Passion fuels the most compelling creations. An Auteur is a creator with control over most, if not all aspects of their creation. For a graphic novel, this means the artist and writer are very close collaborators, but never step on each others’ toes. A disadvantage of auteurship is starting in obscurity, however, the proliferation of the internet as an accessible arena of creation has allowed for auteurs to share their work. For the graphic novelist auteur, the interactions with the audience before the completion of the entire story can aid in its creation through the formation of a support network (creating a graphic novel is a time-consuming undertaking) and later through financial support (the purchasing of related goods, or print copies especially).
There are many auteur webcomic creations in the wide web. Nearly a decade ago, the first auteured graphic novel I came across was Inverloch. Its first volume was in print at my local library, but Sarah Ellerton had not yet obtained funding for the next volumes, which were available free online. I read /Inverloch/ to the end and started on the Pheonix Requiem, which showed her artistic and literary development from her first endeavor. The characters were deeper and more consistent, the plot showed planning, and the artistic style moved farther from manga towards realism-style digital painting. The two most incredible discoveries for my middle-school-aged self were the easter-eggs from Inverloch in the Pheonix Requiem, and the realization, when I caught up to the most recent pages, that there was a living, working artist making and sharing this compelling story asking for nothing in return. On both pages there was an unobtrusive ‘Donate’ button I realized. I resolved to buy copies of the books when possible.
But auteurship is not fueled by profit, but by passion. Some auteurs are picked up by publishers – the incredible Cursed Pirate Girl by Jeremy Bastian is now available at a bookstore near you. Others channel their passion into self-publishing, as Jason Brubaker of reMIND does, soon to release the conclusion volume, funded on Kickstarter, as was Volume 1 of reMIND. One of the most incredible examples of auteurship and digital storytelling is unquestionably the Wormworld Saga. Created in Germany by Daniel Lieske, now translated by volunteers into dozens of languages, this epic story makes use of Scott McCloud’s Infinite Canvas. McCloud coined this term twelve years ago in his second of three comic-books-on-comics Reinventing Comics, and it refers to a format of internet-based comic literature that is reader-friendly and without page breaks. The Wormworld Saga makes use of chapter breaks, and is released in chapter increments.
The terrible downside to auteur creation is its a one-man show, and an incredible amount of writing, planning, drafting, and drawing. And it doesn’t pay, especially not in the beginning. And if a wrench gets thrown in the works of a frustrated creator’s life, the creative hobby is very likely to fall by the wayside. Many intriguing webcomics end after the intrigue and before the conclusion because the creator has dropped off the face of the internet or lost interest in the project, Tessa Stone’s Hanna is Not A Boy’s Name a beautiful example. The more skilled the storyteller, the more depressing the lack of closure.