Tag Archives: Webcomics Wednesdays

Webcomics Wednesdays: The Dos and Don’ts of Webcomicking

This is going to have to be a quickie because I’m sick as a dog and can’t think straight.

In my previous post talking about manga marketing, a reader Sara K. suggested that manga publishers pay webcomic artists to draw fanart and place it on their websites in order to promote the manga. I immediately balked, but Sara showed me that Girl Genius had done just that for an online gaming site and it was well met by their fans who were just happy to see the creators making money. I’m still a little bit wary on the idea of manga companies doing that (and I imagine there would be some legal troubles for them if they did), but it isn’t the worst way to make a little dough.

It got me thinking about the dos and don’ts of making and promoting webcomics. Here’s a short list of what I like seeing creators do and what would make me immediately stop following their work:

-Do: Connect with your fans via Twitter by showing them in-progress work, side doodles or just sharing your thoughts. Might I add that Twitter is where the cool kids are at, including other influential webcomic creators you could make friends with.

-Don’t: Make your characters into sexist jerks just to make a joke. If your character is consistently sexist because it moves your story forward and that sexism isn’t frequent fodder for your punchlines, that’s fine. If the sexism is only there as a punchline, quit now and take a writing class before you start another webcomic.

-Do: Open up shop or put a donation button up. Webcomic-making is an act of love and it’s your choice to put your work up online for free. It’s not unreasonable to try and get paid a little for all your hard work. Most fans seem to understand that and will be willing to support you monetarily. (Or, if you’re not ready for that kind of thing, try putting advertising on your site.) Plus, if you make wearable items like shirts, totes or buttons, your readers can spread word of mouth about your comic.

-Don’t: Exploit your readers for next month’s rent. Unless you’re making the transition from making webcomics as partial source of income to a full source of income, don’t beg your readers for money constantly. This is a rough economy and if you think you can rely on your readers to suddenly replace your income because you’re too lazy to be realistic and get a job, you’ll starve.

-Do: Draw fanart and accept fanart. You will connect with fans on a different level that way and it will help you out to have a couple of pieces around for when you might need a break, but don’t want to miss an update.

What are the dos and don’ts when it comes to the webcomics you read? Is there anything you just can’t stand to see webcomic creators doing? Anything that makes you giddy with joy?

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Poll: How do you like Webcomic Wednesdays?

Hey everyone!

Nothing special, but I wanted to know how everyone liked my Webcomics Wednesdays posts. In terms of views, comments and discussion, the results have been a little mixed.  To be honest, it can be a little tough between work, looking for new webcomics to review or touch upon and life in general.

If you have anything to add about how to I could improve Webcomic Wednesdays posts, please leave a comment.

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Webcomics Wednesday: Skin Horse vol. 1

Skin Horse vol. 1 is the print edition of the webcomic by Shaenon K. Garrity and Jeffrey C. Wells. (Volume 2 recently completed it’s Kickstarter funding project and should be out fairly soon.)  The comic is about a government agency called Skin Horse that deals with nonhuman sapients and features quite a number of oddballs on its staff, from Tip the cross-dressing ladies’ man to Unity the multi-ethnic zombie to Sweetheart the talking dog. The volume begins with Tip’s first field assignment, talking down a lion with a chunk of human DNA and ends in a mission involving an attack helicopter that’s had a human brain implanted in it. Just to give you an idea about what their work environment is like, the field agents of Skin Horse have a swarm of bees for their boss and a robot that tried to destroy the London Exposition of 1851 as the receptionist. Sounds like a fun place!

The print edition presents the daily strip webcomic at three strips a page, resulting in a lot of work (Wells says the volume collects one year of the webcomic) into about 150 pages for $13.99.  Not bad a bad price at all. Garrity’s art isn’t my favorite, it’s a decidedly rough style, but I’ve gotten over any initial dislikes and moved onto what I do like about her style. She draws some adorable cobras, for one, and I like the way she handles Unity’s different skin colors with cross-hatching instead of a different color entirely. A gray tone wouldn’t have fit in with the rest of the black and white color scheme! Anyway, Garrity’s art might not be clean and smooth, but her characters are still cute and expressive. That’s all that matters to me in the end.

Admittedly, the beginning storyline of Skin Horse, the one with the lion, happens to be my least favorite. While it is to be a decent introduction to the main characters, it lacks spark and I found it hard to read through when I first got into the webcomic. The next storyline, one that involves difficult conflict management situation between separate colonies of government agency basement dwellers, is much better and really allows the readers to get to know Tip, what he does and how frustrating his job is. From there on out, Garrity and Wells’ writing begins to take on a unique humor all its  own and becomes a very enjoyable read. While the strip’s a little slow online (especially when you catch up to the new updates), the condensed format of the book really helps eliminate those feelings.

