Web comics creator and manga editor Shaenon Garrity has penned a ten-point manifesto on comics at comiXology that is well worth a read. I'll summarize her ten points here for brevity, but you should really go over and read Shaenon's explanations, as she expands on every point:
1. Newspaper comics are dead: I don't think this comes as a surprise to anyone. Most of their creators are dead as well.2. Monthly comic books are dead: Shaenon chalks this up to the deficiencies in the direct market.3. Format is infinitely mutable: It's all comics, and people will read it in the format that suits them.4. The audience is infinitely fragmented: When you take the wider view, lots of people are reading different types of comics, and they no longer fit the standard stereotypes. " Open the discussion to webcomics, and the audience fragments all the way down to the tip of the long tail; on the Internet, everyone is famous for fifteen people."
5. But there is a canon: Go check this out—it's not what you might think.6. Superheroes are not comic-book characters: They are movie and TV characters. See this comment at The Beat for the reason why.7. Manga has changed the game: That's because it has changed the way the new generation of comics creators tells their stories.8. The line between fans and creators is razor-thin: Webcomics, DeviantArt, whatever. You don't have to go work for Marvel or DC any more; anyone with a scanner and an internet connection can make comics.9. They are mostly girls: I'm not sure whether she is talking about fans or creators here, but I think both are correct. 10. They are very good at making comics: Actually, most of those people mentioned in number 8 are probably terrible, but the cream that floats to the top is awesome.
Reaction has been mixed. The original post drew a troll who basically told the girls to go home and stay out of the comics shop, 'cos they don't understand real comics, thus neatly demonstrating the validity of point #2. There's a lively debate going on at The Beat, while at Scott McCloud's blog, the commenters were mostly in agreement. At The Webcomic Overlook, Larry Cruz comes up with his own ten-point webcomics manifesto, which directly engages some of Shaenon's points and adds some new thoughts.
(Photo from the Women Read Comics in Public Tumblr.)