I didn’t have a driver’s license during Christmas break of my sophomore year in high school. But I did have an old PC, Internet access, and a StumbleUpon toolbar. When the addictive persistent clicking of that irresistible blue and green button lead me to a web comic with mischievous anthromorphic PCs, thick girls wearing thicker rimmed glasses, and coffee baristas serving espresso with a side of sarcasm, I was in love. I’ve been reading Jeph Jacques’ narrative web comic “Questionable Content” since that day, and have enjoyed seeing the art style and characters develop through the years.
So naturally, I was psyched when Jacques posted on the news section that he’d be in Austin the weekend of the 12th and 13th for a web comic convention at Dragon’s Lair. My fellow web comic fiend, Alejandra, and I arrived at the comic book store Sunday around noon and saw a queue of fellow nerds snaking its way around the building.When the doors were opened the crowd made its way to the back room of the store, where a table was set up with a panel of web comic artists including Scott Kurtz, Danielle Corsetto, and Randy Millholland, among others.
The panel discussion lasted about 2 hours, and even then, only ended because the event moderator asked the panelists to stop taking questions. It was a captive and curious audience, to say the least. The artists discussed their work process, and the amount of time and effort that goes into running a web comic as a livelihood and not just a hobby. Kurtz and Millholland, who were the first to interject with an answer to an audience member’s question with zest and sarcasm, mostly dominated the conversation.
I was never interested in becoming a web comic artist before this panel – convinced I lacked the artistic chops to do so. However, in memorable quotes from Jacques “anyone can learn to draw, it just takes practice” and Kurtz “what’s more important is to have a unique perspective and something to say”. I was inspired to maybe try my hand at that one day.
More importantly, however, was that although the panel was specifically focused on the life and work of web comic artists, I found the advice and the experience they shared to be universal to any form of creative work. The artists preached the value of perseverance and intrinsic versus monetary motivation. Many of the artists didn’t even study art in college or attend college at all. They faced the same sort of demeaning skepticism that anyone with unconventional aspirations often does, but continued to craft their stories, their humor, and their art despite the challenges.
After the panel, I waited more than an hour in a signing line to meet Jeph Jacques. When I got to the front of the line, our time together was brief but I was really happy to have met the guy behind the snark since sophomore year. I believe I’m drawn to Questionable Content for the same reason I’m drawn to any piece of art. I love art that tells a story, especially one that’s relatable and has heart without taking itself too seriously.
I left the convention with a new appreciation for web comics, new electricity in my creative veins, and a snazzy portrait of me by the rockin’ Mr. Jacques.