One of the great things about webcomics is that almost anyone can start one and use it as a platform to say whatever they want. By not being limited by industry gatekeepers (like publishers, editors, etc.) and by having much lower overheard costs than print, a webcomic creator has an open field to do about anything.
The danger, though, is when a creator comes to the table wanting to create the next big thing. The next Superman. The next Snoopy. The next Spider-Man. The next Garfield. It’s a danger because the expectation is set unreasonably high, and this new great character will almost undoubtedly fall far, far short.
The reason for this is only partially in the creator’s own talent. If your best idea is entirely rooted in the framework of another existing idea, it’s not that original and will almost certainly be seen as a copy. Copies are rarely worth the same as the original.
Another part is the fact that those original creations have huge legacies behind them. Superman is one of the most recognized characters in the world, and is owned by Time Warner, a company that regularly has annual revenue in excess of $25 billion. Not to be too blunt, but they simply have much more marketing power than any individual.
But then still another facet that’s rarely addressed is that those original ideas became well-known for a reason. The creators who worked on them were able to blend together just the right mix of ideas for readers to respond to, and changing that mix alters the overall formula. Whether by accident or design, the creators behind these great characters were able to tap into some zeitgeist that was happening. Even the exact same excution produced a few years earlier or later might not yield the same results. They were characters that came about in the perfect mix at the perfect time.
And even more broadly, there are whole industries that have developed around those basic ideas. DC and Marvel Comics produce stories about white men in spandex with magical powers. A lot of them. And they generally do them very well because they’re had so much experience at it. A younger creator trying to establish their own white male superhero isn’t likely to do as good a job as the folks working on Batman or the X-Men.
Similarly, newspaper syndicates have done a stellar job of cultivating creators who make comics around a white, suburban family with an adorable, yet sometimes rascally pet with decidedly human qualities. Heathcliff and Marmaduke have been done many times over.
What we don’t see much of, however, are other voices saying something different. What if those superheroes were gay teenagers coming to grips with both their powers and their sexuality simultaneously? What if the pet-owning family featured a Mexican father, a Japanese mother and their son was adopted? What if the comic featured none of those things and simply portrayed the day-to-day life of a mixed-race children’s librarian?
My point is that, in the comics industry, there are a ton of white guys presenting their white guy perspective on what it would be like to be a white, male superhero. And there are a slightly smaller ton of white guys presenting their white guy perspective on what it would be like to be a white guy with a family and a talking cat/dog. The opportunity to say something original and unique with webcomics is staggering; don’t waste everyone’s time regurgitating the same comics guys like Jim Davis and Brian Michael Bendis are already doing.