Book extras include a comical take on employee training videos, but that’s pretty much it except for the introduction by Jeffrey C. Wells. While I personally liked the introduction because it gave a good amount of information on the world of Skin Horse and its creation, it doesn’t make for much of an extra when you’re looking for serious incentives to buy this book instead of reading it online for free.  Even I bought it as a gift for my boyfriend, who’s also a fan and turned me onto the webcomic in the first place. Plus I wanted to meet Garrity, who is also a freelance manga editor.

If you love Skin Horse already, I’d say buy the book and do good by these two creative and funny people. If you’re not 100% sold yet, then I wouldn’t rush out to buy it until you read the webcomic and make the decision whether you love it or not.

You can find Skin Horse vol. 1 at the Couscous Collective, an artists’ collective site that sells both Skin Horse and Narbonic volumes as well as a few mini-comics, prints and shirts.

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Webcomics…Thursday?

Oh geez, guys, I’m sorry for missing Webcomics Wednesday this week! (It’s still not midnight in my state, but I don’t think that really counts.)

Today I’m going to introduce you to my webcomic-in-the-works:

Ta-da! Yes, I’m still in the sketching process, but it’s a start. Since I’m usually busy (or just terribly lazy) I want to produce a dozen or so strips before I start posting them online somewhere so I have backlog to go through while I produce more strips. It’s going to be anecdotal because I really like those kinds of webcomics and I don’t have the art skills to undertake my more serious ideas. (I’m going to save my frustrations about trying to find an artist to work with you in a future post.)

As you can probably guess, my boyfriend is going to be a main character. He’s a really funny dude, actually, if you can’t tell from his webcomic Lumia’s Kingdom. And you can pretty much blame this whole project on him since he’s the one who keeps telling me my art is good (read: not the scribbles of a four year-old) and I  should do more with it.

Maybe if I thoroughly embarrass him enough online, he’ll want to work on one of my more serious projects? ^_~

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Webcomics Wednesdays: Recommendations Up the Kazoo!

Well, I would have had a nice, shinier post for you today, but things got a little turned around last night when I started to work on this post (way too late, might I add.)

So instead, here are a ton of recommendations of webcomics that I read and enjoy:

Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery by Rick Smith: It’s about bicycling nerds. It’s the first bicycling webcomic I’ve ever come across and while it can be slow sometimes, it’s a pretty funny look at both bicyclists and non-bicyclists.

Blip by Sage Leaves: This webcomic starts off as nothing that extraordinary, but begins to weave itself into an interesting tale of a seemly normal girl positively surrounded by supernatural entities who are battling for a mysterious force that she possesses.

Multiplex by Gordon McAlpin: I used to work at two movie theaters, so I became interested in this webcomic for the concessionist and usher in-jokes, but Multiplex actually has a lot of great humor, drama and, of course, movie jokes.

SQPR Blues by Klio: A beautifully drawn and historically accurate ancient Roman drama. Have I mentioned I’m a huge sucker for historical stuff?

The Meek by Der-shing Helmer: A fantasy graphic novel with gorgeous full-color art and some seriously interesting characters. I’m looking forward to where this one is going.

Ellerbisms by Mark Ellerby: An autobiographical webcomic by a published cartoonist in the UK, Ellerbisms chronicles his life, frustrations, love and little hilarious moments. This guy isn’t a pro for nothing, my friends, it’s a good comic.

Family Man by Dylan Meconis: Another historical comic, this one is more fictional with some supernatural elements. It follows a formerly Jewish man as he lectures at a strange little college in Germany.

Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell: A fantastic steampunk/fantasy webcomic about a mysterious school, robots and mythical creatures. This one is a personal favorite.

Rice Boy by Evan Dahm: One of my favorite parts of any kind of fiction is world building and this webcomic is filled with a fantastic mystical world! Start with the titular Rice Boy and then continue on to Order of Tales, the short stories and Vattu, the next installment in this fantasy adventure.

The Phoenix Requiem by Sarah Ellerton: I love the gorgeous art of this webcomic, but it’s also a great tale about supernatural beings, old beliefs and what one does for love.

I hope you all like this list of suggestions. If you have webcomic recommendations of your own, please let me know in the COMMENTS. (E-mails are fine, but don’t you want everyone ELSE to see your suggestions too?)

