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Matt_SFC



Joined: 27 Apr 2009
Posts: 47
Location: Orange County, Ca

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:05 am    Post subject: New Webcomics Question Reply with quote

I know a lot of you may not want to answer so don't feel obligated if you wish to keep your secret.

However if you'd be willing to answer, as a new webcomic author I'd like to ask:

What's the best piece of advice you've gotten in regards to your webcomc? Either in regards to it's creation or promotion.
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Metruis
Postpostpostpostpost!


Joined: 14 Oct 2008
Posts: 1019
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was emoing at a friend on DeviantArt who was a much better artist than me when I was about 13 pages into my comic on ComicGenesis. So I consider this to be really one of the most critically important pieces of advice I ever got.

Quote:
It's important that the art is fun, after all! If you hate it, and hate doing it, that's enough reason to change and move on.

(stuff cut from here as it was a long post)

Oh, and as for the painting over the pencils... why not try it? It might be fun!


So, no mad crazy secrets here. Just a simple piece of advice: your first priority is to have fun with it.

The post encouraged me to try paint a page without lineart and... the rest is history. The only notable thing about my comic is the unique art style that I never would have tried without her advice. Cool

I have never received any advice on promotion personally, but I found blogs like Floating Lightbulb and Winged Wolf Studio (Kez's) to be useful with their posts on advertising and whatnot. My most helpful link for that was a webcomic promotion advice article that's unfortunately on a site that crashed. =(
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swankivy



Joined: 14 May 2006
Posts: 121
Location: Tampa, Florida

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The best piece of advice I got was before I actually went live with mine. I did an experimental month of comics, seeing if I could keep up with an update schedule and decide for sure whether I wanted to have a comic. When I told one of my friends that I was doing one, he said this:

"You better make sure you update when you say you will. Webcomic fans get REALLY RABID if you don't keep to your update schedule."

I'd like to extend that advice to saying that you should have an update schedule you're comfortable with and do your best to stick to it, and if possible, let people know that you are not updating ahead of time if you must skip one.

In my case, my readers know that if no update appears, I'm probably dead. If you don't take your update schedule seriously, your readers might not take YOU seriously.
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cdrcjsn



Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 429
Location: San Francisco Bay Area

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Advice picked up from random places (and paraphrased), not necessarily given to me:

1) "Your strip will suck in its first year" - Brad Guiger on a podcast - Evil Inc
I totally agree with his statement. Even if you like how your strip looks now, a year from now you'll look back and realize that you've improved greatly, either in art or writing. Even now I can see a vast improvement in my work from stuff I did a few months ago. I don't allow myself to be paralyzed with fear because I can't create a perfect strip. There's always the next update, so I give it my best go and declare it finished after a certain period of time.

2) "You'll make as much money as you think you will" - random marketing blog (I think it was Shoemoney, though not 100% sure).
Most webcomic creators believe that they cannot make money with their webcomic since it's just a hobby. Consequently they don't look for ways to monetize it and it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even a beginning strip can make money. You just need to do your research properly and devote some effort into it (i.e. don't just print shirts with your comic logo or characters on it, do the proper research into what types of product will actually sell).

3) "I spend a couple hours actually drawing the strip. I spend the rest of my time doing marketing and other stuff that support the comic" - Danielle Corsetto in a podcast, Girls With Slingshots.
This proportion of time spent actually creating the strip versus the hours spent on other things is echoed by plenty of other successful webcomic artists and is a marked contrast to what hobbyist do. Most hobbyist seem to spend 90% of their time on the actual production of their strip and don't give much effort to supporting it as a business.

4) "If you want your site to become viral, then make compelling content and give more value to your visitors than what they're expecting." Dude that invented the hipster PDA (I forget his name) at a SXSW panel discussion on social networking. Pretty self-explanatory. There are lots of webcomics out there. What makes your comic special?

5) "My approach with Penny Arcade is to use a traditional media publishing model" Robert Khoo speaking on a panel regarding the business of webcomics, Penny Arcade Business Manager.
A business plan. Media Kit. Regular survey of reader demographics. Schedule of product releases. 99.99% of webcomics don't do these things. 99.99% of webcomics aren't Penny Arcade or LFG/LICD and employ dozens of employees.

