Workshop Mailbag: ComicPress vs. Tumblr

In our efforts to get more feedback from everyone – we’re clearly not the definitive experts – we’re opening up our mailbag to you.

This will be a weekly feature this summer so if you have questions you want answered head over to the contact form and give us the isssssuuuue. If we don’t cover it on the podcasts, we’ll get to it here.

Each week you’ll get a reader issue covered by one of our Workshop gang – this week it’s Ken Drab from Rick the Stick.

Question: Ferris asked: What do you see as the advantages of the ComicPress format (one strip per page) vs. the Tumblr format (multiple strips stacked atop each other), which I use because it’s easy and convenient? ComicPress allows you to track your traffic and generate more page views. What else am I missing? From a noob’s perspective, everybody in the game uses ComicPress. But is there anything essentially bad about Tumblr?

Ken Drab drinking with Scott Kurtz

Scott Kurtz (top right) does not endorse this photo, goon or website.

Ken says:

This is a great question – specifically for some of the great minds that post replies on the Mailbag and some other posts. I’ll weigh in as an observer and let everyone else chime in.

As you mentioned in your email, you run the same comic “Suburban Metal Dad” concurrently on both ComicPress and Tumblr. The one glaring difference between the two is commenting. In Tumblr, clicking on the comic makes the image bigger. You need to click on the post date to get to a permalink type of page, and some other things that seemed quirky to me.

Part of that may be the theme you’ve chosen and I may be partial to ComicPress because I use it, but ComicPress seems more natural – it’s well laid out and intuitive right out of the box. It gives you a ton of flexibility in design and layout.

If you do just a little digging, there are some obvious pros to Tumblr, like no hosting and you can use your own domain just like WordPress, but I think you could get the same thing from WordPress.org….

Okay, that’s what I have – now I leave it open to the real brains in Webcomics! What do you think?

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Posted in Business, Helpful Hints, Workshop Mailbag.

11 Comments

  1. TUMBLR does seem to be all the rage at the moment.

    I am considering both options as well. I want something easy “real” easy and don’t want to spend too much time (read “any” time) having to worry about learning software and set up of a web site.

    For me it will come down to ease of use and format representation (the comic look) I will keep you guys apprised once I get something up on the web…

    ArrrOOooo!

  2. Thanks for taking the question. To tie together comments from both Ken and Jahhdog, I use Tumblr because it’s totally simple — definitely “easy ‘real’ easy.”

    The WordPress site I post on is a friend’s music news site, where my strip is a regular feature, so I get some exposure to incidental traffic. It’s not a ComicPress site.

    ComicPress looks awesome, but all the coding and installation are simply over my head, and I don’t have anyone to walk me through it, simple as it is. (And I’m daft about following instructions.) If all things were equal, I’d use ComicPress. But even though ComicPress claims it has an easy five-minute install, it requires some proficiency.

    Though page counts and traffic stats are important, I’m at the early stage where I don’t have many readers, so I figure NOT getting the stats saves me from seeing potentially disheartening numbers. A couple Tumblr reblogs and Twitter compliments make me happy (for now).
    Thanks again!

  3. I’m worried about the continuity of sites like Tumblr. Do they have a good business model? Will they possibly become a victim of their own success (remember all the recent outages)? I would certainly register your own domain for your comic, so you can switch to another blogging platform (or have one ready at the flick of a switch).

  4. While ComicPress is pretty simple to setup, if you want anything a tad bit fancier than the straight out of the box setup you will have to invest some time. The great thing about ComicPress is that there are quite a tons of folks using it, and a lot of them can even offer some advice on how to get a nice layout.

    Tumblr is great for a sketchblog or a secondary place to post your work, but as way for readers to see your comic it’s not a great experience for them.

  5. Tumblr suffers from a lot of downtime due to server overload – similar to the Fail Whale on Twitter, the goblins show up at the most inopportune times.

