Right now the links section of Sentient 39 has as many pages as the comics section and, frankly, more content. It has less content, however, than I wanted. Especially in the webcomics section.
I use three criteria(s?) for linking to a webcomic –
A. Would I’d read it myself?
B. Has it been running for at least a year?
C. Is it done by someone I know?
Criteria C applies regardless of A or B. One looks out for one’s friends.
Criteria B is flexible. If the work is being done by someone who has already demonstrated that they can do a long running project then I’ll probably link to a new project of theirs regardless of the youth of that project.
Criteria A is the one is keeping me from adding many webcomics. The key ingredient here is the “read” part. In order to determine if I would read a comic I need to read it to begin with. The time I’ve got available to do that is pretty limited. So first I have to find a strip. Not too hard, there are thousands of them out there. The first strip I find has to attract me enough to read another.
Since my attention span drops to fruit fly level when I’m surfing that first strip has to either –
1. Be visually appealling
2. Be well written
Number 1 almost automatically cuts out the sites that don’t display art on their front page. I might have patience enough to look around a bit to see if there’s something appealing on the site, especially if I came there from a site I liked, but chances are slim. They get slimmer if the site is ugly and poorly designed. There has to be something attractive to keep me going. It doesn’t take much. Three month old apologies for not updating more frequently won’t do it. Show me the strip. Apologize later.
So obviously it’s harder for a strip to demonstrate Number 2 without demonstrating Number 1 first. I do read strips that have an art style that I don’t like. Most strips on the web are crudely drawn. Many well drawn, long running strips started out looking pretty bad. I don’t summarily discount a strip if my reaction to the art is, “yuck.”
I’ll give any strip one read. Even if the art is pixilated stick figures. If it’s half way competent I’ll read another page/strip. Whether or not I read a third depends on whether that second strip is also competent. I’m not expecting much. I know that most webcomics are done by amateurs in their spare time. From what is said in much of the author’s commentaries many of the strips are done by college students. I’m basically reading the net equivalents of the minicomics I traded back in the day.
One of the difficulties I have with strips on the Modern Tales sites is that, for most of them, without subscribing, I don’t get enough of a sustained read. That makes it harder for me to recommend any individual strip. Many of the strips I read I read in chunks. I’ll go to the site every few weeks and read a bunch of strips all at once. Can’t do that at the pay sites without subscribing.
I subscribed to Girlamatic because I wanted to support Jenn Manley Lee and Dicebox. I know her. Criteria C. It’s a bonus that Dicebox is well written and brilliantly illustrated. It’s a double bonus to get The Stiff and Bite Me. There are strips on other Modern Tales sites that look good but I’m less comfortable linking to because I haven’t read them. I can’t say, “I know it’s just a sample page. Trust me. It’s good. Think about subscribing.” Beyond Girlamatic, I don’t have much to say. I haven’t read enough.
Given the way I spend my money, I’m unlikely to subscribe to more MT sites. I like to own things. I have little disposable income once I’ve paid for the necessities of food and shelter so I try to be cautious about what else I spend my money on. I like it to be tangible. Books. Videos. DVDs. CDs. Mostly books. I can read a book by candlelight if the electricity goes down. That other stuff just becomes chunks of plastic when the modern world hits a speed bump.
Which isn’t to say I think the MT sites should be free. I hope they succeed. I’ll subscribe when my income improves. I’m just tangenting on why I don’t have more individual strips listed from MT sites. Access and time.
Where was I? Ah yes –
Is the strip well written?
Can the author spell? (Bad art and bad spelling will send me away before I take the time to find out whether the story is brilliant.)
Is it funny? (If it’s supposed to be.)
Is it compelling? (If there is a story being told.)
Thousands of webcomics. It takes time to search them. So there aren’t as many links as I’d like. It will take me a while to add more. It has to be one of my lower priorities.