My experiment is coming to an end. Since May 10th, 2001, Peach Colored Sky, my crappy web comic has been up and running. It was crudely drawn and was never a popular comic, or even very good. Never stood toe to toe with Megatokyo or Sexy Losers. However, that is part of the entire point of a webcomic. Anyone can join the club, whether he or she can write and draw like Lea Hernandez (my personal hero) or can only do stick figures using the same ten fart jokes over and over.
It started as a commitment to do things I had never done before. I always said I liked to draw, I reasoned, so let's learn! The typical idea of learning to draw is siting in an underfunded public school art class, and stopping if you couldn't draw realistically by the end of elementary school. This is a bit baffling to me, but I guess it is the first bloom of our society's idea that you should only do things if you get money and praise by it. The average webcomic is said to last only three months, which is the average length of time that it takes a fledgling artist to realize that he won't be able to live the rockstar lifestyle on the proceeds of his manga style DBZ take off comic, and that naked women aren't on his lawn fighting over who gets to blow him first (for ladies, it's when they realize that Tom Cruise (or hot celebrity of their choice) won't be showing up with a dozen roses for their date, and that no, he won't be making sweet love to them afterward)
Doing the work is the only way to really learn, I think. Doing doodles in your sketch book is nothing compared to a comic that has to be done on a deadline. You can read books and make pin up sketches of your characters and tell all your friends that you are doing this great comic, but that's nothing compared to working hours on a single panel, to long days of Keenspace being down, to the long nights of waiting for feedback. Sometimes, there'll be praise and linkings, but most Keenspace comics seem to go down the memory hole. Even fairly popular artists can go months without a single email.
Often I'll hear that my friends are considering doing a webcomic. They'll maybe make a single gorgeous CGI piece of artwork, and then go back to the PS2. I'm reminded of something Erik Larsen, the creator of Savage Dragon said concerning a contemporary who only did covers-he said that everything this guy did was beautiful, immaculately cool, and if this guy would only do a comic, he may not like it, but everyone else in the world would think it was the best thing ever created. I remember having high hopes for a manga that was being drawn by a friend who now hopes to be a graphic designer. After the fourth page, he lost interest, and now any fans he may have had are left hanging.
One of the other common problems is creative team problems. I was writer/artist, so I didn't have to deal with this but I have heard the stories. A famous case is that Megatokyo's writer, Largo and its artist, Piro, have recently split, leaving Piro to carry on the comic, for we all read it for the art anyway. Just joking. However, this can happen to beginners too. One of my friends has been telling me about the great comic he is going to do for months. However, since it is just a hobby effort, there is no real incentive to pull together. So he's ended up with a few scripts he wrote himself, some pin ups and mock ups of a website. All while my comic has been running for over a year, smoothly.
This is not to brag, but to point out that no matter how good your comic was going to be and how it was going to change everything, my crappy comic beat your good comic just by existing. It certainly had more fans, because people can't like something based on a vague idea. They need the work. I'm sure I'll be back to writing and drawing new comic stories soon, doing a different tack. I didn't change anything. I just wrote silly stories about high school in a crude and ugly style. But I really enjoyed it, and will always remember it. And that's more important than money or praise.