Well, for today, I thought that I’d talk about a webcomic format that I’ve been experimenting with over the past couple of months. I am, of course, talking about the webcomic mini series.
In case it isn’t obvious from the name, a webcomic mini series is a “newspaper cartoon”-style webcomic series that only runs for a short number of episodes at a time, rather than continuously.
But, what’s so great about this format? Well, here are a few reasons why I tend to use it and why it might be worth experimenting with.
1) It’s like a TV show: Surprisingly, I got the idea for a webcomic mini series from looking at a few American TV shows. Whilst British TV shows have historically tended to run for a small number of episodes (traditionally six) per series, “seasons” of American TV shows often tend to go on for much longer.
However, long-running American TV shows will occasionally have much shorter seasons for a variety of reasons. For example, the series of “24” that was released in 2014 was only twelve episodes long, the final season of “Warehouse 13” is only six episodes long and the modern continuation of “The X-Files” is apparently only six episodes long.
This idea of it stuck in my mind when I thought about reviving one of my old webcomic series yet again. The idea of a webcomic being like a TV show with short “seasons” just made the whole thing seem a lot cooler.
And, yes, when you’re making a webcomic then you need all of the motivation you can get. So, thinking of your webcomic like a TV show (and structuring it like one) can be a great way to feel motivated if – like me – you’re a fan of quite a few TV shows.
2) It keeps things fun: One problem with making a “traditional” long-running webcomic is that it’s a huge commitment. It’s a heavy responsibility. You’re making comics regularly for, well, possibly forever. It’s a marathon. It’s a long-distance event. It’s something that requires grit, determination and perseverance. It can be enjoyable and rewarding, but it can also be gruelling and intimidating.
A mini series, on the other hand, is just something you can do for a few days. It’s a fun project with an easily visible beginning and end. It’s something that you do for as long as you feel that you can. Then you take a break and start another one. This also prevents you from feeling burnt out or exhausted too.
For example, back in 2014, I hardly made any comics. I’d started an over-ambitious comic project (which I never published online, apart from a few excerpts – like this one) early that year and, after 20-30 pages of it, I was just completely burnt out. I abandoned the comic out of sheer exhaustion and frustration long before it was finished.
After that, I just couldn’t get back into the mood for the longer comics projects that I’d made so eagerly back in 2012 and 2013. It wasn’t until 2015 that I realised that I could actually enjoy making comics again if I kept them relatively short.
3) It makes you focus on quality more: On the whole, one thing that I’ve noticed is that the quality of my recent webcomic mini series tend to be much better than back in 2012/ 2013, when I’d work on this comic series for weeks or months at a time.
Yes, my current mini series had the occasional dip in quality but even that was fairly short-lived (and only affected maybe a third of the updates).
Whilst some of this increase in quality is due to using slightly different art supplies and, most importantly, having more drawing and writing practice – it’s also because making a shorter comics series can be a way to motivate yourself to make better comics. If your series isn’t going on forever, then each comic matters slightly more.
Yes, when you’re starting out, quantity is a lot more important than quality. If you want to learn how to make webcomics, then you need to make lots of updates as regularly as possible. But, once you’ve had a fair amount of practice and have got used to making comics, then making short mini series can be a good way to focus on improving the quality of your webcomics.
4) You quit when you’re ahead: As I kind of mentioned earlier, a bad experience with ending a comic put me off of making comics for about a year.
However, when I’m making a mini series, I often tend to “quit when I’m ahead”. In other words, since I don’t feel like I have to keep making the comic series for weeks or months, I can end it whenever I feel like doing so.
What this usually means is that I’ll actually miss making comics after a while. And, although I might be glad to take a break from making comics, I remember how fun it was to make comics. In other words, I’m more likely to get back into making comics again.
Everyone is probably different with regard to this, but keeping your comic series short can be a great way to keep yourself interested in making comics – and eager to make more.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