Alliance Chat 19

Welcome to the Alliance Chat: where no topic has gone before!

In this podcast, we’re chatting about the Life-cycle of a Webcomic, or if there is even such a thing.  Listeners have written in asking what they should expect at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, etc. in the life of their webcomic and we try to tackle that subject as best we can.

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Posted in Chat Podcast, Featured News, Podcast.

15 Comments

  1. thanks for the advice gang , I hope you cover the stuff about rating on another podcast. One problem I have is here in the UK we don’t have a lot of comic conventions so selling has to be done in other ways to make revenue. personally I don’t want to be rich I just want to write and draw while being able to pay my bills. Another point I want to make is since I began writing cartoons and comic strips I stopped reading comics. (Don’t take me to the wall just yet let me explain!) I still love comics, I stopped reading them because I don’t want to steal ideas and even without trying you can remember a joke months don’t the road and think it was yours. these days i look at comics and graphic novels for the artwork and layout when I was a kid I never noticed how pages were put together but now I find it just as interesting as the comic. anyhow as ever a big thumbs up from here in England.

    Aron

    • Aron,

      Where in the UK do you live? Near London we have several Comic/Geek/Self Publishing Conventions.

      MCM
      London Film and Comic Con
      Comica
      ELCAF
      Thought Bubble up in Leeds
      There’s an Anime/Gaming Con.
      London Super ComicCon

        • If you don’t follow him already – take a look at what Ryan Estrada has done. He travels a lot, doesn’t attend a lot of conventions and such, but he has made a name for himself online and has a wide fanbase.

          For folks who don’t have the opportunity to get out and interact with people in the comics community in the flesh, you have to really work at making connections online. Talk with other creators, but put your search towards groups that share the interests related to your comics as a starting point. Engage in their communities and they’ll help you build yours.

  2. Really helpful discussion as always! I found the topic of webcomic lifecycles to be very encouraging. Once I am ready to launch my comic, I’ll be sure to RELAX. 🙂 It was also cool to hear more about branding and what we can do to make sure new/potential readers can quickly get a clear idea of what you’re all about. That’s something I really need to meditate on.

    • Glad you found it both helpful and encouraging! I think it’s a tricky balance, because it’s a natural desire to want to track progress. Numbers are the easiest thing to obtain, but ultimately they can also be the most misleading or downright meaningless. In the end, what’s important is: Does what you’re doing work for you? And do you connect with the readers you have?

    • It’s not like it was years ago. Getting into comics and posting them online is very different.

      In the beginning there weren’t as many, so your choices were limited.

      As a creator, you also had the benefit of being the first in your ‘niche’ depending on the subject matter of your comic.

      Now, its like we’re all at sea fighting to keep our heads above water, shouting for the lifeboats. Instead of shouting though, you should be swimming hard if you want to get noticed. (Sorry for the metaphors…)

      If you’re just looking for a creative outlet just post when you want and coast when you want. Works for me – I have no expectations and no lofty ambitions. Just art for art’s sake.

      • I just had to speak up because I couldn’t disagree more with this sentiment. There are so many untapped niches right now, and it is so easy to reach these niches with social media. I would say it’s NEVER been easier to get noticed and grow an audience.

        For example, look at Spiked Math. Even with comics like xkcd that have math themes out there, this comic has gained a huge audience by really focusing just on math.

        Another great example is Tone Deaf. Again he just focuses on band comics and now it’s his full time job.

        There are so many other untapped niches. Just off the top of my head: bicyclists, architects, people that own little dogs, Harley riders, guitar players, gardeners, etc.

        Sure it’s probably a bad idea to compete with video game comics. That niche is pretty full. And I wouldn’t recommend trying to write generic newspaper-style strips. But everything else is wide open right now! You just have to identify the kind of niche and community that best fits with your own interests.

        • I agree and disagree with you. But I totally see where you’re coming from.

