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Webcomics and Genre

Banes at 12:00AM, April 2, 2020

The idea of genre is somewhat obvious, and somewhat murky. It can be rigid for some fans, and irrelevant to others.

I was reading some thoughts from readers of various niches that were very particular about what belongs in them and what doesn't. There were some complaints there about indie authors attaching certain genre labels to their books which the actual content didn't match. There are certain elements that fit that subgenre and other elements that took the book out of that niche completely, thereby deceiving the readers.

Whether the deception was on purpose or by accident, I agreed with the folks that it was a deception and not a good thing for those authors to do.

A romance story has its major conflicts centered around relationships. We see the initial spark, then the struggle to make it work, and the loss of the relationship, and finally the recovery and happy ending. That's the genre. There is room for variation, but there are certain things that the genre is. And certain things that it isn't.

A high fantasy story has certain “rules” to fit into that genre, as does a police procedural, slasher, or heist story.

There are mixed genres of course, which helps readers find more closely what they're looking for. There are paranormal romances featuring vampires, for example. And within that subgenre there are probably more specific types for different readers. Also, there are surely variations in tone and level of raunchiness within that.

I've never purposely followed any “genre rules” as far as my comic goes. It has the same characters in separate, mostly standalone stories, and it's a workplace sitcom. But it's the cartoon/comic version of that, which gives it the freedom to dip slightly into different genres, and even get meta here and there. I'm doing a full-length episode now that's a meta-adventure.

But I wouldn't go more than one episode (or maybe a two-parter at most) without returning to my base. And even then, I would keep the same characters and tone for the most part. There's lots of flexibility, but I wouldn't push it too far. The comic could lose its identity.

It seems to me that webcomics are more able to get away with mixing genres, having murky genres, and maybe even changing their genre as the comic goes on. But even though we might have a little more freedom, I believe we still run the risk of alienating our readers if we push too far away from our baseline genre/genres.

Does your comic fit into an overall genre? Is there any point to thinking that way in your opinion? What are the limits of what you could change? Are there any?

wishing you all the best,




MatthewYoung at 1:24PM, April 2, 2020

Genre is usually a hard thing for me to pinpoint when asked, but I do understand the necessity for it. Sometimes the short description is the good description. So while I can go into every little category my comic could fit within, just calling it what it is, a fantasy, makes things a lot easier for myself and potential readers.

usedbooks at 12:36PM, April 2, 2020

Labeling things helps us find similar types of things we might enjoy. As we end up with so many shows, movies, books, comics, podcasts, etc., we come up with more specific genres and labels. Mislabeling something may mean someone who would enjoy it won't find it. Extra labels can help. (Actually, I find it easier to discover things I like when people make direct comparisons. "Comic B is a lot like Comic A but with racecars instead of football." Or "Movie B is like an R-rated version of Movie A."

Andreas_Helixfinger at 10:39AM, April 2, 2020

@bravo1102 - I think it's awesome that you just go with the flow and don't let genre definitions limit your swing, Bravo๐Ÿ‘ That's how the finest originality comes about in my opinion. In my own case, I just feel that because my writing has run amok, back and forth on so many, many different conventions of genres, ideas and inspirations, be it from movies, books, comics, video games, cartoons, stuff that I've learned from self-help litterature, personal experiences and what-not, I'm just longing for all this churning to solidify into something comprehensible. I just want this nonsense that have been going on inside my head for so long to become settled and sorted out in some way or fashion, and since my comprehension of this stuff always changes, I can't wait to get it all out in the open and have other eyes then my own help me to finally make out what the heck all of this stuff from my imagination is and what it was all for in the end.

bravo1102 at 9:27AM, April 2, 2020

I spent a lot of credit hours in literature and film classes going over genre fiction. I'm pretty genre savvy (as are some of my characters) . It was that knowledge of genre that got me into mixing and matching as I wanted to tell the story. That's what one of my film professors said. It's all about how you tell the story, not the story itself. One telling could be a classic genre piece (like any number of wartime spy romances) and another could go past it and become a classic narrative (Casablanca)

Andreas_Helixfinger at 8:33AM, April 2, 2020

It is especially interesting these days when we have these really flexible genres in litterature like Bizarro fiction, Young Adult fiction and Slipstream. The webcomics I'm putting out seems, from what I can tell beforehand, collectively fall in between the genres of Science Fiction and Science Fantasy (My first comic being sort of a biopunk-ish kind of Neo-Noir), presenting a hyperbolized and sometimes satirical potrayal of the enviromental, social, psychological and spiritual effects of modern society's fixation on technology, consumerism, utilitarianism and dogma, while also presenting a larger picture perspective, introducing mystical and/or cosmic powers, metaphysics and intutional wisdom, all with a big dash of wackiness and anthropomorphic eroticism. But really, in the end, I think one should simply allow the readers to help you decide what the heck all of this stuff really is at, and if it is unseemly crossing a line or not. Ain't always easy to know on your own you know๐Ÿ˜‰

sphinx8k at 7:28AM, April 2, 2020


bravo1102 at 2:30AM, April 2, 2020

Humans love to put things into categories so the mind can more easily sort and assimilate information. So it's the same with stories. I play off of genre a lot bending and busting conventions but I write what I want. If anything my current comic is a multi genre anthology of modestly budgeted movies. The subject matter is often fantastic but I freely mix science fiction and fantasy and horror as the story takes me. When it flows I just go with it. I really don't care What category someone fits it into, I just want to tell my stories.

hushicho at 12:16AM, April 2, 2020

I think at the best of times, stories tend to fall into their genres gradually and don't necessarily set out to be in one genre or another. It's also hard to really classify some things; there are too many stories that overlap or blur delineation between genres. There's also the oddity that is impressing genre onto something, which can at times be a rather pejorative label. Like for example many of my comics, which could certainly be called "gay comics"...but it completely neglects anything else they are, simply because they feature gay relationships. It's become a cliche for authors to try and "subvert expectations", but that's not good for its own sake, either, necessarily. I say tell the story you're comfortable telling, and genre can be a secondary consideration, though it can be important in the overall consideration of things. One of my dearest friends is a rhetorician, though, and I believe he could make a much more cogent point about genre overall. It's an interesting thing.

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