Webcomic Workshop #15

Less Swearing, More Talking. Coming to you for a whopping 60 minutes this time!

Introducing this week: the listeners’ issues! And as a gift for this new feature, the 4 issues this week are all issues submitted by you guys!

This podcast we discuss:

Byron – Brought by Marie Tary of http://www.brymstone.net/ and http://shifters.comicgenesis.com/ How to promote yourself at a con with more than one webcomic.
Ken – Submitted by Trevor Kent of http://takacomics.com How to promote a non-comedic, story based strip effectively.
Dawn – Sent by Ryan Fisher of http://www.ginandcomics.com/ What to do with ideas you’d like to implement that go against your comic’s branding or audience “rating”.
Antoine – Provided by Liz Staley of http://adrastus.comicdish.com/ Making the switch from full-page to strip format.

Next podcast, we will be back to our regular format PLUS a 5th issue, submitted by a listener.

Submitting an issue is easy! Simply use our Contact Form feature already available under the About section! Once there, give us your name, email address, write “Issue for Podcast” in the subject field and give us your issue! you can find the contact form by clicking here.

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  1. Thanks for answering my question. I’ve tried things with landing pages, and they seem to work ok. The idea of having the current story somewhere on the page is something I will try.

    On the full page/strip thing, I did the same thing, and I haven’t looked back. One reason was that even with my full page, I was doing, on average, four panels an update. So there wasn’t really much of a change for me. The strip format got me to organize my comic a bit more, and also think more about my art than the page. I was also able to design my webpage a whole lot differently. That’s essentially why I switched over, in addition to screen orientation, people being used to strips online, and also mobile devices. I’m still able to use “splash pages”, where I can just have one long panel for dramatic effect, and the only thing I haven’t used is odd layouts. However, KEZ’s “What it Takes” and Karl Kerschl’s “The Abominable Charles Christopher” have both done that type of strip before. Also, adding update days has been important to me, and I’ll be moving up to three a week come June.

  2. I love those intros. It’s good to have someone with talent in audio processing to do that sort of stuff – makes your podcast feel a bit more professional. Good work, Byron.

    Grab a soft cushion to park your butt. This is a long post.

    In regards to cons & multiple webcomics, you can condition your readers to know you by your business entity. It takes time and reinforcement, but it can be done. You used Blind Ferret as an example – Sohmer started off attending cons as LICD. He had Blind Ferret as a side gig, but as the parent company. As BF got bigger and broader, he assimilated LICD, LFG and Gutters into it at shows. By that time, he was big enough that people already knew about Blind Ferret. That came from the constant referral to BF media, and that his properties all fell under its umbrella.

    On a smaller scale, as an artist with two or more properties, you can work towards that same setup. You need to establish a company/label and reiterate to your fans again and again that X webcomic is part of Y label. Same as Z webcomic is, and so on. Over time, people will put 2 and 2 together.

    In regards to long form dramatic comics, there’s no surefire way of attracting traffic the same way a humor strip would. The dynamic is different. Humor strips are quickly passed around, and the jokes usually center on specific things like current events or personal situations. A dramatic story based strip requires a pile of back story, engaging characters and a storyline that has enough action/suspense to keep a reader’s attention.

    Also – humor based strips tend to be one-offs. Even if they are written as part of an arc, each comic can stand alone if necessary – with a dramatic story driven strip, it doesn’t work as well. You need to invite the reader in to visit the archives or story arc points. Without humor, its a tough sell because it requires more of an intellectual investment.

    Funnies are good for brief enjoyment and then a pass on to a friend.

    Doing side stories could work, but you really have to separate them so they don’t destroy everything you’ve established with your main comic. I’d stay away from adopting a “After Dark” R-Rated type of story if your main characters are featured in a G or PG type comic. There’s nothing wrong with exploring new avenues – just don’t confuse your properties.

    I read Adrastus here ad there. I prefer it as a full page longform comic. The story lends itself well to full page longform rather than short strips with long arcs. It would kill the flow.

    Maybe Liz needs to explore a different way of delivering the panel breaks in her story, rather than reducing the number of pages.

    That’s it for me. Good podcast. Keep ’em coming.