    It’s great for its simplicity, but its not the most intuitive platform for networking. I find it to be geared towards artsy types who post images or snippets of text, only to be reblogged and have simple commentary. It isn’t the ideal way to build a community.

    As a sketchdump, its great. As a primary delivery vehicle for your comic, I say its a big no – same as FB and Google+.

    Google+ is coming on strong amongst artists due to its gallery viewing experience, but there’s no way to monetize your work.

  6. My 2 cents:

    Cent #1: I think it may be a good thing to offer the two different views to our readers.

    Cent #2: As Drezz mentioned above, Tumblr can cause lag sometimes. That is the same thing with Intense Debate for comments. In a nutshell, I am against using any 3rd party services like Tumblr, Intense Debate, Wibyar, etc.. for that exact reason. Give me the Tumblr equivalent to fully integrate that kind of view in WordPress by keeping everything local on my own server, and I would look at the possibility of offering two different views

  7. This might be a bit harsh, but if you are going to take the easy way out, why are you doing comics?

    I didn’t know anything about ComicPress when I started, but with enough practice, a few questions to people who knew how to work it, and a LOT of elbow grease, I was able to get a nice clean layout. Even the simplest CSS knowledge will help you get a decent looking ComicPress site. If you don’t want to do the work, find someone who can, and if they don’t come to you saying that they’ll do it for free, then you pay them. However, if you don’t want to sit down and learn, what’s going to happen when you get to a part in your comic where you don’t know how to draw something? Or how something in your story works in real life? You have to be willing to research a lot for this, and it’s difficult.

    For Tumblr, its great for a blogging software, but that endless page just doesn’t work for comics, unless you’re planning an endless canvas thing. It’s hard to find the first post, and you have to wait for the older posts to load or go to the next page of posts.

    In my opinion, get yourself a good CMS or blogging software. WordPress and Drupal are two very good ones and are very modular, especially Drupal. Put in some time, learn a bit about coding, even simple stuff, and then go make a basic site to house your comic. You’ll learn as you go, much like with your comic.

  8. I love the simplicity of tumblr, but I really only use it as a sketch dump and as a running portfolio of my stuff. It’s like DeviantArt for me, only without all the kiddie porn. So right now, I may, at times, post a link to my tumblr page on twitter or facebook to let people see some new random musing I have been tossing around, but mostly, i use comicpress for my comics. Like someone said before me, I just find it to be more intuitive for the already well established web comic reader and why deviate from a working platform?

    That said, I am looking forward to Frumph’s new endeavor, Easel. It is sounding like this may actually replace comic press all together and I am looking forward to trying it out. It’s supposed to be more comic friendly out of the box. We shall see.

  9. Thanks much for the thoughtful replies!

    The link below is a side-by-side look at both versions of the strip as it’s posted.

    Neither has what I see as the main advantage of ComicPress: You can’t get a full-size version of the strip and easily click back and forth to previous/next full-sized s trips.

    http://tinyurl.com/3sy9e4e

    On the left is Tumblr. You see a scaled-down version of entire strips, which are generally almost big enough to read. But you need to click the pic to enlarge and see as a full-size version. And the strips are all stacked atop each other, so you get a lot of strips on one page.

    On the right is WordPress (not ComicPress). You get a full-sized teaser panel from each strip, and you need to click the panel or “continue reading” to see the full-sized strip. Like the other example, the teaser panels are stacked on top of each other.

    Again, the WordPress site isn’t mine; I tried installing ComicPress, but I’m too web-dumb to do it.

    Thanks again!

  10. On my upcoming webcomic, we use a modified comic press install, a suite of plugins (analytics, auto-posting, tracking, etc), and utilize various social networks for linking and secondary content. The tumblr account doesn’t post the comic’s strips, but pieces of the next week’s strip as a teaser on the current strips release date. Tumblr is used mainly as a secondary stream of content such as sketches, extended character profiles, and other information that might entice people from tumblr to the comic’s website (or feed), as well as keep a more “alive” presence on tumblr than a link dump.

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