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 joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.
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