Popular web comics Penny Arcade and PVP have both started livecasting video shows that illustrate (pardon the pun) their respective creative processes. Through Ustream, the cartoon artists behind the two comics are literally broadcasting the creation of them on their computer desktops, in real-time.
Penny Arcade (takes a few seconds to get going)
“Basically I just point the webcam program to my desktop making my comic,” said Scott Kurtz, creator of PVP, “and take it all the way to the completion of the script.”
Someone who isn’t a fan of either strip (or isn’t, for that matter, a cartoonist) might not understand the entertainment value of watching a computer monitor get filled in with lines and color But Penny Arcade cartoonist Mike Krahulik thinks he understands the appeal of watching him draw. “I like watching people do things that I can’t do,” he continued. “It’s interesting to watch someone make something out of nothing.”
So far, fans seem pleased with the new projects. Karhulik says 70,000 people have watched the recorded version of his first livecast and the live streams have gotten about 1,000 visitors each. Kurtz says he gets about 100-150 visitors on a regular basis but has hit 500-600 visitors when he makes more of an effort to alert readers to the show.
Neither Penny Arcade nor PVP are currently making money off their livecasts, though they don’t rule out the possibility. Both Krahulik and Kurtz say they genuinely enjoy doing the show for the interaction with the fans and plan on doing it weekly.
“Normally drawing the comic is solitary thing, but having people watch while I draw and being able to interact with readers as I do it is cool,” says Krahulik. “As I type the punchline in I can look over and see people LOLing.”
Kurtz said he even takes calls over Skype. “People can call in and ask questions about the strip, like why did I do that?” he said. “It’s the ‘full access to the cartoonist’ kind of thing.”