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Open post: do you seek out help when making webcomics?

Brigid Alverson posted on Robot 6 today that Brad Guigar is putting together a sequel for the How To Make Webcomics book entitled The Webcomics Handbook. This time, it’s without Scott Kurtz, Dave Kellett, and Kris Straub. Guigar’s new book will be based in part on Webcomics.com. Incidentally, Ms. Alverson also conducts a pretty nice interview discussion the modern state of webcomics, which is well worth reading. For example, when asked what might be less important than when the first book debuted, Guigar replies, “Comic conventions are a little less important than they were in the first book.”

Here’s a question to all you webcomic creators out there: do you generally seek out guidance when putting together your webcomic? If so, where? Is it from an online community like DeviantArt? Do you refer to the How To Make Webcomics book? Is it through seminars or art teachers? Or do you generally fly solo and let Fate, more or less, decide of your webcomic is going to be a success or not?

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About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on June 21, 2013, in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. The way I see it is most of this still is just hand guides. The best data at the end of the day is the data you get for yourself and what works for your own goals.

    I have mountains of data on how Hiveworks, or PixieTrix, or Slipshine, or Filthy Figments runs and how to move forward but it’d be useless for comic X or Y. When I do look for research material I normally look into blogging papers and follow what they’ve done. Or I need to spend several thousand dollars and experiment to generate my own data. It’s the cost of entering a lightly documented field.

    While blogs are not webcomics they operate on the same model principle and there’s a thousand times more data on how they run to springboard from.

    I do agree with Guiger on a lot of points though and his updated book I believe should be recommended entry into the field material but it should be used as a map to redraw and go from on your own. It’ll be several more years before there is a solid lexicon on webcomic operation if there ever is.

  2. That’s interesting. I really have to seek out help! I’m so useless with social media and reaching out and all of this crazy stuff. I wish I could just make comics and some magical force could put it in the hands of people who’d like it. God, I’m such a baby!

  3. I’ve done everything you’ve mentioned and more. ( And ‘How to Make Webcomics’ is an awesome book.) But I think the most useful help I’ve found is following other webcomics. It’s one thing to read guides on how to code, draw, write, promote, etc – but seeing how other artists have applied that information to their own comics gives me a better idea if it’ll work for mine.

  4. Pretty much all of the above. But instead of posting work on art sites like DeviantArt and asking for critique, I’ve found that it’s more helpful to find someone whose art you like and ask them nicely to look it over and give their opinion. Throwing it out into the ether doesn’t really get you a lot of responses, let alone helpful ones.

  5. I found the books “Platform” by Michael Hyatt, and “ProBlogger” by Chris Garrett and Darren Rowse HUGE helps. Plus, the writings of Seth Godin.

    The principles they discuss are for all ventures in the new internet or “connection” economy, and can easily be applied to webcomics.

  6. My partner and I are doing everything we can to promote our product, which we just launched after attending Heroes Con with a huge stack of printed full-sized comics (made at Kinko’s and folded/stapled by us). It contained a fully illustrated 11-page story which we think is pretty damn good, but the main thing was that the back page had links to all our social media sites, most importanly Blogger (which is our main presence at the moment). The eleven-pager is a tribute to BA horror books and we think it stands just fine on its own, but it’s a lead-in to our main project, called “When Hell is Full”, which will launch very soon. What we’re trying to do is get eyes on our product site before we launch the flagship, and until then we’re posting a page/day of ‘The Ghost of Kareema-Lou”.

    Like Patrick said above, just throwing your work out into the ether won’t produce optimal results, or even sub-par ones (if any). It seems like you’ll be lucky if anyone sees it at all, which is why we created social media sites for every iteration of Golden Hour Comics and have been pretty aggressive in promoting our work, though not to the level of spamming people. We just let our friends on our personal FB accounts know about our comic FB account, which led them to our comic site if they so chose. It’s a grassroots campaign, and it’s working OK thus far, we’ve gotten a few thousand hits in the two weeks since we launched after Heroes Con. Promotion takes a lot of legwork, both virtual and IRL. My partner has been published in an independent, can be found @ http://www.patbollin.com, and he has quite a few industry contacts. I’m just a comic nerd/writer, but I have friends in the sales community, and they were/are willing to slip a copy of our book into each one of their mail orders as a freebie. Everyone likes free stuff, and if they like the comic, hopefully they’ll go to the site(s) (which again, are printed on the inside BC). The cost of printing books at Kinko’s aren’t cheap (they ran us about $1.88 each), but if you do the folding & stapling yourself, you’ll save some cash. If you have the lead time, you can get it done much more cheaply. We decided to do it at the last minute, so we paid for it, but buying an industrial stapler will almost halve your costs if you fold & staple your work yourself. Tedious? Yes, but worth the savings.

