courtesy BOOM! Studios

Webcomic artists booming in print

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Webcomics have enjoyed considerable success for over a decade, with many talented webcomic artists accruing large, devoted fan bases that have allowed them to live solely off of their independent work. Despite their success, there has been fairly little contact between the worlds of traditional comic books and webcomics, as most publishers have largely ignored the sizable talent pool that exists within the webcomic community. Boom Studios, however, is aiming to change this trend.

With their all-ages imprint, Kaboom Studios, a subsidiary publishing house of Boom, brought in talented artists and writers from the webcomic community to work on a number of different projects. This trend started in early 2012 when Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics fame was chosen by Boom to write the comic book adaptation of the popular Adventure Time cartoon. Since then, Boom has included dozens of webcomic artists in the studio’s projects.

One of the first of these artists to work for Boom, Meredith Gran of Octopus Pie, was asked to both write and draw a spin-off to the Adventure Time comic titled Marceline and the Scream Queens.

“I was invited by Shannon Watters, the editor [of Boom], to do a comic about Marceline,” says Gran. “They had already made the decision to spin-off the Adventure Time comic series, and Watters thought I would be a good fit for it.” 

Adventure Time proved the perfect fit for the particular style of humour of both North and Gran, and has attracted many other webcomic artists who have contributed backup stories and alternate covers for individual issues. 

Adventure Time incorporates a lot of elements I like from comics,” explains Gran. “The style was very fresh at the time, the world-building is very engaging and there are so many characters to latch onto. There is a lot of style and a lot of heart to it.”

Boom quickly followed up the success of its multiple Adventure Time series by expanding to adaptations of other popular cartoons. One of these, Regular Show, was a perfect fit for KC Green, best known for his webcomic Gunshow.

“I really dug the crazy situations that they sprawl into and all of the secondary characters they use,” says Green. “It’s a really fun, funny show.”

While both Green and Gran’s webcomics could hardly be considered child-friendly, neither artist had much difficulty adapting their writing to fit an all-ages audience.

“You just have to tone down the cursing and some of the extra weirdness,” says Green. “Although I could probably get away with some weirder things, since the show itself can get a little odd.”

“It’s not particularly different,” says Gran. “I can’t make sex jokes or have the characters curse, but I’m still pulling from conflicts that arise in very adult situations, such as personal anxiety. So it wasn’t that hard, I just had to tone down the humour a little bit.”

As for why there has been a sudden influx in the number of webcomic artists hired by Boom, Gran offers a simple explanation.

“It’s an easy pool to pull from,” says Gran. “You’re getting pretty much an entire portfolio of the artist’s work and also that artist, as a bonus, is already pretty well known among internet fans who also love things like Adventure Time.”

With recent additions such as the comic book adaptation of Bravest Warriors written by Joey Comeau, writer of A Softer World, and another Adventure Time spin-off helmed by Ananth Panagariya and Yuko Ota of Johnny Wander, Boom has taken a step that other comic book publishers haven’t by recognizing the talent in the webcomic community.

“Eventually it had to have been [recognized],” says Green. “You can’t just ignore the way webcomics are shaping comics. You can’t just hide your eyes and hope it all goes away. I’m glad that someone was cool and savvy enough at Boom to do this.”