Makeshift Musings and Comic Book Bliss: A Buffer Against The Ravages Of The Web
Last column I stressed the importance of starting, of making that push and getting the momentum to start your own comic project. If you don't start, then you'll never know what's possible. But, there's no need to throw caution completely out the window.
For the love of all that's holy, create a buffer of strips/pages BEFORE you start posting them on the web.
This is truly one of those "do as I say, not as I do" type scenarios. Although I started Makeshift Miracle with 14 pages done before I began posting, that buffer slowly eroded over the first year until I was creating strips the night before they were due each and every time. Staying up late, cutting corners, revising material after it was already posted... it was an irritating series of months and I never got the chance to rebuild that buffer.
Creating your comic at the last minute is a frustrating process that saps your creativity and keeps you from refining your material. Spelling errors, weak ideas, continuity problems... all these little things creep in because you're "under the gun".
Let me say that again: create a buffer of strips/pages BEFORE you start posting them on the web.
Your own regularity is one of the most important ways for you to maintain a regular readership. They want to know that you're going to be there with a new page when you say you will. They'll bookmark your site and check it if they like what they see and nothing will stagnant that audience faster than leaving them hanging without a new "fix". Don't let popular sites like Megatokyo fool you into thinking that you can update whenever the hell you feel like it – they're the exception, not the rule. You will not be the exception... people will just stop reading…harsh but true. Internet audiences are fickle and you don't want to give them any more ammo than you have to.
Whatever your update schedule (weekly, 3 times a week, daily, etc.) I recommend having at least a month's worth of material before you start up your website. Anything less and you WILL fall behind. Real life throws you curve balls (I moved across the country… twice in two years) and your best hope of keeping your creative endeavors hiccup free is to create that page buffer.
So many decent artists and writers want to get that first page up immediately. They want that instant feedback and I understand their want. But if you don't have the willpower to create a handful of pages before the website starts, you probably won't have the will to pound it out months and months later when it's no longer new to you. Put in the effort at the front end of this, and the momentum will help carry you through the creative blocks or distractions you may encounter down the road.
One more time: create a buffer of strips/pages BEFORE you start posting them on the web.
The only excuse you have for not doing it is if you're doing a diary strip of your daily life… in that case, you're dancing merrily on the edge.
(P.S.: This wonderful straightforward advice also holds true for Comixpedia Columnists, especially Jimbo Zubs. Must... create... column... buffer!)