Webcomic Workshop #18

Solving Webcomic Issues We All Face. Now featuring a listener’s issue each podcast!

This podcast we discuss:

Antoine: Using Social network accounts for your characters: Does it bring anything valuable?

Dawn: Is Go-Comics worth it? Should us gag-a-day comic strip creators be looking into it, or is it a lot of work for very little money? Is the exposure THAT great?

Byron: RE: Tyler James & Godin’s book “The Dip” How do you motivate yourself past “the dip” I’ve hit them three times now in 2 years & I’m losing faith in my ability to successfully do a scheduled comic of any type.

Ken: How much detail in coloring should I be concentrating on. Shadows, backgrounds, etc.

Reader’s Issue: Byron’s Pick: Have just started a web comic. Should I advertise? Should I just let it run for a few months and see what occurs? If I do advertise, would it be a disappointment to come to a website that doesn’t have a huge archive?  I guess my question is… How do you best promote a new webcomic?  Twitter/forums/facebook/ads?  I’ve been collecting stats a month. Have had 1,200 approx visits in a month. Submitted by: D.M. Rolfe

Posted in Featured News, Podcast.


  1. Good podcast – I miss George Carlin.

    I agree with Ken, that the additional Twitter accounts are a heck of a lot of work so you really need to foresee whether or not you’ll be able to fit some consistent updates into your schedule. Otherwise, it’s time that’s wasted.

    I also don’t see the benefit of GoComics unless you’re already syndicated – its a system that allows creator owned work to be displayed alongside larger scale strips in a convenient location. I don’t agree with the ad model they have, much like Ken. You pay for a service, but the revenue cut is very limited – similar to a syndication deal.

    I mentioned The Dip a little while ago, and its essential reading for those who are stuck. For 1977, if you have other projects you want to pursue and are tired of it, then it should be wrapped up and put on the shelf. Dawn’s idea of doing one-offs only available in print is good if you still maintain a connection with people who read the webcomic. You can always transfer some of your readership to your new projects – but keep the old comic up in archive format and you’ll always get residual traffic and ad revenue.

    Who knows, maybe in 2-5 years you’ve done a few one-offs that you can convert to the web and extend the life of your site, and create new one-offs for sale.

    About backgrounds: Depending on the content of the particular comic, the backgrounds may not be necessary. If you want a good example of colored backgrounds in strips with and without detail – Girls with Slingshots. If something serious is going on and the focus is on the foreground characters, there’s no need for a detailed background, but there is a need for detailed characters. But if you’re trying to establish a location, then put more detail in the background.

    You may want to consider creating a bunch of backgrounds ahead of time for locations that are featured over and over in your comic. Do the backgrounds in areas from different angles so they don’t appear stale. And decrease the saturation of your backgrounds, but maintain some of the details, and that will make your foreground characters pop.

  2. I have thought about the whole Go comics thing for a while and I personally did not go for it for all the reasons said in the podcast and here. However, I too have thought about something similar that is more fair and useful to us in terms of promoting our stuff. Distribution of our properties and other similar things. I think the major obstacle is money for most of us and without being too harsh, the kind of promotion and traffic generation that groups like go comics can give you only happen because of funding. I think the difference would be in licensing rights and creator rights. It’s a big topic, but one I think that is very necessary for this new group of webcomic artists to prosper and succeed in today’s internet culture.

    This is no longer the old days when AOL was a big player and people like the penny arcade guys and kurtz and them were able to come in and tread new ground as well as reap the benefits of being original on the web and scoop up a large amount of readers. Today, all of our readers are very saavy and used to things like PA and PVP and the kind of big productions they can carry out. (Like blamimations, PA Expo, etc.) I think if we are going to differentiate ourselves and stand out we need to re-think our model. I honestly think the webcomic model works well, but, the way webcomics come into being needs to evolve.

