Although I posted my first webcomic online back in 2010 (it was one called “Yametry Run” which ran for 105 comic strips – and the art is absolutely terrible by my current standards LOL!), I’d wanted to write, draw and post a webcomic for at least a year or two before that.
Why didn’t I? Simple. I didn’t have enough experience (both reading and drawing comics), practice or good enough ideas.
It’s not that I didn’t try writing webcomics before then (in fact, I’d tried to make at least two webcomics in 2008-9), but I’d either come up with or found a very simple rule which allowed me to test whether my webcomic idea would be worth following or not. This rule works and it is well worth following.
It only really applies to your first webcomic (since, after you’ve had some experience, you’ll know whether an idea is worth following or not… most of the time anyway) but it’s essential if you’re thinking about getting into webcomics or are about to start your first webcomic.
The rule is simply: “ Before you post any of it on the internet, draw at least ten pages or comic strips from your webcomic.”
It may sound like a strange rule, but it’s extremely useful for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it allows you to see whether you’re really ready to start a webcomic – if you can’t come up with ideas for ten pages before you publish anything, then how are you going to come up with a new page every day/week/fortnight etc…?
It also allows you to see what kind of work is involved in making a webcomic and to see whether you’re really in it for the art or whether you’re interested in it just because it’s “cool” (and it is cool), without the embarassment of leaving an extremely short unfinished webcomic on the internet.
Following this rule is also useful for your first webcomic because it provides you with a “reserve” of comic strips which can be useful when you’re less experienced and can’t make comic strips as quickly as you probably will be able to do with practice. Since you’ll already have ten days or ten weeks worth of material to upload – it’ll take some of the pressure off of you.
Whilst I don’t generally use a reserve of comics these days, it was incredibly useful to use one back in 2010 (likewise with a reserve of drawings when I got back into art in 2012 too) and, if you’re just beginning to make webcomics – then it’s an aboslutely invaluable thing to have.
I’ve tried following this rule, but I can’t get up to ten pages – what should I do?
If you’re following this rule and haven’t been able to make a webcomic that can last for at least ten pages/strips, then don’t despair. There are a couple of things you can do to make a webcomic which will last for at least ten pages:
1) Try a different style of webcomic: The unpublished and short-lived webcomics I tried to write and draw back in 2008/9 were all newspaper-style stand-alone comedy comics. I found these quite difficult to write at the time, since I had to think of a new joke for every comic and I wasn’t really good enough at this back then. This made me think that I possibly just wasn’t cut out for writing webcomics.
However, in 2010, I read a really brilliant fantasy/sci-fi webcomic called “Unicorn Jelly” by Jennifer Diane Reitz. This was very different to most of the webcomics I’d read before then – the art was a lot simpler and the whole webcomic told one continuous story instead of lots of induvidual jokes.
Since, before I read “Unicorn Jelly”, I’d written a lot of (mostly unpublished) prose fiction, I was just more practiced writing continuous stories – the idea of writing a story-based webcomic with more simple art seemed a lot easier than writing lots of self-contained comic strips. And, a couple of weeks later, “Yametry Run” was born.
2) Read lots of other webcomics: As I kind of alluded to in the other point, it’s good to read a wide variety of webcomics when you’re starting out – so that you can see all of the different styles of webcomics which you can use in your comic. It’ll also give a good sense of what does and doesn’t work in webcomics too. Almost all webcomics are free to read, so it won’t really cost you anything to do this either (plus, it’s a lot of fun too).
Some good webcomics to start with include:
(some of these may contain mature humour and themes, you have been warned)
-“Questionable Content” by Jeph Jacques – this one has stand-alone joke strips, serious strips and a continous storyline too.
-“Problem Sleuth Adventures” by Andrew Hussie – this webcomic is very long (I haven’t even attempted to read his other comics), but it includes animations and other innovative things too.
-“XKCD” by Randall Munroe – A geek culture/science-based webcomic. The art in this comic is very simple and the focus is very much on the writing.
-“Unicorn Jelly” by Jennifer Diane Reitz – see the previous point on this list.
-“Templar, Arizona” by Spike – this is a more serious, “graphic novel”-style cyberpunk webcomic.
– “Penny Arcade” by Krahulik & Holkins and “Ctrl Alt Del” by Tim Buckley – the two most popular vidoegame-related webcomics on the internet.
– “Looking For Group” by Ryan Sohmer – a comic fantasy webcomic by the guy who makes “Least I Could Do“.
– “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal” by Zach Weiner – A geek culture/science-based comedy webcomic.
3) Practice: Likewise, practice your art and writing too – if you’re having trouble keeping your potential webcomic going for ten pages, then it could be that you just need to practice drawing, writing and storytelling a bit more until you feel more confident about your abilities. Although the art in webcomics isn’t as essential as the writing, it’s still important to practice your drawing too.
4) Find a comic idea which is something you would really want to read: This one is fairly self-explanatory. See my article about geeking out about your stories for more information.
I hope that this helped – good luck with your webcomic too 🙂
And now – for your amusement – here’s a “never-seen-before” look at a few pages from my unsuccessful webcomics from 2008 and 2009. Enjoy 🙂
“XX-TV Page 4 – Memento Mori” by C.A.Brown (written on 6th September 2008)
“XX-TV Page 6 – In Your Dream” By C.A.Brown (written on 7th September 2008)
“Deck Trouble – Future Echoes” [named after the excellent “Red Dwarf” episode] by C.A.Brown (written on 23rd May 2009)