          The possibilities seem endless – so many genres and subcultures to make comics about, and be passionate about. I agree that there’s a certain amount of leg work that needs to be done in order to see if the comics you’re creating can tap into a viable market.

          Truth be told, you begin to narrow down the financial possibilities the further in you go. Take your example of bicyclists – sounds like a popular niche, right? That’s what Rick Smith thought – he created Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery, and was the ‘biking webcomic’ guy. His work was very niche and wildly popular within the biking communities online.

          Didn’t translate into making enough of a living for the artist, though.
          http://www.ibiketo.ca/blog/yehuda-moon-entertained-cyclists-over-3-years

          He had to quit. Too bad – it was a great comic and was written and drawn well. Problem was, the active ONLINE component of the community didn’t care enough to support him. You could argue why, but the numbers proved that the folks who were into biking, were involved in a community online, and enjoyed reading comics were a very small fraction of that niche. Now add in the difficulty of getting that small fraction to pony up money for something you get for free and you don’t have enough to make a solid living.

          See what I’m getting at? Sure, there’s a LOT of potential niches for comics out there, but the most successful ones have an active online community where the users already enjoy and actively consume comic content.

          This is why ‘geeky’ niches tend to dominate over more specific ones. PvP and Penny Arcade focus on gaming and pop culture, which go hand in hand with movies, comics and the like.

          Bicyclists, Harley Riders, Fishermen, etc – would prefer to spend their time pursuing their outdoor hobbies, not reading about them on a computer screen.

          It’s complicated and can be done, but it requires a lot more grinding than just connecting with like minded folks on social media.

          • Thanks for the response.

            It’s difficult for me to comment on specific examples of webcomics I’m not familiar with. Everyone has their own personal financial situation, and what might work for one person might not work for another person.

            I will say that I was surprised that they had so few Facebook followers. I don’t buy that people don’t want to read about their outdoor hobbies on a computer screen. What else are people supposed to do when they’re stuck at work all day?! 😉

            I know it’s cliche, but you only need to find 1,000 people in the world who will give you $100 per year, and you’ll be set for life. Many of these hobbies have millions of people who follow them. It’s hard for me to believe that with a bit of ingenuity one cannot find 1,000 fans among them.

          • I love your optimism, and I wish a lot more creators had that same positive motivation – you’d see a lot more success stories than failures.

            Finding 1,000 TRUE fans isn’t as easy as one may think. You and I know it takes a lot of hard work, time, and sacrifice. Unfortunately, most of us are always lacking in one area and that’s the limiting factor in getting to that upper level.

  3. Hey guys! I was binge-listening to the podcast the other day, and writing an “elevator pitch”/series synopsis came up. Here’s how mine has evolved:

    From: “NEX is a webcomic about redneck superheroes. Specifically, 5 rednecks from the small southern town of Bucksnort that are abducted, and mistakenly injected with an alien super-serum intended for Martian soldiers. The adventures of Mack, Ricky, Bret, Keith, & Billy range from parody to absurdity as they face giant radioactive cats, America-hating French-Canadians, modern-day Greek gods, and many more.

    This comic is a combination of a buddy comedy and an action cartoon. Characters range from the aforementioned redneck cast, to their alien counterparts, girlfriends, kids, and other social caricatures.”

    To: “NEX is the story of four redneck buddies from the small southern town of Bucksnort that are abducted, and mistakingly injected with an alien super-serum intended for Martian super-soldiers. This series follows Mack, Ricky, Bret, & Keith as they become the world’s first redneck superhero team!

    The NEX aren’t mild-mannered, articulate, defenders of a big city. The world has enough of those kind of heroes.

    the NEX are heroes for the rest of us.”

    While the first synopsis does the job, it falls short because I try to include every clever thing I’ve written into my story. It doesn’t build, and it tells the audience things they will assume on their own.

