So, as you might recall, last blog post I mentioned that I’d talk about the benefits of web comics sometime. Well, that time has come. Phew, didn’t have to wait to long. I remember last time I caught myself veering off into the topic of making web comics, but it’s better if I can give it the spotlight it deserves.
I really started thinking about the positives of a web comic when I was at SPACE. Another vendor there asked me how I liked having a web comic. Now, I really do enjoy putting out a web comic, but I’d never stopped and thought about just what doing so afforded me. So I got to talking to this guy and realized that making web comics is really one of the best experiences I’ve had as a creator thus far. Isn’t it always great when you have a revelation that you’ve been doing something right?
So, here’s what I told him. I enjoy making comics to publish digitally, but to me the most important thing is this: it’s the least expensive way to fail. And that’s not a negative thing, not at all. What I mean by that is, through the creation of these web comics, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and through those mistakes, I’ve learned a heck of a lot. When I started making comics on my own, I didn’t know anything about coloring, lettering, inking, or pretty much anything. I knew how to write, period. But I had to learn all of these things as I went, and now, while I’m sure I have a lot to learn, I know so much more than just a year ago. So, what do you do when you’re learning? You make mistakes. And, instead of making costly mistakes, I got to make them for free! How great, really. It’s not that I like making mistakes, but if I had to choose between paying money for them, or getting away with them for free, well I choose the latter option.
Now, I absolutely don’t like to look back at my comics and realize I did something wrong. But, that’s how you learn, isn’t it? I look at the first couple comics I made and think “Oh, never do that, that, or that again.” And sure, I put those comics out, but that’s a nice public record of progress, I suppose. So that’s excellent.
Now, there are other positives to this method as well. As I said in my last blog, it’s cheap. Actually, it’s free! And think about this: you can publish on your schedule, and you don’t have to have a whole full length comic done as you would if you want to publish. Plus, not everyone wants to make long stories. Some people just want to do gags, and that’s something you can do with web comics. Not to mention that anyone can do them. Isn’t that great? The power to make comics is really in the hands of everybody when using web comics. All you need is a place to put them, and that’s easy these days.
The affordability of web comics also allows you to experiment. My web comics are hardly ever about the same thing. It’s the ultimate place for me see what works and what doesn’t. And if something doesn’t work, then I can abandon it with no real damage done. Sure, I’ve lost some time, but that time went into practicing making a comic, anyway. If you publish a book, and it doesn’t work, you’ve lost the printing fee, and potentially the money given to the artist. That’s not to say that publishing physically is a bad thing, I quite enjoy publishing that way, too. It’s just a lot more final. The first couple of books that I published (as is to be expected), are not very good. And that’s all on me. The art is good, but gosh, I read that writing and I don’t like it. I feel the same way about my first couple web comics, but I didn’t lose any money on that.
In the end, I’d recommend doing both. But if you’re getting started out, why not do a web comic? What do you have to lose? You can learn a lot about the craft. And hey, you’ll get some exposure. I’m the kind of guy who jumps right into things, so that was a big plus for me. Was I ready? No. But I did it, and people read the comics I put out. When you publish on the Internet, people from literally anywhere in the world can stumble upon your work. I see people from the other side of the planet have looked at my stuff sometimes. That’s how you get your name out there and build a fan base. That fan base will grow to support you in the future. Gotta start somewhere.
Sorry that these pictures don’t really have anything to do with web comics, but I use the images I like. Anyway, there’s quite a lot to be learned from doing web comics. And, because they are typically shorter, they can be done quicker. So you can put out more, and thus learn more. It’s like a concentrated training session. An 80s montage. Sure, you should always be reading (comics and books about comics), but getting the hands on practice is invaluable. I know in another year I’ll be better than I am now (well, hopefully, anyway). So making the web comics have really only done good things for me.
My final advice is this: if you’re thinking about doing a web comic, go ahead and give it a try. It won’t hurt anything, and you can still do any other work that you might be trying to do. It’s a win win. Don’t let digital reading or any other technological concerns get in your way. Get those comics out there and let everyone know who you are.