Webcomics are nothing new. They’re also not that up-and-coming thing I “need to tell you about.” They are part of the cultural pantheon, the nerdy landscape – launching successful careers, conventions and memes that have adorned everything from t-shirts to energy drinks. But sometimes, even when a comic genre is known, it’s good to pull it out of the pile and discuss what makes it special. In this case, slice-of-life comics.
Slice of life series are a bit like the hot chocolate of webcomics. They are warm and comforting, always there when you need them. Even when they address difficult stories about things like systemic racism or transphobia, they do so in a way that helps you connect, empathize, and feel. Slice-of-life webcomics forego superheroes and wizards in favor of baristas and office managers, revealing how our daily lives are more adventurous than we think.
“There’s day-to-day excitement, and it’s the little things that readers can relate to. Whether it’s just finding a good restaurant to eat and sharing with friends, it’s an event for some people. For some, it’s like their week. Validation writer Christian Beranek told io9. “You can escape into the things you can do every day, accomplishing small goals here and there.”
Validation, a bi-weekly comic that has aired since 2013, tells the story of a twenty-something trans woman named Ally as she grows from a shy comic book fan to part of the industry, growing up as a character and as a person. It’s not uncommon for some webcomics to keep their characters ageless. For example, Age Dumbingit’s the characters remained freshmen for the duration of the run. However, others are more like everyday life. Their characters age like the creators. In addition to Validationthere are trip over you, a webcomic centered on the relationship between Milo and Liam. The characters started out as high school friends when the series debuted in 2011. Now they live together.
Interestingly, Milo and Liam’s relationship syncs with the creators themselves. Writer Owen White said she and his current wife, artist Suzane Harcum, came up with the characters in high school, sharing doodles and jokes back and forth. It’s hard to say if the will-they-won’t-they aspect of Milo and Liam’s relationship was a self-insertion (conscious or unconscious) for the creators’ unsaid. love, or if these characters’ budding feelings simply helped them recognize their own. But White told me that Liam and Milo helped bring her closer to Harcum.
“We were friends for a very long time before we said anything to each other. Starting our comic with our characters being friends for a long time and afraid of ruining their friendship… that was kind of the driving force behind the whole story” , said White. “Working on our characters, doing without the doodles and writing little snippets back and forth was kind of how we even realized that it wasn’t just our characters that had crushes on it. one for the other.
“Those characters were a reason, kind of the reason we were like, ‘Is this real? It’s real for me, is it real for you? Oh, it is!’ added White.
That’s the impact slice-of-life webcomics can have, not just for the creators, but for their fans. Beranek explained that she used to publish books for Jennie Breeden’s webcomic The devil’s pantiesand talked about the dozens of fans who visited Breeden every time she made an appearance at a comic book convention. The devil’s panties, which is largely autobiographical, had a way of helping people feel connected to the character as she went through normal things in life. Along the same lines, White said trip over you has readers all over the world, who often interact with the two of them on live streams, online chat rooms, and social media platforms. Because people feel close to their favorite characters, it eventually spread to the creators themselves.
This is not surprising when you consider the fact that webcomics became popular alongside online diaries, forums and early blogs, which paved the way for YouTube and other social media platforms. The medium developed at a time when people were eager to connect with others using the internet, and so personal stories like those in these comics became an outlet for self-expression. and interpersonal connection. However, the roots of slice-of-life webcomics can also go back much further.
For over a century now, many popular newspaper comic strips, also known as “funny pages”, have focused on everyday life – the ones that weren’t about cats who hated Mondays, anyway. . Growing pains of Peanuts for family circus‘sometimes horrific life decisions, up to Doonesburypolitical commentary and Beetle Bailey’s war escapades (we are not talking about Dilbert). I literally have a collection of Buttons comics on my desk right now, one of the first slice of life comics I started reading as a kid.
“I think it’s definitely in the same sphere,” Beranek said. “I was with my parents on a trip to see my brother from Richmond, and they got the Richmond newspaper there. They still had in the funny section, a huge section of comics. I looked through them. I was like, ‘These are the first webcomics.’
Of course, there are major differences between newspaper comics and webcomics, mainly in terms of subject matter. Newspaper comics have sometimes sparked controversy to post on so-called “taboo topics”, but generally stay within safer limits. Some of the most controversial things we’ve seen include Peanuts designer Charles Schultz once threatening to resign when the editors wanted it not to have Franklin (the show’s first black character) sitting in the same row of school desks as the white students. Additionally, in 1993 there was a national outcry with 19 newspapers canceling For the best or for the worst after that created a scenario where a prominent character has come out as gay.
Webcomics, on the other hand, don’t have to follow these kinds of internal or external restrictions because they’re largely self-published. This paves the way for better representation and more unique stories. In addition to trip over you and Validationthere are webcomics like Rainabout a trans woman “attempting to spend her senior year in high school identified only as a woman”, and Questionable content, which features a wide variety of characters and portrayals. White said slice-of-life webcomics have been particularly important to the LGBTQ+ community because they give people who identify as queer a sense of community and understanding.
“It tells you that you are not alone. You are not suffering alone, you are not anxious or afraid alone. There are definitely people who understand you,” White said. “It’s part of that sense of community that internet culture brings with it.”
That’s not to say the genre is perfect. There are a few issues that come with creating webcomics, even those that eschew sci-fi or fantasy like slice-of-life series. The webcomics format isn’t well suited for print in traditional graphic novels, which means they’re harder to sell in stores, and it’s not always easy to monetize the work when it’s is posted for free. Plus, there’s the very real risk of fatigue, which some YouTubers have also discussed on their platform. Many webcomics are released at least once a week, with selected titles released daily to keep people interested. Beranek said webcomic creators usually try to create a “buffer” or backlog of issues so they can stay ahead of unforeseen events. But if something happens like illness or injury, that backlog can quickly decrease.
These problems are solved in different ways: Patreon has become an important monetary tool for creators, and Kickstarter helps them obtain funds for special projects. And these fans can’t wait to help out their favorite creators, Breeden’s latest Starter for The Devil’s Panties’ The tenth volume reached its initial fundraising goal in less than a week. Because at the end of the day, it’s about fans enjoying something they love. A story about beloved characters that may seem small, but that doesn’t make it any less special or meaningful. It’s not the whole planet. It’s just a slice.