    • Man! Your reply is as long as our ending! Love it! Keep it coming!

      THANK YOU for noticing my introductions. I put a lot of time into those things to “kick off” the podcast theme so to speak. So I’m glad someone noticed! Yay!

      I agree with you that if given time and the proper promotion (conditioning I think you said) that Marie can make the move to a “studio” brand and her comics will be known that way. It’s a no brainer but it WILL take a bit of work and time, so her first few appearances may not be as clear. So we’re together on that one!

      Glad you’re listening and enjoying and we certainly appreciate your feedback… short or long!

      • Well you gotta start somewhere. Even if I’m one of a small few, with time it will grow into something bigger. If not, it’s good practice for your ext webcomic project.

        • Very true. Considering I’ve done little to no advertising for this one yet I’m actually really happy with the number of readers I have. Once I have the new site up I’m actually going to be venturing in to the fun land of advertising.

          Thank you for reading my comic, by the way!

    • Another great show, folks. Everyone had some great points. It’s nice to see you opening up your discussions to listener questions. It’s a great idea and I hope you’ll consider doing more shows like this. In a way it challenges you guys to consider issues that maybe you haven’t personally encountered but with your combined experience, it leads to some interesting thoughts. The fact that you don’t always agree is great, too, because there can always be an alternative route to solve a problem.

  3. Thanks for answering my question, guys (and gal!). And Byron, thanks for correcting Antoine about my last name. I get the “stanley” thing all the time, so I actually expect that more than I expect people to pronounce it correctly. πŸ˜‰

    I’ve been thinking about this for weeks and I think I’ve actually come up with a fair solution. Might work, might not, guess we’ll see next chapter. People might not notice it, then again they may.

    Though on the subject of books, I currently draw in 8.5×11 (300dpi). Antoine said that the size looks like it would be good for a smaller size book, like Bone apparently. Could someone tell me what size Bone is since I’ve never actually read that one? I know, I should be flogged… Because I am actually going to be printing books and have been planning to since before I sat down to draw a single page of Adrastus, but now that I’m getting ready to I’m finding that the closest size I can get without going through Lulu is 8×10, not 8.5×11!

    • Bone is actually coming out with a 20th Anniversary edition book to be available for purchase at Fan Expo Canada this year. Something to look forward to, I know I’ll be picking it up.

      As for your previous comment, I heard about your Comic through Lar’s UStream and had you on the TGT show. You’re getting out there, keep up the momentum πŸ™‚

    • I believe Bone is 6×9 in size. It’s a nice easily portable size, good for kiddies.
      Good luck with whatever format changes you decide to do.. sometimes the best way to tell is just to try.. and we in the webcomics biz are able to do that anytime we please! Take advantage! It’ll give you the answer you need, and maybe more possibilities.

  4. This would be in reference to Antoine when you were all talking about how to highlight ongoing stories:

    I’ve doing an ongoing story that I’ve been highlighting by supplying my site with its on PW-esque banner in the left sidebar. It lets readers new and old know that there is a series of comics that tie in together. As a gag comic, I try to ensure each and every comic has its own punchline so that it can stand alone or as part of the story, which it kind of has to since each comic is a snapshot in time of whats going on once a week. Since putting that banner on the site, it has increased traffic and reader retention. I’m finding, for me personally, that using “ad space” on my site for the things going on within -my- comics site are ramping up a visitors stay. I have no idea if this would work for others, but it’s been a positive experience for me.

    • good idea, thanks for sharing Jynksie. I know a lot of ppl are against splash pages… just wanting to through new readers right into a comic. It may lead to better numbers, who knows. This is a great alternative for long-format creators to try out. I know Byron does it as well, using a sidebar space to direct new readers to the beginning of the story.

  5. Hey guys! Thanks for answering my question!

    Byron: Don’t feel bad about getting Shifter’s name wrong first out. I’m not sure why no one can say Shifters right, Kurt got it wrong the first time I was on TGT, calling it “Strippers”. XD Just for future reference the name of the comic is actually Shifters Redux, BUT the website is Shiftersonline.com. I find it amusing you knew the website as the comic name and linked to the old comicgenesis one. XD Probably didn’t come up in a google search because it wasn’t my primary site originally and is still where all the old comics are. To avoid confusion the new site doesn’t have the old comics. (I restarted the comic, and am resuming updates in June. :P) But apparently SEO is something I’m going to have to work on for the new site.