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Webcomics Wednesdays: DAR! vol. 1-2 by Erika Moen

DAR! A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary chronicles the life of artist Erika Moen starting from 2003 when she was still a student at Pitzer College and follows her anecdotes from then until 2010. It starts out as the musings of a young lesbian woman swirled up in plenty of emotional and relationship drama and then transitions into more and more humorous material after Moen graduates, finds her partner/future husband and becomes a full-time artist. On top of the introspective and the funny, Erika also includes quite a lot about her sex life, making DAR! very personal and even more hilarious, but definitely not for the prudish or anyone who likes to waste time reading webcomics at work as this webcomic more than earns at NSFW rating.

Volume one of DAR! starts in 2006 because Moen feels this is the best starting off point as this is where started “sucking less.” Luckily, a three year recap is provided to give brand new readers some background on Moen. I think this wasn’t a bad move on her part, since the charm of DAR is in more of her later work than her early, not always very funny, existential comics.  In addition to what you can see on the web, Moen includes fun extras such as how to draw in her style (tip: Include a strap-on), how she draws her backgrounds, many of the Portland sites mentioned in the comic and a fun guide to everyone on her cover. Volume two consists of the remainder of the strip (Moen ended it in 2010), some original material and then jumps back to 2003 to include the entire comic in print format. There are more pages in volume 2, but there is less bonus material at the end. (If you count the original material, however, it does add up.) Moen remains funny right down to the last page where she proclaims “Plagiarists have small penises (even the women.)” in her copyright text. For $15 each, they’re more than the price of a normal volume of manga, but with the added benefit of knowing you’re directly supporting the artist and a good chunk of print-only extras.

Erika’s art is curvy and very fluid, something she attributes to her love of natural lines and tentacles in volume 2. It is also very simple, with lots of emphasis placed on the eyes and the mouths of her characters. Luckily this means her expressions are pretty spot-on. It doesn’t surprise me that Moen likes to keep it simple with her art (she also attests to liking to keep it simple with her haircut and fashion sense), but it is clear that her style is also well-practiced and pretty solid. It’s very fun and easy to read.

I believe that if there is one webcomic I am certain I will still love in ten years, it’s DAR! Nothing else I have read online has left me feeling more happy, inspired and open-minded after reading. Through DAR! Moen is honest about everything, from fart jokes, brain tumors to sexual identity, making even what should be a squirm-inducing TMI strip into something “aw”dorable or funny. I think it’s that frankness that makes me love this webcomic so much, I feel like I know Moen even though I only met her very briefly at Comic-Con when I bought these books from her. It makes me happy to see her come to terms with the fact that while she loves girls, her partner Matt is the person she wants to be with forever and that it makes her able to overcome the naysayers. I feel truly informed by her silly mini-lectures on vibrators and why breasts are more attractive in the summer. DAR! is like Erika’s love-letter to her goofy, sexually-confident self and I love every second of it.

I wish I could continue on with my own little love letter to DAR!, but I feel like it would be redundant to explain in excruciating detail how it makes me laugh and feel more confident as a woman after reading. Instead, you should read DAR! for yourself (although if you read the online version, you’ll have to wade through her early comics a bit) and laugh at her everyday antics.

You can buy the print volumes of DAR! A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary here alongside her fantastic original art collages, original strips and prints.

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My Life As a (Rookie) Editor: Playing Catch-up

Wow, I haven’t done one of these in awhile, huh?

I’ve been crazy busy since July, probably late June. I went to Anime Expo and San Diego Comic-Con, caught a cold, did about 3-4 script edits for TOKYOPOP plus other editorial work for them, probably had about 5-6 math tests and just as many homework assignments, turned 23, ran a contest, wrote 13 different blog posts (not including this one), started Webcomics Wednesdays, went to a midnight release party for the last Scott Pilgrim book and met so so many people I’m not sure I can remember them all. On top of that, I’ve been working to start a travel blog for my mother’s business and negotiate with another potential client.

Who says freelancers just get to sit at home and lounge around all day! I’ve been working hard! Luckily for me, I got the largest amount of hits on my blog EVER! That was pretty cool. I hope I can top those numbers soon. :D I’m counting on you guys! Always let me know what you want to hear about, please

Because of this, I’ve sort of half-missed the month of my first two releases as a freelance editor: Zone-00 4 and Sgt. Frog 19! Both have been out since July, so please pick them up if you’re interested. Especially Sgt. Frog, which doesn’t really necessitate the purchasing of volumes 1-18 to pick up volume 19. It’s pretty episodic. (AND IT NEEDS MORE LOVE!)

I have a few loose goals for the rest of August and the coming months.

1. I need to lose weight, which I haven’t been able to focus on since everything’s been so crazy. Now that a lot of major events and a time-eating math class is out of the way, I’m going to spend more time at the gym for sure.

2. I need more clients, which I have also had to put off because July was insane and then the first few weeks of August decided to follow suit. I’m going to refresh my resume this weekend and make some impassioned pleas to give lil ol’ me some more work.

