A few weeks ago, Chris Sims wrote an excellent piece on ComicsAlliance arguing that Marvel and DC should experiment with publishing webcomics. Sims notes that free webcomics could expose a whole new audience of comic readers to the DC and Marvel universes. He also points out that some of the most widely read superhero comics come from the webcomics world, notably PvP creator Scott Kurtz’s much passed-around Batman story “My Parents Are Dead.”
Creators already working in comics seem perfectly poised to take on such an experiment. Many of these creators grew up reading superhero comics, have a strong sense of what works online and what doesn’t and are masters of attracting a diverse audience that is willing to buy their wares.
There is certainly some overlap between the Big Two and the webcomics world. Marvel has tapped popular webcomickers like Kate Beaton, Faith Erin Hicks, Shaenon Garrity, and Lucy Knisley to contribute short pieces to their print comics. Dr. McNinja creator Chris Hastings is writing a Deadpool miniseries for Marvel’s Fear Itself event. Misery Loves Sherman creator Chris Eliopoulos developed the humor series Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius. Many DC and Marvel creators have also turned to the web to publish their own independent comics: Karl Kerschl with The Abominable Charles Christopher, Cameron Stewart with Sin Titulo, Jeff Parker with Bucko, and, most recently, Greg Rucka with Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether.
We thought it would be especially interesting to talk to webcomic creators – especially those who have written about superheroes – and ask for their thoughts on Marvel and DC webcomics – and what they would pitch if offered the chance.
Brad Guigar, who publishes the corporate supervillain webcomic Evil Inc., recommends that daily webcomics be the focal point of Marvel and DC’s websites. After all, webcartoonists have a proven track record of updating their sites with regular content and attracting a large, consistent audience. And the webcomics could be paired with digital downloads, giving readers the opportunity to buy comics as they stop in for their daily dose of free fun.
Guigar also has a vision for tying such a webcomic to the existing titles to create a real demand for those titles:
Some people remember the Marvel humor mag, “What Th–”. It was a monthly parody of current Marvel storylines. I would combine that concept (along with a pinch of “Brave and the Bold”) with the one character in the DC Universe tailor-made for the job, Plastic Man. Plastic Man is re-imagined as an outcast from mainstream super-heroics, a wanderer who walks the earth, stumbling into and out of current storylines from DC’s titles. One week, he walks in on a Secret Six caper and the next week he runs into the Titans. The dailies are standalone gags that fit into an overarching story (like Evil Inc.) so you don’t need to have read the individual comic titles (or even yesterday’s webcomic) to appreciate them. And moreover, the experience serves to highlight the stories being pursued by the individual titles.
I’ll even pitch Marvel on a project that I have no vested interest in. You have Chris Eliopoulos sitting right there under your nose. You saw what he could do with Franklin Richards and you’re probably aware of his ability to create charming, funny, beautifully drawn strips from his work on Misery Loves Sherman. I would anchor Marvel.com with a daily Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius comic strip done by Chris. Give him the same free reign to wander the Marvel Universe’s realtime storylines, and you’ll have a reason to hit Marvel.com every day.