PREVIEWS: What To Expect Here In 2018

First of all, happy New Year everyone πŸ™‚ Since I prepare the articles, art, comics, reviews etc.. for this blog ridiculously far in advance, I thought that I’d give you a summary (with previews) of what you can expect to see here this year.

Comics! Although you probably know this already if you’ve read the comics index page, there will still be groups of comics appearing here every month or so.

The highlights will include a series of highly-detailed “Wordless Comics” during the spring, a vampire-themed Halloween comic, a slightly more ‘intellectual’ series of “Damania” comics later this month and a series of remakes of “classic” comics from 2012/13 in late November.

In fact, it’s probably easier if I show you. So, here are a few previews from this year’s upcoming comics:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] (And, yes, I know that the first two are already on DeviantArt).

I’ll also be moving back to the “traditional” square format for my comics from April onwards. So, if you don’t like the current A4-size format, then it won’t be around for too much longer. However, this year’s Halloween comic will have A4-size pages because, well, it’s a Halloween comic.

Art! When I’m not making comics, I make daily art and the main improvements that you can expect to see later in 2018 are slightly more realistic shadows/shading.

Although this has occasionally turned up in the title graphics of unplanned articles from 2017 (and in this article), it will become a regular feature of my art later this year. I learnt this technique from making a study of this 19th century Gustave Courbet painting. Here’s a preview of my study:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 6th May.

Some artistic highlights that you can look forward to include a series of gothic paintings, set in Aberystwyth, that will appear here in June. In addition to this, there will be a series of about seven paintings, set in abandoned 1990s-style American shopping centres, that will appear here in early-mid August. In fact, it’s probably easier if I show you what kind of art to expect here this year:

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE.

In addition to this, I also went through a brief phase of experimenting with some new digital effects too (eg: pattern fill effects, digital lighting effects etc..) but although this will appear in a couple of paintings/drawings in early June, it won’t be a major feature. This is mostly because I was worried that I’d get out of practice with certain drawing, painting etc… techniques if I relied on these effects too heavily.

Articles! As usual, there will be lots of articles too πŸ™‚ In addition to the usual art/writing advice and reviews, there will also be a few more “critic”-like articles, where I’ll be examining various things in order to see what they can teach us about creativity.

Some highlights will include an article in May (?) that will compare two 1990s TV shows called “Sliders” and “Lois & Clark” in order to discover what they can teach us about 1990s-style storytelling. And, yes, 1990s nostalgia will be a little bit more of a theme this year.

In addition to this, there will be an article in late April (?) looking at how the film “Blade Runner” presents fictional violence in a somewhat different way, and what this can teach us about writing/comics. I’ll also be looking at things like music, animated sitcoms etc.. in other articles too.

Film Reviews! Although there were a few film reviews posted here in 2017, there will be a lot more of them here later this year.

In particular, there will be a “1990s films” review series which will appear every 2-4 days during parts of June and early July. This will include reviews of films like “Practical Magic”, “Mallrats”, the 1999 remake of “House On Haunted Hill”, “Gremlins 2” etc…

In addition to this, I’ll also be reviewing a few other random films (such as the 2017 remake of “Ghost In The Shell”) and – later in the year – the first four “Resident Evil” films too.

Game Reviews! But, this doesn’t mean that I’ve neglected computer games though. In addition to my usual reviews of fan-made levels for classic games (eg: At least one “Doom II” WAD review each month, a “Heretic” WAD review in October and a review of a set of “Quake” levels in July), I’ll also be reviewing a fair number of classic games and a couple of more modern indie games too.

Although there were at least a few games I’d planned to review, but didn’t for one reason or another – there will still be a few full and/or partial (eg: “first impressions”) reviews of games, such as: “SiN” (and the expansion for it), both official expansions for “Quake”, “Killing Time”, “Silent Hill 3”, “XCOM: Enforcer”, “Legend Of Kyrandia – Hand Of Fate”, “Hotline Miami”, “Enclave”, “Kathy Rain”, “Clive Barker’s Undying”, “Deux Ex: Invisible War” etc…

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Anyway, I hope that you have as much fun reading this stuff as I have writing it πŸ™‚

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Three Random Artistic Tricks That Can Improve Your Webcomic

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Well, at the time of writing, I’m busy making a webcomic mini series that will be posted here in early October. Here’s another “work in progress” preview of part of the comic update I was making at the time that I wrote the first draft of this article:

There's still quite a way to go, but the finished [Almost A4-sized] comic update should appear here on the 5th October.