Cedric
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Last edited by cdrcjsn on Wed Jul 01, 2009 5:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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dooky



Joined: 11 May 2007
Posts: 217
Location: Themiskyra

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm still waiting for advice, honestly :P
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LukeSurl
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Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 1050
Location: UK

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

  • Keep high-resolution copies of everything. 72dpi is not sufficient for printing

  • Understand the basics of site design, and what people expect from a webcomic site (i.e. easy navigation). Have an RSS feed.

  • A buffer of about a week or so will prevent the unpredictabilities of life (colds, small emergencies etc) interfering with your comic

  • As cdrcjsn said, your comic WILL suck in the first year. Here's my sucky first year at webcomicing.

  • Overnight sucess will not happen, even the best langished in relative obscurity for at least 12 months.

  • Two guys sitting on a couch playing video games has been done. To death.

  • Re: Stick figures. XKCD does it better than you can. Learning to draw slightly more real people is not actually that hard and will benefit you in the long run.

  • Self effacing. Even if your comic does suck (see above), don't advertise it as such ("Here's my comic. I can't draw lol"). That's really annoying.

  • Learn basic 1-point perspective at the very least. The horizon line will cross two people of the same height at the same point of their body (i.e. both at their eyes) regardless of where they are standing.

  • Merely scanning lineart and then using that image often isn't quite good enough (depends on your pens and your paper). You need to run some filters etc. on those scanned lines (at least reduce them to 2 colours) to get them looking good.

  • You do not need a forum. Unless you have a high level of readership it will be a big bag of empty.

  • If you're stuck, ask. Most webcomic creators will be more than happy to help out - some will go a bit crazy and offer far more "advice" than you asked for.

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katastrophe



Joined: 19 Aug 2008
Posts: 286

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Gaaaaah make it smaller!" -- from someone here in the "Check Out My Comic" forum. I had not grasped the difference between dpi and size and was posting comics in an obscenely high value of both. Did I thank this person? My August last year was hell, so probably not, but THANK YOU. And a girl over in the ComicDish forum told me to use borderless word balloons, which was good advice and also made me start paying attention to stuff like borders, and arrangement, and so on. I am utterly clueless about graphic layout, so yes, this stuff was necessary of me.

I also owe thanks to David from vendable, who keeps prodding me to be more noir. I would go play at Marx Brothers all day if allowed, and really my setting demands more of me....

Other than that -- this wasn't advice per se, but when I first started out I was very nervous about using Poser art, so I went and looked at all the major Poser comics and the critiques they'd gotten. What really stood out was that the "Uncanny Valley" comments were universally about character poses and expressions. So when I started I focused almost entirely on getting the poses right, and did backgrounds and textures and lighting as I could work them in. Dunno if this was successful per se, but no one's blasted me for the "art" yet....
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Meggyc



Joined: 15 Dec 2008
Posts: 253

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think my greatest advice would be to have a LARGE buffer. The bigger the better (if you're doing a comic that doesn't rely on current events, that is). Don't spend too much time second guessing yourself. Just take what you have and fly with it.

Up until recently, I've been working on a pretty big buffer. It dwindled and now I'm working two (inked, not colored) strips ahead. Having a buffer is one of the most comfortable things I can have as far as comics are concerned.
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Zoe Robinson
Resident Diet Lawyer


Joined: 02 Jul 2007
Posts: 1867
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Write something that means something to you; be it "I think this is funny", or "I have this story I want to tell", or whatever. If you're making a comic just because you want to be a successful comic writer/artist, that's not enough. It's a nice goal, but it's doesn't tell you how you're going to reach it and it certainly gives you nothing to help keep you going when things get tough (and they will). Doing something because it means something to you will, however.

Experiment with everything. What style are you going for with your art? Chances are it won't be the style you eventually find fits the work best. Are you going to colour your art or just use line art? How about shading? Does a long form comic suit you better, or will you use three-panel? What about one-panel? What kind of speech bubbles suit you best? You won't know until you try, so try.

