Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Phenomenon of Instagram Comics

From our screens to our bookshelves, these social media influencers are contributing to a new type of comic with the click of a button.
A couple months ago, my boyfriend and I were lying in bed scrolling through our Instagrams. Out of the blue, my boyfriend laughs and turns his phone for me to see. He shows me a comic posted by the account @Catanacomics. I remember reading that comic (pictured above on the left), then turning to him with a big smile on my face. I laugh and say “Oh my God, that’s so true!” From then on, we started direct messaging each other comics made by the same artist. Once I discovered these comics, they’ve completely fulfilled my desire to read comic books without me having to actually go to a store and buy any.

Catana Comics has been on Instagram since 2016 and was created by Catana Chetwynd and her boyfriend, John. The comics are meant for young couples and tell stories about what it’s like to be in a relationship. They take moments from their everyday lives and make it into a cute, relatable comic. Because their comics are so relatable, they have gained millions of followers on Instagram throughout the years. They have 2.9 million as of right now.

According to the Catana Comics website, they weren’t expecting for the comics to get any fame and attention. “The comics were never intended to be published online, but thanks to John, they were! I was prepared to be embarrassed and torn apart (the internet is a scary place, you know), but to my surprise, the comics took off.” Their website also states that Chetwynd’s boyfriend, John, inspired her to start publishing the comics online.

Not only are they successful on Instagram, but they also have best-selling books, calendars, and merchandise, all based on their comics. Their merch includes books, calendars, large print outs, and apparel. They sell their products on multiple internet platforms and several products have almost all positive reviews. “My boyfriend and I have been following Catana Comics on Instagram since we first started dating, so we had to have this calendar when it came out! We actually both got them for our anniversary! Great quality. Easy to use. Sturdy. And oh so cute!” said one Amazon customer who purchased the “Little Moments of Love” calendar. Catana Comics sells their stuff on Amazon and on their website, so if you're interested I encourage you to check out their merch.

But what if couples' comics aren’t your cup of tea?

There are several other Instagram accounts that have similar comics and several followers. Some of these accounts include @Nathanwpylestrangeplanet, Nathan Pyle, creator of the comics and account, has illustrated several short and simple comics as well. He is the artist for the “Strange Planet” webcomic series, which has over 5 million Instagram followers. These comics feature blue, alien-like creatures, who live a human lifestyle. However, the dialogue they use is rather odd and isn’t how most people talk. For example, the dialogue in the above picture on the right reads, “How does your face malfunction?” It might take readers a bit to understand why the alien speaks like that, but it can quickly be translated to why are you sad.

So, why are these comics so relatable?

First of all, they know exactly who they’re reaching out to. If you look up any review of their products or scroll through their comments on Instagram, you will most likely see nothing but adoring fans who are tagging their friends, family, or significant others.

For Catana Comics, they make comics based off their own experiences as a couple. Each comic tells a different story and they’re all easy to understand. As soon as someone reads them, they immediately get the point. These comics are simple in their writing, illustrating, and meaning, which makes them so loveable.

Unlike the Catana Comics, the Strange Planet Comics take longer to understand due to the dialogue. However, the reader only has to read a few comics to understand what they’re about. They’re relatable to almost everyone who reads them because they represent everyday human activities. The aliens are modeling human behavior, which makes it hilarious that the humans are replaced with aliens. Although they might take time to understand, these comics are still very popular because they have comedy, loveable characters, and relatability.

The comic and cartoon industry has changed drastically since social media became popular. Instagram comics have allowed creators to have the freedom to create, edit, and publish content whenever they want. Instagram also helps influencers use and combine elements of distribution. This makes it easier to sell their merch and make a profit. Instagram’s platform has allowed these creators, along with several others, to share their work and make a profit.

  • About the Author
    Katie Byrum is currently a junior Professional Writing major at Miami University. She is from Potomac, Maryland, and loves to read, write, and ride her horse, Jackson. After she graduates, her dream job is to become a writer and editor for a magazine company that specifically deals with horses.

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