Back in February, I began talking about starting on the road that brought me to the point at which I'd been doing a daily comic strip for ten years. And I promised more stories about ten years of daily cartooning. And promptly got distracted by about a hundred other things.|
Well, I've done all the prep for San Diego I can possibly do. I'm waiting to accept shipment of the fifth volume of Evil Inc books*. And, quite frankly, I need something to focus on so I don't pace a groove into my studio floor.
What better time for a little navel-gazing?
When I launched Greystone Inn, it was hosted on a GeoCities site (now owned by Yahoo), and I updated it manually every night before going to bed. I can still remember finding out about Keenspace. It was this amazing deal being offered by Keenspot through which a webcartoonist could sign up for free hosting that came complete with updating / archiving software. That last part meant you could upload strips in advance and the software would automatically update the site overnight and place the old strip into the proper place in your archive.
This was, at the time, Sliced Bread. Everything that has come along since could only be the greatest thing since that.
Of course, Keenspace was operated by Keenspot. And at the time, Keenspot was webcomics. It's hard to explain, but webcomics was so new that the idea of a group of cartoonists forming their own digital publishing collective was mend-bending. I jumped onto Keenspace immediately.
And on Tuesday, September 12, 2000, I received the following e-mail from Chris Crosby.
Hi there, this is Chris Crosby from Keenspot Entertainment. We here at Keenspot have become big fans of GREYSTONE INN, and we would like to invite you to join Keenspot. We think your strip is interesting, original, and has a whole lot of potential, and we all agree that it should be a Keenspot strip. Please read the member FAQ I've copied below my signature for more information, and we hope to hear from you soon.I still remember standing up and cheering in front of my computer when I read that e-mail. The Internet in 2000 felt an awful lot the way I had imagined TV must have felt in the 1940s, and I had just gotten an invitation to join NBC.
Joining Keenspot left indelible marks on me as a struggling cartoonist. I learned an awful lot -- not only about webcomics, but about group dynamics and creative personalities.
But, for as much good that Keenspot brought, it also brought the realization that large organizations came with their fair share of unweildy problems. This was only underscored by the opposite experience I was having with one of webcomics' first fledgling collectives, AltBrand.
AltBrand was a collective in the truest sense of the word in that none of us were tied together in a business sense, rather we were using this construct for mutual support, cross-promotion and convention attendance. It consisted of Lee Adam Herold, Adam Burke, Case Yorke, Xavier Xerexes, Boxjam and me.
And, at AltBrand, I was starting to realize something. A smaller collective was capable of swifter action and more cohesive decisions. This was made very clear when I organized the AltBrand Webcomics Telethon for MDA. Our small group hosted a telethon to generate donations to the MDA that ran concurrently to the Jerry Lewis telethon. It updated throughout the weekend with different comics donated by other webcartoonists, and it was a huge success in so many ways. First of all, we encouraged significant donations to the MDA. And as a bonus, it was an excellent cross-promotional opportunity for all of the participants.
This was an idea worth saving for a rainy day.
To be continued.
Ten Years of Webcomics: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
| Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven
* This was written on Friday, July 16, 2010. The books arrived, and they're available for preorder.