When it comes to webcomics most artists think that their skill alone should propel them into stardom. The fact that if they were so good from the start they would be paid for it in the first place doesn’t enter their minds. Everyone else, the ones who make money, understand that a webcomic is property. I’m not talking about your sister’s barbie dolls your mom caught you playing with, but something similar to what you find on TV and Radio. Sports entertainment understands this concept all to well. All of these long ago realized that every property has to represent.
What am I talking about? Take the ever popular story of one Mr. Michael Vick. He was been toting the clean gentleman line for so long that a story of dog fighting has ruined his career and tarnished the sport. This is what represented your property comes down to. Nearly every successful webcomic does this and you youngsters out there need to pay attention. Would you read Schlock Mercenary if Taylor didn’t come off as the nicest guy in the world? How about Questionable Content if Jeph didn’t actually listen to indie music? Let’s not even go to if Randy actually lived the life of Davan in Something Positive.
All those examples are guys who have stood apart and made their own realms. Without looking around their sites you wouldn’t even know they care about the rest of the world besides the one the webcomics occupies. What about the Howard Sterns and Opie & Anthonys? You all know who I’m talking about. The one I’m going to use here is Mr. Tim Buckley. Most people either love him or hate him, don’t ask me why, I don’t care. What I do see is he has done a very good job of portraying himself and his property as clean, above the mess. Every once in awhile he comes down from his horse and ‘dirties’ himself with the drama that is webcomic, but from where I’m standing these always seem to be perfectly timed. That’s what makes his latest prank so funny. Coming from Tim makes this about the funniest thing I’ve seen all year. Like seeing someone biting down into a juicy steak and watching that steak explode like a balloon.
What does this all mean? It comes down to good old fashion character building. Along with every good product a smart creator builds a solid front man. As consumers we like our things to have symbols and nothing, ever, beats a good front man. Platinum Studios understands this when they force the finalists in the Comic Book Challenge to fly to San Diego to pitch their comic in person. For all you new artists who think you can be the next gamer spokesman or photoshop guru, understand it’s been done. It’s been done better and done before you. Now wake up and stop thinking you can do it. Be yourself, become one with you strip, and whatever happens never get out of character.