There’s still quite a way to go, but the finished [Almost A4-sized] comic update should appear here on the 5th October.

Since this mini series will be a return to the detailed artwork that I’ve used in more recent comics (but won’t use in the failed comic project that will appear here in September), I thought that I’d talk about a few tricks that you can use to improve the art in your webcomic.

1) Have a palette: One way to make the art in your webcomic look a bit more distinctive is to use a similar colour palette for all or most of your webcomic updates. Since I use watercolour pencils (and image editing software) when adding colour to my artwork, my palette consists of a red pencil, a blue pencil, a yellow pencil, a light green pencil, a purple pencil, a black pencil, a peach pencil (although I usually add skin tones digitally these days) and a grey pencil.

Here are comics from two of my webcomic mini series from earlier this year (this one and this one):

"Damania Regenerated - Killjoys" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regenerated – Killjoys” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Recovery - Process" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Recovery – Process” By C. A. Brown

Despite the fact that they are set in completely different locations, these comics all instantly look like part of the same series for the simple reason that they use a similar colour palette to each other.

So, if you can find a palette that you like (mine was inspired by these “Doom II” levels), then you can make the art in your webcomic stand out a lot more. A good place to start if you don’t know how to create a good palette is to experiment with using a couple of pairs of complementary colours.

2) Detail and variety: Highly-detailed backgrounds can really make your webcomic stand out from the crowd. But, one problem with highly-detailed backgrounds is that they’re prone to continuity errors if they are repeated.

After all, if you’ve got to draw the same highly-detailed background again and again, then you’re probably going to start cutting corners and making mistakes after a while.

So, the trick here is to find ways to make the background at least slightly different in each panel, without confusing the audience. The simplest way to do this is to show one or more characters walking through a detailed outdoor location.

The changing backgrounds in each panel also help to give the comic a sense of movement, like in this comic from the mini series that finished in late July:

"Damania Replicated - Chips" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Replicated – Chips” By C. A. Brown

Another more subtle way to change the background in each panel is to change the “camera angle” a few times during a static scene. Yes, doing this too often can confuse the audience and look visually jarring. But, once you’ve seen a few examples of it done well (eg: in traditional comics), it can be a very easy way to include similar detailed backgrounds with fewer noticeable continuity errors.

3) Lighting: One of the simplest ways to make your webcomic’s artwork stand out a lot more is to learn how to paint realistic lighting. Look at tutorials in books and online, study photographs, look at other paintings/drawings/comic panels and try to work out the “rules” that the artist has followed etc…

Even the most basic and primitive types of realistic lighting will make your artwork look less “flat” and more “3D”. Plus, lighting can also be used in all sorts of other creative ways too. Like in this comic update of mine that was inspired by old sci-fi horror games and movies:

"Damania Regenerated - Death Maze" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regenerated – Death Maze” By C. A. Brown

In my opinion, creative lighting in webcomics tends to work best if (like me) you tend to use a very high-contrast style. My general rule with a lot of my artwork is that at least 30-50% of the surface area of each painting, comic update etc… should consist of black paint. By adding a lot of gloom, shadows and darkness to a piece of art, you also make any light sources in that picture stand out a lot more too.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Two Ways To Make Webcomic Making Interesting Again (Plus, A Comic Preview :) )

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As regular readers of this site probably know, this site is currently the middle of a bit of a webcomic drought. This was due to a number of factors, but the most prominent one was that I just didn’t feel the enthusiasm for making webcomics that I did a while ago. Although there will be another six (somewhat uninspired) comic updates in September, I’m determined that October won’t be a comic desert.

So, I started a new short comics project. At the time of writing, I don’t know how well it will turn out, but I’m actually excited about it. Here’s a cropped, but otherwise unedited, preview of what I’d made so far at the original time of writing:

The full and finished comic update will appear here on the 4th October.

The full and finished comic update will appear here on the 4th October.

And here’s a panel from the finished update, completed a few hours after the first draft of this article:

Yes, this is going to be awesome :) But, how did I rediscover my love of making webcomics... and how can YOU?

Yes, this is going to be awesome πŸ™‚ But, how did I rediscover my love of making webcomics… and how can YOU?