    Looking towards the future, as mentioned we’ve already snapped up all the SM sites related to our brand, and also the .com, .net, .org, etc for both “goldenhourcomics” and “whenhellisfull”, and have even went so far as to get an IP lawyer to register both as trademarks.

    We’re serious about this. 🙂

    As far as sunken costs, counting the books and trademarks, we’re not in as deep as you might think. If you’re in it for the long haul like we are, look at it as an investment. Hell, you can write it off on your taxes for that matter.

    As far as guides go, read anything and everything you can find. I haven’t read the newest webcomics handbook yet, but you can bet your britches I will. Just remember, anyone that can get a hard copy published on how to profit from digital media must have a pretty damn good idea of what they’re talking about. Just sayin’.

  7. I read lots of forum threads at http://www.thewebcomiclist.com/forums/ before and after starting my comic Sandra and Woo: http://www.sandraandwoo.com/ I can’t remember specific details, but some of it was certainly helpful. For example, they discussed the ad agency Project Wonderful. I also read “How to make webcomics” later. But I pretty much knew all the most important things at that time. It was a good read nonetheless and I can recommend it to aspiring webcartoonists.

  8. I’m something of a “noob” when it comes to the “web” aspect of web-comics… my primary focus has always been the “comic” part. I fell in love with and wanted to create comics long before the “web” was even an option. Heck, I still draw everything on paper (yea, I know I am not alone in this but some days it sure feels that way) I can’t help but look at the web part as nothing more than a high-tech invisible page-vehicle for the eye-holes to read my comics.

    Blasphemy, I know.

    I am fortunate that my business partners know the techy web part far better than I and make it possible for others to see what I create. I have read “How to Make Webcomics” and frankly would read any sequel. It was very helpful, without a doubt. So were Eisner’s “Comics and Sequential Art” and McCloud’s “Understanding Comics.”

    I want to be more savvy on web-comics-specific “tricks”, I do… but ultimately my focus is on what makes a good comic, I guess. But, of course, I’d be missing out if I didn’t take this opportunity for a shameless plug as well, right?

    Remedy http://remedy.remedialcomics.com (drawn by yours truly written by Rob Tracy) and Wonder Weenies http://wonderweenies.com (written and drawn by myself).

    So those were ust my initial thoughts on the matter and my apologies iff’n I offend or come off as a bumpkin on the matter (I’m Minnesotan… I’m used to it). Love the topic. There oughtta be more easily accessible resources for aspiring webcartoonists, or cartoonists like myself that heard rumors that this here internet thing just might be here to stay, you betcha.

  9. I skimmed the first “How To Make Webcomics” book a while back, but mostly I’ve just… done it. I re-read McCloud’s “Understanding Comics” every few years for a while. I go to comics conventions and give whoever will listen my elevator pitch; if they’re not interested enough to plop down $15 right there, I give ’em a flier that’ll send them to my site.

    I don’t really turn to fellow artists for critique much any more. I’ve been drawing for a couple decades, I pretty much know the ropes. I do talk about upcoming plot and current pages with my ex-with-benefits, who was the scriptwriter on a previous project. He mostly asks me questions and makes me think about stuff. I also keep an eye on the comments; I don’t get many, but what I get is always good, and it lets me know what needs clarification either in edits or in later pages.

    I’ve tossed copies of my first collection at some peers and idols, and was delighted to find out later that one of my idols loves “everything about it except the update schedule”. Haven’t gotten any serious crit about it from them, haven’t gone seeking it.

    The promotion side, I’m not so hot on. I think I’ve managed to get all of two reviews of it so far. But I’m just one introverted woman, and I’m making a complicated comic by myself. Something’s got to fall by the wayside.

  10. I do! I’ve been developing SYNTHESIS for a few years now, and during that entire time I converse and brainstorm with friends all the time. I don’t talk about my ideas online publicly, but I couldn’t imagine developing a story without first going over it with other people just to make sure my ideas aren’t completely stupid.

  11. I go solo for the art and writing, but I often try to find artists/editors/writers I admire and give them a link to Bird Boy and ask for feedback after the fact. They’re more responsive than you’d think! I don’t consider anything final draft until the comic is in print, so I have no problems changing things they point out in finished webcomic pages.

    There’s a book for making webcomics?! I had no idea. I tend to avoid “how to” books on making comics or writing stories, because it can lead to something too formulaic.

  12. I turn to fellow artists and writers I respect and trust for help with tough sequences — does this dialogue parse, does this panel flow work, help me figure out what’s wrong with this arm — but I don’t tend to worry about marketing too much. My comic is in a niche of a niche of a niche of a genre, so there’s not much sense in expending a lot of effort on promotion and advertising.

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