Collaboration

Today we’re going to have a look at collaboration in webcomics- specifically, why it’s so uncommon compared to traditional comics and what differences this can make to the stories told.
Webcomics are often made and owned by a single person. This is an enormous departure from the world of comics- even creator-owned comics almost always have at least a writer and an artist, and any comic from the two big houses will have a writer, an artist, a colourist and an editor all contributing to the story told. Most traditional comics are therefore collaborative storytelling; the very best have a syzygy of talent, with all the parts coming together to tell a great story. There’s an element of society to it; all working together towads the best outcome.
Webcomics, on the other hand, are more the work of lone pioneers. One person often does the writing, the art, the colouring (if it’s there) and they have final say over what can happen to the characters. It creates a very different space for storytelling, but it does put a mountain of work on the shoulders of the person telling the story; often there’s as many pages in a month as you’d find in any traditional comic, but all that work has been created by a workforce of one, and usually as a hobby.
The plus side of collaboration is usually consistency. Even if there’s a slightly weak link in the chain, the work as a whole can still be marvellous. When only one person works, they need to be an accomplished artist, writer and plotter, and if they want colour they have to be able to add that too. That said, When someone works on their own they can make works that would never normally be created, and I’d like to highlight a couple of these today.
Dar: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary isn’t entirely what it says on the tin (and it is Not Safe For Work). It’s a six-year diary that’s finished now, yes, but I think you’d be hard pressed to describe it as super girly. It’s about the artist’s own life and expeiences as a young, queer, depressed woman, and it gets better and better as it goes along. The artsist’s won awards and it’s safe to say this would not have been picked up as a traditional comic- the art and writing need to come from the same place because it’s so personal. It also includes probably the highest quotient of fart jokes of any comic I’ve recommended.
Hark! A Vagrant is Kate Beaton’s marvellous take on historical and literary events, characters and creators, and you have almost certainly heard of it. The art is endearing and incredibly expressive, and I can’t think that with a traditional collaborative team it would have worked in the same way- the things Kate finds funny are slightly unique.
Both comics are excellent, created entirely by women and well worth a read. Check them out today!
Alexander “Nines” Patterson

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