So, how can you rekindle your love for making webcomics? Here are two tips:

1) Deal with feelings of webcomic guilt: If you’ve been posting webcomics regularly or semi-regularly, then it can be easy to feel guilty if you’ve had to drop out of comic-making for a while due to lack of enthusiasm for it. After all, it can feel like you’re letting your audience down. It can even feel like you’re drifting further away from your beloved webcomic characters.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that – if you’re feeling guilty about not making webcomics – it still means that you’re interested in making webcomics. It still means that you love making webcomics. After all, if you weren’t, you probably wouldn’t feel guilty about not making them.

If you let those feelings consume you, then – at best – it’s going to cause you to begrudgingly make a webcomic because you feel like you have to. Chances are, like the crappy webcomic mini series that will appear here in September, it probably won’t be that good. Feeling like this whilst making comics doesn’t lead to good comics.

So, instead, try to produce some filler content that is closer to the things you do currently enjoy making (eg: one of my very early ideas for the mini series which will appear in October was originally just to make a series of paintings featuring my characters). This idea may rekindle your love for your webcomic, or it may form the basis for a much better comic idea.

But, give yourself enough space to think of new ideas (if it makes you feel better, think of it as a “sabbatical”, a “fallow time” or a “holiday” for your webcomic). Be willing to change your comic if you need to. Look for ideas that, at first, seem closer to the things you do enjoy making. Then make them, no matter how different to your previous comics they might be.

Yes, you might feel guilty about not making comics for a while, but try to use this as an impetus to think of better ideas (that also make you feel good), rather than just to do more of the same out of a sense of dreary obligation.

2) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes: Sometimes, the “obvious” solution to your webcomic enthusiasm problems isn’t the best one. Sometimes it is. The only true way to know is to experiment with the ideas that actually make you feel enthusiastic.

You might not get it right the first time, but it will both give your audience some comics to read and give you more of an idea what you need to change about the next project.

For example, the six comic updates will appear here next month were a failed experiment. After getting more and more exhausted by the ever more detailed artwork and complex storylines in many of the comics I’ve posted this year (like this one or this one), I tried to hearken back to the simpler days when comic-making felt a lot more free and spontaneous.

In other words, I tried to produce six self-contained comics that contained much simpler artwork. It was, quite simply, a failure. It almost put me off making comics again. But, when I returned to make some of October’s comics, I learnt quite a few lessons from this abject failure of a comics project.

I learnt that, as time-consuming as it could be, I enjoyed adding detailed art to my comics. Going back to using undetailed art just took some of the fun out of the comics. Likewise, I liked giving my comics a little bit more complexity than just four self-contained panels can offer. But I still wasn’t enthusiastic about including a longer story either.

My solution was simple in retrospect. I’d use a slower production schedule (eg: I’d make one comic a day, rather than two) that would allow me to focus on detailed artwork without getting stressed out by having to make lots of it in a short time. This might mean that the mini series is a bit short, but it shouldn’t affect the release schedule.

In addition to this, I decided that I’d also make slightly larger 6-8 panel self-contained comics in order to allow me to add a bit more complexity to the writing, without committing myself to a longer storyline. It could well be the best of both worlds.

This new project wouldn’t have been started without the lessons I’d learnt from the failed one that will appear here in September. So, if your “new and exciting” comic idea fails, then all this means is that you need to improve it a bit more in order to turn it into something that you’ll love making again.

Don’t let failed experiments make you feel disappointed. If you experimented, then this still means that you care about making webcomics. If your experiment failed, then it just means that you need to change a few more things.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Three Ways To Make A Change To Your Webcomic Series (Without Alienating Too Many Of Your Readers)

2017-artwork-webcomic-major-changes-article-sketch

Although this is an article about making webcomics, I’m going to have to start by talking about TV shows for a while. As usual, there’s (almost) a good reason for this that I hope becomes obvious later.

The day before I wrote this article, I started watching the second season of “Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex“. Even from the opening credits alone, I knew that this season was going to be different. Everything in the opening credits had a much more gothic look to it, and the theme tune had hints of symphonic metal music in it. I was literally awestruck when I saw it for the first time.

When I started watching the episodes, I noticed that they’d gone from being intelligent sci-fi thriller episodes to being much darker and more complex political thriller episodes. Visually speaking, the set design in the first four episodes had a much stronger resemblance to both the original “Ghost In The Shell” movie and to “Blade Runner”. Needless to say, it was already my favourite season of the show after binge-watching a mere four episodes.

It’s an example of a change to a series done properly. And, since my own occasional webcomics have changed a bit over the past year or two (eg: I’ve moved more towards story-based comics etc..), I thought that I’d give some advice about how to make changes to your own webcomics. I’ve probably said some of this stuff before, but it bears repeating.

