There's a sweet spot in the middle where you have enough freedom to realize the gist of a vision, but also a number of unwavering hard constraints to rein you back in.
"Personally, I like paper and ink better than glowing pixels, but to each his own. Obviously the role of comics is changing very fast. On the one hand, I don’t think comics have ever been more widely accepted or taken as seriously as they are now. On the other hand, the mass media is disintegrating, and audiences are atomizing. I suspect comics will have less widespread cultural impact and make a lot less money. I’m old enough to find all this unsettling, but the world moves on. All the new media will inevitably change the look, function, and maybe even the purpose of comics, but comics are vibrant and versatile, so I think they’ll continue to find relevance one way or another. But they definitely won’t be the same as what I grew up with."
source: I'm a cartoonist
Romantically Apocalyptic: http://romanticallyapocalyptic.com/
Questionable Content: http://questionablecontent.net/
XKCD "Time" : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_(xkcd)
Patreon really is a miracle worker from this sort of niche content. I've seen fairly niche people put up a Patreon campaign, then actually freak out about how much money they end up getting, because you aggregate a couple thousand $1-5/month donations and Holy Shit. (Suddenly it's a Real Job (TM).) It's incredible feasible to go from "scraping by, annoying your parents and friends with what looks like a vow of poverty to do your Stupid Shit and living in constant money stress" to "comfortable middle-class lifestyle with reasonable income assurance". Not perfect, of course, but reasonable.
I mean, look at this: http://www.patreon.com/ZachWeinersmith
Any halfway-well-respected online comic artist not running a Patreon right now needs to get on it.
Keep in mind these people also still have their other sources of income: book runs, merchandise, etc.
I really think that in the long term Patreon is more important than Kickstarter for the arts. Kickstarter by its nature is much splashier and makes the big news articles, but it's Patreon that changes lives by chugging along month after month after month after month.
Can you imagine what Watterson could get directly from the public on Patreon? Most assuredly a better offer than any newspaper could ever offer him now.
Patreon is the next stage in the evolution. It is my belief that this platform will spur the second renaissance for creators who can at last focus entirely on their art without just one well-funded patreon (e.g., Harper Lee and To Kill A Mockingbird).
Girl Genius, winner of several awards for both story and art, a story about a world ruled by MAD SCIENCE: http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/
8-bit theater (finished now), an overall parody of Final Fantasy: http://www.nuklearpower.com/2001/03/02/episode-001-were-goin...
Megatokyo - it used to be pretty big among manga fans, I don't know if it still is: http://megatokyo.com/
Savage chickens, a strip drawn in sticky notes: http://www.savagechickens.com/
Basic Instructions - hard to explain, but still, very funny: http://basicinstructions.net/
Penny Arcade, one of the first "big" webcomics, from the same guys that run PAX: http://penny-arcade.com/
Manly guys doing manly things, an overall parody of macho characters in popular culture: http://thepunchlineismachismo.com/
XKCD, terrible (minimalist?) drawing, truly great writing (if you are geek and/or math inclined): http://xkcd.com
Keep in mind that for new readers it is usually better to start from the first strip and move on, but that usually means that you have to endure some pretty terrible artwork (check the "first" button, and move on).
Also, it depends a lot on what you like reading - XKCD is almost exclusively math-oriented while Penny Arcade is not really funny if you are not into videogames. Then again, that's the good side - there's something out there for everyone.
• The not-updated-often-but-still-great « perry bible fellowship » : http://www.pbfcomics.com
• The overly optimistic « Buni » : http://www.bunicomic.com/
• The Norwegian POV : http://www.optipess.com/
(relevant to main topic http://www.optipess.com/2010/09/20/no-girls-allowed/ ;
or to news http://www.optipess.com/2010/10/08/missing-piece/ )
• Not always SFW (depends where you work of course) :
• Science, Sex and Fun « Saturday morning breakfast cereal » : http://www.smbc-comics.com
• Often trashy but also often very funny « Cyanide & Happiness » : http://explosm.net/comics/
Why you should check it out: Great illustrations. Mid-to-Long story arcs, with single shorts thrown in full color panels on Sundays. And it is SFW.
Questionable Content: http://questionablecontent.net
Some find it a bit insipid and too self-referential at times, but it has it's brilliant moments. Also (mostly) SFW.