    Simply creating a webcomic and putting up there and branding yourself via social media and making contacts with other artists on twitter/Facebook is just not enough. There are plenty of great artists and stories out there and what they and we all need is a new way to get exposure. So yeah, talking about this is a topic I am always interested in.

    • I thought Jonathon Brock in the TGT podcast #166 had an interesting point about how the webcomic model has evolved. It was his opinion that all webcomic creators had to diversify if they hoped to succeed. In some ways, it almost sounded like he felt the webcomic should be Phase II of a brand-building plan, where Phase I is dedicated to creating some other product to get you known (podcast, blog, etc).

      Personally, making the comic second seems a little backward to me, but I think he might be on to something with championing diversity. I get far more input on my webcomic from people I’ve “met” through Original Character Tournament projects on DeviantArt than on the webcomic’s main website! What I can’t see is how one would monetize diversity, other than to quantify added exposure to greater ad revenue. Webcomics still have a product, which can be re-packaged and sold (ie-printed books). There’s also merchandising, although that seems to have become almost a bad thing due to the current “T-shirt Salesman” slur towards webcomic creators. (To be fair, I think the market HAS gotten a little flooded with catchy wear-able slogans.)

      What about products (such as podcasts) that are more services than tangible goods? How can people create an income from them? Can they be repackaged as well? Or is yet another model needed to account for these new potential revenue streams?

      • An interesting food for thought, look up Scott Johnson and his Frog Pants studios. Where in he is making money off of his podcasts AND his comic strips. From what I see, he actively went out and sought out sponsorships from companies in the same business as the podcast he is doing. So like, for his world of warcraft podcast he got typefrag, godaddy, and other random sponsorships. These people all pay. For his movie review podcast it’s the same deal.

        Also, go see the Comic Geeks Podcast as well. They also have sponsorships. I think this is a great way to go about monetizing a podcast. For a comic related podcast, maybe something like getting a sponsorship from comixology, graphic.ly, redit, godaddy, wordpress, etc is a good way to keep the podcast going, and get more funding for building the webcomic alliance “brand”. Just throwing ideas out there. It is a lot of work, but it could be profitable and fun as well.

        I also agree that the webcomic should not be phase 2, but what I take brock’s advice to mean is that the webcomic should be your labor of love and ultimate recipient of the benefits you cultivate via more dynamic and in your face type media venues. Like podcasts where people can listen and laugh or get angry what have you. Webcasts, Video blogs. Stuff like that, that is eaten up by the internet crowd and re-tweeted and tends to go viral much quicker than a comic does.

        my 2 cents.

        • Do you think it’s because blogs/webcasts are more conversational in nature? I know I feel much more motivated to post on blogs and podcast sites than on comic sites. I feel like I have something to add, whereas with most comic pages or strips, they feel too self-contained. Especially with long-form, which is what I tend to read. I don’t know what comes next, and it always feels presumptuous to put in an opinion on someone else’s work.

          Which is silly, since I know I always enjoy GETTING comments, so no doubt others like RECEIVING them.

          I wonder if there’s a way to make individual pages inspire people to put their two cents in more, or more likely to share it with others. If there is an emotional response (laughter or anger, in particular) it’s pretty likely to get shared. If it helps solve a problem, that also motivates people. Hmm…going to have to mull on this…

          • I know I love to get comments. I rarely get them though. DeviantArt has a little popup that comes up when you view a piece of art that says “don’t forget to leave a comment”. Pop up is not the right term, it’s more like a little text balloon that pops up and then leaves. But it’s enough to catch your attention and make you think about leaving a comment.

            I want something like this. If anyone knows where i can score it it would be AWESOME!

  3. To Byron’s Issue: People are either going to be invested in one of two brands: the comic, or the person. If the brand is the person, readers will follow the individual regardless of what they do (to a point). If the brand is the comic, those readers are lost if the work is lost (and sometimes if it is changed). There might be ways to enhance your personal brand now, and maintain that momentum if you change your story or transfer to a new one. Change it, or spring-board off it, but don’t let it lay fallow! (I also have to re-iterate Drezz’s point — keep the old stuff up! I’d say at least 30% of the people who find my new work discovered it by looking for my old work!)