1) Have a good reason: As many users of a popular online art gallery site will probably tell you, change for the sake of change benefits no-one. In other words, you should only change your webcomic if there’s actually a good practical reason for doing so.

The main reason why webcomics change dramatically is because the change helps to keep the person making the webcomic inspired. Some people are able to make the same sort of thing repeatedly for years, and other people need to do different things in order to stay inspired. If you’re making webcomics, then staying inspired should be your top priority.

If you feel absolutely fascinated by a different type of comic, then make it! If your characters are developing in a way that you didn’t expect them to, let them develop! If you’re in a different mood to the one you usually are in when you’re making your comic, let your comic reflect that mood!

But, don’t make changes just for the sake of it, or to be fashionable. If a change doesn’t genuinely help you to feel more inspired, don’t make it.

Yes, inspired changes might annoy a few of your readers, but the higher quality that will result from these inspired changes will probably help you to keep readers or gain more of them.

2) Continuity: Even if you make a major change, try to keep some things the same. In other words, there should be something that regular fans of your webcomic will recognise instantly. This can be a similar style of humour, this can be recurring characters, this can even be a similar art style. Generally, changes tend to work best when they are part of a gradual progression – rather than a more abrupt change.

So, leaving parts of the “old” version of your webcomic in your new updates can help your audience to adapt to the changes you’ve made more easily.

For example, although I moved over to making more narrative-based webcomics (compared to more self-contained comics), many of my earlier narrative-based series included brief story recaps in the dialogue of each update, so that many episodes could theoretically be read on their own. Like this comic from “Damania Repressed“:

"Damania Repressed - Analytical Engine" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Repressed – Analytical Engine” By C. A. Brown

Plus, in the mini series that will appear here in late July, I’ve been experimenting with including a better mixture of story-based updates and self-contained updates, in part to appeal to people who prefer the “old-school” versions of my comics. Here’s another preview:

The full comic update will appear here on the 23rd July.

The full comic update will appear here on the 23rd July.

Likewise, the switch to more story-based comics wasn’t too difficult to make since I’d already made occasional story-based comics before (like this one, this one or this one). Yes, I’d used a slightly different visual style and panel layout for them, but regular readers of the series will hopefully realise that story-based comics aren’t an entirely new thing for me.

3) Practice and improvment: Many of the best changes in my webcomics have probably been the less noticeable ones. In other words, the improvements I’ve made in both the art and dialogue in my comics over the past year or so. Here’s a chart to show you what I mean:

 As you can see, I've started using slightly more detailed art and more extensive digital editing.

As you can see, I’ve started using slightly more detailed art and more extensive digital editing. (Note: The release dates refer to this blog, rather than to DeviantART)

In other words, if you practice making art and/or making webcomics regularly, then you’re going to improve. This will, over time, lead to changes in the “look” of your webcomic. These changes will probably happen without you even really noticing them at first. It goes without saying, but these are the kinds of changes that your audience is least likely to complain about.

So, if you want to change your webcomic without changing it, then just keep practicing (even if you only make webcomics occasionally, do art practice as often as possible).

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Three Ways To Make A Webcomic Update In A Hurry

2017-artwork-making-comic-updates-in-a-hurry

Although I talked about filler updates yesterday, I thought that I’d look at something subtly different today – namely, how to make a webcomic update quickly.

This is mostly because, the day before I wrote this article, I found that I had relatively little time to prepare the second of the two comic updates (to be posted as part of a mini series in late July) that I’d planned to make that day.

Luckily, I still made the comic update. Here’s a reduced-size preview of it:

The full-size comic update will be posted here on the 26th July.

The full-size comic update will be posted here on the 26th July.

So, how was I able to speed everything up? Here are a few tips:

1) Three panels or one panel: Most of my webcomic updates tend to have 4-5 panels per update, this comic update only has three – even if this is cleverly disguised by the unusual panel layout. Although this might sound like it would be more difficult to write (since there’s less space for dialogue and storytelling), it actually isn’t if you’ve had a bit of practice.

Whilst longer comics might require more complex writing or structure, three panel comics often just follow the rule of “premise, set-up, punchline“. The first panel sets the scene, the second panel creates an expectation (about the third panel) and the third panel then shatters that expectation in an amusing way.

When you’ve seen this done enough times (typically in newspaper comics) and have practiced it a bit, then it’s a very familiar and easy rhythm that can help you to come up with quick comic ideas when you’re in a hurry.

