Discover Webcomics

Picture a comic. Assuming you don't immediately think of a person that practices comedy in some form, you probably picture a newspaper comic strip or a stapled, magazine-style comic book. It's the beauty of the format. You can do whatever you want with the structure built into the medium.

But what about webcomics? For as long as they've been around (longer than you think! The first webcomic was actually distributed through Compuserve) no one's ever been quite sure what to do with them. Do you treat them as you would any paper comic, only on a screen? Or do you use the freedom of that screen to push boundaries? To make them interactive? To take what was printed on the web and convert it to an actual, physical book? True to comics history, rather than figure out one definitive way, all manner of work in all manner of format is available to read online, and if looking at hundreds of these projects a day tells us anything, it's that the community around webcomics is thriving just as much as the projects themselves. Here's a few that are live right now.

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Talking Shop: An Evening with Bill Plympton

From the moment the first full-length computer-animated feature film, Toy Story, came out in 1995, people recognized the computer's potential with regard to animation. Much later, in 2009, television's longest-running sitcom, The Simpsons, finally updated their introduction, replacing the hand-drawn sequence with computer-aided animation and effects. There's no longer any question that technology has revolutionized animation.

So why would an animator work harder than they now have to? 

Bill Plympton has been illustrating and animating professionally for the past 40 years. He's perhaps best known for his 1987 animated short Your Face, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Plympton is an animation legend, as well-known for his iconic style as the fact that he still draws every single frame by hand.

After a screening of his most recent film, Cheatin', at Kickstarter HQ, Plympton fielded some questions from the audience and fellow animator/moderator Signe Baumane. He shared the details of his process, thoughts on his style, and one incredible story about how he turned down a job at Disney.

Please enjoy this candid conversation with Bill Plympton in the video above. And when you're done, seek out more of his work, like his hand-drawn couch gag for The Simpsons, or his eighth hand-drawn animated feature film, REVENGEANCE.

Revolution Revisited: Stanley Nelson Explains the Black Panther Movement

Filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is coming to theaters at a critical point in time. When the Black Panther Party was founded in 1966, it was in reaction to unjust conditions: police violence, substandard education, and joblessness. Nelson writes: “As we witness the similarities between the injustices of yesterday and the tragedies of today, we feel a sense of urgency to share the story of the Black Panther Party. We are struck by the way today's movement around police brutality and accountability is being led by young people seeking change, just as it was with the Black Panther Party almost 50 years ago.”

Nelson has won literally every major award in broadcasting, including a National Medal from President Barack Obama, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and a Primetime Emmy, to name just a few. Since Nelson is currently running a Kickstarter project to help fund the theatrical release of The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, we asked him to share his impactful and inspiring insights with us. What follows is an annotated series of archival photos from the Black Panther movement, plus his thoughts on how we can learn from our past, and how today's filmmakers can best use storytelling for positive social impact.

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Tech Weekly: Light-Bulb Moments

Every project in our Technology category starts with a bright idea. This week we saw everything from a quirky bike/car hybrid to a levitating light bulb. Eureka!

Flyte: Levitating Light

At the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Nikola Tesla demonstrated wireless power by illuminating light bulbs from across a stage. The audience there probably felt the same way we did when we first saw Flyte. Making use of both magnetic levitation and inductive power, Flyte is a levitating light. Just plug in the base, set the shatterproof light bulb in place, and bask in the light of the coolest lamp you've ever seen.

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Congratulations to the Eisner Award Nominees

Every year at the San Diego International Comic-Con, the Eisner Awards are distributed to recognize creative achievement in the comics industry. Named for comic writer and artist Will Eisner, creator of The Spirit and the man responsible for popularizing the term "graphic novel," the awards are the comic industry's equivalent of the Oscars. Yesterday the 2015 nominations were announced, and we were stoked to see a wide range of familiar creators on the list.

Our sincerest congratulations to the nominees:

Failing Sky, by Dax Tran-Caffee

"I wanted to make a piece of art that would be the change I wanted to see in the world," says Dax Tran-Caffee. Failing Sky, a web-based indie graphic novel with giant robots, which Tran-Caffee partially describes as "a memoir, a failed sailor, a genderqueer Nancy Drew, giant robots" is the result of that effort. Failing Sky has been nominated in the Best Digital/Web Comic category.

In the Dark: A Horror Anthology, edited by Rachel Deering

In The Dark is an exploration of all the frightful things that go bump in the night. With over 20 all-new, original horror stories, this collection features the work of an incredible roster of writers and artists. In The Dark has been nominated in the Best Anthology category.

Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, edited by Josh O’Neill, Andrew Carl, & Chris Stevens (Locust Moon)

Over 100 years ago, Winsor McCay created a full-page weekly comic strip titled Little Nemo in Slumberland. His pioneering work has been celebrated ever since. Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream is an anthology featuring the work of some of the world's finest contemporary cartoonists, as they weave a new dream world for Nemo, and pay tribute to McCay in the process. Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream has been nominated in the Best Anthology and Best Publication Design categories.

The Leaning Girl, by Benoît Peeters & François Schuiten (Alaxis Press)

The Obscure Cities is a French graphic novel series set on a counter-Earth, started in the early 1980s. The publisher responsible for the English translations stopped issuing new editions in 2002, leaving three graphic novels and at least five other books in the series without translation. The Leaning Girl is book six in The Obscure Cities series, and Steve Smith of Alaxis Press spent months translating this story of a 13-year-old girl who lives life at a 30 degree angle after an amusement park accident. The Leaning Girl has been nominated in the Best U.S. Edition of International Material
, and Best Penciller/Inker (François Schuiten) categories.

