We’re in an era of an explosion of creativity in comics. Technology often seems to drive innovations in comics. The information era has proven a great boon for comics artists finding a new voice for themselves. The good and bad of this is that it now costs nothing to put your work in front of the public. The trick lies in finding ways to get noticed and to get paid for it. Still, artists are developing their work directly online and many find this as the easy on-ramp to success.
Whether finding a jumpstart through crowdsourcing websites, or philanthropic organizations like Kickstarter, or recognition via awards like the Eisner or Ignatz awards that now recognize webcomics, artists no longer need to please an editorial board to show that their work has value, their portfolio need not be vetted by a jaded pro at one of the big houses, nor do they need to staple a zine together and spend a few hundred dollars at Kinkos copying their pages them selling them to friends. The wide open nature of the web means all they need to do is put in the work of developing a great property, then find some way of drawing attention to it.
Selling their strips as apps or funding their work via advertising space on their pages and publishing online alone are two ways artists make money without even printing books. Fortunately for those of us folks who are still living in “the 1900’s” (as my students say) much of the best work does find its way into print. Many savvy publishers buy properties that have already garnered an audience via webcomics. Some publishers even give a free taste of the books online before publishing in print knowing there is a crossover between the various media.
As a buyer the ability to see snippets of content before publication helps in the selection process. There are few reliable sources of reviews of comics and so much of what makes a comic valuable is whether the art works to tell the story (more than to add supporting detail). To be able to do more than glance through a few pages allows library and school buyers to confidently buy a book with the limited budget they may have for comics.