One of the earliest observations about webcomics that people made — I think I was one of those people, maybe the first, I dunno — was that, weirdly, there weren’t a lot of superheroes running around.
That was a long time ago. There are probably more superhero webcomics these days than there were webcomics, period, back in 2000, 2001, when people started saying this. But still, given the dominance of the superhero genre in the world of print comics, you’d think that there would have been a larger and more prominent spot for capes ‘n tights in the webcomics world. It hasn’t turned out that way.
There are/were probably a lot of reasons that superheroes are less prominent in webcomics than they are in print, not the least of which is that superhero fans are pretty well-served by the “Big Two” publishers, while the fans of other kinds of comics weren’t always able to find what they wanted at the comic book store, so they turned to webcomics more quickly. Makes some sense.
How to explain, then, the prominent presence of superheroes in the nascent world of serialized webfiction? It’s one of the most popular genres, apparently (judging by sites like webfictionguide.com and topwebfiction.com, as well as a purely anecdotal survey of sites that come up when you Google the term “serialized fiction” or “webfiction.”) A lot of them are really good, too. There’s the Legion of Nothing by Jim Zoetewey, for example, which sits at or near the top of almost every popularity chart. (Personally, I like the stories but hate the web design — or, more specifically, the navigational structure — but that’s just me). There’s Warren Hately’s awesome Zephyr, too, which is my personal favorite. There’s a whole section dedicated to the genre at webfictionguide.
I’m interested mainly because of my own little project, of course. But I’m also interested generally. Why do you think the superhero genre is taking off in prose fiction (it’s not just on the web — have a look at superheronovels.com, a blog dedicated solely to prose superhero stories coming out in print and ebook form)?