Fantagraphics

At the end of 2013, Fantagraphics ran a project to fund its 2014 publishing season. As a publisher of alternative comics, classic comic strip anthologies, graphic novels, and more, Fantagraphics is deeply rooted in the comic community and they saw a tremendous outpouring of support. We were delighted to see that Fantagraphics received 15 total nomination for various books in various categories.

Congratulations once again to all of the nominees. We'll be rooting for you come July!

The Process: Simone Paasche Explains Jewelry

Obvious statement alert: making jewelry is hard and time consuming. The actual process of putting together jewelry tends to inform its place in the world as a luxury item. But it's also a craft worthy of being celebrated for its artistry. While combing through the Jewelry category on our site (it's a thing!) we came across Simone Paasche's excellent line, SPUR. We asked her to tell us about making it.

As a jewelry designer and object lover, I am terribly sentimental. I’ll often walk around for months with all sorts of collected odds and ends that I’m drawn to in my jacket pockets. I have that same reaction towards objects behind glass at archaeological and fine arts museums, and since I can’t take things home with me I record what interests me in my notebook and find a way to hold on to it. This impulse informs my jewelry. What better way to hold on to something than to wear it?

When I design I start on paper and then need to get to the physical form quickly, since so much consideration goes into how it relates to the body. I tend to use red sticky wax to initially sculpt pieces and I get it into a pliable state by rolling it out into thin strings before I start working.

Here you can see a piece built as a rough draft in red wax and than as a formal version in purple hard wax. Sometimes I transfer the piece into a CAD drawing on the computer if it involves repetitive repetitive stone settings.

Then it is time to head to midtown and work with my casters and stone setters! I discuss the piece with my stone setter and figure out if any variations must be made to ensure that the stones will sit the most securely.

Silicon molds are made with great care and the final pieces are cast, cleaned up and set. Check out a newly finished SPUR piece featured below!

 For more jewelry from Simone Paasche, check out the SPUR project page.

The Process: Janet Lee on Illustrating a Classic

Prolific artist and illustrator Janet Lee's current project, in collaboration with our friends at Silence in the Library Publishing, is an illustrated edition of Pride & Prejudice. We caught up with Lee and asked her a few questions about her influences, the way she works, and her process for creating images from canonical texts.

With a classic work like Pride & Prejudice, that has so much material to choose from, how do you choose which moments from the book to illustrate?

Thankfully, I have prior experience illustrating two other Austen novels which were adapted for Marvel, and Pride & Prejudice is my favorite book. It's helpful to know a text by heart when choosing which parts to highlight.

My biggest problem has been scaling back. With unlimited time and resources, I would probably draw every scene in the book, which of course takes away from Miss Austen's amazing prose. So I tried to be methodical. First, I made a chronological list of what I felt were the most significant events in Pride & Prejudice. With some careful editing, I only had ten scenes more than were needed for this edition. I then, went through the list and marked the scenes I wanted to illustrate in color, and made a second pass to select scenes that would be drawn in black and white. I tried to distribute everything evenly, and now I have some additional scenes if we overfund and I get to draw more.

Pride & Prejudice
Pride & Prejudice

Is this project different from the things you normally work on? How did you come to be part of it?

Illustrated Pride & Prejudice is very different from my usual illustration work. Rather than drawing sequential, comics pages, I'm creating more classic, still pictures which highlight the original text. It's a different way to approach the art. In comics illustration, I fill the narrative role in our storytelling; the art "describes" the scene, the characters, the atmosphere. However when illustrating moments from a prose novel, the pictures are more of an additive, a filigree. They aren't necessary to the story, yet they exist to enhance our enjoyment of it. It seems like a small difference, but it's a significant change in how one approaches the task.

I became involved last summer at San Diego Comic Con. I met Janine and Ron from SILENCE IN THE LIBRARY PUBLISHING while I was in Artists Alley. We talked about my previous work and our mutual interest in creating a new take on Pride & Prejudice. I'm not sure what caused our paths to cross, but it was kismet.

Lee's studio
Lee's studio

What's your workspace like? How/when do you work?

 I work out of my studio, which is a small (often messy) room in my Nashville home. Until just a few years ago, I was a corporate manager with an artistic hobby that was growing out of control. I loved my "real" job, but it wasn't fulfilling creatively, so at first started selling artwork through galleries for fun and with the goal of paying for my art supplies. Before I knew it, I was asked to illustrate books. So my studio is an odd mix of art supplies and drawing tools. I still work in physical media, and I love constructing images as sort of original collages of my own drawings. So, pens, glue, scissors, and a bunch of snippets of paper.

Janet Lee (and cat)
Janet Lee (and cat)

Who are your influences? 

My degree is in British Literature. I stopped formally studying art in middle school. So, my influences are extremely broad. In fact, I'm a pretty firm believer that everything we see, experience, and love will inform our art. Some of my influences are, in no particular order: Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite, John Tenniel and Lewis Carroll, Frank Baum and William Wallace Denslow, Arthur Rackham and the Red Rose Girls, Rachmaninoff and The Violent Femmes, Alan Moore, The Bronte Sisters, Pan's Labyrinth, Craig Thompson, Juanjo Guarnido, Joe Hill, Stephen King and Frank Herbert, David Weisner and Shaun Tan.