History of Webcomics

The earliest of web comics arose even before the inception of the world wide web. The comics Witches and Stitches was released in 1985 on CompuServe, which was the first provider for online services in the U.S. The web comic, T.H.E. Fox, was released soon after in 1986 on both Quantum Link, a located in both Canada and the U.S., as well as on CompuServe.

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With the invention of the world wide web in 1989, web comics were able to become more widespread as opposed to simply being strips which were read by a select few. With the internet, they become universally accessible. In 1991, Where the Buffalo Roam was released on a private usenet system and was published on the web in 1994 and become known as the first webcomic. In 1993, Doctor Fun was the first comic which was published on the web and it ran for about 10 years. NetBoy was released in the summer of 1994 and the Finnish Comics Society instituted NetComics Weekly. Because of the web, a variety of comics were released during the mid 1990s which included Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan, Art Comes Daily, Polymer City Chronicles, Eric Monster Millikan, and Kevin and Kell. In the spring of 1995, these comics first become known as “webcomics”.

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As web comics became increasingly popular in the late 1990s, the number of comics grew exponentially. In 1996, Melonpool and Sabrina Online were introduced and in 1997, Goats and Sluggy Freelance were published. Sluggy Freelance continues to release new comics to this day. 1997 also introduced Roomies in September, Newshounds, and User Friendly. The next year, 1998, Pvp and Penny Arcade were published which were two of the most revenue generating web comics of all time.

The turn of the millennia introduced the concept of web comic portals. In the March of 2000, Chris Cosby, Terri Crosby, Darren Bleul, and Nathan Stone introduced the first portal, Keenspot. They later introduced Keenspace, a hosting service for web comics which was later called Comic Genesis in 2005. Online manga was first introduced in 2000 in the web portal developed by Austin Osueke, eigoMANGA. This drew a large amount of attention to the new realm of web comics.

With the writing of his book Reinventing Comics in 2001, Scott McCloud became very influential in the field of web comics. He advocated for the digital publications of comics as well as for the use of micropayments. That same year, the site Cool Beans World was instituted as a website which published comics, both animated and partially animated. The site generated a large amount of publicity including a number of contributors such as Clive Barker and British comic writers, Pat Mills and John Bolton.

The year 2001 also saw the emersion of Komikwerks.com, a website which published free comic and animation strips. The following year, Modern Tales was established by Joey Manley offering subscriptions to comic enthusiasts and prompted the release of several other websites including Serializer and Graphic Smash. By the middle of the first decade of the millennia, web comics became a business of its own with major sites such as Drunk Duck and Webcomics Nation drawing numerous viewers.

Although comics have been published on online servers since the 1980s with the emersion of services such as CompuServe and Quantum Link, the introduction of the world wide web inevitably spurred the web comic industry to new heights. Several popular comic strips today have solely existed on the internet at popular free comic sites or subscription venues while others, such as Marvel Comics and DC Comics, began to publish online until 2006 and 2007.