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So You Want to Create a Webcomic?

I rarely get emails about the 'toon, (I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, but I've learned to deal with it) but when I do, it's usually from someone asking me for advice on how to create a comic. While I don't think I'm the best person to give advice, here's what I've personally learned from drawing a webcomic for nearly 8 years.

  1. You are your own biggest asset / obstacle in creating comics. Whether or not you choose to succeed is all up to you. Stay focused.

  2. Persistence will eventually pay off, but there will be many times along the way where your devotion to your craft will be tested.
  3. Your website will make or break you. A difficult-to-navigate, slow-loading, or overly FLASHy website will kill your audience before they even read your work. Make it easy for readers to find your comic.
  4. Know your audience. I mean, REALLY know your audience. What are their interests? Where do they visit your site from? What is your reader demographic?
  5. This ties in with #4. Advertising on other webcomic sites can be a good thing, but advertising on non-webcomic sites can be even better - providing you know your audience. On a webcomic aggregate site, your comic may get lost in the din of thousands of other webcomics. Or not. But, depending on your subject matter, you may find a better return if you branch outside of the webcomic audience. In my case, I'm targeting a tech audience of all ages, so I try to advertise on sites that cater to that demographic.

The rest of my list is here.

Knowing the audience

Aleph's picture

Excellent list, I agree completely.

Knowing my audience from the beginning, I knew ahead of time that I am pretty well going to have to deal with obscurity for a long time, because my audience kind of had to be created for the comic, and most of that audience don't think of themselves as people who enjoy webcomics. From the beginning the single most frequent sentence in any bit of fanmail I got was, 'I don't normally like webcomics, but...'

Knowing that you're not going to be able to step into an established demographic braces you for the differences between, say, a comic that makes a personal statement and a comic that attracts fanbois from other similar ideas. So, knowing for the win!

My audience would ditch me like last year's garbage if I catered to them. My audience sticks with me because they know I know where I'm headed and I have something to say, I'm not just running around trying to get them to like me. They know I'm holding a bunch of secrets I won't let them know up front, and so even when they drift off (as in recently between books) they end up coming back because they just have to know what happened next ;)

I think even if the demographic doesn't exist when you begin, the people who gravitate around your work will describe their own demographic, and knowing that will help you better understand how well you're reaching them-- not to mention how to reach more of them and let them know where to find you. I think that's what bobweiner is getting at here, and it's excellent advice.

Really great list and I do

Slackmatic's picture

Really great list and I do agree with just about all of it. Althought I do think you should know your audience, you shouldn't bow down to them completely. If your doing what you love and people find you and they like your stuff you're allready knowing your audience. For example if I just did a story with zombies in it and I got a lot of coments about how much people loved the story with zombies should I just keep putting zombies in my stories. I don't think so. Great list though, it should help new comers a lot. I should know I'm one of them.

http://www.webcomicsnation.com/slackmatic

Kitty Litter

These are the only points I disagree with.

The William G's picture

These are the only points I disagree with.

2- Easily said, but neglecting the fact that there's only so much room at the top, or even in the middle, in any entertainment medium. Your best bet is to find your place in the long tail. Or strive for personal acheivement. Let the audience decide the rest.

4- This is assuming you're producing a comic to appeal to a demographic as opposed to telling a story or making a personal statement. Or that you're determined to never change formats, stories, or themes. Or that there's webcomic demographic information other than "geeks". Basically, not practical.

Other than that, I agree with everything else. Good stuff.

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The William G - Romantic Drama, Post-Apocalyptic Monsters, and More Comic Experimentation