Make Your Filler Comics Fun (To Make) – A Ramble

Well, at the time of writing, I’m busy making this month’s webcomic mini series. However, due to being busy with lots of other stuff, I had to work out a way to make a series of comics quickly and with relatively little effort. In other words, if I wanted to avoid an annoying webcomic hiatus, I needed to make some filler comics.

After thinking about making a series of studies of historical paintings (but with the characters from my long-running webcomic in them), I eventually settled on the idea of making a somewhat non-canonical series of large digitally-edited monochrome single-panel cartoons featuring my webcomic’s characters.

Once I thought of this idea, I suddenly planned out the first five comics (of a planned six-comic mini series) within the space of about fifteen minutes. Here’s a detail from the first comic update:

The complete comic update will be posted here on the 21st August.

The one thing that surprised me the most was just how much fun this comic update was to make. Initially, I was worried that the much more limited format would result in a disappointing comic update. A piece of obvious filler content that was barely better than posting no comics at all. Fortunately, I was wrong.

Since I didn’t have to worry about lots of complex digital editing (since digital editing is much simpler with monochrome art) and since I could make comics quickly, I suddenly found that I felt some of the spontaneity that I used to feel when I made much more primitive comic updates back in 2012/13. Knowing that I could make a comic update within the space of less than an hour felt liberating – and this had some positive effects on the comic.

For starters, the fact that I’d switched to a single-panel format meant that I had to rely a lot more on character-based humour. Since I couldn’t rely on longer set-ups for each joke, I had to focus more on the characters’ eccentricities when planning the comics. This gave these planned comics a lot more personality than many of my 4-8 panel comics from the past 2-3 years have had.

In addition to this, the single-panel format also meant that I had to focus more on things like visual storytelling and implied storytelling. Although this seemed like it would add extra complexity (and time) to the comics, it actually allowed me to do things like include different types of jokes and to come up with slightly sillier premises for each comic. This silliness also reminded me a lot of the comic’s earlier days too, and the joyous spontaneity and randomness that the comic had back then.

So, what was the point of all of this? Well, the best way to come up with good filler content for your webcomic is to go for whatever feels fun. If you can find a way to make your filler comics fun to make, then this will result in better comics.

Even if your filler content is somewhat “lazy”, then this won’t matter as much as you might think if it is fun to make. This is a bit difficult to describe, but fun can be an infectious quality. If your filler comic has badly-drawn art, but the humour and personality that comes from just relaxing and having fun, then the audience is more likely to overlook any visual downgrades you might apply to the art.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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Three Ultra- Quick Reasons Why Filler Content Matters (In Webcomics)

Well, at the time of writing, I’m busy making a webcomic mini series that will appear here in late February. Although the mini series is going reasonably well, my main reason for making it was something along the lines of “I should really make some comics for February!” more than any sudden moment of inspiration. In fact, the mini series will even contain a remake of an old comic, but there will still be original comics – like in this preview:

The full comic update will be posted here on the 22nd February.

In other words, next month’s mini series could possibly fall into the category of “filler content”. But, although filler material often has something of a bad reputation – it can actually be a good thing. So, here are a few reasons why filler material matters:

1) It keeps you creating: Even if you’re feeling so uninspired that the idea of remaking your old stuff or making random doodles of your characters seems like an excitingly good idea, then making this filler content is still much better than making nothing at all.

Why? For the simple reason that you’re still making stuff. You are still creating things. One of the best ways to deal with uninspiration is just to keep making things, regardless of how good or bad they might be. Although this won’t instantly give you any new ideas, it will at least mean that you are still keeping up the momentum of creating things regularly. This will mean that when a good idea does appear, you won’t be out of practice.

Likewise, even making something terrible when you are feeling uninspired can still make you feel more of a sense of accomplishment than you would feel if you made literally nothing. This sense of accomplishment can remind you of what it’s like to feel inspired and can help you to gradually move back to a more inspired frame of mind.

2) It keeps your audience happy: Although some members of your audience might roll their eyes at a quick piece of filler content, they would probably be more annoyed if literally nothing appeared when they expected something to appear.

Posting filler content shows your audience that you still care about your webcomic, even if you are too busy or too uninspired to make full comic updates. More importantly, it also shows your audience that your webcomic is still current and that they should keep reading it.

