Even though I gradually seem to have got back into making comics again over the past year and a half, I’ve noticed something strange recently. Despite occasionally trying to get inspired, (at the time of originally writing this article) I had absolutely no motivation or inspiration whatsoever to make webcomics.
Although there obviously will still be the usual daily watercolour paintings that I post here every evening, there probably won’t be any comics on here this month [Edit: Expect some comics to appear here in October].
This kind of caught me by surprise, especially considering that I’ve been through (by my standards at least) a massive webcomic phase over the past few months, where I’ve pretty much made one mini series per month (they can be read here, here, here, here and here) in addition to a couple of narrative comics too (that can be read here and here).
Then again, experience has taught me that I usually need to take a break between comics. So, this might just be another example of this and I might be overreacting. Even so, as a reader of webcomics, I know how disappointing it can be when comics go on hiatus – so I thought that I’d talk about how webcomic creators can handle uninspiration-based webcomic hiatuses.
This won’t be an article about how to get inspired, but about how to deal with the day-to-day reality of an uninspiration-based webcomic hiatus.
1) Put out other content: One of the main reasons why people read webcomics is that they’re something new that appears at regular intervals. They’re a regular, living thing that keeps growing in predictable ways. So, one way to keep your readers interested during an uninspiration-based hiatus is to keep putting out other content.
Even if it’s just random drawings of your characters or (in my case) totally unrelated artwork, putting out new artistic content regularly shows your audience that you’re still making things and that there’s still a reason to look at your site. It lessens the effects of a “comics drought” on your audience.
If you’re seriously short on ideas, you can always plunder your sketchbooks for content – and post scans or photos of some of your original plans and sketches for your earlier comic updates.
2) Reruns: Whilst this obviously won’t work if you make a topical webcomic or one that tells a continuous story, one way to compensate for an uninspiration-based hiatus is to re-post some of your slightly older (but not too old) comics.
This technique works best with “newspaper comic”-style webcomics (especially if you’ve been making them for a while) and, if you’ve ever read any traditional syndicated newspaper comics, you’ll know that this is their preferred way of dealing with things when the cartoonists have to take a break for a while.
Posting reruns during a hiatus has it’s advantages and disadvantages. To newer readers of your webcomic, the reruns will probably still look like new content. However, more long-term readers will have seen these comics the first time that they appeared. Still, they might appreciate the fact that you’re still putting some effort into posting content – even if it’s recycled content.
The other thing to remember about re-runs is that you shouldn’t post any of your really old comics. In other words, try to re-post comics that you’ve made a few months to a year ago, rather than comics that you’ve made several years ago. This is for the simple reason that the quality of your art will have improved over time and your older comics will look badly-drawn by comparison. But, don’t worry, there’s still a way to use your older updates….
3) Remakes: If you want to give the appearance of making new content during a hiatus, then one simple way of doing this is to remake some of your really old webcomic updates. Since you won’t have to come up with new jokes or new dialogue, you can focus more on just making the art.
If you’re only feeling mildly uninspired, then you can also use this as an opportunity to improve or rework some of the jokes in your older comics.
This works best with older updates, for the simple reason that the change in art quality will be a lot more noticeable than it would be if you remade any of your newer comics. Although, again, this probably won’t work for topical webcomics or for webcomics that tell a continuous story.
4) Stay in touch with your audience: Regardless of what type of webcomic you make, one of the most important ways to lessen the effects of a hiatus is to convince your audience that you haven’t disappeared. In other words, stay in touch with your audience.
If you’re a fan of modern social media, then things like Facebook or Twitter are probably good for this kind of thing. If, like me, you aren’t a fan of social media then there are still plenty of ways to keep in touch with your audience. For example, you could write blog posts, you could reply to comments or, as I mentioned in the first part of this list, you could post other content on your site.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