    The phrase: “This comic is a combination of a buddy comedy and an action cartoon. Characters range from the aforementioned redneck cast, to their alien counterparts, girlfriends, kids, and other social caricatures.” —That entire section is unnecessary. The audience knows the characters are absurd as soon as I tell them it’s about “Redneck Superheroes.” They know the story will include girlfriends and kids because all stories include a supporting cast (also, those things aren’t social caricatures).

    Additionally, I even tried to summarize follow-up stories in my synopsis. No one cares about the radioactive cats or greek gods until they care about the primary cast.

    So, I ultimately replaced the entire second paragraph with a quippy set of lines that (IMHO) cleverly explain how my story is unique.

    Finally, I wrote the newer elevator pitch to be modular. If someone reads just the first sentence, they still walk away with a good concept of what the story is about. If they continue, the subsequent lines build and elaborate but the subsequent lines are to drive home the first sentence. By the time you reach the end, “They’re superheroes for the rest of us” resonates and builds the identity of the IP.

    Anyway, that’s my process for what it’s worth!

    I also wanted to give out a few awards:

    Byrom – The guy we’d all most like to have a beer with
    Dawn – The strip most likely to make me smile if it were in the Sunday paper.
    Drezz – The guy most likely to say something useful/Canadian
    Robin – What would happen if Albert Einstein’s daughter wrote a web comic
    Chris – Baseball…baseball…I also like werewolves with ego. 🙂

  4. I’m trying to get caught up on some of the podcasts. Haven’t listened in a long time!

    Really love this topic. So many people see the big web-comics now and they think this is a get rich quick thing, but it’s definitely not.

    I have to disagree with not meeting your idols. Phil and Kaja Foglio are two of my idols and I met them at Katsucon this year, and they were amazing! So upbeat and personable, I’m really glad that I got to meet them. They were so giving, too. I brought my “Foglio Deck” of Magic cards to them and asked them to sign a few of my favorites and instead they signed all of them. So at least with the Foglios, they were worth meeting. I would have been very disappointed if they’d been jerks though.

    I’ve been thinking about getting a group of other webcomic-ers together to keep me sane. I have that “validation” problem too, and some days sitting here at my tablet I get so down that I need someone to tell me “Hey, it’ll be okay! Keep going!” and kick me in the butt. Maybe now that I’m back to doing Adrastus regularly I can get on that a little more consistently.

    My goals for when I started Adrastus were: to improve my drawing (especially anatomy, backgrounds, and mechanical objects), to improve my storytelling, to tell a story I would like to read, and to generate income through my creativity. I think I’ve done a good bit of that, and I knew going in to this it was a long-term thing. I’ve been doing Adrastus for… 4 years now? My biggest source of income so far have been buttons, and doing the Manga Studio book (which was not in my plan, but because of the comic it landed in my lap). The comic itself has generated some income, but it mainly is buttons, and prints that I sell.

    I completely agree with the playing mind tricks on ourselves. The weather has not been helping, but I struggled with Chapter 13 and have been struggling with Chapter 14 currently. Sometimes I stare at Manga Studio and just am not feeling it lately. And I have to force myself to go, and then once I’m in to it I feel so energized. Last year was such an off year, with the other project, and I missed doing Adrastus so much that I haven’t realized just how much until I got back to doing it.

    The discussion about what you stand for and what your brand stands for reminds me that I need to work on my Adrastus business plan. I want to be a speaker for gender equality, it’s something so important to me (as anyone who looks at my Tumblr will attest to) and I want to have it come through in my brand more.

    Completely agree with Robin about how people perceive your work being different than what you might perceive it as. When I started Adrastus, I thought I was going to get all the giant robot fans. Instead most of my readers seem to connect more with Sarah and Michael and aren’t in to the giant robot thing AT ALL with any other work. They’re not like Voltron or Transformers fans that are coming over because I have a big robot.

    Byron you may be an old fart, but we love you anyway!

    Was definitely an interesting discussion. Little long for my attention span, but I enjoyed listening to it, and you guys kept it going and engaging. Glad to be listening again!

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