    To all: I was actually kind of surprised by the answers provided. Its a good point that no one would know my studio brand, but at the same time I seriously doubt that anyone knows my comics locally either. I think I’m in a bit of an odd situation that I’m not really well known in my local area for… well anything. Which is part of why I’m attempting to engage more with local conventions and such. Local exposure.

    One of my big motivators for going with one brand was cost of promotional materials. I only have money for one popup banner, so I don’t have the option of doing multiple banners. I know Ken said that looking professional wasn’t as important as brand recognition, but since my brand (and myself as an artist)is reasonably unknown I think my first impression is going to be just as important. I know *I* am more drawn to shop from people at cons who look like they’ve got their stuff together, so I kinda feel that the more polished and clean things look, then the more likely people will feel confident buying from me.

    I did have some of the misgivings mentioned (which prompted the question in the first place) would it be confusing? Would the visuals be engaging enough without characters on a banner? I think as far as consumer confusion over label vs product, if presented correctly most people won’t be confused since its pretty common for something to be published/presented by someone, but there is a point that people don’t care as much about the publisher unless they are both well known and responsible for a lot of products. I know I’m not exactly Dark Horse over here, BUT I do think what Byron said about slowly growing my studio recognition by association has merit. Its difficult to conduct business without a singular business name/entity ( I’ve found lately). I know he mentioned having an actually business entity that I would assume he uses to deal with that end of things (taxes, writeoffs, licences, etc). I’ve just sort of had to operate under my personal name and such because I don’t have one, which buggers some stuff up for me. Its also just a pain to put like 3-4 URLs on a business card. πŸ˜›

    I’m not sure what its like in the US for other cons aside from Sakuracon in Seattle to actually register, but here, the ones I’m involved with, I only really get to submit under one name. Because of a lot of the international business licensing and tax stuff for US cons(which admittedly, frightens me a bit) I’ve kinda opted to stay local while I get set up and established, work out the kinks.

    I think i will go with the suggestion to split a popup banner in half and display the comic protagonists on either side with different color schemes. Like Dawn suggested, I’ll mirror the spit on the table. Although I may see if I can come up with enough cash to get a front table banner with my studio label. Even my name, being that I go by ShadowsMyst online isn’t always associated with my real name, and there’s a bit of disassociation there. So I clearly need to pick some directions and streamline a bit.

    To Dawn’s question about the difference, they are completely different genres and concepts. One is a cyberpunk/supernatural/action comic, while the other is a high fantasy/sword&sorcery/adventure comic. Like Byron said, they are both in my style, so that is about the only thing that clearly ties them together is me. Although they share about the same rating, both are mature-ish. Violence and language. I’d say PG-13 to mature depending on your tolerance for your kids. I’m definitely targeting the teen to adult crowd.

    Its hard to say which is bigger, locally, I’d say more people know me for Shifters than Brymstone, but Brymstone has the biggest audience by the numbers. I think that’s in part to me not updating Shifters for a few years. I think Brymstone has the greater appeal, having a larger, but more passive audience, where Shifters has a smaller but much more passionate audience. Its funny when you start doing multiple comics how the personality of your audiences are different. There’s actually not a lot of crossover between the two audiences. A little, but not much. I was kind of surprised at that.

    But ultimately what I think I’m going to take away from this is that I should really use my comics as my headliners while keeping my studio/name as a foot note, while slowly building the recognition for their associations with me and my studio brand over time.

    But thanks again guys for your insight!

    • In my defense it was a long show and well you were caught in a snowstorm… and I apologized for that. You weren’t the first that I misnamed on the show. I’ve gotten better, I swear.

      I know it’s hard to put yourself out there and be a constant visible presence especially with everything that’s happening but in your neck of the woods I’m sure there’s local comic book stores or something where you could say schedule a day and promote it to showcase and build up that way.

  6. For someone who doesn’t want to play Devil’s Advocate, you got a good number of rounds in there this week, Byron. πŸ™‚

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