Sprite comics are webcomics that consist primarily of computer sprites from video games. Popularized by Bob and George, the style is considered relatively easy for amateur cartoonists to get involved in, but sprite comics are generally looked down upon for being of low quality.
The 1998 webcomic Neglected Mario Characters was the first sprite comic to appear on the internet, though Bob and George was the first sprite comic to gain widespread popularity. Starting its run in 2000, Bob and George utilizes sprites from the Mega Man series of games, with most of the characters being taken directly from the games. Bob and George played a significant role in the popularity of sprite comics, as well as webcomics in general.
Few sprite comics have gained mainstream attention since 8-Bit Theater ended in 2010. Though sprite comics are still highly popular among amateur cartoonists, Larry Cruz from Comic Book Resources noted that the aesthetic is played out.
Style and quality
Sprite comics mainly use graphics from 1980s video games, such as Mega Man and Final Fantasy. Lore Sjöberg from Wired stated that sprite comics "re-create the feel of [such games] with a minimum of artistic effort." Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik pointed out that sprite comics are a good way for people who can't draw well to create comics. Cruz pointed out that the aesthetic has "evolved and flourished in a variety of media" since. However, the style is also commonly criticized. Cruz described sprite comics as "the favorite style for the laziest webcomic creators," while Sjöberg pointed out that sprite comics are often seen as substandard by comic fans. Both Chris Dlugosz and Michael Zole (Death to the Extremist) have criticized the style, Zole stating that creators of sprite comics "seem to think that they're scoring humor points just by reusing old pixelated characters," and Dlugosz devoting his webcomic Pixel explicitly to making fun of the practice.
In a review of the webcomic Kid Radd, Dani Atkinson of Sequential Tart noted that people without a gamer background may find that "much of the irony and humour in [sprite comics] goes swooshing over [their] head." However, she also praised Kid Radd specifically for using original sprites, unique to the webcomic, allowing for a broader audience. She described this as a "fake" sprite comic.
Sprite comics are threatened by legal action, as the graphical sprites used in them are generally protected by copyright. Capcom has stated that they will never "officially endorse" sprite comics, though no take-down request has ever taken place.
- Maragos, Nich (2005-11-07). "Will Strip for Games". 1UP. Archived from the original on 2015-12-08.
- Cruz, Larry (2014-05-09). "Will there ever be another great sprite comic?". Comic Book Resources.
- Sjöberg, Lore (2004-06-04). "You, Too, Can Be a Comics Whiz". Wired. Archived from the original on 2005-12-25.
- Rall, Ted (June 2006). Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists. Nantier Beall Minoustchine Publishing. pp. 98, 114. ISBN 1-56163-465-4.
- Atkinson, Dani (2015-09-14). "Kid Radd". Sequential Tart.