Piled Higher and Deeper - grad students. http://phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=591
Extra Ordinary - surreal humor. http://www.exocomics.com/05
Boy on a Stick and Slither - surreal humor. It's dead now, and judging by my friends is a minority taste, but has several of my favorite strips to its name. http://archive.boasas.com/?c=286
minus - more surreal humor. Also dead, but excellent. http://www.kiwisbybeat.com/minus13.html
Jesus and Mo - making fun of religion and the stupid things it inspires people to say. http://www.jesusandmo.net/2006/05/11/skin/
Sam and Fuzzy - Hard to describe. The cartoonist does a great job making sure there's a joke in every strip, despite involved continuity. http://www.samandfuzzy.com/1482
Station V3 - originally great. Hit such an awful dry spell that I unsubscribed, but hey, maybe it's funny again. http://www.stationv3.com/d/20110722.html
Of those already listed, I also endorse savage chickens, xkcd, basic instructions, and sinfest.
I rather like these two:
Which is not surprising. I do a webcomic, and have no day job to distract me from it, and yet sometimes I can't even manage one page a week, let alone the six B&W strips and one Sunday strip that being a Syndicated Cartoonist involves. I have a friend who's doing the syndicate gig right now and she's basically impossible to get ahold of because she's always got to stay on top of her buffer.
It's kinda like coding for video games. It's a dream job but the reality is that there are a ton of other people clawing for the same position so you better work your ass off, kiddo!!11!!!. Well, okay, maybe less of a dream job now that newspapers are dead but you know what I mean. That shit burns you out but good.
But this man is not a SC. He is Bill Waterson. If he wants to have a panel once a week, in full color, only on thursdays any newspaper editor who turns him down is an idiot.
As for making him a web cartoon artist, all you need would be hosting somewhere, a server that can handle the traffic and one message to whomever moderate the Facebook Calvin and Hobbes Fan group, plus a twitter account that sends a message each time a new cartoon is published.
Who knows? Maybe this little thing he did with Pastis was him testing the waters. He might have been asking himself "Do I still have it? Do I still WANT to have it?" by drawing these. Maybe he's toying with some sort of return. Maybe he's about to drop some awesome personal graphic novel that's been brewing this 20-year-sabbatical. I know damn well Universal/Gocomics would kill to set up a new presence for him on pretty much any terms he wants. Half the web cartoonists he met via showing up on Stripped! would probably do it for free.
But does he want it again?
I mean, he retired into aggressive anonymity for twenty years. He might have recharged. He might still be completely burnt out.
We can't know. And that's entirely what it rests upon.
Sure, it's just wishful thinking, but it wouldn't be that hard to give him an outlet to do as he pleases, assuming he wants to do something.
I'll be darned if he couldn't find someone to work with who could handle getting his work online though. It's mere wishful thinking, but he could draw and communicate (or not) in whichever way he wants, and some trusted friend and gatekeeper handles all of the scanning and online stuff, which could be kept very simple and noncommercial. No ads, twitter, comments section or any of the usual "social media branding" stuff, literally just a page with a comic on it.
Sigh. Man, I still miss Calvin and Hobbes.
Anyway, that second strip sure is one big hint, huh?
Just appreciate it for what it is--a window into our fond memories of Watterson's work.
It didn't used to be that way. Modern Webcomics are starting to be big cultural phenomena (income comparable with a comfortable full-time job or better for the stars in the industry)
Like finding Jeff Gordon driving your kids' school bus one idle morning.
Also, the final strip is pretty good. Not the one drawn by Bill ... the followup here - http://www.gocomics.com/pearlsbeforeswine/2014/06/07
(I mean, I think he quit, at least in part, because he'd said a lot of what he thought he had to say and started feeling like a turnip)
Although sadly for me he really hits his stride in the last strip of the series.
That said, even with the context, I thought they were wonderful. The third made me laugh a lot.
Just do it.
a few relevant links from there:
unofficial history of fan art projects:
4 full color sunday strips put out by pantsareoverated.com (Dan and Tom Heyerman) where Calvin and Susie have a daughter, Bacon:
Phil Barry on DeviantArt did 3:
User DomNX on DeviantArt did a series called "Calvin and Company" where Calvin and Susie have twins. The content linked in the article has been removed from facebook, as well as hir account on deviantArt (best I could tell). Found it from pinterest user Potatohappiness:
And thank you for C&H, Mr. Watterson.