Likewise, the general rule with one-panel comics is to set up an expectation with the art or the dialogue, and then subvert it with whichever one you haven’t used already (eg: art or dialogue) to set up the expectation.

2) Recycling: If you’re in a rush, then you probably won’t have much planning time for your comic update. So, take all or part of an idea or a joke from one of your previous comic updates and try to find a new twist on it (or add something to it). Don’t repeat the joke or idea exactly, but borrow the parts that made it so good the last time you used it.

For example, when I was making the comic update that I previewed earlier in this article, I didn’t have a huge amount of planning time. So, since it was a science fiction comic, I borrowed elements from the joke from this old four-panel comic of mine about VR technology and then used a slightly different punchline.

Although recycling your own stuff isn’t the most creative thing in the world and it shouldn’t be done that often, it can be useful for actually making something when you are in a hurry.

3) Art tricks: There are probably too many of them to mention every one here, but it’s always a good idea to learn some tricks that make the art in your comic look better than it actually is. This will save you time, whilst also allowing you to make impressive-looking comic updates.

These tricks include things like giving the illusion of detail, using realistic lighting to distract from the lack of detail in other parts of the artwork, making the setting look larger than it actually is, using simplified backgrounds, numerous digital editing techniques etc……

For example, most of the art in the preview at the beginning of this article is in the large middle panel. In case you can’t tell from the preview image, most of the art in that panel was created digitally using a few image effects. What this meant was that the bulk of the update’s art could be created by just selecting a few areas of the picture and applying various image effects.

However, the other two panels are made traditionally using ink and watercolours (albeit with some digital image editing after I scanned them). Since the comic starts off and ends with a traditional panel, it still gives the impression that the comic update was mostly made traditionally. Even though only about 25% of the entire update was created by slightly more time-consuming traditional methods.

If you learn sneaky tricks like this, then they can come in handy when you are in a hurry.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Three Ways To Make Better Filler Episodes For Your (Story-Based) Webcomic

2017-artwork-story-based-filler-comic-updates-article-sketch

Well, due to being extremely tired at the time, I ended up making a filler episode for a webcomic mini series that will appear here in late July. Since this mini series will have an over-arching plot, I thought that I’d look at making filler updates for story-based webcomics today.

Like all good filler episodes, the one I made hopefully won’t obviously look too much like a filler episode, but it allowed me to plan and make a comic episode with relatively little effort. Here’s a preview of one panel from it:

The full comic update will appear here on the 24th July.

The full comic update will appear here on the 24th July.

Anyway, how do you make interesting (and easy) filler updates for story-based webcomics?

1) Focus on the secondary cast: One of the easiest ways to make a filler comic is to focus on a background character (or background characters) who hasn’t had much “screen time” in your webcomic. Even if you use a fairly generic joke or if you just show the background characters discussing what the main characters are doing, then this can be a good way to make an interesting filler comic.

Why? Because these characters haven’t appeared too much in the rest of your webcomic, they’re probably slightly mysterious. So, even if they don’t actually do much in your filler comic, these characters will be interesting because your audience will probably want to learn more about them.

Likewise, even if you just show them discussing what your main characters have done earlier in the comic then this will add some depth to your comic by showing that the “world” of your comic is larger than just the characters who appear in most of your comic updates. Likewise, you can use these character discussions to either add some background details, move the story along slightly and/or foreshadow something that will happen later in the comic.

2) Recaps and flashbacks: Another sneaky way to make a quick filler comic to make a recap update. Not only will this help new readers to catch up on the story but, if you know a little bit about digital editing, you can also create one of these updates fairly quickly by directly copying important panels from your previous comics and collecting them together in a new comic update.

A good way to learn which types of panels you should include is to watch movie trailers and/or the short “previously on…” recaps that often appear before episodes of long-running American TV shows.

If you want some of the speed that making a recap update offers, but you still actually want to include some new stuff in your comic update too, then just include a flashback scene. This is where you show one of your characters remembering something from earlier in the comic. Like with a recap, you can just digitally copy the scene in question from one of your previous updates.

However, to make it obvious that it’s a flashback, it’s usually a good idea to use some kind of image effect on the copied panel. The classic way to do this is to digitally desaturate the panel until it looks like something from an old movie. But, you could also alter the hue of the panel too – for example, the flashback scene in my filler comic has a blue tint to it (which also went well with the colour scheme of the rest of the update).

3) Backgrounds: Another way to make your filler update quickly is to keep the backgrounds as simplistic as possible. So, set your filler update in part of your comic’s setting which is (relatively) quick and easy to draw.