In other words, it helps to avoid the appearance of an abandoned webcomic.

3) You can have fun with it: One of the great things about filler content is that it’s an opportunity to try something a little bit different. You can draw your characters in different styles, you can experiment with more minimalist comics, you can see what your old comics look like in your current art style, you can make parodies of other things (featuring your webcomic’s characters) etc…

In other words, filler content can be a chance to do things that might not “work” in one of your “ordinary” comics. So, try to see it as a chance to mess around and experiment a bit. Not only will this provide quick content that will interest and amuse your audience, but it will also make you think more creatively too – which might eventually lead to you feeling inspired again.

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Sorry for the short article, but I hope it was interesting 🙂

Creating Good Filler Content For Your Webcomic, Blog, Fiction Series etc…

2015 Artwork more filler content article sketch

Yes, I’m going to have to start by breaking my “don’t blog about blogging” rule for what is probably at least the fifteenth time in two years. But, as usual, there’s a good reason for this and hopefully it will be useful to you.

But, I will warn you that this article is like a magician revealing their secrets – because, well, it’ll teach you how to create the illusion of always being inspired – even when you have a severe case of writer’s block and/or artist’s block. And, well, the only way that I’m going to be able to explain how to do this is to give you examples of when I’ve done it recently.

Once you’ve read this, you can’t un-read it. Are you still interested?

As regular readers of this blog have probably noticed, there’s been a lot more filler content on here than usual over the past couple of weeks. There have been loads of reviews, rambles, short articles and cleverly-disguised re-hashes of things that I’ve already written about. Hell, even this article fits into the last category on this list.

In short, I’d been feeling less inspired than usual when I wrote those articles (and this article) but, like all periods of uninspiration, it was only temporary. Although, it lasted far longer than I expected – so, the next couple of weeks’ worth of articles may have more filler content than usual in them.

If you write and/or produce art regularly, then this sort of thing will happen from time to time – inspiration is a fickle thing. This is also why knowing how to create good filler content is an essential skill that every creative person on the internet should learn.

But what is good filler content?

This is probably a matter of opinion, but I’d argue that good filler content is filler content that doesn’t look like filler content. Good filler content can be made with very little inspiration and, at first glance, will appear to be no different from the “ordinary” stuff that you post online.

The fact that you’re working on the internet can help a lot too, since websites are usually read in a non-linear way. People very rarely read literally every article on a blog in exact chronological order. Likewise, if you’re making a webcomic that doesn’t tell a continuous story, then most of your readers probably won’t start at the very beginning.

What this means is that if you’re seriously uninspired and need to make some new content then you can just re-make some of your old stuff, change a few parts of it and add a couple of new things and – to most readers, it will appear fresh and new. After all, most of your readers probably won’t have read your old stuff when they stumble across your re-made article or webcomic entry via a search engine or whatever.

To give you a recent example, yesterday’s article is basically just a very sneaky reworking of this article that I wrote last year.

The article from last year was about how you shouldn’t try to write like G.R.R Martin and yesterday’s article was about how you shouldn’t try to write like Hunter S. Thompson. I changed the author I was writing about and added some humour (without changing the basic message of the article) and, hey presto! I had a brand new article in a relatively short amount of time.

You can also do the same sort of thing with webcomics too. In fact, the cool thing about doing this with webcomics is that you can easily disguise it as a “running joke” or as a sly reference to your earlier work (that old fans of your webcomic will enjoy).

Likewise, another way of creating great text-based filler content is to review things. Yes, I know, a well-crafted review can be even more difficult to write than an original article. But you don’t have to look for inspiration or new ideas when you’re writing a review – you just write down your thoughts about something that you’ve read, seen, listened to and/or played.

Another way of creating great text-based and comic-based filler content is to give your readers a glimpse “behind the scenes”. You can show your readers some of your notes, pages from your sketchbooks and stuff like that. If people really like your work, then they’ll be too fascinated to realise that you’ve basically just shown them some pre-existing stuff rather than created anything new.

Finally, one good way of creating good filler content is to make something generic – but to do it well. A well-made, but generic, website update is better than no content at all. Plus, although your readers may suspect that you weren’t feeling very inspired on that particular day, they won’t feel like they’ve been fobbed off with low-quality filler material.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