Let’s say you’ve been working on your webcomic for the better part of a decade. You’ve learned a great deal about how to make comics, how to sell comics, how to market comics… You’ve gotten a decent amount of followers; some of whom have been reading since you started, and some only discovered your work a few months or even weeks ago. But ten years is a long time, and a lot can change; I’m talking about both the technology itself as well as the growth and maturity of the artist. So it’s entirely possible that, after working on a webcomic for ten years, you decide that it’s time to move on. Maybe you’ve been “discovered” by a large publisher who starts throwing wads of cash at you. Maybe you’ve realized that the stories you want to tell will no longer fit into your existing comic. Whatever the reason, let’s just assume that you won’t be working on your old webcomic any longer.
Now, it’s entirely reasonable to leave your old webcomic alone at this point. New readers can dig back through your archives easily enough, so the only real maintenance you might need to worry about is that your server is still up and running. But will newer readers do that? Will they bother combing through your archives if they know you’re not really paying attention to that comic any longer?
I talked last week about how webcomic artists can approach their changing style over time, but if they’re not overly embarrassed by it, one option that’s available after completing a work is to rerun it! Simply take the old strips and start re-posting them as if they were new.
It probably doesn’t make sense to re-post them exactly as they ran originally, though. There ought to be some reason a reader would want to look at these instead of just hitting the archives. In Danielle Corsetto’s case, she went back and colored all her original Girls with Slingshots strips that initially ran as black and white. (More accurately, she had her colorist Laeluu go back and color all her old strips.) Corsetto’s also providing some new commentary about why she made some of the creative decisions she did.
If Frank Page ever decided to move on (which I hope he doesn’t!) he would have the option to simply re-run his old Bob the Squirrel strips. While he’s been publishing the strip since 2002, his archives only go back to 2010. He changed his server set-up a couple years ago, and only re-loaded a few years worth of old strips, thinking it wasn’t worth the effort re-archiving all that work. But that means that newer readers can’t see those earliest strips, and re-running them, even unchanged, would be new material for many people.
One of my earliest columns here discussed how webcomic creators could repurpose their work to increase its longevity. Re-runs are just another option that webcomikers have that allow them to continue capitalizing off their work.