Breaking Into WebComics?

I’ll be the first one to admit I don’t know a thing about comics, especially the ones on that invention created from tubes. I have a vague idea of how of the business behind it though and I had the joy to give a well received panel about that at ConnectiCon last year. None of that matters for the beginner and here is where this particular scoop comes in handy. Do you remember growing up loving comics but not having a clue how a 15 year old could break into comics? There were a few really good books released such as drawing the Marvel or DC way. Perhaps even one on how to break into comics. Weren’t those great books? Where are the ones for web comics? It’s been more then 10 years and we may have quite a few good how to draw guides but where is the book that gives the whole process from conception to money?

No need to worry for much longer. Yesterday I got a nice little exclusive from two entrepreneurs who are tackling just that. On the tail of announcing leaving web comics drama behind again Scott Kurtz and Kristopher Straub are collaborating on another project to bring us their experiences on how they did it. Just how to write, draw, publish, distribute, syndicate, market, and make a living as a web comic artist. The book will start with the creative process behind the first conception of what makes for a good idea and how to populate it with the appropriate well developed characters. Just how do you draw your strip? Use a simple iconic flat approach such as PvP or a rich 3-D design as Checkerboard and Starslip Crisis.

But that’s just the how to draw part. There’s another section on what it takes to write a comic. Everything from pacing, to keeping the wordage down, to using readable font. I can’t tell you how many comics I come across with beautifully render pages and the opposite ability to tell a story. What about the everything else? Well Scott and Kris are also writing about scheduling and branding. There will be a chapter for not only staying loyal to readers but how to find more and hopefully just as much advice on not giving into your readers and keeping true to your original intentions.

The purpose of this book is not to be the definitive answer to making it as a web comic artist but to give the perspectives of some who did. This means you will not only hear from these two but any number of other artists on exactly what they did for any given chapter. Who will give their hidden secrets for this book? Will it be Tycho and Gabe, Jeph Jacques, John Allison, or perhaps even Derek Kirk Kim? That will be something for you to not only find out but to suggest as both guys are looking to make sure they include everything and would like some input. So don’t be shy and make a comment so we can find ourselves with the best example of a how-to book to show we really growing up.

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9 thoughts on “Breaking Into WebComics?

  1. Step 1: Make sure you can write and/or draw well. If not, stop. You should be in retail.

    Step 2: Draw something. Even stick figures have proven to be great visual representations on the Web, so quality is NOT a problem.

    Step 3: Write something funny and/or meaningful for the drawn character to say.

    Step 4: Scan it into your computer.

    Step 5: Use any of a number of free hosting services to get it on the web, under the most ridiculously long web address.

    Step 6: Tell your friends and loved ones about it.

    Congratulations! You’re now in webcomics!

    I’ll let the others talk about the success part.

  2. The book
    “WEBCOMICS” by Steven Withrow and John Barber is another great book on webcomics and features a pretty good batch of “How To’s” also.

    As far as hyping and promoting your webcomics, I’m sure there’s a lot to learn but let’s be honest here…a majority of the “popular webcomics” have had the luck of geography going for them; being at the right place, right time and also, getting there first.

    There’s a certain amount of popularity that “could” be obtained by following any number of innovative and/or quite simple ways to market your webcomic but, I think if creators are wishing to reach PVP and Penny Arcade status, your better off rubbing a rabbit’s foot.

    This isn’t meant to take away from the hard work Kurtz, Tycho and Gabe have put in to their respective empires; it’s quite an admirable feat, actually. But I’d be willing to bet that if PVP and Penny Arcade were to make their webcomic debuts today, it’d be a different story.
    Just my opinion. 🙂

  3. I pretty much agree with Mr. Midnight; including deferral of success stories to someone who has achieved it. It is a rare thing.

    One idea to keep in mind though. Sharp writing can survive reasonably without good art, but this almost never works in reverse. Pretty pictures are no substitute for crap writing. If you cannot string a coherent sentence together, drop the word balloons and become a painter.

  4. Ooh! Burn! What would you say if I told you I write and draw a weekly comic strip AND work in retail?

    And THAT is all I’ll say in this thread that is off-topic. This kind of stuff gets me in trouble.

  5. Even though these creators are popular today and their work would probably not be as popular as it is today, I’d still like to know how they got to where they are now. Who knows, maybe their insight might help the next big webcomics star. Can’t wait to read this.

  6. I don’t buy the whole, if they started now they wouldn’t be as big thing in total. XKCD has exploded to literally one of the tope 3-4 webcomics around, and it is only a year or so old.

  7. I can’t argue with your opinion but, I think the odds of a webcomic reaching the type of success as PVP or Penny Arcade are vastly higher than they were say… even five years ago. I’m confident there will be exceptions, as you have pointed out, but we’re talking PVP/Penny Arcade success here, and I’m not speaking of just the number of visitors to their respective website. I’m not familiar with the comic you referenced so I’ll claim ignorance to the amount of its success; however you deem what that success is.
    I think what I was trying to say is that webcomic creators shouldn’t use comics like PVP as a benchmark without being a bit realistic. It can only lead to disappointment. I’m not saying that webcomic creators shouldn’t dream big, by all means, shoot for the stars, but have the knowledge behind what made some of these comics “mega-hits”. Like I mentioned previously…sometimes it’s just “luck of geography.”
    I have an example of this.
    I was fortunate enough to realize a long time goal of getting my work into the pages of Heavy Metal Magazine by way of my webcomic. It wasn’t like my comic was even a mediocre hit, it just so happened that it was there to be seen and the right person, at the right time, happened to tune in. That’s “the luck of geography.”

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