|Synonyms:||Online comic, webmanga, webtoon|
|See also:||fancomic, doujinshi|
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'Webcomic' is the name given to any comic published online. Webcomics are usually original work, though some are fancomics in the style of fanfiction, based on characters and canons by other authors. Most webcomics are by amateur creators, though some professional comic artists publish online as well, and many syndicated comic strips are available online (though it's not always clear whether these are considered true webcomics).
Web comics vary from 3- or 4-panel strips like those found in newspapers, to graphic novels published as chapters or page-by-page. They may be updated daily, semi-weekly, weekly, or more erratically. Many are comedic; some are more dramatic in tone. A webcomic influenced by manga or drawn in a manga-like style is sometimes called a webmanga; as well, some Japanese artists publish their own webcomics. In South Korea, webcomics are called webtoons; some of the most popular manhwa titles are webtoons. 
The first known webcomic was Eric Millikin's Witches and Stitches, which was published to Compuserve beginning in 1985. Since that time, the webcomics medium has exploded in range and diversity, with a new generation of artists embracing the medium and its possibilities. Numerous webcomics have garnered sizeable fandoms complete with fanfic, fanart, wank, and the rest, and have enabled their creators to make a living from their art, through website ads, crowdfunding, book and merchandise sales, commissions and donations. Most webcomic artists who earn a living off their comic do so independently, without being contracted or syndicated by a major company, straddling the border between amateur and professional publication.
Many webcomics are hosted on their own domains, and this was especially true before the rise of social media. The blogging software Wordpress has a range of themes and plug-ins for turning a blog into a webcomic, such as page browsing, skip to first or last page, and so on.
Some platforms exist specifically to offer hosting services for webcomics. SmackJeeves is one of the oldest, well-known webcomic hosting sites, home to many yaoi and video game comics. LINE Webtoon, although more popular in Asia, has been steadily gaining ground in English-speaking countries as well.
Webcomics are somewhat unique in that it is a medium where the creators often interact with the fans to a much larger degree than is often seen in traditional comics publishing. This is often done through comments on individual comic pages, social media, or even an official ask blog; Twitch streams are becoming increasingly popular as well, where the artist might draw upcoming pages or unrelated sketches live. Even less well-known webcomics often have a small but dedicated group of fans, some of whom may have been following the author's work for a long time or know them personally. As well, many webcomic authors are themselves fans, producing fanart and contributing to zines.
Some Common Webcomic Genres
- Slice of life: A genre of webcomics built around the day-to-day happenings in the life of a group of friends, usually in a modern setting, often with elements of romance.
- Fantasy/Adventure: Webcomics which follow the adventures of their characters in a fantasy world, often on a quest or journey of some kind.
- Supernatural or Urban Fantasy: in between the two above, many webcomics take place in a world much like our own with hidden supernatural elements.
- Superheroes: Much like print comics, superheroes are a popular genre for webcomics
- Gag-a-day: These are more traditional "newspaper" style strip webcomics, in which the day's strip usually has a self-contained gag which can make the reader laugh out of context of the rest of the comic.
- LGBT+: Some of the most popular and successful webcomics are those whose focus is primarily on LGBT+ characters, romances and relationships, particularly M/M slash relationships. Although these webcomics often belong to another genre, I think they deserve their own category here.
- Romance : Comics where the focus is overwhelmingly on the relationship, usually het. Examples include True Beauty, Lore Olympus, The Remarried Empress on Webtoon
- Fall into the source canon : Isekai, also known as Transmigration, is particularly popular in Asia. A similar genre are immersive MMORPGs in which most of the story takes place. Examples: 1/2 Prince, Erfworld, Solo Leveling, Tower of God
- Two Gamers on a Couch: Considered an archetypal webcomics genre, this category encompasses webcomics revolving primarily around video games, where the day-to-day events consist of two characters sitting on a couch, playing games and making jokes. Although not normally fancomics, these comics are highly fannish in nature, written by video game fans and containing a lot of fannish material and references.
- Sprite Comics: A sprite comic is a comic that uses sprites from video games for the majority of its visual art. Most sprite comics can also be considered fan comics due to the fact that they use sprites from existing franchises. These types of webcomics were most prevalent during 2000-2007.
- Fancomics: A number of webcomics are fancomics serialised online, based on franchises of all kinds. A 2007 LiveJournal post to Fanthropology noted the relative rarity of online fancomics, which sit in the intersection of webcomics and fanfiction, both popular media by themselves. A good portion of fan webcomics are doujinshi.
- See also Category:Fancomics
Webcomics That Have Found Financial Success Via Their Fandoms
As the webcomics medium has grown in reach and popularity, and methods of supporting independent creators on the web have increased in number, a number of creators have found financial success via their webcomics and webcomic fandoms.
The crowdfunding website Kickstarter is a popular platform for monetising webcomics, and it is common for creators who have amassed a large enough fanbase to crowdfund a volume of collected webcomics in print, usually with some associated merchandise and/or artwork as additional backer rewards.
Other common methods of monetising webcomics via engaging the comic's fandom include merchandise sales, book sales, convention attendance (to sell books, meet fans and give away or sell sketches) and donations, particularly via Patreon.
Some webcomics which have achieved financial success thanks to their fandoms include:
- Questionable Content
- xkcd - Merchandise, Thing Explainer books, what if? + books (Have Explain XKCD ever raised any money for the comic?)
- The Young Protectors - donation goals for bonus pages
- The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ & Amal
- Check Please
- Cyanide and Happiness
- Hark! A Vagrant
- Teahouse (webcomic)
Well-Known Webcomics With An Unknown Financial Status
- Cucumber Quest
- Oh Joy Sex Toy - received a substantial amount of attention from 2017 Tumblr after Erika Moen's comic about cucking. See its page on KYM and the Daily Dot article about it
- Always Raining Here
- Hanna Is Not A Boy's Name
- Girl Genius
- Best Friends Forever (webcomic)
- Gunnerkrigg Court
- The Webcomics Review analysis and discussion blog on Tumblr
- For example, the Smallville parody RPF webcomic Lanarama
- troisroyaumes in a comment at the Fanlore Dreamwidth community. (Accessed May 17, 2011)
- Webcomics, Know Your Meme. Accessed September 3, 2017.
- Tumblr post by kintatsujo, 19 Aug 2020.
- Fan comics, published to Fanthropology on LiveJournal. Posted April 30, 2007 (Accessed September 6, 2017).