Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.

2008-02-10

Webcomics in Print?

Hello, I'm Eli. Sophie has kindly asked me to become a contributor to Pop Goes the Library, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity! I think she got the idea when I wouldn't shut up about webcomics at the Midwinter Blog Salon, and I think I got on the topic because I was so excited to see The Trial of Colonel Sweeto at the Dark Horse booth. Sweeto is the work of Nicholas Gurewitch, whose comic the Perry Bible Fellowship (which has nothing to do with Perry, Bibles, or Fellowship) is an irresistable syrupy-sweet base with brilliantly hilarious and frequently offensive splashes of darkness, violence, or obscenity. PBF runs in some altweeklies and has a staggering web archive that covers a wide spectrum of style and content.

This is Dark Horse's first webcomic edition, and when I totally geeked out at the booth, the vendors asked me what other webcomics I might like to see in print (the venerable goats came first to mind), so with the awesome package of this edition, which includes red ribbon bookmark, beautifully bound, with some new content not found in the archives, I'm hoping we see a lot more great webcomics getting this Dark Horse treatment, especially since The Trial of Colonel Sweeto did $300,000 worth of preorders and has already gone to a third printing after only 4 months on the market.

Of course, if you want to start buying webcomics in print to add some cool depth to your graphic novel collection, there are a ton of great webcomics with self-published or small press paperbound stuff out there. A wide swath of webcomics are unabashedly geekly, and one of my absolute favorites (and no exception) is the daily comic space opera Schlock Mercenary, by Howard Tayler, who quit his job as the product manager for Novell Groupwise, and now supports his family of five with revenue from his webcomic. Tayler's art is not the star attraction, although he has come a very, very long way and the style grows on the dedicated reader; it's his storylines that are irresistable: tightly plotted, audacious and gripping, yet plodding as only a daily strip can get away with, but a punchline in every one. 1000 strips in, he relaunched the comic, organizing it into large story arcs optimized for print, with tidy volume endings and just enough exposition at the beginning of the next book. Start with Under New Management.

Another webcomic that's great in print ended a year ago this week. Bruno, by Chris Baldwin, started in 1996 as an offshoot from a college paper, and follows the life of a young woman, one panel at a time, for 10 garfield-sized volumes. ( I'm sure no author wants to have their work described that way, but if you're of a certain range of ages, and you see a paperback book of certain dimensions, that's what it is!) Again, while most people read Bruno online, the author was always aware of how the strips would fit together when printed resulting in some wonderful books that supplement the web archive with bonus material.

Now, treat these links with caution; webcomic archives are addictive, and PBF and Bruno are not for everyone and may not even be worksafe in your community. Then there's the issue of how the heck you can let those webheads know that you've got hard copies of their favorite webcomics in the collection... and if I figure that out, I'll be sure to let you know. Stay tuned!

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