General Protection Fault: GPF Comics Archive

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Web Comics Appreciation Day: May 5, 2001

[Comic for Sunday, May 6, 2001]
[Comic for Sunday, May 6, 2001]

I hope you enjoyed our little excursion here. "The girls" had no idea they were going to star in a special comic... hopefully, this won't give them swollen heads. The last thing I need is for them to start demanding more kitty treats simply because they're "web comic stars..."

Anyway, I hope this little comic got the message out without being "preachy" or "whiny." Online comics are now a big deal, and their popularity continues to grow at an explosive rate. However, many readers don't realize that the vast majority of online cartoonists are merely hobbyists, working on their strips in their spare time with very little or no revenue. In fact, many 'toonists actually spend more money than they make, usually on bandwidth and art supplies. Even in the case of Keenspot, most of its artists are semi-professionals; none of us do online comics solely for a living, and most of us hold down "day jobs" to actually pay the bills.

Some online cartoonists have been fortunate enough to generate enough revenue to turn their comics into a true business. Although some "purists" may spurn comics such as Sluggy Freelance, User Friendly, or PvP for their commercialization, it's a cold, hard fact that legions of fans and banner ads alone cannot turn a fun hobby into a living wage. These and other artists bring you quality entertainment each and every day, usually with very small profit margins from advertising, book and merchandise sales, and any other revenue stream they can get their hands on. Many online 'toonists dream of doing their comics full time, but that dream rarely becomes a reality, because the financial burdens can be far too great.

Online comics cost money. A very popular comic must contend with hefty server fees and high bandwidth charges. (The very nature of online comics screams "bandwidth hog;" serving large numbers of images eat up baseline bandwidth very quickly, even for a very efficient site like Keenspot.) This is in addition to the art supplies and large time requirements needed to generate a carefully crafted piece of entertainment. As advertising rates bounce up and down more than the New York Stock Exchange, they alone become an unreliable source of income for struggling cartoonists.

The moral? Web 'toonists can use your support. If you really enjoy your favorite online comics, lend your financial support by buying books and other merchandise. Some sites sport PayPal or Amazon "donation" buttons; a few bucks can go a long way. Write your favorite cartoonists and let them know you appreciate what they do, and that you're behind them 100%.

I'm sorry if this sounds like a PBS pledge drive, because that's not what it's meant to be. It's meant to be an informational message, to let you know about the hard work, sweat, and dedication of the people who bring you 30 seconds of mirth each morning. I say this not for myself, but for my brothers and sisters of the pen (or pencil, or mouse, or drawing tablet, etc.) whom I respect and pledge my support as well. Online comics have always been a "grass roots" environment, when the fans are extremely important to its survival. Help keep your favorite funnies alive, and they'll help keep you in stitches.


[[All panels are photographs, with dialogue bubbles added.]]
Randi: Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Randi the Wonder Kitty™. Perhaps you've heard of me...

Randi: [[off-screen]] This is my nemesis... I mean, sister, Kiki, the Boo Wonder™. She can be safely ignored.
Kiki: Hi, Mom!
Randi: [[off-screen]] Quiet, you.

Randi: I'm here to talk to you today about web comics appreciation day. Our "Daddy" (whom you know as Jeff, the cartoonist) is a very busy person, and this comic takes a lot of work.

Randi: Like many online cartoonists, Daddy works a "day job" to pay the bills. (Mostly for cat food and litter.) He often works overtime, and the comic strip is done in his "spare time."

Randi: While he always appreciates your readership, he's too shy, modest, or doesn't have the whiskers to "beg" you to buy his stuff. You know, books, t-shirts, mugs... that sort of thing.

Kiki: But Daddy has whiskers. Mommy says they tickle when he--Mmhrf!
Randi: [[holding Kiki down with a paw]] Don't make me hurt you.

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