Friday, May 12, 2006

Comics 2.0 - Some Thoughts

At some point this might turn into a manifesto; or a rant; or, God help us, a movement. But for right now, these are some random thoughts I'm having on what I'm calling--for the time being--Comics 2.0.

My thinking stems out of a workshop I recently attended: Library Camp. It was a loosely structured workshop about Library 2.0, a small movement within libraries building on the whole Web 2.0 thing.

Prior to participating in the workshop, I had always thought of Library 2.0 as being a group of buzzwords about technology and libraries: blogs, wikis, RSS, etc. But what I've come to discover is that Library 2.0 is more than that. It is about using technology as an enabling device to empower patrons in becoming participants in the library and its services.

So what is Comics 2.0? For an initial definition, I'd like to say that it is using network technology to start to break down the barriers between creators and readers. It's changing the one-way membrane that has been tradition comics production and soliciting not only feedback, but participation from readers.

Comics 2.0 encourages readers to become creators themselves. Comics have for many years had a low cost of entry; witness the large numbers of small- and self-publishers (successful and not) in each edition of Previews. But with the Interweb, the barrier to publishing becomes even lower. For that matter, so does the cost of producing a comic.

Webcomics then are an instance of Comics 2.0, especially those Webcomics with reader forums and the like.

Big publishers can play the Comics 2.0 game too. It's not about putting up a Website; DC's new 52 mini-site is not Comics 2.0. However, Marvel's wiki-like Marvel Universe encyclopedia, where readers are encouraged to create and edit entries, probably is.

Fan fiction probably works into Comics 2.0 somehow. It's always been discouraged by publishers, but why not encourage it in some way? There are plenty of C-list characters going unused, so why not invite readers to toy with them, perhaps even gathering the best together and publishing them.

Comics 2.0 does involves giving up a certain amount of control, which can be a scary thing for a creator or a publisher. But there are potential rewards too, as a readership that is more engaged is more loyal.

As I said, these are just some initial thoughts, and not terribly well-formed thoughts at that. But I'm hoping to get a conversation going here in the comics blogosphere--a rather Comics 2.0 thing, don't you think?

Enough of me carrying on--what do you think?

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