While it’s easy, and often fun, to beat up on the big boys for their wrong headed and confrontational view on digital media, it’s also easy to feel some sympathy for them. These companies are used to making a lot of money by owning massive chunks of the market, and no matter how long they may be able to hang to their massive niches through litigation and sheer bluster, it’s pretty clear that there business model isn’t going to be the way things get done in the future.

So, as a change of pace, I thought I’d start celebrating some sites that I think may well be pointing the way to how things will be done in the decades to come:

PVPonline is first and foremost a free daily webcomic.  The content is presented front and center on the entry page, and is updated seven days a week by the talented and versatile Scott Kurtz.

Scott treads a fine line, creating a narrative strip that is geek oriented, without making it for nerds only.  Therimagee’s genuine humor to be had here, and some of the long arcs are truly classic.

But like any good piece of net content, the main attraction turns out to be the loss leader.  PVP is slowly building a media empire that includes merchandising from stuffed animals to T-Shirts.

He’s also expanded into other forms of media, creating comic books, putting out graphic novels of his collected strips, and launching a subscription based animated version of his comic, (although I’m not sure whether or not that’s been a success for him).

There’s also a community called HalfPixel that hosts his forum and his shop, as well as a regular podcast about the ins and outs of creating webcomics. He’s also writing a book on the subject.

If you’re looking to learn something about building a successful web content business, keep your eye on his site for a while. He’s constantly evolving things, trying new ideas, and learning from both his successes and failures.

I’ve also seen Scott speak live, and he’s got the same wickedly funny sense of humor and obvious intelligence in person that he does in his comics.

It isn’t a site that’s growing by leaps and bounds, but it is clearly growing.  PVP is the kind of boutique business that seems to epitomize where the web is going.

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