Tag Archives: Blue Zombie

Webcomics Wednesday/Guest Post: 10 Tips for Beginners

Today, Tamar Curry is filling in for me with a fantastic list of basic tips for anyone thinking of starting a webcomic. Tamar has been creating webcomics since 2002 when he and some friends began Blue Zombie, a tale about adorable undead assistants. He then went on to briefly draw Silent Journey, which I wrote, and now works on Lumia’s Kingdom, a story about a girl who suddenly finds out that she is royalty and will be crowned as the first queen of a very  dysfunctional country. I promise you that despite the fact we’re dating, I didn’t force Tamar to write this post. (Or even suggest that he should.) He’s just awesome like that.

Take it away, Tamar!

~~~

So you say you want to do a webcomic?  Been kicking around this awesome story idea in your head for a few months?  Okay, a few days… Dare I even ask, more than an hour? Well, regardless, you can easily Google lots of info about what to expect when you start.
But I figure I could give you a bit more advice.  Cuz, ya know, maybe it’ll help you out a bit.
So, here are some things to keep in mind when starting a webcomic:

1) Draw as often as you can.  Comics are a visual medium and you need to be able to convey that through your art.  Your art doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be consistent (and trust me, if you put effort in and draw frequently it WILL get better with time). Also, don’t get overly detailed with your art because you have to be able to draw scenes and characters over and over and over again.  Is your lead female wearing a very pretty and ornate dress to a dance? To start, make it look like an actual dress that a girl would want to wear, but don’t need draw evenly spaced patterns on every inch of the fabric.

2) Let people know when you’ve posted an update. Ideally, it should happen on a regular basis, but life doesn’t always go that way. In which case, you have several tools at your disposal for spreading the news when a page does get posted: Facebook, Twitter, email lists, etc. RSS feeds are a godsend.
3) Don’t let bad comments (or lack of comments in general) get to you. Lack of feedback doesn’t mean your work sucks and even if you get an email that says otherwise it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world. Also, just let things simmer down a bit before you send a reply to that guy who claims you have no sense of pacing and that your art makes his eyes bleed. The war of words ends fastest when you simply choose not to respond.

4) Have a backup plan.  Seriously, shit happens. If your site is hacked or the service goes down, have a way to communicate with your readers to let them know what’s happened. If you are collaborating and one person can’t pull through or leaves, it’s up to you to pick up the pieces (assuming you still want to continue the project).

5) Know the ins and outs of your hosting services. What you may be able to do on Comic Genesis might not be as easy to tackle on Drunk Duck or vice-versa. If you’re just starting out, it may help to first try a service that caters to webcomics and make sure to read the fine print to see if there’s any restrictions. If you’re more experienced in web technology, you may want to purchase professional hosting. In any case, know what your getting into and what you are capable of doing with your website and if you’re allowed to do it.

6) Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Please don’t add “awesome” javascript-driven effects when I click on links. And no, I don’t care if it *is* the official soundtrack for when your work is turned into a movie, I don’t want to hear music play when I load up your site.

7) Design your website so that people can find what they want easily. When searching for links to pages becomes a scavenger hunt, you’ve failed. I will dedicate more of my attention to a webcomic with minimal page design  than one with an ornate website if the former is easier to navigate.

8) Tools do not make the artist. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need the latest version of Photoshop and a Wacom Cintiq tablet to produce a webcomic. You don’t need Dreamweaver to construct a decent website. The things you will definitely need in abundance is patience and persistence.

9) Choose the scale of your comic wisely. Many people start theirs with the intent of telling a grand epic stretching some 500+ pages long only to find themselves quickly bored with it and finding excuses to pursue other projects. If you have a similar problem, it might be better to do short gag-a-day comics or something relatively non-sequitur.

10) Finally, keep in mind that you are making a webcomic for yourself as much as (or even more so) you are making it for others to read. If you find that putting out content is becoming more of a chore than you’d like it to be you need to step back and evaluate the situation. Perhaps you need to change it up a bit or go in a new direction. Perhaps you need to take a break. Either way, remember to have fun with what you’re doing. How you feel about what you do will be reflected in your work.

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Welcome to Webcomics Wednesdays

I know this blog focuses mostly on manga, but I figured that it would be fun to do a regular post on something a little different: webcomics.

It’s not big secret that I love webcomics. I’ve been reading them since I was 14, perhaps a little earlier. I’ve tried my own hand at webcomics. (I’m not sharing.) I met my boyfriend reading his old webcomic, Blue Zombie, back when we were in high school and now I edit his current endeavor, Lumia’s Kingdom. We even collaborated once, very briefly, and I still write comics that I would like to become webcomics had I the talent and time to draw them.

