, too. That One Artist, They hit on a Financially Sound and Sustainable model. *For Them.* If they have trouble sleeping at night, they can wipe their tears with their huge pile of money.

By no way does this mean they found the ONLY successful model out there. Keep your eyes open for how somebody can successfully monetize their work without compromising on lines they/you don't want to cross. Direct Parody of the behavior you're against can be a rich source of material as well, when your characters can all share a "Hahaha, no." and move on. Regardless, don't let the business model that nauseates you eclipse other viable options.

Date: 2017-04-01 02:54 pm (UTC)
joshuwain: (Default)
From: [personal profile] joshuwain
How much of it, do you think, is also what you get from your audience that is non-monetary?

Perhaps that's a different way to go about it: take that into account when weighing your income. It's still a lousy business model, with regards to monetary income, but it may be the sort of thing that could shore you up when questions of this sort come to plague you.

It also would encourage even more association with your audience based upon your characters' existing personas and environments rather than leaving things open, even more, for the sort of salacious requests you mentioned. In essence: encouraging, through direct contact with you -the creator-, the sorts of things that lift you up and allow you to create...

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)

Date: 2017-04-03 01:53 am (UTC)
joshuwain: (Default)
From: [personal profile] joshuwain
I get that; I really do. Forgive me: I may have been reading more anxiety and negative emotions in your original post and felt compelled to help. My apologies for butting in.

As it is, I've had similar issues only --since I cannot draw-- the characters I write about and imbue with personality would get "hit on" all the time on MUCKs, via IM, or even on email. Still happens, now and then, and I end up feeling rather like a sex-worker because of it.

I'm happy you have found peace with the situation. You're one of the really smart and talented furries of my generation and I've always looked up to you. :)

Be well,
Sylvan

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