Dinosaur Comics and Strong Internet Ties

I’ve been feeling frustrated by both Questionable Content and Girls With Slingshots, long my two go-to webcomics, for a while, and thus slightly vexed with the genre. But Brian Wolly’s interview with Ryan North, the creator of the wonderful strip Dinosaur Comics both served as a useful reminder that just because I’m tired of unmotivated hipsters is no reason to give up on a genre, and contained this wonderful observation:

Being online works really well for any creative work, but especially comics. You have to recognize as a creative person that not everyone’s going to be into what you’re doing. Let’s say 1 in 10 people likes my comic: that means if it’s printed in a paper, 90 percent of the audience will say, “What is this? The pictures don’t change. That’s terrible and now I am physically angry.” Anyone who publishes it is going to get letters about it. But online, that one in 10 can self-select, and when they find my site they say, “Oh man, this is great, this is unlike anything I see in the paper. I’m gonna show this to my friend who shares my sense of humor.” I’d rather have that reader, who loves it, than ten times the number of readers who don’t like it, who read it just because it’s there.

I think there’s this tendency to assume that ties formed on the internet, particularly those around culture, are weaker because they’re not in-person. But anything that lets you find a more precise expression of what you like, a community of people who feel as passionate as you do, is probably going to produce stronger ties. People who like dinosaurs who talk about rap battles — a category that wouldn’t have existed a decade ago — are my kind of people.