Dinosaurs, Math Jokes, and Dogs in Space: The Rise of Web Comics

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"There's no gatekeeper ... You're not even limited to the page. You can have your comic be as large or as little or as animated or as interactive as you want it to be," Christina Xu says in the latest installment of the PBS series Off Book. As a sort of expert on the frontiers of Internet culture, she's well versed in the dynamics of web-based fandom. "One of the benefits of having a comic that's distributed on the web is that it's not just distributed to the people who are closest to you, it's distributed to anyone," she notes. Niche audiences drove the success of Exploding Dog and the Perry Bible Fellowship, which are now household names (at least in nerd houses). The creators of both series, Sam Brown and Nick Gurewitch, and a host of other artists describe how their creative process involves some sort of interaction with fans, from sharing ideas to fully interactive storylines. To browse the comics mentioned, check out the full list of sites on the show's YouTube pageOff Book is produced for PBS by Kornhaber Brown.

For more from PBS Off Book, visit the YouTube channel

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg's work in media spans documentary television, advertising, and print. As a producer in the Viewer Created Content division of Al Gore's Current TV, she acquired and produced short documentaries by independent filmmakers around the world. Post-Current, she worked as a producer and strategist at Urgent Content, developing consumer-created and branded nonfiction campaigns for clients including Cisco, Ford, and GOOD Magazine. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University, where she was co-creator and editor in chief of H BOMB Magazine.

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