The Library of Congress Wants More People to Get Into Webcomics

Yale Stewart
Yale Stewart

This week, the Library of Congress is launching a free, online archive of webcomics collected from across the internet meant to highlight the medium’s contribution to the arts and modern American culture.

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Comics have always played a critical role in giving illustrators and writers the ability to turn their thoughts and feelings about societal shifts into works of art, but where the traditional comics industry has, historically, been very insular and exclusive, webcomics have been comparatively open and easily accessible.

Speaking to The Washington Post, congressional librarian Megan Halsband explained how she saw the archive’s creation as an opportunity to highlight voices that tend to be marginalized within traditional comics circles.

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“Webcomics are an increasingly popular format utilized by contemporary creators in the field and often include material by artists not available elsewhere,”she said. “I tried to collect female creators because we don’t have a lot of them historically in the mainstream collection.”

Comics like Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half, Yale Stewart’s JL8, and Lucy Knisely’s Stop Paying Attention are now available for viewing at the Library of Congresses website. While there are only about 40 or so comics included in the archive, the Library of Congress plans on gradually expanding its collection.

io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.

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DISCUSSION

This is wonderful news. I check in on a few webcomics pretty regularly- I guess it’s kind of become the new newspaper cartoon thanks to the prolific output of some creators. JL8 is charming as heck, but I also love Wondermark, Maximumble, Muddlers Beat and Questionable Content to name a few. I’m very pleased to see them being preserved like this, as the artistry on display in them is incredible.

If anyone likes webcomics (or is looking to get into them) the Comic Chameleon app is a great start. It’s available on both iOS and Android, and offers a kind of guided view for several series. It could do with a wider selection but there’s enough there to be going on with for a very long time.