Dawn: Keeping up with your favorite webcomics is no easy task. There are plenty of options out there, but if you read a LOT of webcomics, it’s hard to find a service or platform that works well and appeases all parties. Google Reader, of course, is a very popular option…. but it doesn’t give the creators the website “hits” they often crave for advertising income, and they lose those stats when studying their analytics. Saving a browser bookmark for each and every comic is cumbersome. Trying to keep up with social networks for updates ultimately means missing some here and there. That’s where Brian King decided to step in. With the creation of the InkOutbreak.com platform, webcomic readers are offered an easy and fun way to keep up with their favorite comics, discover new ones, and still give back to the creators (with page views, hits) by ACTUALLY visiting the individual websites in an easy fluid manner. Brian, what spurred you to start up InkOutbreak in the first place?
Brian: My coworkers and I would read webcomics in the AM at work while we started things up and had our coffees. It was probably 4-6 webcomics we would just chuck back and forth to each other over aim. Eventually I got kinda bored with the comics I had been reading, so of course you click the links on the side and find something new…. and then you start searching around aimlessly clicking on link after link finding 80% crap you are not interested in.
I am a bit of a data nerd and was hell bent on making something that would guide me a bit, just like internet radio stations. So I made ink, a way to keep up to date with comics that I follow while also pointing me to new comics I would dig. Every action you make on ink affects the output of comics in your list.
It started as suggestions and then moved to be for archives…. so say I am reading Zombie Roomie and….. I am on comic 340, well I don’t want to see 342 before i see 341 cause its going to ruin the jokes. So I started keeping a tab on where readers were as updates came in, that was about a month after ink started…. but thats how it has always been…. just adapt to make something that is more useful to a reader.
Dawn: And you have done an excellent job, keeping the READER (and the creator) in mind, with InkOutbreak. You obviously have the web design and programming skill set to accomplish this task- something a lot of us creators lack. Can you tell me a bit about your training, your “9-5” career, and what your “Lottery Job” would be? (By “Lottery Job”- as I like to call it- I mean, what type of “job” would you still do even if you won the lottery?)
Brian: Meh, my main job is boring I work developing software for a large communications network, everything from monitoring to accounting. I also work part time on a sports betting site predicting trends and reporting odds. No proper training, just kinda grabbed the bull by the horns a few years back and I said enough is enough. I need to get beyond “wishing” I could make something and do it. Now I am obsessed with databases and data…..which gave birth to ink because I wanted to give a path in a otherwise mess of a world.
Lottery job….. first and foremost…. make a comic 5 days a week. I have a webcomic I make myself (mayoking.com ). I love to draw and make people laugh so that would be it….. I do however love making projects online, ink is one I somewhat finished. I have probably 8 ideas that are 30% done, someday I would love to finish them all.
Dawn: Ha, I think many creators can relate to that notion: having far too many great ideas that never get fully executed, either due to lack of time or lack of skill set. “Taking the bull by the horns” is a great correlation as well.. most of us had to do that, to get our comic online in the first place, and it takes a bit of determination to figure out the HOW’s, as well as courage to put your work online for all to see. I know I had very little experience when it came to web design or programming, yet now I have taught myself a little HTML and CSS. (I also owe Phil Hofer, aka “Frumph” for that). Thanks for sharing your comic as well, I’ll bet many do not realize how multi-talented you are!
InkOutbreak definitely seems to be a work in progress, not that it was ever half-assed. You just keep updating it with more… how can I put it… awesomeness. Great ideas, like bookmarking an individual comic’s archive, or the website widgets to promote other similar comics. I’ll bet you get a bunch of requests for how to further improve the website and its features. Can you elaborate on a top request you have received, that you’d like to improve or add to InkOutbreak in the future?
Brian: The future of ink is pretty bright right now….. I just covered all my server expenses with my second job. So the inkoutbreak.com project goes back to “creating a tool / service” and stray away from selling adspace, or trying to dig up donations to cover cost.
I have my ink 2.0 kinda sitting idle, its close to done…. but as I learned when I first started ink, being one guy working on a project can be exhausting because as you THINK 1 issue is fixed, you completely overlooked 2 others. Anyways….. ink is soon to be a lot cleaner, alot easier to understand and set up for artists. I get a lot of emails to hey “what is this or that”…. and then theres things I add and I never do write ups for.
One avenue I poke around with is mobile apps, I don’t have an ipad or iphone so those will come last but I wanna make something so that if you use ink to read your comics…. its gonna be almost the same experience keeping things very simple but also making some revenue for creators. < long sentance….. /shrug
I guess the biggest thing that is going to change on ink is…. its not a business, its a project. I love projects, I am really looking forward to getting back into things without worrying about paying bills.
Its awesome to see comics grow, one of my favorites when I started ink was Iamarg.com ….. Now hes got a great readership, he just put out his first book, and I got a mention in the “Special Thanks”.
