Webcomic Workshop Podcast #64

Solving Webcomic Issues We All Face.

This podcast we discuss:

Chris: I’m in a weird spot… lately, I have had some VERY successful conventions but every time I do a convention, I feel burnt out and have a hard time getting back into “comic strip mode”. I would like to find time to actually create a buffer but the only way I can see to do that is to also adopt something like Dawn’s “Seasons” for Capes & Babes. I’m just afraid that if i start a “season”, I may get lazy and not actually build up a buffer. I might enjoy my “vacation” too much, you know? Any advice?

Frank: When I hit the wall artistically, I tend to go back to the work of others to get my brain jumpstarted. Sometimes it takes quite a few jump-starts to get me back going. Are there any strips or artist’s work that you refer back to to get the juices flowing again?

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Posted in Featured News, Podcast.

15 Comments

  1. This is a great topic for discussion. I find conventions very grueling too. I used to hit them religiously (back when Pinkerton was young). But I found that I spent more time drawing superheroes rather than networking and getting my work in front of new readers. It’s a weird tight rope because you want to draw people in and make a couple bucks doing sketches. But sooner or later I wind up feeling like a dancing monkey.

    • Interesting feedback. I just finished NYCC where I was NOT in Artist Alley but rather a booth in Small Press and felt I was not in my environment as most folks wandering Small Press are not looking for commissions or sketches but rather prints and books. BUT… I did make some good connections and think those will play out to be more profitable then selling any number of books.

      So, I’ll skip being a dancing monkey for a while and see how that works out. 🙂

  2. As a reader, I don’t mind when a comic goes on hiatus as long as there is an announcement about it. A few comics I’ve followed stopped suddenly with no announcement, and that is frustrating because I never know if I should even bother checking back. Even if there is no expected return date, I want to at least know what’s going on.

    • Communication from the artist is crucial. I followed a comic that said it was going on hiatus. Advertised a return date. That date came and went. A MONTH later, the artist says something. He lost me at that point as I felt betrayed and lied to. We artists have an obligation to let our readers know what’s going on.

  3. Creator guilt is a big issue when it comes to things like hiatus and missed updates. I always think do whats best for your own mental and physical health so you dont burn out. But I wish there was a way to turn off that nagging feeling that your readers will hate you and never come back.

    • They will come back, as well as new ones. The reason we do webcomics is to have total control on our content. Our update schedules are also our business. If people know they can count on you, then they’ll return. That’s the important part, delivering on what you say you will.

  4. This was really a great show, guys. Lots of helpful insights and tips.

    Additionally, thanks to Robin (I think it was Robin) for the book recommendation of “Invisible Ink”; It looks super helpful and I really look forward to reading it!

    • It’s pretty much the best book ever. I’ve recommended it to a lot of people and the comment I’ve gotten back from all of them has always been “You were right…about everything…this books really IS the best!” 🙂

  5. Ahh yes, the legendary, much sought-after “buffer”. I have heard of such a thing but never seen it with my own eyes. But I know a guy who knows a guy who swears it’s real.

    But yeah, I feel you on this one, Chris. I got back from APE in San Francisco last weekend and I’m still decompressing…

    • I had one on LL for two years before The Chaos happened. Slowly rebuilding it. Buffers can be a god-send, but I’ve found they work really well for some personalities types, and not at all for others. For me, I love them, but I don’t work well under pressure and don’t feel like I lose any immediacy from having one. I’m good at maintaining constant production when stress is low, which is one thing buffers provide. Buuuut other people love that rush of a deadline, and if there’s no pressure to produce NOW they sometimes don’t at all. Others feel out-of-touch with their readers when they’re not posting material they just made.

      Different folks, different strokes. 🙂

  6. Well, this episode arrived just in time. 😉 I’ve been feeling pretty burnt out lately…and like Chris, I’m afraid that if I step off the “update treadmill”, I’ll never step back on. But you guys came up with some interesting ideas, so maybe I can work something out before my brain turns *completely* to mush…

    • Don’t give up hope! It’s true that you might see a decrease in readership, but if you burn out completely to the point that the project dies, you won’t see a greater reader loss than that! There’s lots of solutions. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

  7. On the topic of finding inspiration:

    One thing that you will find many people do, especially developers even designers, is step away from the computer. Like Byron, I go for a walk. The more populated the area the better. If you just sit and sip on a cup of coffee as you watch people you will definitely find inspiration. When I worked in Hollywood, inevitably someone did something stupid. Whether it was a couple getting into an argument, a kid throwing a tantrum, even someone throwing a fit while stuck in traffic… something eventually cracked me up. All of a sudden I’d be writing or drawing or that else/if conditional statement begins to make sense.

    Keep up the great work guys! Love the show.

  8. I think breaks/hiatuses are an indicator of one of the biggest differences between the long-sell of a longform webcomic and the short punch of a gag-a-day strip. If you can get your readers on a path so that they have questions about the future of your characters, like in a longform comic, you can take life breaks every once in a while and not suffer too much reader atrophy. But I’m getting tons of one-shot comics and videos on my social media feeds every day, whether I’m looking or not. I’m not going to miss your funny comic too much if you stop making it.

    The flip side is, longform webcomics take a commitment that far fewer readers have, and when you lose a reader because they feel personally betrayed or they’ve forgotten what happened and don’t want to dive through your HUGE archive, you can really truly sour their opinion of your story. Recommitting to a gag-a-day comic once you’ve lost interest is probably about as difficult as committing to it in the first place. And if you’ve made it nice and accessible and have a unique sense of humor/storytelling that no one else has, that shouldn’t be difficult. I could tell you that if Homestar Runner started making episodes tomorrow, I’d forgive them in a heartbeat for dropping off the face of the planet. I can’t say the same for a big long story I’ve lost my enthusiasm for/memory of.

  9. Good topic. I agree with Delphina that the format of your comic determines what you can do a bit in regards to how you handle breaks.

    I was going to propose seasons like TV whereas the creator posts comics on a regular schedule and then takes time off at a scheduled time in a form of cadence. I think this is easier for long form comics than short form.

    I do however think that taking a hiatus doesn’t mean that you are not posting or interacting with your readers. So lets say that you take 3 months off in the year from delivering the strip. During this time you would work on building up the story, bible and other elements of the strip. you could be posting teasers for the upcoming comics, working on kickstarter campaigns, prints, books and conventions. You can use this time to blog and chat with readers.

    I personally think that it comes down to keeping the readers engaged and front loading or post loading some items that are not the comic itself. This will also give you time for personal vacation and build up the episodes.

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