Silent Crossovers

Hey guys! I hope you liked how I was going to post more and then didn’t make any new posts. I haven’t even updated my Twitter! But please feel free to follow me regardless.

I’m writing tonight about something that I am naming “silent crossovers”. Just so we’re clear:

-A normal crossover can be defined as characters or something recognizable from another webcomic (or, more generally, another ‘universe’ already established separately) appearing in a different webcomic (or other universe whatever). I’m on the fence about listing different universes made by the same author as crossovers… I mean, they are kind of, but they don’t capture the feeling I’m looking for. A real crossover should involve the characters being drawn into canon storyline by the (different) author of the other webcomic, and having it be a big thing. A stellar example would have to be the Ultimate Final Civil War Invasion Crisis Thing from Least I Could Do. Though I mean, that takes the concept of “having it be a big thing” and running as far as possible with it. Anyway, then we get to what I just said I excluded…

-Same author crossover! An example would be John: Examine Problem Sleuth Poster (though I can name about, oh, I dunno, four million from MSPA alone. LOOK, THEY ARE FLASHING RED). This is any kind of reference to past work, be it directly with characters or indirectly with little in-jokes, though of course if the character goes on to become a member of the NEW cast and it turns out that really this story is just set ahead in time from the last story, it stops counting. Even if you brought them back from the dead.

-A guest strip is also something! But this should be more obviously differentiated… it is done by artist A, for artist B, and appears on artist B’s website. That last part there is the big difference. I am not going to link you to an example of a guest strip, so if you’ve never seen one, YOU MAY WANT TO START READING WEBCOMICS HUH

So what do I define as a silent crossover? Basically, it’s a normal crossover, except it’s not designed to draw attention to itself. With a normal crossover, to get full enjoyment, you’d have to read both comics to know the characters, but with a silent crossover, if you had never read the comic it was referencing, you would perhaps never even know there was a crossover going on at all. Not to say it doesn’t add another layer of enjoyment, but it’s completely unnecessary for understanding’s sake.

I had been considering writing an article on this subject for some time, so when David Willis of Shortpacked! snuck some characters and a setting from Questionable Content into the back of the strip and a whole Twitterized friggin’ EVENT started happening, I couldn’t resist. After Jeph Jacques read it and posted a link, with a sarcastic note about how Willis stole his characters and whatnot, a bunch of people responded via the Twitternets and apparently did not understand sarcasm!

“way to not ask Jeph Jacques, douchebag.”

“he’s still technically copying because there’s NO CREDIT GIVEN.”

“I understand he’s your friend by he should have given credit, wither on the art or a disc. Believe me I’ve seen some shit :(”

“I am going to hunt down that motherfucker where he lives and spear him through the heart!”

I admit I may have made one of those up, but my desire to sift through the MASSIVE amounts of tweets @jephjacques and @shortpacked is waning like a… waner. Anyway and then the whole thing turned into a wonderful fake feud that you’ll just have to read yourself, complete with images. <-NSFW!

Of course, it was pretty obviously fake, and reading the feud was pretty funny. It is a rather obvious statement that webcomic creators have senses of humor. But this is a great example of using networking and the magics of the internet to further promote your webcomic. Granted, QC and SP! are both, y’know, pretty big already. But no matter where you are, everything helps. They were obviously not conspiring behind the scenes like “put my characters in your comic and we’ll stage a surprise fake fight and people will laugh and WE WILL GET HITS MWAHAHA” (though that’d be cool too), but natural human interaction is enough of a selling point here. Like I’ve stressed before: if someone likes a comic, they will be interested in the author. Use it!

Off the top of my head, I can think of a couple other silent crossovers…

-Willis himself linked this in his history tonight.

-From Sluggy Freelance, Gwynn has family from General Protection Fault, though I can’t find the link to the Sluggy comic… sorry!

-This Gunshow features some strangely familiar characters

…man, I know there are more out there, but my brain is totally blanking! Link some for me, please?

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December 4, 2009. Articles, Webcomics.

One Comment

  1. Peter Emuss replied:

    http://www.websnark.com/archives/2005/12/hitchhiking_on.html

    QuestionableContent and SomethingPositive bouncing back and forth a couple of years back, with each having characters from the other in the background.

    PJW

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