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I Just Discovered A Time Capsule Of Old Webcomics
Webcomics

I Just Discovered A Time Capsule Of Old Webcomics

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In the grand scheme of things, the World Wide Web is young at 30 years. However, that doesn’t mean stuff on the internet can’t feel ancient. A year can feel like five. Five years can feel like twenty. While many things online from our youth have survived to today, others haven’t been so lucky, simultaneously giving the internet a feeling of permanence and ephemerality. 

At the same time, we collate a lot of digital artefacts. Old files on hard drives or sitting on the cloud, such as old documents, photos, mp3s, and more. I recently discovered a cache of old artefacts in the form of my old bookmarks. This is where I unearthed multiple folders of webcomic links. These were a blast from the past, with most bookmarked between circa 2009 and 2016. It was like opening a time capsule, exhuming another era of webcomics and the internet in general.

I quickly noticed that a chunk of these links no longer worked. They lead to a blank page or one of those generic domain service pages saying that the address was available for purchase. Most of these were permanently gone, while others have probably found a new home elsewhere. Some may be recoverable through the Wayback Machine. However, others are lost to time – perhaps living only as digital artefacts on one of the creator’s (or a very eager reader’s) old hard drives somewhere.

Finances are likely the driving factor for this. Most webcomics are a labour of love – made by hobbyist cartoonists, writers, and artists – and are not profitable. Many of them likely disappeared once the web hosting was up for renewal. Several sites that also acted as a hub for dozens of webcomics were also gone. Some of these had a collective mentality, like Study Group Comics, and likely were too expensive or labour-intensive to maintain at a certain point. Others, like Namco Bandai’s ShiftyLook, appeared to not have met expectations and cut their losses after a couple of years of operation.

As I touched on earlier, some webcomics have moved elsewhere. Hosting a website can be expensive and requires expertise, which takes time away from creating comics. Alternatives have cropped up over the years, with creators taking advantage of them in various ways. Where they ended up depended on the nature of the comic. Serialised stories often end up on Patreon, where they can be supported by fans financially. Standalone comics found new homes at places like Gumroad and Itch.io. Instagram has also become a home for webcomics, with many short-form and gag-style strips making their way onto the platform in a big way. Some webcomics have also jumped ship to print, with that format being the official home of series like Nimona and SuperMutant Magic Academy. Others have remained webcomics but have had successful Kickstarter campaigns to make print editions a reality.

“What about Tumblr?”, you might ask. At one point, that was a massive hub for webcomics. The place to be for all kinds of styles. However, not many of those links survived into 2024. That’s not totally surprising if you’re familiar with the ups and downs of the platform, where there was a mass-exodus in 2018.

The webcomics landscape is ever-changing, with numerous platforms opening up to creators. While some of these are no longer around today, many new options have opened up to take their place – such as WEBTOONInstagram, and Tapas – if a creator doesn’t want to go through the hassle of setting up their own site. And it won’t stop at these options. There will likely be a dozen new alternatives open to creators if we check in another 5-10 years.

I saw several hiatus notices posted when I reviewed all the links. These messages from the creator let readers know they were taking a break for one reason or another. Sometimes, it was due to changes in life circumstances. Other times, they had been hit by a creative block or burnout. It’s a reminder that these comics were mostly done in the creator’s spare time around day jobs or study.

You’re probably wondering what was in the webcomics time capsule. After reviewing all the links, I cleaned it up (culling the dead links) and categorised them all so they could be shared below.

Hopefully, you find this interesting on some level. Perhaps you’ll discover some new (for you) reads if you missed them the first time around. For those who are more versed in the webcomics scene of the first half of the 2010s, you might see this as a blast from the past or feel nostalgic for a bygone era of the internet. I can’t promise that all of these will be good (I remember there being a lot of lame humour back then). However, it will sure be interesting – almost like an archeological dig.

Happy reading!

Strips

These are webcomics that are one page or a handful of panels long.

Short Stories

Short, finite stories. Some links are to individual stories and other contain collections of stories from the same creator.

Ongoing/Serialised Stories

Serialised stories that are told over a long period of time. There are a mix of ongoing, complete, and unfinished tales in this batch.

Have you dug through your old bookmarks recently? did you found any gems? Let me know in the comments below or via Facebook, X (formally Twitter), or Mastodon. You can also subscribe to the How To Love Comics newsletter.

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