Webcomic Workshop #12

This podcast we discuss:

Byron:Β  Printing locally vs. on-line services

Antoine: What do you do to try to slow yourself down when you want to do too much things at the same time?

Dawn:Β  What to do when you can’t afford mass production?

Ken:Β Β  When you guys see something you think is awesome – do you do it too, or do you approach the artist?

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  1. Great podcast. Great hotbutton issues. A few thoughts:

    Byron: I too use a mix of local and online providers. Just found a local printer who can give me rock bottom prices on 11×17 prints. Excited about that. But for comics, I want to work with folks who specialize in comics, and usually that’s not the local shop.

    Antoine: The book you need is Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen. One of the biggest things that separates the successful from the unsuccessful is FINISHING.

    Dawn: Plushies would be cool for your strip. However, I’d put plushies behind off-set large print run/low per unit cost for your books as a priority. Build your readership to the point where it’s big enough to pay for like 1/3 of the cost of the plushie run through pre-order. Then pull the trigger on that, and you won’t go broke on it.

    Ken: Chances are that person stole the idea from somewhere else. As long as it’s not infringing on rights or trademarks, it’s all fair game.

    • How many local shops have you talked to, Tyler? It’s easy to find and compare dozens and dozens of printers on-line, but have you picked up the phone and called printers in your area (from what I know of you, you have, but I thought I’d stress the point anyway for others).

      Most local printers are not gonna meet prices or be interested in our type of business as their bread and butter is making business cards and brochures, etc. But, smart printers are looking for new markets and my printer is VERY interested in working with comic folks like you and I. If you want his contact info, send me an email and I’ll pass it along.

      But, there’s a lot to be said to working with companies that specialize in our field. But as a smart business person, you’re always looking for new/efficient ways of making your products.

      • In truth, I haven’t really talked to local printers about printing comics, Byron. You’re right, it never hurts to ask, or call around. But from what I have seen, for short run POD, Ka-Blam and Createspace are pretty tough to beat.

        What I do do is ask local creators I see at the local cons where they do their printing. (That’s how I got the tip about this local shop from a great deal on prints.)

    • yeah, Tyler.. definitely putting plushes on the back burner. Going to need BIG pre-order tally to justify it.

      But damn, it’d be fun to hold a plush version of my guys. *swoons*

  2. I am in total agreement w/ Antoine with the work vs. hobby aspect and time allotted to it. Balancing work responsibilities, responsibilities at home, with your family, friends etc. I’m not someone that hole himself up in a room and close out the world while I try to create. On the other hand, when I do have that time to focus, I haven’t found a polite way to shut all that noise out so I can have this time for me.

    People are always saying I need to be tossing out more comics per week, but they take me, on average 6 hours to make. So there has to be a balance found, along with a sense of realism that the comic and any success tied to it is proportional to the amount of time your putting into it.

    • Ken talking about efficiency reminds me of the dad in “Cheaper by the Dozen” (the 1950 version of the film) who times himself buttoning his vest buttons starting at the top versus starting at the bottom. (I forget which way was faster.) I have two small children too; every second counts! πŸ™‚

      • Holy crap! You remember that movie? That was a fun film for it’s time and a real good movie that showcases the values of American families at the time. The struggles aren’t all that different, but how they’re handle has greatly changed!

        Glad I’m not the only one around here who knows that the Steve Martin version was a remake!

    • Mr Jynksie, you hit the nail on the head for nearly all comic artists out there struggling to get started. How do you find the time?

      My family is older, my youngest is now 14 and my other boys are college age and older, so they want nothing to do with Dad unless it’s to borrow money. A fine Wilkins tradition I may add!

      But you have to put into what you can and not compare yourself to others. I take anywhere from 8 to 10 hours now to do a full page comic once a week. Doing two is at the moment impossible unless I either ignore my family (which they don’t seem to mind) or ignore making money with my “day” job or delegate some of the creative process off to others. None of these are viable at the time.

      So, it is very hard for us and I’m glad you voiced your opinion. It’s good for others to hear that we’re not alone with our comic dreams vs. the realities of eating and paying bills.

  3. Awesome cast guys! I always enjoy it. The episode was interesting. I have an off-set printer right up the road from me, so this was a good reminder not to forget about them when I am ready to collect a book. πŸ˜€

    • Collect as much pricing date as you can and be sure to compare “apples to apples”. It is easy for an on-line service to low-ball a quote only then to find out it’s cheaper paper or lousy printing. Check around and ask for samples.


  4. Dawn another plushie idea might be a dog bone plushie with Z&F (or even the logo) embroidered on it. I am pretty sure you can get stock plushie bone toys and since you say you have dog lovers as fans, why not make a product geared toward their dogs instead of their kids.

    • I’m going to find Dawn a rich sugar-daddy who can pony up the money for her plushies as I think Z and F REALLY needs to be in that form. Her comic *begs* for them and it would be a big hit with kids at cons for sure if they were priced right.

      • LMAO! a rich sugar daddy! You get on that, Bryon, I’ll see is my husband is cool with it. heh

        The dog toy idea had crossed my mind.. and I was looking for cheap options already. With shipping and the cost of the toy w/ imprinting.. I’d still have to charge $7-10, and no one will spend that on a dog toy.
        There was even an adorable alien-hat for small dogs that I “squeeee-d” over! But, $5 a pop, before S&H…

  5. Most of the topics today are out of my area of knowledge. I think about the priorities thing a lot. I see people that talk about playing games and screwing around a lot and still can’t get their pages out.

