I’m not entirely sure this is true, but I feel as if I started existing on the internet somewhere around 1997 or 1998; I can remember dial-up, and I can remember sitting in the computer room of the art school I went to, logging on to see whatever the hell was actually on the internet at that point.
More than that, though, I remember getting my first computer — an iMac, colored “Bondi-Blue,” if I’m remembering the name correctly — and that bringing the internet to me at home, if I was able to convince everyone to stay off the phone for an appreciable amount of time. I remember all-too-clearly that I would spend far too much time looking at the nascent comics internet of that period, which was a million miles away from the area that I now make my living from, and I’m curious just how much we’ve lost from those days in the rush to whatever internet we’re in now.
(Man, remember “Web 2.0,” when social media went mainstream?)
The olden comics internet was infinitely more fannish in its existence; it was dominated by the hardcore fan sharing their hardcore fannish theories and thoughts with a void, almost certainly in colored text with a colored background and a hit counter at the bottom to add that particular element of authenticity.
But it was, despite all of this, fun — there were these long, long screeds about why certain characters mattered or were cool, theories about the history of a certain idea or publisher or creator, and everything felt as if it was being shared in the sense of, if not friendship, then at least community. There wasn’t really any gatekeeping as audiences would recognize it today, because… being into comics and comic culture was still subculture enough that any attention was still deemed a good thing, perhaps…?
I remember cutting and pasting massive essays into documents and printing them out, to pore over them obsessively at my leisure. It feels miles away from what’s out there now, with everything monetized and commodified, and I can’t help but feel nostalgic about what used to be, even as I wish I was contributing more to the monetization and commodification, so that I could earn a living.