Write. Draw. Brand.

Those three words define the Webcomic Alliance as a whole.  It represents the three core elements to comic creation, and we’re all good at one or two of them, but all three need to be our focus if we’re to succeed in the digital comic industry.

We launched this group in October after a few months of preparation, and I wanted to review what we’ve done thus far and take a peek at the future.  The comic industry is on the verge of a tremendous shift in how they are created, marketed and sold.  As the digital world takes over traditional distribution methods, we must grow as creators or be left behind like the horse and buggy was a century ago.

My motivation for assembling this group was to find like-minded creators who were invested in not only the creative portion of their work, but also the business side.  Because without a business plan, you’re just doing a comic and/or podcast for your friends and family.  So I called up on Dawn, Antoine, Kurt and Ken and discussed the idea of a group that would help folks avoid the pitfalls we had all experienced.  Plus, we wanted to share our continued growth as well.  Then, as we developed our skill sets as artists, writers and business persons, you, our readers, would tag along for the ride and share your experiences with us as well.

We never claimed to be know-it-alls, but each of us brings a unique set of skills to the group.  In any small group like this, there are challenges and, to a certain extent, minor clashes of opinions.  But the fantastic thing is instead of those conflicts being outbursts of angry words, we learned from the challenge and, most importantly, we grew as creators.  And then passed along what we learned to you.

As we approach the six month point, we wanted to open our doors a little wider and invite you all in.  The site will be most successful when you can contribute in some form or fashion as well.  Sure, the comments are fantastic, but we want the Alliance to be more interactive.  To that point, I’m inviting you to contact any of us about submitting articles or ideas.  We’ve had a few guests on the Workshop podcasts and those have been interesting and productive.

So let us know what you want to see more of, or less of, and toss us your feedback about the site… it’s pitfalls and successes.  Together we’ll mold a better resource for any and all comic creators.  And together we’ll grow not only our own endeavors, but the industry as a whole.

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Posted in Business, Featured News, Site News.

25 Comments

  1. That’s pretty weird, I was just about to do a follow up on the article I wrote about the Alliance on my blog when it first debuted. And here you beat me to the punch!

    I was going to suggest expanding the author base for articles, and now it seems you are planning that. It’s a great idea, it will help get an outside perspective on things.

    I’d actually like to see an article/how-to video about using Sketchbook Pro, which is what I use to draw.

    I’d also love to see a round table type discussion about what makes a good design, as in a good cover design for a printed book or a banner for a table at a con.

  2. Interviews with comic creators would be nice. It would show artists how a wider variety of creators do their thing – from longform, to dailies, and the guy just starting out to a person who has been around for a long time.

    Those insights are what creators value most.

    • Of course for great interviews you must check out TGT Webcomics. Kurt does a great job of presenting exactly that. Check his archives, he’s done a ton of creators; big and small.

      Now that I’m doing a single, large format comic a week, you’ll hear more about this format. I want to involve other creators doing this type of work as well.

      Thanks for your input!

    • Hey Drezz,

      TGT Webcomics has been around for three years (as of August 2011) and we have a weekly podcast with over 150 interviews spanning from creators like: Ryan Sohmer, Lar DeSouza, Phil Foglio, Tyler James, Gina Biggs, Jennie Breeden, Lora Innes, Barb Jacobs, Jenny Romanchuk, Jules Rivera, Alan Evans, Trevor Mueller and many, many more.

      I could go on with many others but it’s just easier to download the show from iTunes or look at the Archive on TGT Webcomics.

      If audio interviews aren’t your thing, we have over 200 video interviews from various conventions like C2E2, Fan Expo 2010 and Kids Read Comics.

      If you are looking for someone specific to be interviewed, let me know: kurt@tgtwebcomics.com I’ll track them down and ask.

      • I have checked out numerous TGT podcasts in the past, but I wasn’t sure if you were keeping TGT stuff separate from WA. I guess what I was looking for was more of a round table discussion on the weekly topics with a guest every so often, just for an additional view.

        I’d also like to hear Kurt weigh in on the discussions as well! He is part of WA after all, and he’s interviewed a lot of people so he could chime in with things that he’s been told from other artists.

        • I have kept TGT separate from WA because they are two different formats.

          Both are informative, don’t get me wrong 🙂

          TGT’s perspective we talk with the creator from a Reader’s point of view (although I think it’s evolved) getting the creators to talk more in-depth about themselves and their various projects.

          WA’s perspective with more the trials and tribulations from more of a business standpoint and what is going on in their minds and how to bring themselves to the next level.

          Whenever the guys need me I’ll be available to chime in, as it were. But, thanks for the vote of confidence.

          • I guess I phrased my initial request incorrectly. 😆 What I meant to ask was having a guest on the WA podcast to weigh in on the topics the group was discussing.

            And yes, you are part of the group, so you should be in there talking shop as well. You’ve been doing podcasts for a while, so I’m sure you encounter some issues as well – you do collaborate with Antoine and run TGT – so it does apply. 🙂

  3. I agree that I’d like to see a wider variety of contributors, particularly longform/story comics stuff, since almost EVERYTHING out there in terms of podcasts and creator sites tend to be geared towards strip creators with very little in terms of dealing with the challenges of longform webcomics.

    Also, it drives me absolutely batty that I don’t see dates on your posts/podcasts unless I look through the comments. I really think at the very least they should appear as part of the articles, preferably just under the title. I dunno if its just me or was some kind of design oversight.

    • Actually, we removed the dates on purpose so not to “date” our content (menaing two years from now someone will skip an article because it was written in 2010).

      We’re evaluating what’s working and what’s not, so your input is crucial. Thank you for taking the time to tell us!

      • Something I found somewhat amusing when I was flipping through the “Pick of the week” is that most of them are long form comics, when you generally talk strip in most of the other content.