3. I need to read more manga. I have a huge stack. I bought over 100 volumes of manga in July (for really cheap), acquired more since then and I haven’t been able to make a very large dent in my stack. Because of this, I don’t think I’ll be buy much new manga in August. ^_^;;; At least reading manga qualifies as job research! Hehehe.

As is customary, here’s a list of stuff I’ve been working on that will be out in the next few months:

August:

Genju no Seiza 8 and Kyo Kara Maoh 7

September:

Hetalia Axis Powers 1 (!!!), Pet Shop of Horrors Tokyo 7 and Fate/stay night 9

Tomorrow I plan on sleeping til 9 a.m.!

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Webcomics Wednesday: Octopus Pie: There Are No Stars in Brooklyn

Supporting the webcomic artists I love always felt like a nice thing that I should do one of these days but I didn’t really have the means do to it. That’s why getting a print edition of Meredith Gran’s Octopus Pie was a little important to me.

Unfortunately for me, the opportunity to meet Meredith Gran and buy her book fell on a day when I had other obligations. This story has a happy ending, however, since my loving boyfriend went and got the book for me! Thanks, honey!

Octopus Pie: There Are No Stars in Brooklyn is the collected stories of Eve Ning, a disgruntled organic grocery store clerk in NYC who has just been dumped and winds up living with an old classmate who is more than a little weird. That’s because Hanna Thompson, the aforementioned old classmate, runs a small baking business and her customers are the kind who prefer their pastries to be made by people who are also totally baked. Unsurprisingly, Eve isn’t terribly happy with this arrangement, but Eve, Hanna and Hanna’s boyfriend Marek still manage to get along and have more than a few odd adventures together while Eve tries to find stable footing in her life again.

This sounds like a pretty boring description, I know, but Octopus Pie is one of those webcomics that’s like chicken noodle soup: everyone has a different recipe with a different ingredients. It doesn’t matter because the end product is still delicious, even if it’s the most common soup out there. Thus, Gran’s characters are the delicious noodles, chicken and broth that make every spoonful of  laid-back storytelling more exciting because they bring their own flavor.  This is slice-of-life at it’s best: the relative normalcy of events, but with people interesting enough to capture your attention over and over.  Every once in awhile, Gran gives us something completely ridiculous, but then everyone just goes home to their beds. That’s certainly more real than a lot of other slice-of-life comics I’ve read.

The art is decidedly cartoon-y with football heads, super-deformed bodies and large, bugged out eyes, but this caricature only makes it easy for the reader to recognize separate characters. This quality also lends itself to the humor of the strip, as a stare from Eve, Hanna or any other character always looks a little funny. There is a point in the book where Gran switches from completely digital inking to hand-inking the comic, which makes the art a little sketchier than it previously was. It personally didn’t bother me, but it should be noted that it goes from smooth to a little rough with no warning in the actual book. (The website, however, did warn readers about this switch when it happened.)

But why, do you ask, should I spend 17 bucks on a print edition when I could just read it online for free? For starter’s, you’ll be protecting your own interests, DUH. If you read and love Octopus Pie, then supporting Gran with your cash means you’ll more likely to see future Octopus Pie content on the website and/or other future projects from her. I’m sure this is already obvious to most of my readers, so I won’t go on.  Second, it’s actually quite a lovely book. It’s pretty thick, the cover is nice and it’s packed with two full years of comics, so you’re definitely getting your money’s worth page-count wise. There are a few extras included, so you’re not getting the EXACT same thing as your online experience.

If you’re a little on the fence about this one, I don’t think there are quite enough extras to totally justify a purchase. I wish something like nore extra illustrations or Gran talking about her inspirations behind the characters were included to spice up the extras a little. The book is also printed in an odd shade of green which reminded me a little of how manga magazines are printed in different colors for reasons that I don’t know. The problem I had with this is that the color green was a little bit yellow-y and yellow is pretty hard on the eyes. Did this make it totally uncomfortable for me to read? No, but I did feel a little eye strain after awhile. Those are the only bad things I have to say about the print edition and if you still want to support Gran’s endeavors financially, she has a wonderful line of products in her part-Topatoco, but mostly her own online store, including fun glassware (meant for alcohol consumption), t-shirts and other fairly standard wares.

I feel like Octopus Pie is worth reading (and buying), especially if you’re a fan of oddball slice-of-life. It isn’t autobiographical, which is a road many similar webcomics like to take, but it’s certainly a lot of fun and will make you wish you had these kinds of oddballs around.

And if Gran is reading this, thank you for the little doodle of Victor in my copy. Little did you know he was my favorite.

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