I would like to start out by saying that I have never read any widely circulated popular American comics such as, Superman or Spider-Man.
However, that fact aside I have read quite a bit of manga and webcomics over the last few years. And one of the aspects of webcomics that I especially love is seeing how an artist’s art style changes and grows as the comic develops. Now that is not to say that the art style does not change in comics published by DC or Marvel, but I think what distinguished one from the other is the starting point.
There are a few webcomics I have been following for quite some time and getting to see the progression from the comic’s first page to the current update several months later is sometimes astounding. I really appreciate the concept of the webcomics because it gives artist who are just starting out the chance to get their ideas out there and have a project that pushes them to keep improving.
I would also argue it humanizes these artist in a way. It exposes the fact that most artists had to work to get where they are and that they did not become amazing overnight, which I think can be very encouraging for other artist out there who follow them. As a reader, I think it also makes you appreciate just how much work goes into a comic, whether it is drawing the art itself or building the plot and storyline.
While I was searching for examples of webcomics that had made noticeable changes in art style since their origin, I found Questionable Content, also known as QC, by Jeph Jacques. Unlike webcomics I have read where the art style gradually shifts from one style to another, QC has become notorious for having many style shifts over the past 12 years it has been online. According to tvtrops.org the author’s motto is, “if you don’t like the art, come back next week, it’ll probably be different,” which makes it pretty clear that this artist won’t be settling on any one art style anytime soon.
Here are a few examples:
Again, I would like to point out that this style flexibility within a comic isn’t normally found in mainstream comics. For example, if the main artists for Superman decided to totally revamp the comic’s art style, I doubt producers would even let them finish their pitch for the proposal. But for webcomics, because they are individually produced it gives the artist the freedom to draw any way they want. And this freedom is what I think makes webcomics truly remarkable, because artists have no constrictions and can tell any story of their choosing.