        I can understand not wanting to ‘date’ the content, but after doing webcomics for over a decade (I started in 1998), I know how MUCH the scene changes yearly and how information that might have been valid only a couple of years ago, can suddenly be completely wrong. While some advice is fundamental and timeless, like say branding or basic drawing, stuff like marketing tactics and software changes dramatically. I remember when webrings, javascript dropdowns and Newsgroups were the way to promote your comic. Even some old standbys like participating in forums aren’t as effective as they used to be today. I think that dating articles is important for context of the reader. When I’ve come across webcomic marketing or advice and I see its three years old, I know its not current, so I’ll take it as such with a grain of salt, but if there’s no date, or I have to go hunting through comments to see if there’s anything current, and I take it as current… well I could be shooting myself in the foot. ( I probably wouldn’t but there are other people who might.) I think considering that your audience is probably a bunch of comic artists hungry for information, you probably won’t have to worry about people NOT reading something because its older, but I still think its important to be transparent, and tell people when the material was written so they know if its current. Otherwise its a disservice to the reader, IMO. Also if you are a devoted follower, I like to know what’s the latest. Just like people look for the date on your latest comic, just to make sure its the latest one and they haven’t missed anything.

        I’m full of opinions. 🙂 Happy to share.

  4. All three elements require focus. If you aren’t focusing, you are getting easily distracted, which can easily contribute to lack of content on a regular basis. I think a pitfall we all face is not following a set schedule: when do you write, when do you pencil, when do you ink, etc.? Without a defined schedule, in other words, treat it as your job, have a battle plan in place, then follow through with it, then you have lost your focus. Wake up at the same time, sit at your studio desk, whether it is the kitchen table, a snack tray across your lap or what have you, then follow a set schedule. After a while, this becomes habit and you have started working like it is a real job. Like a real job,use breaks to combat fatigue, but don’t use that break to goof off…oh, I’ll just take a break and sit down watching videos or play console games…you’d be surprised just how much of a time vampire that can be.

    That being said, once you have your production schedule in place, you also need to allot time for marketing. This seems to be my shortcoming over at the Grove. I can produce the hell out of it, but when it comes to marketing, I fall flat. But you do need to find a way to break through this glass ceiling or, you are right, you are doing this just for your friends and family.

    I may be repeating a lot of what has already been said on this site by many others, but I can’t stress the seriousness of treating this as if it was your real job. Set goals, work hard, but remember to set rewards, too…if you finish x number of strips, then you can take some time and reward yourself with a bit of downtime…just don’t overdo it or the time vampires will win.

  5. hmm, how about a review section about different companies you’ve all used in terms of printing/publishing books and merch in general?

  6. Hey B…something on setting up custom sized files for Manga Studio. I know you are a big user of it but after buying it and trying to create a custom size that matches my current one, I got frustrated and havent been back to it. So maybe a video tutorial on how you set up a file and use the program.

  7. The content on the site is fantastic but the navigation (especially at the top) could use a little work. It seems like the articles are mostly organized by category (business conventions drawing featured-news helpful-hints podcast site-news tech tutorials webcomic-news weekly-pick writing-2) at /category/drawing, for example, but the navigation at the top points some other organization system, linking to /drawing instead, for example, instead of /category/drawing. The 10 newest articles filed under “Drawing” show up at /drawing, but the older articles (Byron’s “Creating Panels With Manga Studio” for example) have fallen off that page (with no link to a page 2) and must be found under their true home: /category/drawing. (Jeez, I hope this makes sense!) I guess I’m just concerned that some of your great content will be hard to find, especially as you add more of it! I’d suggest that you could change the top navigation so you can easily reach any of the categories from there since (again) categories seems to be the main way the site is organized.

    Also, you might want to add a link to /comments/feed on the homepage. That’s the RSS feed I’m subscribed to in order to see the comments on *all* articles instead of subscribing to a separate comment feed for each category or (*gasp*) each article. Naturally, I’m also subscribed to the main feed of the articles themselves: /feed.

    Finally, it seems like whenever I include a URL in a comment has to be approved by a moderator. It would be nice to earn enough karma or whatever so I could post a URL without waiting and wondering if my comment will show up. (This comment might have been easier to understand if I used full URLs.) I promise not to be a spammer. 🙂

    That’s my feedback on the mechanics of the website. In terms of actual content, I love the podcast and I like Dawn’s videos on drawing, Byron’s business sense and writing tips, Ken’s thoughts on fonts and branding, and Antoine’s tech tips. Keep up the good work! Killing you with kindness, right, Dawn? 😉

    • I’m not the techy guy, so I’ll let Ken and Antoine battle it out over the things on the site we need to update. We are in the process of doing a 6 month review. It takes a lot of time to run this site and keep it up. Then add that to our own comics plus our day jobs and it’s a fair load. No excuses, just we’re doing our best, and you’ve recognized that.

      I appreciate your feedback and comments like this do kick us in the ass to get this stuff done. Thanks for the constructive criticism and for killing us with kindness.
      😛

    • yes indeed! Nothing is worse than putting out information that’s hard to sort through or find! Great advice, Phillip.. and you can kill us with kindness anytime!

  8. Love the idea of this and would love to learn more. I just started my webcomic and already a fan on TGT’s podcast and website. It would be great to be part of a group talking about Writing, Drawing and Branding. Cool

  9. What I always love to see is how other cartoonists create their comic. What techniques they use, what tips and tricks they might have, what tools they use. Do they create digitally, on paper and finish digital or all traditional?

    Still want to write a How-It’s-Made for my own webcomic, but I think it would be a nice recurring item to let just a guest write down their process. Maybe on a weekly / bi-weekly / monthly basis?

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