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Cooperation vs. Competition in Comics

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Aug. 24, 2019

Ozoneocean suggested this topic, and I am intrigued to explore it.

I've made a good few posts about assorted drama in the comic world, especially between different factions and concerning different approaches to the art. Often that is addressed from a strictly ideological point of view. But today I want to consider the competition element. Often, an attack is a form of curbing competition, especially if it's an attack not on the actual merit of the art in question or the artistic product, but on the character of the creator, his/her politics or other identity. A sort of “don't buy” or “buy X's comics because he/she is leftist/ conservative/ progressive/ pro-X group/ etc”. In an audience pool that often is presented as being limited, could we argue that a lot of the drama is created as a gimmick for promoting one title over the other?

I think at least to a point that holds true. There are instances where it even has been proven.

But the point is, is it working for comics?

In my opinion, I think it doesn't. It instead creates a very hostile and combative environment that might benefit some titles for a short period of time, but on the whole it dissuades people from engaging in a hobby attached to a very polarized community.

I think in this we can consider the webcomics community as a good comparison.

As far as I know, webcomics tend to have a more cooperative approach rather than competitive one. Cross promoting, mutual support of each other's titles and general celebration of the work of every webcomic creator seems to be the norm.

As a result, webcomics thrive. They are diverse, inclusive and extremely inviting to new creators. There is no gatekeeping in the content each creator puts on the web- if people like it they read on, if not they move on to the next title. But because the world is so vast and users so diverse, every webcomic has a niche to make and develop. Many artists can go on to monetize their work and some even make their comic their fulltime endeavor. There is also the element of reading on a screen than on paper that helps boost the advent of webcomics, but the mutual support that artists tend to afford one another helps even more.

There is a steady decline that is being reported on in the world of print comics, while webcomics are on the rise. And of course there are several other factors that can explain it, but I do think that the competition vs cooperation approach as a factor is an important element in it.

I believe that our community here at Drunk Duck perfectly illustrates the fact. We have always had an extremely supportive community based on cooperation and mutual growth. And from that only benefits have come for artists. I myself learned how to make comics because I joined Drunk Duck and didn't feel like the platform was an arena to single out the best but rather a hotbed of artistic growth from which I could benefit.

Have you ever experienced competition in comics or webcomics? How about cooperation?

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Tantz Aerine



jerrie at 2:17AM, Aug. 27, 2019

I enjoy making comics, I do it mainly for myself. I am addicted to posting. I am not trying to compete...I really just want to post, and hope a few folks read and like my stories

AmeliaP at 4:25PM, Aug. 24, 2019

Excellent article! Now you mention it, I remember two different reactions. The artistic community is pretty competitive, but when we talk about webcomics, not so much. I visited many art forums obsessing about techniques, competition, "levels" and comparisons, but in webcomics, we usually talk about our love for comics. "Have you ever experienced competition in comics or webcomics?" Only when I put my comic in DD Awards list. But I wasn't much worried about my "competitors" (who are my friends too XD). I was more worried about the reader's reaction. "How about cooperation?" Fanarts and special guest pages are symbols of cooperation, and we're plenty :)

usedbooks at 8:48AM, Aug. 24, 2019

I don't really do either. I enjoy making my webcomic, but it's a solo and contained effort. (Honestly, I'm a self-contained person. I never participated in sports, clubs, or even had a group of friends.) I also like reading webcomics and supporting and cheering for comic creators. But I don't consider myself as being on their level. I could not compete nor do I have much to offer to help them aside from a like and a word of gratitude for sharing their creations.

Banes at 7:51AM, Aug. 24, 2019

I don't see much in the way of competitiveness - it's gotta be out there, but I haven't seen it. There's usually no money involved, which probably helps. I don't watch the big YouTube personality-driven channels, but once in awhile I'll catch wind of some drama amongst them, and I'll tune in, try and understand who they are, and watch them trying to tear each other down. And there are entire channels that are dedicated to tearing down other channels. I don't really see it in webcomics. Again, it might be there, but I don't see it.

Banes at 7:43AM, Aug. 24, 2019

Really, though - I see the competitiveness more in my own mind. Admiring how other creators are better writers, or artists, or are faster at posting content. That makes me want to be better! ...for a few minutes, then I settle in to my slow-release suckage.

Banes at 7:41AM, Aug. 24, 2019

More of your commie gobbledegook?

bravo1102 at 6:52AM, Aug. 24, 2019

A board like this for webcomics (or writing or model building etc) is the same thing. It pools together all the talent so ideas and techniques can be shared. One can ask "how you do that?" "what makes that work?" or poke around looking at examples of things working and getting inspiration. I once heard that the only truly stupid question was the one not asked because then you never learn the answer and that's stupid when you had the chance.

bravo1102 at 6:46AM, Aug. 24, 2019

The only thing war does is free up the money to finance research, not actually speed research except on things that benefit the war. Like candy, duct tape, long range four engine cargo and passenger aircraft, various signal wavelengths (and how to jam them), faster and smaller computers to break codes. Sure it existed before but only as theories. It took the war to make it all into things you could use. Lots of little things come out of war because everyone is mobilized and working together for the country so ideas can be passed around freely. It's not the competition between nations, it's the cooperation within a nation and its wartime industry. Just like you mentioned with the cooperation that the space race gave to to the US space program. Before that it was a bunch of disjointed military and civilian agencies. With NASA and Kennedy's goal to get to the moon it became one unified effort to beat the Russians.

Ozoneocean at 5:06AM, Aug. 24, 2019

If the Soviets and the USA had have been able to work together that would have been amazing- Obviously that would have been impossible at the time, but using that as an instance of competition success story (as many do) is misleading. Especially because it was a project achieved ONLY through cooperation through people all working together for the US government. We have private space tech now but the speed they work and the advances they make is an absolute JOKE compared to what NASA achieved in the 1960s AND it's working off of the back of it. WW2 is another example... people mistakenly believe it gave us new technology like jets, rockets, radar etc, but NONE of those advances came from the war: war actually slows down technological advances to a crawl and only prioritises a few that will benefit the battle. All that tech was being worked on before the war.

Ozoneocean at 5:00AM, Aug. 24, 2019

There are a lot of people that have a competitive approach to webcomicing: People who only interact with comics communities to see what the competition is doing and to see if they can get a leg up on the other guy. They compare a comic's worth solely in hits and "subscribers". They only put their comics up on sites that will guarantee the most views and they barely interact with their audience. Then there are the people who like to share the lessons they've learnt and help others with the same interests get ahead. I'm in the cooperative camp myself. The old idea is that competition leads to improvements... That's actually utter shite: it leads to doing thing cheaper so you can get ahead and then slow down and do things the same as always again. There's no benefit gained from a competitive approach over a cooperative one except motivation for single goals, and a LOT is lost. -this when you actually look at famous examples of competition like the Moon race for example...

hushicho at 2:53AM, Aug. 24, 2019

It is truly unfortunate that the larger comic companies have decided to cultivate antipathy amongst their reader bases, and it's even more unfortunate that some of that attitude has seeped out into the larger comic community and sequential art in general. I always preferred cooperation. I always enjoyed collaborations and working together. There is unfortunately too much aggression and contention in the world already; we don't need to ramp it up in comics too! I do agree that webcomics and independent series are absolutely the future for the medium, and I hope that the Duck continues to cultivate such a good, healthy sense of community. Going forward with that attitude is essential to help this storytelling medium thrive. It's too fickle and inscrutable to do so with aggressive competitiveness, not to mention the inherent puerile quality of excessive competition rather than cooperation and at least civility.

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