Three Very Basic Ways To Use Nostalgia For Inspiration In Webcomics

2016 Artwork nostalgia webcomics article sketch

Although it’s slightly different for everyone, nostalgia can be a potent source of inspiration when it comes to thinking of ideas for your webcomic updates. If you’ve read a lot of webcomics and/or you’ve made a lot of webcomic updates, then you probably already know how to use nostalgia in webcomics (and most of this article will probably be useless to you).

But, if you’re new to making webcomics, I thought that I’d quickly show you some of the very basic ways that you can make nostalgia-based webcomic updates.

Although the examples from my own webcomics will mostly be focused on 1990s nostalgia (with some stuff about the 1980s and 2000s too), the tips in this article can be applied to any kind of nostalgia.

1) Compare the past and the present: The easiest way to use nostalgia for inspiration is to compare the past to the present and to make some witty observations about it. Whether you think that the past is better or the present is better, comparing the two things is a very easy way to find the beginnings of a new webcomic update. Using your memories of the past for inspiration can also be useful here.

It’s usually best to do this with topics that you are fairly knowledgeable about (the more obscure, the better), since this type of webcomic update relies on observations. For example, here are two of my comics about computer and video games:

"Damania Regrown - Installation" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regrown – Installation” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Reappears - Since 1993" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Reappears – Since 1993” By C. A. Brown

As you can see, both comics use a similar underlying structure (eg: images of the past compared to images of the present), but the humour is slightly different in each comic.

One is about how computer game installation was at it’s best in the late 1990s and early-mid 2000s (when games always came on CDs or DVDs), the other is about the nature of nostalgia itself (and how people get nostalgic about things they don’t directly remember).

2) Introduce something old: Another very easy way to get some nostalgia-based inspiration for your webcomic is merely to have one of your characters find something old and then to see how that character (and the other characters) react to it.

The trick here is, of course, to think of a suitably obscure old object. The more unusual and/or widely forgotten the object is, the more intriguing and/or nostalgic your webcomic update will be. For example, obscure things from the 1990s include things like virtual pets, POGs, pagers, CRT monitors, Scandisk etc…

All you have to do is to introduce something like this into your comic and see how your characters react to it, like this:

"Damania Redux - Was Better In 1998" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Redux – Was Better In 1998” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Restricted - Not Quite Hipsters" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Restricted – Not Quite Hipsters” By C. A. Brown

3) Parodies: Finally, another easy way to use nostalgia for inspiration is to make a parody comic about a film, game, book, comic etc… from the decade that you are feeling nostalgic about.

The obvious thing here, of course, is to make sure that the parody is based on something that you’re actually a fan of. Yes, you can parody things that you don’t like, but your humour is likely to be a lot smarter and more interesting if you make a parody of something that you know really well.

For example, here’s a comic of mine that parodies the questions from the ‘Voight-Kampff test‘ in “Blade Runner“. Although this movie is from the 1980s, the nostalgia in this comic was mostly from the mid-2000s (eg: around the time that I really started to appreciate this film) and this can be seen from the fact that the characters are reading magazines and newspapers on the bus (like people actually used to do back in the olden days of… 2005), rather than just staring blankly at smartphones:

"Damania Reappears - Personality Test" By C. A. Brown (With Apologies To Ridley Scott)

“Damania Reappears – Personality Test” By C. A. Brown (With Apologies To Ridley Scott)

Sorry for such a short and basic article, but I hope it was useful 🙂


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