I certainly haven’t read every single webcomic out there, like PVP or Penny Arcade for instance. (Both target gamers, which I am not.) Still, it’s a little hard for me to ignore webcomics when popular ones get picked up by larger publishers (Megatokyo and, technically speaking, Hetalia) or when the creators take it to the next level and self-publish.

No webcomic creator will tell you that it’s easy to do, but with more and more successful webcomics going these routes, it’s certainly taking the stigma off of making them. On top of that, webcomics have the potential to be successful in different ways than print media can be. They can target the niche markets and gain a large following with relatively little cost (compared to the risk of starting a completely new title that a large publisher has to take.) Webcomics are thus a lot more diverse and daring in subject matter than the world of publishing because there is no one telling creators that their webcomic won’t sell. Best of all, creators own the rights to their work and fans will come out of the woodwork to directly support them with books and merchandising.

So thus I hope to introduce a new weekly feature on my blog that explores webcomics, starting with a few webcomics that have made the leap to print, and talk about how they contribute to the vast world of comics. If all goes well, I’ll also be able to include interviews and guest posts from creators themselves, as well as exploring webcomics-related issues. I’ll try to post faithfully on Wednesdays in the spirit of alliteration and recommend a lot of good webcomics for you to read.

For starters, some of my long-time favorites:
Questionable Content (Which, I think I have been reading the longest.)
Hark! A Vagrant (I am a total history nerd and I love the sarcastic take.)
Red String (Romantic shojo and also a long-time favorite.)
Johnny Wander (Adorable auto-biographical comics.)

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Webcomics: Making comics a social medium

Webcomics are a wonderful thing.

I’m sure many many people agree with me, but I have my own personal story to share first.

I started reading webcomics around 2001 or 2002. One of the first webcomics I read was Blue Zombie and I started talking to its creators, especially the artist. He and I remained friends throughout the years, even collaborating on a short-lived webcomic named Silent Journey, and helping me publish my own pathetic attempts at webcomics before I realized I much preferred writing them. In 2008, he moved to Los Angeles and started a new webcomic called Lumia’s Kingdom. We started hanging out and, eventually, dating. Now we’ve been together 10 months and I never tire of telling people about how we met through webcomics. (I would swear that I’m not just trying to plug his work here, but I AM his biggest fan.)

Comics in general have been bringing people together for a very long time, when you think about it. Political cartoons have given the people a wide-spread way to voice their opinions on political and social issues. Back in the early days of yellow journalism, Little Nemo and The Katzenjammer Kids were such reader favorites that people still only read the paper for the funnies section. During the Golden Age of Comics (late 1930s to late 1940s,) comic books became a mainstream medium that started the culture of comic books that had kids and geeks obsessed over superheroes of all sorts.

Now, comic books have become cool again and entered the digital age. Webcomics are becoming an industry, one which even my boyfriend is beginning to look into in order to make money. Now, not only do my friends and I talk about our favorite comics, but our favorite webcomics and how much time we “waste” reading them. Webcomics are accesible, entertaining and able to bring people together.

The creators of webcomics use a wide variety of tools to bring in readers and help keep their current readers close to them. A large number of webcomic artists, at least the ones I read, use Twitter or have a blog I can follow. Only a few of them are at the level where they can support themselves with the webcomic’s income alone, but clearly they are able to do it.

Multiplex, a webcomic I’m currently following, recently started a donation drive to cover the printing costs of a book edition. Gordon McAlpin, the creator, navigated the process gracefully by offering some very nice incentives in order to get people to donate. When the project started, he was a little wary that it wouldn’t make his goal in time, but now he’s almost $3,000 over the original goal with 23 days to go. And get this: so far less than 250 people have donated over $10,000.

There are a number of other webcomics that do similar things, although most just have stores hawking t-shirts or advertisements on the site. Girls With Slingshots creator Danielle Corsetto used Twitter to get help from her readers and friends on design decisions for her new book releases. (She’s already onto publishing books 3 and 4 of her webcomic, so she already knows her readers will buy her books, unlike McAlpin.)

More importantly, it’s just fun to see what the artists are doing via Twitter and being there when they post the next day’s webcomic up. It makes them accessible in a way I would have never thought possible when I was 14 and just starting my obsession with comic books in general. Now, it’s like second nature to find and follow my favorite webcomic creators on Twitter. It gets me, the reader, much closer to the comic without the creators making much more content.

Webcomic Overlook’s Top Ten Webcomics of the Decade -A great place to get started reading some great webcomics that I haven’t mentioned here.

xkcd – A witty comics for intelligent nerds, which has a nice L.A. Times blog story written about its first book’s success.

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