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09/29/2004 Entry: "Keenspot in Turlock"

Warning: Mayerson Webcomic Obsession Ahead.

The Turlock Journal makes a deal with Keenspot for a print page of webcomics!!!

But but but, in that case, can they then still be called webcomics?

EDIT100804: Here's a link to what Keenspot provided the Turlock Journal for the September 25, 2004 comics section. (Adviso: It's a 1.5M jpg and will only be here until the end of the month.) I cleared it with the TJ and don't think this link should be a copyright issue for anyone, but if it is, lemme know and it shall be gone. Enjoy! GM

EDIT100904: Geeze, Keenspot finally made an announcement. High time, too. Go look, under all the verbiage, they have clickable versions of all the TJ pages so far.

The Turlock Journal makes a deal with Keenspot for a print page of webcomics!!! I'm not making this up. Due to the costs of syndicated comics and the fact that the TJ was going from daily to bi-weekly, their very clever and webcomics-loving Managing Editor, Mr. Brandon Bowers, contacted Keenspot about doing a page of free (to the TJ) webcomics. Keenspot lays out the page with the comics they feel are worthy, or best represent their stable, or the ones they publish books on, or some other reason and sends it to the TJ who run it on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and voilą! A offline audience for Keenspot comics. Brandon Bowers is a genius.

It's a nice looking 11"-ishx18"-ish page, too, here's the roster for today's paper: Abby's Agency; Funny Farm; Lost & Found; Superosity (by Chris Crosby of the Keen Empire); Greystone Inn (already print published by Plan 9); Rommies!; Melonpool; Nukees (by Darren Bleuel also of the Keen Empire and getting a PhD in Physics at UC Berkeley [I think]); Newshounds (already print published by Plan 9); Sebo; Hound's Home; Ugly Hill; You Darn Kid; Odd Numbers (Hey, I liiiiked this one!); and Rumblestrip. ("Count Your Sheep," mentioned in the article, was on the Saturday page, but got bumped for some reason on Wednesday.) Forty percent of these strips had talking animals; twenty percent had a woman in it; twenty-six percent had a child in it; sixty percent were about guys (as far as I could tell, they were guys), and zero percent had elves, dragons, homosexuals, or demons. This is, I think, a pretty good representation of Keenspot comics. (Last time I checked on Keenspace, elves, dragons, homosexuals, and demons were in the majority.)

Only "Odd Numbers" and "Roomies!" made me chuckle; only "Rumblestrip" made me groan; the rest just made me go "huh". But, you know, even I have to admit it's not a bad showing for part-time sequential artists who are doing it more for love than money. Even I can respect that. And if I read the Turlock Journal on a regular basis, some of these comics would grow on me. When I used to read comics in newspapers, I'd read the whole page, otherwise I'd never have known how cool "Rose is Rose", "9 Chickwood Lane" and "Foxtrot" were and would still only be reading "Doonsbury" and "Boondocks". So, right there is an argument for webcomics in newspapers! But, I suppose, if they're in newspapers, they're no longer webcomics, eh?

I'll probably write more about this, um, in the future. But for now, I just wanted to tell the world!

Edit100504: I rather think that due to comics economics, webcomics in little newspapers might become a trend. The Turlock Journal is part of the Morris Newspaper Corporation of California group, part of the Morris Newspaper Corporation, which operates over 90 newspapers and other media throughout the country. So it's possible that Keenspot comics could end up in many papers all over the country. As of 10:00 PDT, Brandon Bowers is still a genius.

Replies: 6 comments

Some of those strips have been going for years on the web, with well-developed storylines and characters (Melonpool and Newshounds certainly). That's bound to slow things down a bit as they face the new audience, and there's going to be a fair amount of scene-setting and exposition. As readers get familiar with them they'll be able to get back into full stride and the chuckle-frequency will probably rise.

Boy, I hate that term "webcomics". They're comics that happen to have been on the web longer than in the papers, that's all. "Does anybody talk about "woodpulpcomics"? Was Michelangelo a "chapelwallpainting artist"? Eesh and rolling of the eyes!

Posted by Tim Tylor @ 10/05/2004 03:49 AM PST

Actually, Darren finished his Ph.D. (in Nuclear Engineering) in May of 2003. So he's Dr. Darren now. But far be it from him to go flaunting that. ;)

Posted by Suzy Gee @ 10/05/2004 09:39 AM PST

Tim, I think many of these Keenspot comics could grow on me if I was reading them on a page two or more times a week. I feel the difference between webcomics and syndicated comics (unless they are collected in a book) is that webcomics have archives, so you can get involved with complex story lines. Hey, I know this, I nearly went blind going through the Sluggy Freelance; archive (and then I nearly went broke buying the books from Plan 9), and I have said some very harsh words about having to pay (Yes! Pay money!) for access to the Pibgorn; archive (although "Pigorn" is about to jump the pixel divide, God willing and the creek don't rise [and there goes more money]). I imagine the Crosbys choose comics that could stand alone for this project. On the other hand, I had no idea what was going on in "Greystone Inn" and "Newshounds" because the last time I read them was over two years ago. FYI, I have an essay in the next issue (Issue 5) of J LHLS on the way of the how of webcomics in print at Plan 9 Publications, as well as an interview (already online) with David Allen, the Plan 9 founder. In J LHLS Issue 3 there is an essay on "Pibgorn" and an interview with its creator, Brooke McEldowney, that touch on some of these issues as well. With respect, Tim, the differences between webcomics and syndicated comics are a little more than the physical dynamics of format: one being economics, as we have seen in Turlock, another being editorial control, and another being that it can take years for a comic creator to get work syndicated, whereas with webcomics a little drawing, a little scan, a little FTP and away you go. And that's terrific! I love webcomics! There's even webcomics I love to hate! It's wonderful.

Suzy, congratulations to Dr. Bleuel! Yay for science!

Posted by Ginger @ 10/05/2004 10:45 AM PST

Thanks for the review of Keenspot's debut to print comics and my triumphant return. "Melonpool" started out as a college print comic waaay back in 1992 and migrated over to the web in 1996. The cartoonists picked their own material, but were given very little time to create new stuff, so most of us combed through our archives trying to find material that was worthy of a twice-a-week readership. I think starting with week 5 or 6 most of us will have all-new content to offer that may be a little better-suited to sporadic viewing.

I've never been a big fan of the webcomic tendency to rely so heavily on the backstories of every character, but I fear that I may have settled into it a bit. Hopefully I can make the transition back quickly and find my way into the "must see" list of Turlock readers... and beyond!

Posted by Steve Troop @ 10/05/2004 03:20 PM PST

Hope it's the start of something positive!

Posted by Brandon Bowers @ 10/06/2004 10:30 PM PST

Finally, here's an official press release! http://www.keenspot.com/comicspage/

Posted by Jamie @ 10/10/2004 08:41 AM PST

 

 

 

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