Author Archives: David Herbert
Politics and personal views are almost always a touchy subject in any form of entertainment. Most people are against it, especially when the view held by the author goes against their own. But what if you don’t want to insert your stance on an issue, but the view held by one of your characters as a way to give them more depth and show who they are as a character?
That is a good idea, but there is also the problem in that if you are not careful with how you write, readers are going to start thinking that those are your views, even if they go against what you believe in.
I know, because I have made that assumption many times in the past, especially when it comes to authors with a history of inserting long rants arguing for their brand of politics. If I see a character going on and on about a topic for a few panels without being contradicted or challenged in any way then I tend to come to the conclusion that the audience is being preached to.
First, a quick plug, I recently discovered that if you buy one of my comics, there’s an option to receive a discount if you share it on social media. So you get a cheaper book and I get some more exposure. Everyone wins.
This one took me a while to get down properly because it’s a delicate subject and needs to be worded properly.
With webcomic criticism, there has always been a bit of debate over whether it is actually allowed or not. I have seen numerous people, authors and fans alike; respond to negative feedback with “You shouldn’t complain because you don’t have to pay for these comics. If you don’t like it, just don’t read it and stop complaining.”
And I have to call bullshit on that.
So writer’s block for a new article has struck me again, so I decided to share one of my projects that didn’t get off the ground because of all the down times my sites were having last year.
Most people have probably heard the horror stories of famous creators dismissing criticism, even if it’s well thought out and presented constructively, as just trolling or bashing. And with the internet, those types can just ban and delete as they wish. But what if someone like that had to live with someone who could not stop pointing out their flaws?
I’ve referred to the website That Guy With the Glasses in a couple of my past columns. I used to be a big fan of the man himself, Doug Walker, but around 2011 he stopped appealing to me. Nothing bad, it just was not my thing. In 2012 he brought an end to the website’s flagship title, The Nostalgia Critic, to move onto a show called Demo Reel, which was a comedy that parodied well known properties, while also following the lives of the studio making said parodies. I gave the pilot a chance, but it just did not grab me. A day or so after the first episode premièred, I was talking to a friend about the show. I told him I wasn’t going to be following the series and he started to get a little defensive, which he tended to do whenever he felt someone was attacking something he cared about. I might have been, actually, I could be a little over critical back then. So we go back and forth, arguing about the series, until he delivers his trump card: “Well how would you do it differently?” I was unfazed and told him that I would just take out the parody angle and make it a sitcom about an indie studio struggling to find their big break through original properties. We dropped the conversation, but the idea stuck with me for a while until it started morphing into something else.
Earlier this week I was reminded of a big mistake I nearly made back in 2009 by almost trusting the wrong person. Thankfully I wised up in time, but I think it’s a good cautionary tale about the types of people you may come across if you’re trying to make a career out of comics. But just so everyone knows, I am not going to be naming any names. I don’t want to be responsible for El Santo’s site being taken down because of libel.
So some Living with Insanity fans may remember a relatively early strip in which the protagonists finally get their comic accepted by a publisher and then have to deal with an editor. I also did a blog post when it first went up, celebrating how I had finally managed to get my foot in the door at Image Comics, which is where the inspiration for that strip came from.
See, around the time I was looking for various work so I could get some experience and add to my portfolio, mostly as a colourist and letterer, but I also applied for writing jobs. One guy I did a lettering job for said he was happy with my work and would be sending the pages I gave him to some pros that he knew, in the hopes that I would get some paid work. This should have been a warning sign, because my lettering is fine by webcomic and indie standards, but absolute crap next to an actual pro. But back then I had a hard time telling the difference and thought nothing of it.
So after last week’s column, I’ve decided I should put my money where my mouth is (All five cents of it, hah) and actually put up some advice that people starting up a new comic could use. I should make it clear that while I have been doing this for a few years, I am not in any way a professional. This is just coming off of observations, experiences and a few things others have told me that I find work.
To me, the most important thing is working out whether you could do a webcomic or not. Many creators start up, unaware of how much work is actually required to go into these projects, and soon give up because they can’t meet the schedule so why bother? So today we’ll be talking about an easy, initial test to see whether you can do the work or not.
Now I should point out that I am writing this column under the impression you have the comic in mind. You have the basic premise, characters and genre/tone all figured out. If you don’t, you should probably work that out because it’ll be less of a headache than if you’re planning to just make everything up as you go along. Also, I’m assuming you are both writer and artist. However these tips will also work for collaboration.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with what I like to call pro advice and I have already written about some of my more hated examples of it. On one hand I respect that it’s about and for people who no longer have to worry about building an audience and need to know where to go next. On the other hand, much of it is given out to creators at all levels, even ones who are nowhere near the sorts of problems pros run into.
To explain what I’m talking about, let’s look at the webcomic reality show Strip Search. I’m not bashing the show, it wasn’t bad. However at first I had a hard time seeing what the point of it was. All the artists were already good at what they did, many of them already had a following, and the challenges had nothing to do with creating comics, it was all about the outside stuff. However, this advice was still important because in webcomics, you usually have to do it all by yourself.
But most of the challenges had no relevance to people just starting out.
First off, I’d like to thank everyone who gave their input to my comic last week, thanks a lot. I was happily surprised at the amount of detail you all went in to. What I’m also happy about is for the first time in way too long, my websites are now clean and google has taken down the Malware warnings. So why not take a look at Living With Insanity and Domain Tnemrot to see what my writing is like when done by someone who can actually draw. And feel free to review those two if you want. While I review a comic by people who actually know how to make a living off of it.
So back in 2010, Mike Krahulik, Jerry Holkins and Scott Kurtz made an announcement at PAX that they would be collaborating on a comic together. I was intrigued, like many of their fans. After all, these three are considered pioneers of the webcomic industry, so imagine what they could create. Plus, these guys are the experts, one even helped write a book on making webcomics. It’d have to be one of the best things ever.
You might be guessing the above is sarcasm. You would be correct; I have been quite underwhelmed by this comic.
At the end of his 200th episode of Atop the Fourth Wall, Linkara said one thing that stuck with me in regards to the old phrase “Everyone’s a Critic.” Basically, even though it’s used to dismiss criticism, it’s quite true, everyone has their own opinion. It’s why I keep the comments open on my sites, because I like to hear the opinions of everyone because that’s how I improve.
I would be the ultimate hypocrite if I told people my work was un-reviewable. I review comics here, I comment on specific areas of them, I criticise and I praise others. However, many other review sites tend to stay away from my stuff because their archives are too large. That’s a shame, but I can understand, they have their own lives and there are only so many hours in the day.
So, I’ve decided to write up this column as one part self-promotion and the other part as a way for anyone who felt I was too harsh on something to get their vengeance. I want you guys to review my new comic, St Nathan’s.