Often for these columns, I use whatever the webcomics news of the day (or week, if things are slow) as a launching point. This week, I did something I tried something I normally don’t bother with when it comes to this column: checking my portal. I was reminded why I don’t normally check there for webcomics news, and it made me consider how/why I use different sources.
I have three main “sources” of news these days. I put “sources” in quotes because I don’t use them as primary sources, generally; they act more like aggregators, collecting and collating links to the actual news I’m looking for. You might call Facebook my first source; while I do use it for connecting with friends and relatives, I’ve got my feed curated such that it’s as much actual news as what movie my cousin is watching. The portal I use (Netvibes, in case you’re interested) is primarily for news about traditional print comics. I pull in feeds from various comics and pop culture sites, as well as ones from some publishers and retailers.
For webcomics, though, Twitter is my go-to spot. I follow a lot of webccomic creators there, and they frequently announce new projects and convention appearances there, as well as post general, get-to-know-me type of snippets as well. All of which means that I tend to get word directly from the horse’s mouth, as it were, and in more-or-less real time. (Compared to the, at best, several hours delay from a third party site.)
The reason for basically having to use Twitter, as I’ve complained about before, is that there is essentially no webcomics coverage on comics and pop culture sites. You’re actually more likely to get webcomics news from Boing Boing than Newsarama.
But here’s the additional wrinkle that occurred to me. Webcomics news, for all intents and purposes, not only has to come from the creators themselves, but it has to come in 140 character snippets. Sure, you can write an extended piece on what your thinking is behind your decision to attend some conventions but not others or whatever, and then link to it from Twitter, but Twitter’s inherent display format is so limiting that you have to work even harder to condense your message down to get the gist across in a single tweet. Meaning you have to be either very succinct or willing/able to spend additional time coming up with explanatory graphics to accompany each tweet. The very format of the news from/about webcomickers is limited to and defined by Twitter.
(While some folks use Instagram or other networks as well, they pretty much all hold specific limits on the size and format of how updates are displayed.)
I’m left wondering how many people view webcomics more superficially precisely because the update notifications have to be very high-level to fit within a constrained format. Something to think about…