by Victor Yap

Pix Credit: Megatokyo, Fred Gallagher
Largo from the Megatokyo webcomic is always ready to add a little l33t sp34k to his speech.
Note: Megatokyo was one of the first webcomics to go mainstream and spread the sp34k l33t (speak leet) culture.
It is a known fact that most comic fans love to draw, and would have tried their hand at producing a comic - be it a panel or an entire book. Some may even have considered or pursued a full-time job that allows them to create and publish their very own comics

As passionate as they may be, many Malaysian comic artists find it difficult to look for opportunities that can help them publish their comics. The same can be said of independent artists overseas as well.

Major roadblocks to fulfilling their dreams include having no proper source of funding to start or sustain their efforts, facing many forms of restrictive laws that hinder their progress, and having no prior experience in the publishing industry. It does not help that the public has a general misconception of the comic industry as they believe it to be a dead-end job that has no perceived profits or benefits.

For these struggling comic artists, the next best avenue for them is to upload their works to the Internet and consider legally publishing their works on any of the free platforms that are available online.

Breaking the Conventional
Pix Credit: Eisu (pixel art of his web persona: Mr BombHead)
Eisu: Never in my dreams had I thought that it (webcomics) can become a profitable venture.
“That is how I started getting involved with webcomics since I love to draw comics but have no means to publish them traditionally. Knowing that I can upload what I drew on the Internet for free, I just went ahead and put my stuff online. Never in my dreams had I thought that it can become a profitable venture,” shared Remy “Eisu” Mokhtar, a self-employed comic illustrator.

Pix Credit: Eisu, Source: Blatant Comics
One of Eisu's first foray into a webcomic venture.
Eisu’s webcomic efforts: Marry Me! (a collaboration with comic writer Bobby Crosby) and the popular NoPinkPonies (NPP), have gained significant attention all over the world. NPP, especially, has a huge following. These experiences gave him not only some form of side income (from MM) but also the proper recognition that he and his works deserve. After he gained a huge following other opportunities came along, such as being a major contributor to some of Marvel’s Art Card collections and having been a part of the original Saladin animation team.

Pix Credit: Eisu, Source: Upper Deck
One of Eisu's commissioned works for a Marvel Trading Cards Set
Fellow comic artist, Mohammad “Zid” Yazid, had a different experience with webcomics. While uploading his works onto the Web, which included the Ultraman fan-arts and comics he is infamous for, Zid stumbled upon an opportunity that has allowed him to develop an extensive background in the creative industry.

Zid’s foray into webcomics started when he frequented the now defunct Fan Art HQ website, the place where illustrators and comic artists from all walks of life go to upload their works and gather to share, critique, learn as well as discuss on all things art and comics. 
Pix Credit: Zid (one of his Ultraman avatars)
Zid is very famous for his take on Ultraman and the level of pop-culture cross-over he includes in his works.
According to Zid, this was the place where he met Eisu and a slew of others who would eventually go on to become famous names of the comic world today. This includes the man behind Scott Pilgrim, Bryan Lee O'Malley, a number of UDON Comics artists, and many local comic illustrators. 

Like Eisu, he has uploaded his works onto the Web and used it as his portfolio of works that he shows to clients. It is with this convenient platform that Zid is able to promote his skills and experience as an artist to secure lucrative work offers.

Pix Credit: Bryan Lee O'Malley, source:
Comics artist like O'Malley can trace their roots to Fan Art HQ.
Full-time Job?
Does Eisu and Zid see themselves going full time into webcomics?

Both believe such opportunities are possible if a sustainable model can be created for them to consider. But more likely than not, they feel the potential of webcomics would serve them better as an extension of the ideas and concepts they intend to publish in print.

“Although I was working on NPP whenever I can, I never really considered it as a serious avenue to pursue. However when opportunities to generate some income from what I love to do, like when I was working on Marry Me!, I had wondered if I should be doing webcomics fulltime,” Eisu noted. 

Pix Credit: Zid
Zid's take on popular J-Rock band, Glay

Zid also had similar thoughts as he sees webcomics as a potential platform to cross-promote and expand on the comics that he is now working on for print. His works, as well as Eisu’s, were featured in the collaborative Yongumix print always link back to the Yongumi blog where more content is being offered.

“We’re still continuing what we have always done for our previous Yongumix issues as we want to link back the blog to our comics and make them interactive somehow. We do so by providing teaser pages, conclusive plot devices, and comic previews that are related to our old and up-and-coming issues,” Zid added.

Pix Credit: YonGumi
The cover of the last issue ever to be published by YonGumi. Is it truly the end of a great indie-series?
So to those who are reading this now, do log in to the Yongumi blog for some upcoming previews of what could possibly be the last issue in the series…maybe.

The Future…
What future does webcomics hold for comic artists like Eisu and Zid?

Based on his experience overseas, Zid noticed that many Malaysians prefer sequential art over high-end illustrations, which basically means “they like reading comics … it doesn’t matter if they are in print or on the web.”

According to Eisu, webcomic readership in Malaysia is generally good and at a stage where it is still growing. As such, he believes that webcomics is the best platform one can use to generate the exposure needed to build a network and establish long-term contacts.

Even Zid is contemplating a webcomic concept that may be his entry into next year’s IP Creators Challenge for Digital Comics (by MDeC) as he felt the digital realm will be a good fit with comics that are designed for print.

“Webcomics is definitely a new realm that offers many possibilities of success but what we need now is a sustainable model that can keep us going while we do what we truly love: make comics,” he surmised.

Pix Credit: Penny Arcade
Can it be a way into the world of publishing comics as well? Since NPP and Marry Me! both have their own printed editions and are being sold alongside other webcomics that have been compiled and printed into trade paperback volumes, such as MegaTokyo, AppleGeeks, PvP and Penny Arcade, it is obvious that such avenues are open for all to break into. It all boils down to perseverance, an X-Factor that is definitely present in Eisu and Zid.

Look! Here’s a collectible sticker (Right click to save). Collect them all!