The Daily Read: 1/21

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As most of you by now know, I’ve been watching the post-holiday blitz on Top Webcomics ad nauseam. Last night, however, I got some feedback in the form of an e-mail from Last Blood writer Bobby Crosby, who gave me his thoughts about the webcomic popularity game.

First, he pointed out the Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule on Last Blood hasn’t been consistent for a while, and weeklong gaps are common and not, as I put it, inexplicable. This is my fumble. I started this column around November and read the majority of Last Blood in two single sittings, save for the few final updates just before the holiday hiatus.

Now for the meat of the matter. As Crosby also explained, December was probably the only month Last Blood finished in the Top 10 of Top Webcomics. I imagine it was the season finale effect, when everyone, not just regular readers, tuned in to see the last few pages. “TWC is entirely based on three things: Number of readers, quality of incentive, and how often that incentive is changed,” Crosby explained. “That’s it, no other factor involved that matters. The reason why Last Blood has less votes in January than December is because it’s had a ton less visitors in January than December (various reasons for that, some of them obvious, some not), and because there have been less updates and therefore less changes to the incentive.”

It’s an opportune time for a little disclaimer on Top Webcomics. I agree with most of what Crosby has said about TWC. It’s not the only standard on measuring webcomic success, and sometimes, it’s not even the ideal standard but, rather, the most convenient one. I’ve seen some webcomics leap through all the high-quality incentive hoops Crosby mentioned and still only receive a mild showing on TWC. Then again, I’ve seen others put only a consistent effort towards incentives and wind up somewhere on the front page of TWC. Not to mention TWC cannot accurately determine overall success, as some of the most financially successful webcomics are only midlist by TWC’s standards, having fostered large enough communities that TWC’s measures are almost irrelevant.

Overall, Top Webcomics is a good view of the movers and shakers of the webcomic world, but its listings should never be taken with more than a grain of salt. I’ve used it as an accurate portal to many webcomics in the industry, but I’ve never held the view that good webcomics cease showing up on Top Webcomics after 100th, 200th or 300th placings. I’ve always intended to keep reviewing webcomics until I get to the final page of Top Webcomics, and then, I’ll start all over. Hopefully by then Last Blood will be at a higher place on the TWC list, but it’s not necessary. Success is defined by what creators and community say, not what lists and award committees decide.  

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