The Economist on webcomics

(via Boing Boing)

The typical format for a web comic was established a decade or more ago, says Zach Weiner, the writer of “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal”, or “SMBC” (below). It has not changed much since. Most cartoonists update on a regular basis—daily, or every other day—and run in sequence. “I think that’s purely because that’s what the old newspapers used to do,” says Mr Weiner. But whereas many newspaper comics tried to appeal to as many people as possible, often with lame, fairly universal jokes, online cartoonists are free to be experimental, in both content and form.

The Economist has published an article about the rise of webcomics, and the transformative effect they have had on the medium of comics.  They call the article "Triumph of the nerds," but I'll give the (unnamed) writer the benefit of the doubt that she or he didn't have any control over the headline.

It features a history of comics in Western journalism, the particular qualities of webcomics as compared to traditional newspaper comics, and the ways in which webcomics are opening up a significant method of free speech in oppressive nations or cultures.

That last section contained the most content that I hadn't heard before -- the Western webcomics artists they discussed were people I'm already familiar with, but I'm only passingly familiar with comics as a form of serious political dialogue.

 In China cartoons distributed across weibo, a collection of Twitter-like social networks, have become a powerful way of criticising the communist regime. Pi San, a cartoonist and animator from Beijing, creates carefully coded cartoons as a way of subverting China’s strict web-censorship regime. His most popular character, Kuang Kuang, is a lazy schoolboy at a prison-like institution where dissent is routinely persecuted. The drawings, full of jagged lines and dark colours, are as edgy as the politics. One recent animation, poking fun at China’s censorship of references to Ai Weiwei, a controversial artist, was viewed by a million people within just a few hours of its being posted online.

I think this might be the cartoon they're referring to:

 

(via Wild Dollop Appeared)