How many characters are you going to start off with? One? Two? Seventeen? It's generally best to start with only as many as the story you are telling needs, because you can always introduce more later if you need them. If you start with too many, people will have trouble with who is who and what they're doing. Garfield started with John and Garfield. The rest came later. MegaTokyo started with Piro and Largo; the others arrived as they were needed. Contrast the period where there were about a thousand X-Men, and the comics sucked.

Chances are, you won't hit on what works best for you immediately. You might even decide the comic isn't working and you're better off stopping. That's fine. It's okay to stop. It's okay to move on and do something else. If you're making a comic because you feel you have to, it will show and your readers will generally not like it. Go out with a bang, if you can, and start something else. Just remember that you're writing and drawing for your own enjoyment first and foremost, and your audience will enjoy it because of that.
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ttallan
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Joined: 28 Feb 2008
Posts: 1128
Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pick a realistic schedule and stick with it. It may sound great to be able to update every day or every weekday just like [insert name of successful, well-known comic here], but trying to keep to a more demanding schedule and failing at it will harm you far more than keeping a less frequent but faithful update schedule. Even if you can only update once a month, as long as you are predictable your fans will come back. If you drop the ball too many times, you'll run the risk of annoying your readers to the point of them giving up on you completely.

I got this advice both when I was making print comics, and when I started webcomics. It was true in both cases. Tell everyone when to expect the new stuff and follow through on it!
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plughead



Joined: 30 Nov 1999
Posts: 542
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leave your ego at the door.
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munkymu
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Joined: 30 Nov 1999
Posts: 1735
Location: Canadia

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't remember whether I found this somewhere or whether it was advice I gave myself, but the most important thing I've learned is to just do it. Don't talk about it, don't plan it out endlessly, don't redraw the first 10 pages, it doesn't need to be perfect it just needs to get done.
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Kong



Joined: 19 Dec 2008
Posts: 73
Location: Georgia

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Analyze others advice/opinions/thoughts on your webcomic as objectively as possible. Take two steps back from your work and view it with their eyes.

If it rings true or stirs you , try acting upon it. If not, then just leave it. But always value the constructive criticisms and insight your peers (and even readers) have.

Remember that not all tips and advice will suit you and your comic... in the end you have to follow what you feel in your gut is right.

And also- enjoy what you do! If you get bored with your comic or a particular story line... chances are your readers will be bored as well. I know this first hand because I was stuck in the middle of a dinner scene that seemed to go on and on and on and on... It was driving me crazy... then a got a nasty little comment on my site saying I needed to move on... Very Happy

I ignored the nastiness, but took to heart his complaints about the story moving at a snails pace. Since then, I've tried to make sure each week's updates were satisfying and presented something new to the readers.
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mooncity
is awesome cool.


Joined: 27 May 2006
Posts: 1339
Location: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lotta good advice here.

Updating regularly, and when you say you will, is mighty important. I admit, I do read some three or four comics that have one of those "ad hoc" update schedules, and they only get away with it because they're that good. I like them enough to put up with the wonky updates. But those are decidely the exception to the rule.

And having fun is really important, too. Even if your comic is just an experiment to see what you can do, how far you can push the envelope, etc., you need to enjoy the work. If not, it becomes a chore you hate doing more and more.

But even more than updating and having fun, I think you need to try and get an idea who your characters are, what they want, and how they play off each other.

Try this experiment (assuming you're doing a humor comic). Come up with a few strips which have two of your cast members in them (A and B), and then step back and imagine how that comic would be different if you replaced character B with character C, D, E, and so on. Is it the same strip? Does the gag work every time? Does it play out the same way, same reactions, etc.? If so, then you need to go back Shaolin Temple and get you some more character design kung fu! How your characters play off each other is so important! That comic should be different every time you replace character B with another cast member. If not, then you don't really know who your characters are beyond whatever brief bio you came up with for them, and the less your audience will identify with them.
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Nismorack



Joined: 17 Nov 2005
Posts: 415
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From a post by Ryan Sohmer:

"If you want to be treated like a professional, then act like one."
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