For example, in the mini series I’m making at the moment, many of the comics are set in a rainy, neon-lit futuristic city. This usually involves time-consuming things like digitally adding rain to the comic in MS after scanning it etc… Sometimes, I can cut down on this by just showing the cityscape through a window in the background, but it still involves extra editing.

So, if you take another look at the preview at the beginning of this article, you’ll probably notice that whilst there’s still a window in the background, the blinds happen to be drawn. The rest of the background still looks a bit like the backgrounds in other comic updates from the mini series, so it’s still clear that it is taking place in the same city – even though it doesn’t actually include a detailed cityscape in the background.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Three Advantages Of Hyper-Detailed Art In Webcomics

....And, yes, I cheated and rotoscoped this picture from a photo.

….And, yes, I cheated and rotoscoped this picture from a photo.

Ok, before I list the advantages of detailed art in webcomics, I’ll start by briefly mentioning the disadvantages that I’ve found with using mildly more detailed art in my occasional webcomics.

Most of these disadvantages involve the extra planning, drawing, painting and/or editing time that goes into making more detailed webcomics. This can lead to shorter webcomics and/or it can lead to more infrequent webcomics. For example, the webcomic mini series which is appearing here at the end of the month will only be six daily updates long (rather than the usual 8-12).

Likewise, there will probably only be one mini series posted here in July (and, even then, it’ll appear later in the month). Here’s a preview of the first two panels of episode one:

The full comic update will be posted here on the 19th July.

The full comic update will be posted here on the 19th July.

Ok, that’s the disadvantages out of the way. So, let’s talk about the advantages:

1) They have instant appeal: The night before I wrote this article, I discovered a new webcomic by accident after an update from it grabbed my attention during an image search for pictures of Linux in the 1990s. It was an absolutely hilarious webcomic called “The Joy Of Tech” and it has been running for over a decade and a half, so it had a huge archive.

One of the things that really surprised me about this webcomic was the fact that even the older updates use a realistic, but cartoonish, art style and that the later comics almost look like they were rotoscoped from photographs. Since it’s a satirical webcomic, this added degree of realism makes all of the caricatures about twice as funny (seriously, the comics about Mark Zuckerberg are just too funny!).

Likewise, one of the things that makes my favourite webcomic – “Subnormality” – so fascinating is the sheer amount of stuff hidden in the background. Although the art in it is more stylised than the art in “The Joy Of Tech”, it’s the kind of comic which makes you look closely at almost every panel.

2) It shows the value of practice: If you look at any webcomic with hyper-detailed art, it can be easy to think that the artist has been gifted with some kind of special talent that you could never even hope to replicate. Chances are, they haven’t. They’ve just practiced a lot.

If you look back through the archives of many webcomics, you’ll find that the earlier updates often feature significantly less detailed or realistic art. In other words, the artist gradually got better at making art through regular practice. Yes, improvements can be slow – but they will happen if you practice regularly.

To show you what I mean, here’s an update from my long-running occasional webcomic series from 2012 (eg: before I even started this blog):

"Damania - Static" By C. A. Brown [21st October 2012]

“Damania – Static” By C. A. Brown [21st October 2012]

And here’s a comic from the same occasional series that appeared here a few days ago:

"Damania Revelry - Preparation" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revelry – Preparation” By C. A. Brown

I didn’t instantly jump from one to the other in real life, there were something like 4-5 years of daily art practice (but not exclusively comic practice – in,fact, most of my practice included “ordinary” drawings and paintings) between these comics. And there’s probably still a lot of room for improvement. But, you’ll never improve if you don’t practice – and comparing the old and new art in “detailed” webcomics can be a good way to remind yourself of this.

3) It can cover up obscure humour and/or weak writing: In the “Joy Of Tech” webcomic I’ve mentioned earlier, there were some updates that I either didn’t find funny or just didn’t understand. Yet, I was more than willing to overlook this and keep reading. Why? Because the art looks awesome.

I mean, I’m not a fan of Apple computers and I don’t know where Cupertino is, but I was still absolutely awestruck by this comic because of the accurate re-creation of the Tyrell Building office from “Blade Runner” in the first panel. Some of the satire went over my head, but the art still made the comic worth reading.

Yes, the writing is the most important part of any webcomic – it’s why XKCD is so popular, despite featuring extremely minimalist artwork. But, highly detailed art can serve as a very good “backup” for the occasions when the writing fails to interest or amuse the audience.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting πŸ™‚