Sueness and Popularity: Sample

(Continuing the project from this data collection post.)

I’ve now decided on my 50-webcomic sample (download the full list).

It’s one month today since I sampled the first one, so it’s time to start reading and scoring them. Before I do, though, I’d like to say what I’ve noticed so far:


There are several comics in that list I might not be able to score. (I should have made a plan to handle this, but it’s too late to change the experiment rules now.)

No Regular Characters

Two comics (The Science of Cookies and 3 Frame Movies) don’t seem to have any recurring characters (i.e. no-one shows up on more than one page). By the rules I’ve set out, this means I can’t score anyone in the comic, and therefore can’t analyse it.

This is probably fine — if a comic has no prominent characters, I can’t really measure it for Mary Sues in a useful way.

Too Many Authors

Another two comics (links removed for privacy reasons) are “interactive” comics like MS Paint Adventures (readers suggest actions for characters, and the author picks one and describes the result).

It’s hard to argue these authors bear all the blame for any Mary Sues — or even that it’s a problem at all. Author self-insertion is one thing, but audience self-insertion (or is that just “identifying with the character”?) is quite another.

Fortunately, these comics shouldn’t have too many people making suggestions, so I can just spread the blame equally: if someone’s suggestion gets used, count them as an author. Edit 2020-01-11: One of them was excluded anyway due to going offline before I could score it.

(Needless to say, I’ve deliberately not submitted any suggestions to these comics myself).


The next time I do this, I’ll need to have a list of rules to exclude comics (e.g. must have a regular cast, must be fictional, must be in a language I read), and decide how (or if) I want to find extra samples to make up for the excluded ones.

Other Complications

There were a few grey areas around what counted as a page.

Generally, I counted all images posted on the site, provided they were either (a) posted as part of the main comic, or (b) had some sort of narrative. (Title pages and side comics count, but random art pieces don’t.) In particular, I didn’t count (and won’t read) anything I had to buy to see.

Page sizes vary, both between comics (three-panel strip versus full pages) and within them (pages posted as double images). For sanity’s sake, I counted each individual blog or image post as a “page”, regardless of size.

This means page counts aren’t comparable, and I’ll only be able to compare relative counts for characters (e.g. “10 out of 100 pages” and “2 out of 20” are the same).


More updates once I’ve got some scoring done!