As I mentioned yesterday, at the time of writing, I was busy with making a sci-fi themed mini series for one of my occasional long-running webcomics (that will appear here in early February).
This is the first time that I’ve made anything other than one-off sci-fi comics in at least a year or two. So, for today, I thought that I’d give you a few tips about how to add sci-fi comedy to your webcomic. Most of this is fairly basic stuff, and I’ve probably said some of it before, but I’m busy with a comic at the moment, so it was the quickest thing I could write about.
1) Background details: If there’s one thing that can be said about the sci-fi genre, it’s that it tends to be a very visually-complex genre. Whether it’s a bustling alien city, the high-tech corridors of a spaceship or a bustling cyberpunk metropolis, the sci-fi genre certainly doesn’t skimp on background detail.
Needless to say, this is an absolute goldmine if you’re making a sci-fi comedy comic, since you can hide all sorts of visual jokes and/or sci-fi references in the backgrounds of each panel of your comic.
This, by the way is another cool thing about sci-fi comedy, it often rewards people who look at it closely. Because detailed backgrounds are inherently interesting, your audience will probably want to look at them closely. If you take advantage of this fact, you can cram two to three times as much comedy into your sci-fi webcomic update as you would be able to in a “normal” webcomic.
2) Be realistic: One of the easiest ways to add some comedy to science fiction-themed webcomics is to think about all of the futuristic technology etc… in a more “realistic” way. Often, for the sake of telling a good story, sci-fi movies/comics/novels/games etc… will often use a bit of artistic licence when depicting how futuristic technologies will be used (and often what they look like).
Often, a more “realistic” version of how most of these futuristic technologies work can be funny for the simple reason that it either confounds audience expectations, or it makes something that would look glamourous in a movie look hilariously silly.
For example, laser guns are a fairly standard fixture of the sci-fi genre. However, anyone who has so much as read an article about lasers will know that the bright glowing laser beams that you see in movies can’t actually be seen in real life unless there’s a mist of some kind in the air to diffuse the light. In real life, laser beams are actually invisible.
So, if you have a slightly twisted sense of humour, you could show one of your webcomic characters holding a laser gun sideways and pulling the trigger whilst saying something like “I don’t think that it’s working properly! I can’t see the beam!“, only for something (or someone, if your sense of humour is especially dark) next to him or her to be sliced in two.
Likewise, another way to make futuristic technology funny is simply to show impressive technology being used for “mundane” purposes. To use a widely-used modern example, many people carry small computers around with them that can access a network containing all of humanity’s knowledge. Thirty years ago, this was the stuff of impressive “serious” science fiction novels. These days, it’s used to take frivolous “selfie” photos and look at videos of cats.
3) Parodies: This almost goes without saying, but if you’re a fan of the sci-fi genre, then you can probably think of numerous ways to parody your favourite sci-fi movies, games, books etc… These can either be silly parodies, or they can be slightly more serious (but amusing) critiques of these films, games etc..
Although I’m not a copyright expert, many countries contain an exemption in their copyright laws for parodies. However, the precise legal definition of what does and doesn’t count as a parody might vary from country to country, so do your research.
However, if you want your comic to be more “original”, then either parody several different things at once or – if you’re slightly smarter – parody an entire sub-genre of science fiction in your webcomic. The possibilities are endless!
Sorry for another repetitive article, but I hope it was useful 🙂