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Where Great Art Comes From

Originally published on Hey Design, which has been down for a while, although I can’t tell if it’s officially dead.   I wanted to preserve it in some form, but there’s really no reason to listen to the opinion of a then 25-year-old on this.


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Meaty Yogurt: Does a Lead Have to be Likeable?

Originally published on the defunct pop culture site Nerd Underground.  Text pulled from Wayback Machine, but images lost to time.

I don’t know if I still agree with it.

— 6/13/19

Hey! This is the first of a series of themed comic reviews I’ll be doing, each one posing a driving question or issue, then discussing how one series either answers it or gives us a viewpoint through which we can examine it.

Let’s start with the perennial favorite of whether or not a protagonist has to be likeable. It’s one of the most debated topics in lit; no idea why, though, since the conclusion’s always the same: “Nah, just compelling.”

What makes a character compelling? It’s not morality, since some of the most popular titles of late have intentionally vile protagonists. In most of these stories, the writer presents us with the bad guy, and as the show goes on, has them do more and more of the kind of dirt you’d want to see a real person executed for, but challenges you to keep liking this fictional one, or at least understand their reasons and stay with the story. And it often works.

But what about when it’s not that cut and dry? So, let’s look at a series whose lead sits in a gray area: Meaty Yogurt.

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What to Do When Someone Steals Your Art

Originally published on Hey Design.  It’s not about webcomics, but it might be of interest, since uncredited reposts are standard practice in the webcomics world, costing us a ton of potential publicity.


There’s not much point to art theft: you can’t pay the bills with upvotes.  And it’s not very sustainable over the long term, either: pretend to be a master long enough and people will notice no one’s ever seen you actually draw.  And for the people who profit off it:  First of all, you’re the worst.  But secondly, is what little you’re probably making worth knowing the truth will get out someday?

…But it’s still rampant online.  Plenty of people think everything on the internet is in the public domain, and they’ll take what they want, no matter how it affects you.  In the words of Deviantart, disabling right-click downloads is like “putting a padlock on a paper bag,” and despite how many artists take issue with their stance, that part, at least, is true.

However, there’s still plenty you can do to make it harder on thieves, minimize the damage, or even make it work to your advantage.

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Less Than A Thousand People: Jojo Stillwell on the Comics Industry

This, too, was originally published on x-eyed content farm Nerd Underground.  I was curious about whether the shop pictured is still open, so I Googled the name and number.  Turns out it is.


Webcomics collective Hiveworks is on track to become one of the big success stories of the comics world, if it isn’t already. The various series they host pulled in twelve million uniques in January alone.  But this isn’t about that. It’s about the other side of comics.

Last night, founder Jojo Stillwell tweeted that “The entire professional comic industry in America could fit inside an auditorium if you count people over $30k/year.”

When questioned (by me) about the capacity of that auditorium, he replied that it would be “not more than 1,000.” And yes, this includes indie, self-published, and even crowdfunded creators.

Simply put: despite the huge shadow it casts on the culture, the actual comics industry is pitifully small. And there’s a reason for this: despite how well Marvel’s currently doing, the business as a whole has been in slow decline since the boom of the 90’s ended.

I’ve known this for a while, but I’ve always had questions about it. Why? Can this be gotten over? And can indie creators fare any better than mainstream ones in such a tough climate? So I asked him, which led to a discussion on marketing, comics’ future, and his advice for creators who’d like to get into the business.

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