I am ARG! started about the same time I started ink, and its weird when you look back at how ink has grown, cause I emailed andrew about adding his comic I think…. and joining the banner exchange. A lot of people tend to shift how ink is gonna go and what is the best direction to go in, at first I had noone to shoot ideas with. Now Andrew tends to be one of those guys I will always brainstorm with.
I try and tell people, always pitch an idea with me, I will see what I can do…. cause webcomic portals come and go but if we all work towards getting our comics to new readers, and getting them in the door of webcomics….in a more personal way… we could open up to a whole world of new readers.
Dawn: Wow, you certainly have a full plate, but a lot of effort has been put into Ink and it shows– and we have yet to see this elusive Ink 2.0! I think I can speak for everyone at the Alliance, that iPad and iPhone apps would be phenomenal… that’s where it’s all headed. It sounds like this .. erm… PROJECT (*ahem*) has been a terrific networking experience for you! It’s funny how some projects will attract attention as well as help you network and expand your horizons even more.. while others just seem to fly under the radar. Obviously, it helps if your project/endeavor benefits OTHERS (much like the Webcomic Alliance) rather than just being yet another comic to read. A friend of mine, and Ink user and interviewee, Charles Dowd of Lilith Dark, started doing avatars mainly on Google+, for a reasonable price…and his style and skill for that has become very well known and has spurred other artists to do the same thing. Do you think InkOutbreak has helped bring in attention for your own comic, or are those 2 totally separate projects that don’t seem to crossover?
Brian: Yah Mayoking doesn’t really come into play with ink at all, although some sites do have me on their exchange… so that helps get some readers. I have thrown some of my drawings into the site, and there will be more in 2.0…. For example since we are just donations now, there will be caricature of me and my buddy at the bottom…. and contact info. It’s such a laid back project of mine ( Mayoking ) so….not much goes on with it. Although some people have thought that I would abuse ink and feed myself traffic, but I just get to have that “creator” experience and see what could be better. I have a separate login for ink so that I can see it all from a creator’s view.
Yah networking has been huge though…. I mean from having people to bounce ideas off of to learning how to improve my artwork in google hangouts with John Wigger, Paul Westover, Andrew Gregoire, Denis Caron, Tye Haley and a few more…. but I mean… It’s awesome to have that input and even better to be able to throw a comic idea out there and someone to say “thats dumb….. not funny”. There are times tho that I will just try it out, but most times it saves a few hours!
Dawn: Ha, yeah.. we at the Alliance KNOW how important networking is… just having a group of similar-minded individuals to brainstorm with or talk shop. In this solitary-confinement type business, it’s detrimental to our sanity! I’m happy Ink has been able to connect you with a “sanity circle”.
You obviously have an admiration, not only for comics in general, but for independent creators who strive for their “lottery jobs” and find their own path to success. Let’s conclude this discussion by focusing on that one ingredient all successful creators MUST have before they even develope their talents: passion. What comics, cartoons, movies, TV shows or books inspired your passion to both create your own comic, and come up with the idea for “A Tivo for Webcomics” (as I like to call it)…. which we all know as InkOutbreak?
Brian: My influences for comics…. would be Calvin and hobbes most cause it was just imagination run rampant, I guess I find myself telling stories alot to friends and its alot of fun to make that visual and availble to others, id love to do animated stuff but I am far too lazy.
As I have come more into comic I have fallen in love with Robbie and Bobby, Gun Show, and my beloved Pandyland. I love finding new comics and just hilighting them for a day on ink, cause there are so many people who deserve at least 1 comic to be read.
When I started to do webcomics I did “I ALWAYS WANTED” a webcomic that was just 1 weird thing… single panel. It took John Wigger from Zombie Roomie to say “this….is good… but its not really Brian King…. cause your kind of an Ahole”…. So I made Mayoking and cut out censorship. So I always remember him saying that when I try and pull a punch cause if you are writing the comic by a guide, your not writing the comic by you.
AS FOR INK….Well I feel so bland looking back. I would read Penny-arcade, white ninja, toothpaste for dinner, and jeez….. couldnt even tell you the other 2-3… and it was just same ol same ol…. nothing really scratched me where I itch… well toothpaste was pretty close. When you take that step to search something out like a webcomic that hones in on the fact that you like crude humor, gag a day, nerdy comics…..thats when I made ink. Cause within a month of digging I found tons of comics up my alley…. I am ARG, Toonhole, Werebears and only children, Gun Show. I dont think the webcomic world gets it, alot of people dont know you are here still. But with more things becoming digital…. this is ourtime to push, because if Robbie and Bobby took the place of “Flash Gordon” in the sunday comics, I know thousands of people would find that a welcome addition to their favorites.
You can check out INK OUTBREAK here: http://inkoutbreak.com/
You can read and giggle at Brian’s comic Mayoking here: http://mayoking.com/
Follow Brian on twitter here: http://www.twitter.com/inkoutbreak
Find InkOutbreak on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/inkOUTBREAK