I just wanted to take a little time to talk about "online comics" in a slightly different way.

It's really the "job" of an artist -- a singer, a filmmaker, a comic book creator -- to engage/excite/arouse/captivate/seduce/provoke an audience. If you're a folk singer singing on a street corner, you want the people walking by to stop and think "Man, he's good" and throw money in your hat. Similarly, if you've got some online comics on a website, you want surfers who hit that page to think "Man, he's good" and stay and read the rest of the comic.

Just like the comic artform has gone through many different periods, music has gone through different periods. Disco was, at one time, huge. Then we reached a point where people like Peter Frampton started to perform below expectations. The Sex Pistols caught on. Huge, overproduced rock-and-roll shows were "out." Grassroots punk (in various forms) became "in." The latter was connecting with people. The former wasn't.

There's absolutely no point in creating online comics loaded with animated .GIF files and .MIDI sound files and Shockwave animation if people still aren't connecting with your message.

Right now, alternative comics are not exactly an "in" thing. Will they become an in thing if we all start using Shockwave animation? Maybe they'll become an "in" thing if lots of people with interesting things to say scan very "low tech" comics onto their computer, download them to their free Geocities websites, and get lots of traffic over to them.

While there has been material in Heavy Metal Magazine and Epic Illustrated that I have liked, the worst material from these two magazines online with animation and .MIDI files is something we don't need. Simply put, a lot of the people who've done material for Heavy Metal & Epic were preoccupied with technique and craft, but they didn't have much to say. (I personally think that comparing the worst of Heavy Metal to Peter Frampton is pretty appropriate.)

On the other hand, very "low tech" comics by people like Colin Upton & Chester Brown have developed followings because these people had something to say, and they were in fact connecting with people.

Maybe people want lots of animation and sound. On the other hand, maybe they've been so saturated with MTV and really stooopid, hi-tech movies like INDEPENDENCE DAY and GODZILLA that they'll be completely numb to it.

I certainly don't have any problem with people experimenting with animation and sound, but message & identity & distribution are all things that I'm more concerned with.

Ben Adams
Ben Adams has led an interesting life. He writes about it in his blog and in his autobiographical webcomic, MISFIT\'S JOURNEY .