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A Softer World is a webcomic created by Joey Comeau and Emily Horne in 2003. The comic usually consists of three panels featuring different photographs or pieces of the same image spread over the frames with overlaying text. The text often relays descriptions of relatable situations and end in absurd or dark humor, with additional commentary provided when a reader hovers over the strip. As of September 2013, the comic is updated three times per week and syndicated on Tumblr and LiveJournal.
In 2001, the first iteration of A Softer World was published in a zine using photographs taken by Horne and text written by Comeau. It transitioned to the web on February 7th, 2003, with a comic of a black kitten asking an unseen higher power if its parents were ever going to come home.
By 2006, A Softer World began appearing on other blogs including Hype Machine, Comic Book Resources, This Magazine and Make Use Of. By May 2008, the comics began appearing in print issues of The Guardian. As of September 2013, A Softer World has more than 21,000 Facebook fans and sells merchandise through Topatoco.
The first A Softer World book, titled Truth and Beauty Bombs, was released in 2006, with 20 never-before-seen comics. They released two more books, Second Best Isn’t So Bad and Everybody Gets Got in 2009 and 2012 respectively. On July 30th, 2013, Comeau and Horne launched a Kickstarter to fund a fourth book, titled Let’s Do Something Wrong (shown below). By the end of the campaign, they raised $78,587, 314% of their original $25,000 goal.
Some time prior to July 2004, English author Warren Ellis shared a link to the webcomic with his email list Bad Signal, causing a large spike in traffic. Soon after, Comeau received a call from his web hosting service stating that the site had seen 5 gigs of traffic in one hour. In 2005, A Softer World was named one of the year’s best webcomics on The Webcomic Examiner. In 2007, it won the first Web Cartoonists’ Choice Award for photographic webcomic. PC Mag also named it the #1 Best Unsung Webcomic.
Fan Art and Remixes
As early as 2007, fans began remixing A Softer World strips with their own photography or text, inspired by the comic’s dark humor. One of the earliest posts (shown below) was uploaded to Flickr on May 20th, 2007 and shared with the hashtag #aswfanart. In 2009, InfiniteComic.com was created, allowing people to input keywords to generate an A Softer World-style strip.
Since May 2010, blogs dedicated to remixing the original comics around specific fandoms have been created on social networking sites. That month, A Skating World was created on LiveJournal, replaces the photos taken by Horne with pictures of figure skaters (shown below). By November 2010, the trope had begun to appear on Tumblr with A Hetalia World.
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