Comics fans are a diverse group. You’ve got your graphic novel and comic book traditionalists, with their shelves or boxes of print copies. Then there are the tech-savvy fanatics who are trying to suss out the cool, but ultimately frustrating experience of tablet-based mobile consumption. (C’mon, Marvel and DC. Get your act together already!) Sometimes, you even come across a hybrid — comics aficionados who read online or on their devices, but carefully preserve plastic sleeve–covered copies for their ballooning archives.
These have become classic archetypes now, but another genus of comics is attracting both fans and artists: Webcomics.
They can come in either snack-sized bits or longer-form serials, and while there’s difference of opinion over whether they should be lumped in with traditional offerings, there’s no disputing their popularity — particularly among cartoonists and graphic artists looking for creative freedom. Webcomics are like an unlimited playground that lets these geniuses break loose from constricting worries like length, distribution or, if they wish, even paneled formats. That gives them the ability to play with structure, size and, in some cases, interfaces and animation.
PBS, which has been on fire lately with geek topics, has a new “Off Book” documentary vid that explores the digital art form and why these artists do what they do. If you’re already a fan of the medium, you might recognize a few of the expert sources, like Lucy Knisley (Stop Paying Attention) and Nicholas Gurewitch (The Perry Bible Fellowship). The video is about eight minutes long, and if it succeeds in whetting your appetite, be sure to stick around for the credits. They include resources/links for the webcomics mentioned, as well as the soundtrack.