First off, for those of you who are new, I love web comics. I love all of them, from the crappiest sprite comics cut-and-pasted by middle school students to the Anime wannabe strips drawn by self loathing 20 something males. Web comics let artists share their work with the world without tainting the process (for better or worse) with commerce, and the medium is showing thousands of people that comics are more than corporate owned superheros in spandex. (Not that there's anything wrong with that)
That in mind, I was flipping through SplurdLink the other day looking for new fun stuff to read. While I did find a few cool strips, I also found this blasphemous article written by Ben Richmond of the strip Walking is Still Honest.
Should You Start a Webcomic?
No. No no no no no. Yes. No. No no no no. It's called flooding the market. It's called obnoxious 15 year olds who can't draw thinking they can make a ton of money selling crappy t-shirts. You are not the next Gabe [Mike Krahulik], Ian [McConville], Dave [Anez] or Brian [Clevinger]. Hell, I'm not any of those either, but I don't delude myself. In time though I could be the next Scott [Ramsoomair], minus the furry. A lot of time.
I don't even know where to begin with this statement. For one, there is no market to flood. No one starts a web comic for the money, and those who do quickly give up. Most of the comics I find are either created for fun or for practice.
Second, web comic artists can only gain by encouraging each other. I can not fathom why one would wish to discourage peers from starting. Due to the lack of business involvement, Web Comics are quite possibly the least competitive art form ever conceived. The more peers you befriend, the more readers you will gain from linking and skills you will gain from collaborating.
Finally, no-one can draw when they start their web comic. If you look at the original 8-Bit Theater, Brian really wasn't doing anything that other sprite comics didn't do to start. What gave 8-Bit Theater it's greatness was it's longevity and the fact that as Brian kept doing it he kept improving. The same story can be said about Ian's Mac Hall, Mike and Jerry's Penny Arcade, and just about any web comic people consider to be great. This is not to mention Sluggy Freelance, who's artwork was never spectacular, yet achieved greatness on longevity and writing alone.
So should you start a web comic? Yes! It's up to the fans to decide who the next Gabe or Ian will be. Just don't start your comic expecting to get there right away. Do it for fun. Do it for practice. Do it to get your work out there so people can see it. Do it because you love doing it. Greatness comes later.
Christ, just look at us.