    I usually just think of it in terms of what thing needs to reach the public first. If I get commission work, that comes first. Usually it’d the comic. The prose piece I’m doing I won’t post until it’s entirely done so there’s no one expecting pieces of it.

    I did my first donation piece a while back I took like a week on it because no one knew it was coming. No pressure.

    I spread out the work of my comic in a weird way. In any day I’m working on two comics at the same time. When I’m on the computer I’m coloring one page, but offline I’m drawing/inking the next one. So it’s less like I have to site down and crank it out in one day. I think having a decent buffer helps.

    As for the weather. It’s 40 degrees here finally melting some snow. T-shirt weather. I live where snow is born.

    • I have found that by spreading the creation process out really improved my comic. For a while, when I was doing 3 strips a week, I would draw one evening, and ink/color the next. This also gave me extra time on the scripting as once you see it actually drawn (not rough sketch) things change… a lot.

      Now, I work on my full page comic all week. I can add in extra details in the background, work on the shading and coloring as needed and enjoy the process overall as it’s not “man, it’s 2am! I gotta get this done!”

      That is not the best way to do a comic. Sometimes it is your only option, but spreading it out for me helped a great deal.

  6. Another great show, guys! I love the back and forth banter. Great points made by all.

    Byron, I think you’re one of those rare creatives with a nose for numbers, and it shows in how you approach your business. The bottom line is saving money, and usually (but not always) a local printer will work with you on prices, especially if they are competing with online services.

    Dawn, I read what Tyler said about holding off on the plushies until you can build a base for pre-order assistance and I think that sounds like a more feasible approach. They can be expensive to get started, so anything to offset that is a blessing. I think your characters are screaming to be squeezed, btw.

    Antoine, thank God you have more things you want to do and not enough time to do them! Especially if it’s storylines (put it down on paper, you can always use them later…) I’m driven not so much by how much I want to do, but what I can do in the time I have to do it. Kind of living in the moment, but there are only so many hours in the day. I pick my battles but always jot down what I’ll do when I can find the time.

    Ken, nothing new under the sun, right? It’s all been done before, hasn’t it? I’m a gag a day cartoonist and I cringe when I see other strip artists doing something similar or close to what I’ve already written or came up with on my own. It especially stings when it’s something you’re just about to publish and you see something like it in someone else’s update. The show must go on, though. If you think it’s something you can use, use it. Just show integrity and do it your way.

    Here’s to the next podcast!

    • Ken and I are on the same page. Drawing your comic is fun and a great hobby, but at some point you need to take it seriously if you want to make any kind of money at all with it.

      I view 1977 as my internship into the comic world. It’s subject matter is not for everyone but does garner some attention. Plus it has given me the chance to hone on my drawing skills. In the past 4 years, I’ve made dramatic improvements in my drawing and it’s all due to the fact that I force myself to draw on a consistent schedule.

      So yeah, it’s a business at some point and simply stated, business is business. You apply known/proven strategies to like you would any business. Network, promote, brand and market. It’s not that hard, it just takes time. I’m into my 4th year and I’m just now getting known in the industry. I have a long way to go, but working with my Alliance members has taken that journey and shortened it.

      And we’re glad to have folks like you tagging along for the ride. πŸ™‚

      • I’m glad that you said some of the operative words Byron, like it takes time” and “getting to know the industry”. I’ve seen many a person pop onto the comic scene with a few promising comics under their belt, give it a few months, get disgruntled the world hasn’t found them and give up.

        It’s really important for anyone delving into the world of comics independently, to accept it takes time. Even the guys and gals at the top of the webcomics food chain were almost a decade in the making. Very few comics I’m aware of hit it overnight. Its about patience, learning, listening and remembering to thank those helping you along.

        …speaking of which, to all you webcomic alliance folks who take time to put together these podcasts and tutorials… THANK YOU! =)

        • I’m always amazed at the amount of folks that pop up on the scene and then vanish either due to the fact that they aren’t instantly recognized as a webcomic god or they come to the startling conclusion that this hard.

          There really is only one reason to do this. Because you love to create comics. It is highly unlikely that you will become rich and famous doing this. Even if you got to the point where you can make a living doing it, you probably won’t be parking a Ferrari in your driveway. I have been doing this long enough to realize my comic is never going to be the next PvP, but you know what? I don’t care, I love drawing comics! Plain and simple, that overcomes that fact the fact that I am not a name player in the industry. You’d be hard pressed to find someone that has been on the fringes as long as I have. I do believe I am quickly becoming the crusty old codger of the webcomics world with statements like “Back when I started out…”

          In conclusion, I would just like to say…


          • Well said, Kevin. The work IS hard and when your webcomic is living off a diet of little to no feedback and even smaller amounts of recognition makes the work even harder. I get what you say about doing this because you love to create comics, but honestly, there has to be more to it than that! Otherwise we’d just keep our work to ourselves. I like the idea that someone would visit my site and maybe subscribe to my stuff — not from a fame or fortune POV — but because they might get a kick out of something I created. This is not an activity for impatient people, definitely! I only hope that given enough time, somehow all the work will pay off. Hopefully monetarily, but certainly in people enjoying what I do. My respect to you for sticking it out as long as you have, and continuing your creative journey still. That says a lot about you.

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