    I don’t know if it will help you, but what I did to work through a similar decision was to take a pack of sticky notes and write down everything I COULD (not should) do with my life. Quit job, keep job, change job hours, change job position, quit MBA, pursue MBA, pursue different degree, quit webcomic, keep webcomic, etc. I laid out all the notes and then discussed the options with my fiance. It really helped me find exactly where the problem areas were, and in a lot of cases, they weren’t what I was expecting. That helped me focus on what gave me the most benefit for the least investment, and to cut out what was creating the most anxiety and stress.

  4. One of the luxuries of the digital age is the fact you can build backgrounds for your comic and simply drop them in behind your cast, depending on the scene. There are the usual places you will be placing them, so having a few pre-made set backgrounds makes things work smoothly. Granted, this wouldn’t work for long form serial comics, but for those gag a day type strips, a few props dropped in here and there on the ready speeds up the process.

    It’s funny that Byron used “Girls with Slingshots” as an example of simplifying your comics background detail, as her comic has been one of the main ones I’ve gone to to learn how to do the “less is more” approach. This comic really is the perfect example for that. I especially like her use of monochromatic backgrounds where it’s a solid color with line work. Simple, yet fantastic.

  5. Pingback: - Crazy case

  6. Fantastic topics guys and gal!

    Social Network Characters: It can be a lot of work. One of my characters is a sports-caster. I do a Twitter account which I express my sports opinions through him and try to promote my comic through my main twitter account. Unfortunately, people know me too well and egg me on to comment about hockey at my main account!

    Go-Comics: a couple years ago Ken actually dissuaded me from going in that direction. Awesome advice then, awesome advice now. To side with Byron, I really don’t understand what’s going on there.

    The Dip: It’s cyclical for me. I’m a teacher, so report card time is a bitch to get through, but then again I can take advantage of the summer holidays… Check out Callous Comics. This guy has been around for 15 years. (before the Internet even!) From what I can see, he will write a chapter/adventure when he can, then take a break. This is sort of the same idea of putting together print comics I guess. Nothing wrong with that!

    Coloring: When I started, I had always believed that cartoons had to be in color. After a couple of years at it, I am starting to understand the value of Black and White. If done right, it can be even more effective than color. As well, it makes it more cost/time effective when you start thinking about a print book. I agree with Dawn: people like to get in and get out, see your cute characters and laugh at them. Worry mostly about your characters. THEY are the comic.

    Advertising: I appreciate this topic because I’m not sure what to do about this. I seem to have been doing exactly what you guys have advised, so it makes me feel good.

    One of the best and most helpful podcasts yet folks! Thanks!

  7. I just want to say that I totally identify with Ken. Finding the balance between work, family and comics is hard and most of the time I sacrifice myself in order to get everything that I want (normally in the form of little sleep).

    Just so you know Ken, you are not alone in your late nights.

  8. With regards backgrounds: I really think it depends on the feel that you want your comic to have. I grew up with Peanuts and Beetle Bailey too, but the comic that really grabbed me by the throat and made me say “I want to do that!” was without question *Pogo*. Similarly, the material I look at today for inspiration includes Hayao Miyazaki, Cyan’s Myst series, and old-school Squaresoft games, all of which are rich in beautiful backgrounds and lush color. That’s a primary piece of what I want to achieve in my comic and in my art (and man, I wish I were better at it!) — imaginary places so evocative that they feel alive and real.

    If that’s something you want out of your artwork, then by all means, DO backgrounds. If you’re just doing them because you think you should, then it’s not worth it. But if it’s part of what you’re trying to achieve with your art, then go for it. (:

  9. I just found this website I will be bookmarking this website and coming to it on a regular basis. This is a very informative site. Do you have a banner that I can put on my website. Check out http://www.moeorles.com and I would love to put a banner on my website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *