Webcomic Workshop #20

Solving Webcomic Issues We All Face.  Now featuring a listener’s issue each podcast!  Special Guest: TL Collins from “Bullfinch” the comic.

This podcast we discuss:

Dawn: Google + and how to use it for webcomics? Any different than Facebook?

Ken: My dip isn’t related to the work for the comic, it’s related to growth. How much of this extra outside work is worth it? If I’m being honest and saying I’m doing the comic for myself, then why should I continue to care about social media, my blog or frankly the Webcomic Alliance? It’s not helping my own readership numbers.

Byron: How to start building a local network. Where do you start? Comic book store? Art schools? High School girl’s locker room?

TL: I’m also interested in talking about colors and their importance in webcomics.  I really feel color helps the look of my comic and sometimes story-telling but some people tell me to just do black and white to keep the comic on schedule.

Reader Issue:  “Every so often I will discover something wicked has taken shelter under the bridge of one of my projects, and they’re not always obvious about trolling. How do you identify a troll? Where do you draw the line? Once that line is crossed, what do you do?”  RobinofLeyLines

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  1. ***BYRON’S ISSUE***
    Local groups – See if you have a “Drink and Draw” in your city – Byron, I think you’re in Chicago? There’s actually a Drink and Draw group there run by Spudnik Press. In fact, guess what they’re July theme is…COMICS! http://www.spudnikpress.com/july-drink-draw-comics/

    I went to my first Denver Drink and Draw yesterday night and it was a really fun experience. As an Engineer, I’ve never had the chance to be around artists socially before. It felt like finding “my people” and I can’t wait to become a regular! I hope you can find something equally inspiring!

    **TL’S ISSUE**

    Thank you guys for this discussion! Some great ideas in here! I REALLY like the sketch suggestion. I want to work up to 3 times a week, but while I’m building up that buffer, I like the idea of getting people used to it with a sketch. Gets me in the habit of posting then too, but I don’t feel so obligated to rush my buffer boosting!

    I’ve always been terrible at asking questions. I just like words too much!! Thanks for taking a crack at it anyway! Actually really glad the question was interpreted so many different ways, because this way I got extra information! (And yes, cracked me up. My coworkers were giving me questioning looks over the cubical walls.)

    As tempting as it is to leave the TRUE meaning of the question shrouded in mystery, I’m not as deep as you were giving me credit for. At the time I asked the question, I was dealing with a person on one of my sites that presented themselves as someone who was interested in the project, but frustrated with my presentation. They were also very…not rude, exactly, but condescending. I’m not good at web-design, and I tend to over-explain things (a shock, I am sure, to any of you still reading this). I thought that maybe the attitude was just from my bad design. I’ve seen people lose readers from blowing up at criticism, and I didn’t want to be “that artist” with hyper-sensitive skin. So I tried to address his valid points on the site, link him to information, and asked for further (more specific) suggestions. This type of exchange just kept going back and forth, me on the defensive, him as a self-named “professional” who was not acting particularly professional, but rarely outright rude.

    Eventually, some of my other readers got into the mix, and then he started in on THEM. At that point I decided enough was enough and banned that IP address. I also made a public post about what had happened, and why, because I felt people in my community had a right to know how I would handle this kind of thing. I still wonder if I did things the best way. Should I have cut him off first thing? Ignored him to start? Should I have let it go so far? Farther? Should I have been so public about it, or kept things under wraps? I felt like if I had more of a standard to start with, or could have “drawn the line” in some way, maybe I could have handled it better.

    • Being open to your readers is part of that “contract” we have with them. I think you did all you could. You tried to be reasonable and then when he crossed your line (and remember, it is YOUR website) you banned him and explained it to your readers.

      Case closed. Jerks are jerks. I’ve dealt with similar situations and they’re frustrating. Luckily, the good folks outweigh the bad ones.

      THANKS! for the Drink and Draw link. See? That’s what Networking is all about! Nice…

      • No problem! I just started a similar search myself. I had assumed that since I wasn’t on the coast there was no “scene” for me to be a part of. Thank goodness I have a friend who knew otherwise! I’m amazed at how much has been right under my nose this whole time!! I bet you’ll be surprised at how much your home-town might have once you start looking!

  2. The LAST STARFIGHTER! Sorry – I can’t believe it’s been that long.

    I think its too early to tell right now. Its still in a beta stage, and once businesses have their foot in the door, I have a feeling that things are going to change. It’s great for sharing amongst friends and readers and new adds. I’ve noticed an increase in readers over a week, and most of it is due to me being added to people’s circles.

    The tough thing is trying to stay in people’s faces, just like Twitter – it’s very easy to get lost in the noise.

    Social Media
    Its a lot of work and can consume a large portion of your day. If you don’t get a noticeable increase for your comic, then there’s a limit to how long you should be using it. Another thing I’ve noticed is the Social media aspect of webcomics is very insular. We pass links amongst each other, and we try to promote to one another, but for attracting raw visitors who aren’t artists and just like comics or the genre, its not the most effective.

    Local Network
    As TL mentioned, hook up with other like minded artists and look into art ‘events’ happening in your area. Dawn’s idea of hitting small cons and shows is good for exposure. Also, your idea of offering cartooning classes or setting up a webcomic would draw some interesting folks to you, provided you promote it properly.

    Color in webcomics
    It’s way easier for a strip – but I think if you’re going to do long-form, the only way you can do it is if you gauge the amount of time it takes to finish a page, then figure out if you have the time to do it consistently all week. So if its going to hamper your update schedule, I wouldn’t bother. But if you’re fine with going down to once a week and taking the hit from your traffic, then that will work too.”

    • Color in comics
      I agree that it depends. With my longform comic it is super time consuming to add the color phase and for now, I like how much faster I can go with just tones.

      Social Media
      Personally, I have known for a while that twitter is pretty insular, but I think other outlets like Facebook, G+, and other portals like inkoutbreak.com, stumble upon, digg, reddit help drive my traffic. Right now, I am averaging only about 1700+ page views a month with only about 700 unique visits. But over 100 of them come JUST from inkoutbreak.com while the remaining click through are coming from other sources like stumble upon and etc. I am sure I would get more if I did some Project Wonderful advertising for myself, but I find that my traffic is on the rise over the last two months and it’s mostly due to portal type social sites like inkoutbreak. So maybe that would be more your time and effort to work a relationship with.

      Local hangout.
      I wish I had a site or social site to go to to meet other local artists in central florida so we can go do a drink and draw or something similar.

  3. I’m part of a large group of webcomic artists who tend to hang out and stream with each other. We were excited about google+ and the whole multi-streaming thing, but it has a lot of limitations that were kind of disappointing and make it not worth switching over. Currently google+ lets up to 10 people stream their webcams, and a lot of people are having trouble getting screen-capture programs to work with it. Also, once you hit ten people, no more are allowed, which is unfortunate if you have more than ten people who want to watch and hang out.

    Currently I run a website called Let’s Draw Stuff!. It’s a little bit empty earlier in the day when people are at work, but at night time, there’s generally between 5 and 18 people in there streaming and chatting (max 12 people streaming at once, but unlimited people in the chat room). We also have events in there from time to time, which is cool. Everyone is welcome, and it’s free to use.

    I really hope that google+ is eventually on par with tinychat, because I’d love to switch to that, but until then, LDS is pretty awesome. 🙂

  4. Love the discussion on Google+

    Question I had was regarding posting photos there?

    Thoughts on which is the best option:

    Linking to images back on your site.
    Adding images on Google+ or
    Adding images to Picassa and linking to image there?

    • Google+ and Picasa are basically linked now. You go to Picasa itself for more in-depth things like re-arranging the album. So, it comes down to– do you link to your site, or just the comic upload to G+ (with a link to boot). I sometimes share the strip itself if I feel it’s a really good one, put it in my “best of” Z&F album. Otherwise, a link.
      I also share other goodies with my special Z&F Circle club of readers. If anyone here wants apart of that, let me know (here, twitter, G+, wherever)!!

  5. I too had a “troll” on my site and ended up banning him/her when he/she started picking on my readers who actually liked the comic. The troll would make comments like, “ha-ha, you made a book. What a waste of paper.” or “give up, this sh** isn’t funny” and would address my other readers by name and call them out as idiots and morons. I first blocked the “trolls” email, but they kept changing it (they were persistent on berating me)until i blocked the ip address completely. They tried once more via another ip, but I blocked that one as well until I heard from them no more. The biggest problem with anonymity on the net.

  6. I might have to check out Google+. I’m kind of a late-adopter when it comes to this social media stuff so it’d be weird for me to actually get in on the ground-floor of something.

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