On History: My First Webcomic

By | Tuesday, March 01, 2016 Leave a Comment
I have been reading webcomics regularly since late 2004. If I bothered to do a little digging, I could probably pinpoint the precise date. (But I'm not going to bother because it'd be too much and beside my point anyway.) The reason I know that is because it was Phil and Kaja Foglio's Girl Genius that got me reading webcomics.

I knew Phil's work from years earlier when he did the "What's New?" comic strip in the back of Dragon magazine in the 1980s. I didn't buy the magazine regularly, but that was consistently one of the highlights of every issue I read. His illustration style was delightfully energetic and he had a great sense of comic pacing. I stopped reading Dragon (or indeed paying attention to any role-playing games!) when I left for college, and Phil fell off my radar.

Cut to a decade later and I heard he and his wife were starting a new comic book called Girl Genius. I was immediately on board based on what I remembered about Phil's older work, and I was not disappointed. They were doing a lot of great things in the book, and I enjoyed it immensely for the next several years.

Somewhere around then, I had certainly become aware of webcomics. But I didn't care for reading them on the screen. Primarily because, at the time, I was unaware of feed readers or other methods of delivery. I was forced to go to each webcomic site individually and click through to wherever I dropped off last and then navigate through whatever clunky navigation was set up. (There were no good navigation standards developed at that point.) So even though the Foglios had moved to presenting their story online, I kept buying the print version. That is, until they stopped doing a print version with issue #13, and presented the material only online. I was enjoying it enough that I didn't want to miss out.

That's when I started doing some digging into better ways to read webcomics. Because I still wasn't down for this just-go-check-the-site-every-day bullcrap. I was already familiar with RSS, thanks to some work projects, but it was only after I "needed" to keep reading Girl Genius that I really began investigating feed readers and found something I liked. But once I did, that's when I started actively looking for more webcomics to read.

I recall thinking at the time that I was coming to the webcomics party exceptionally late. I mean, guys like Scott Kurtz, Jerry Holkins, and Mike Krahuli had been working for years at that point and they weren't even really the old guard. It already seemed like a crowded market, and I was thrilled when I could find the occasional webcomic that was JUST getting started. (Now that I think about it, I recall having similar feelings when I first discovered comics in general and came across a new series.)

That's what continues to catch me off guard today though. That over a decade ago, I was thinking I was late to webcomics and yet all this time later and we're just now starting to see mainstream comic news sites talk about them with anything approaching regularity.

In any event, it was my following creators in their transition from print to digital that really got me interested in webcomics. My journey followed theirs and, since I still read Girl Genius, I suppose it still does.
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