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Friday , August 29 , 2003

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 comic comics joke jokes andy simmons mtv vma vmas video music awards awards suck sucks
And the weiner is...

There's not much that hasn't already been said or thought about this year's MTV Video Music Awards. I did not watch them, continuing a tradition that spans about 7 years or more for me. However, many news agencies have chosen to rebroadcast bits of it, and like any true geek, I get most of my news from various WWW sources. So of course, I have seen the image of Madonna kissing Britney Spears more times than I care to count. And let me just say that I'm taking bets as to who caught which disease from the other.

Several discussions have cropped up lately -- both in public forums such as the BuzzComix forums, and in a few private conversations of mine -- about the quality of webcomics. It's kind of a touchy subject, especially for webcomic creators, but I think it's something that is certainly worth addressing.

I've taken some heat for hinting that maybe RAoK is somehow superior to other comics on the bCx list, and the truth is that I honestly don't feel that way. I do however, feel that RAoK is quite different from most of those comics. And yes, perhaps some of you think that I railed a bit too hard on the typical fantasy-themed, manga-styled, furry romance-comedy. Well, let me tell you, the reason I did so is because there really are just too many comics like that.

First off, let's agree that there are a lot of webcomics out there. Out of 10k+ accounts on Keenspace, there are nearly 4,000 accounts that actually have comics. This illustrates two points... one, that there are a metric buttload of comics on KeenSpace alone. Two, that the internet makes it so easy to publish a comic, it entices even those who have the desire but not the dedication to write comics. Now, on top of this, consider that of those populated accounts, over one quarter of them consider themselves to be "anime, anime/manga, manga, or pseudo-manga". While that may not be a majority, it certainly is a plurality when it comes to style. Look at the comics on any major comic portal, be it KeenSpot or a syndicate site, or what have you. You'll notice that they all have fairly divergent and original styles. And while it is true that there is can be a certain amount of stylistic originality among manga artists, the fact is that most of them just look too much alike. It's a sickening kind of homogeneity that promotes a certain kind of disinterest in all but the hardcore manga fans.

I don't want to be the "grumpy old man" of the webcomic community, but the truth is that with the thousands of comics out there, if you aren't doing something special -- a truly original concept or eye-popping art or brilliant writing, or something -- nobody is going to give a crap about your strip for very long. I'm not trying to discourage budding webcomic artists and writers... I'm merely stating that at some point, everybody who creates for an audience needs to step back, look at their work, and ask themselves, "what do I do that nobody else does? What makes my work different?" If you can't come up with at least a half-dozen solid answers that you truly believe, it might be time to re-evaluate what you're creating, and consider breaking new ground, instead of continuing to tread a well-worn path.

And yes, I do take my own advice. I have never, ever, ever been fully confident in my work on this strip. I'm always questioning it, always criticizing my work. I don't think it's funny all the time, and sometimes I wonder why people read it. It's the fan mail that reassures me. It's the fan mail that reminds me why I keep doing this. To all of you who have sent me words of praise and/or support, I thank you. You're the best.

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Random Axe of Kindness, its characters, its jokes, and the phrase "invisible hot dogs" are © 2001-2003 Andy Simmons.

Random Axe Of Kindness is hosted on Keenspace, a free webhosting and site automation service for webcomics.