How Often Should You Update Your Webcomic ?

2016 Artwork How often should you update your webcomic

When you’re starting a webcomic, one of the important questions that you’ll need to think about is how often you will post new webcomic updates online. You’ll find lots of advice about this on the internet, although there really isn’t a “one size fits all” rule about it.

This is mostly because everyone who makes webcomics is different and there are a lot of factors that will probably influence how often you post webcomics online. These include things like time-based factors, how inspired you are every day, the length of your updates, the level of artistic detail in your updates etc…

So, I thought that I’d look at several of the most common types of webcomic update schedules (and one slightly obscure one) and list some of their advantages and disadvantages.

1) Daily comics: The obvious advantage of daily comics is that the audience has a lot of incentive to return to your webcomic every day, since there will be new content available. It also means that you can make your webcomic a lot more topical too, if you want to. Not only that, daily update schedules have a rhythm and a momentum to them that – with practice – can be easy to maintain.

Although I don’t post “true” daily webcomic updates (see #4 on this list for more details), I write daily articles all of the time and post daily art when I’m not posting webcomics. Getting into the habit of making things every day can be very challenging at first but it gets significantly easier over time, to the point where not making something every day feels strangely unnatural.

However, making “true” daily comics can place some limitations on your webcomic. Although you should have a rolling “buffer” of pre-made webcomics that you add to every day (so you’re always a few days or weeks ahead of what you post online), this approach still means that you will have to think of a new idea literally every day.

On inspired days, this might not be an issue – although it can be problematic on uninspired days (and every artist, comic-maker etc… has these). Yes, there are techniques you can use to get past uninspiration (eg: using running jokes, making topical comics etc…), but it can still be something of a challenge. Plus, over time, making comics might end up seeming more like a chore than anything else, which can lead to comic burnout if you aren’t careful.

Likewise, for time reasons, the level of artistic detail and the length of your webcomic updates will probably be lower than in other types of webcomic.

2) 1-3 comics per week:
In some ways, posting 1-3 comics online per week is similar to posting daily comic updates. However, the longer release schedule means that regular fans of your comic probably won’t visit your site quite as regularly. Still, they will probably appreciate the fact that you are sticking to a regular schedule.

The main advantage of this kind of schedule is that it can take some of the time pressure and inspiration pressure off of you, whilst still allowing you to post regular content. Yes, you should probably still have a buffer of pre-made comics but posting updates 1-3 times a week means that you have more time to plan and make those comic updates.

This also means that you will probably have more time to add extra artistic detail to your webcomic updates and to refine the dialogue more before publication. So, the quality of your webcomic updates will probably be at least slightly higher as a result.

On the other hand, making 1-3 comics per week doesn’t have the same regular “rhythm” as making daily comics does. As such, it’s probably slightly harder to stay motivated when making these types of comics.

3) Irregular updates: As the name suggests, this is when you don’t have any fixed release schedule for your webcomic updates.

The main advantages of this approach is that it’s incredibly low-pressure (eg: you aren’t rushing to meet daily or weekly deadlines) and that it ensures that you only make webcomic updates when you’ve got a really good idea. It also means that you’ll have more time to make the art look spectacular too.

On the downside, an irregular update schedule can be slightly annoying for the audience. After all, if you don’t know if or when a webcomic will update, there’s less incentive to look at it regularly.

4) Mini series: This is my own personal approach to making webcomics and it’s a hybrid of the previous three types of release schedule. This approach involves posting “mini series” of 6-20 daily webcomic updates online and then taking a break from comics until you feel inspired enough to make another “mini series”.

It has a similar “rhythm” as making daily webcomics does, but with a lower risk of feeling burnt out afterwards. In fact, this was one of the ways that I got back into making webcomics after experiencing a fairly bad case of comic burnout in 2014 (I made little to no comics that year, due to making a ridiculous number of comics in 2013).

Likewise, this approach has some of the time and art quality advantages of weekly and irregular webcomics, since you can prepare a whole mini series in advance before you post any of it online.

When you’ve finished posting a daily mini series, you can also collect the whole thing together into a single blog post or online gallery (like this one) to make it easier for new readers to enjoy the whole mini series, or to catch up on older mini series. This also has the advantage of making your webcomic look like a TV show that has multiple “seasons”.

However, it shares some of the disadvantages of irregular webcomics, since it can be more difficult for the audience to know when a new mini series will start. As such, you’ll usually need to either announce this in advance, or create a page (like this one) where the audience can see previous mini series and learn about future ones.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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UPDATE: New Comics Index Page :)

2016 Artwork Comics index sketch

Well, I’ve been meaning to make this for a while, but I am now very proud to present a full index of links to every comic I’ve made since spring 2015 and of every comic I will be posting here over the next six months or so.

There’s also commentary about old, current and future comics on there too. So, if you want to catch up on some of my older “new” comics or if you want to see the shape of things to come, then this page is where you want to look 🙂

(I’ve also condensed the number of things in the “pages” bar at the top of the site, placing the links from three older pages into a single page to save space.)

But, yeah, don’t forget to check the comics index out 🙂

Comics News – See “Damania Redux” Early, Upcoming Comics Schedule etc…

2016 Comics news January

Although I tried to make sure that my previous comic (which can be read here) had something close to a simultaneous DeviantART / WordPress release, this unfortunately won’t really be possible with the comics that I’ve got planned for this year (due to the way that I schedule things). But, don’t worry, there will be some extra stuff here to compensate for the later WordPress release dates. More on that later in the article.

But, first, if you’re a fan of my “Damania” webcomic series, then you’ll be pleased to know that I’ve recently started posting “Damania Redux” – a new ‘old style’ 12 comic mini series on DeviantART. The new comics can be viewed after the long description at the top of this page. They will also be updated daily.

So far, there are just two “Damania Redux” comics on there but, thanks to DeviantART’s content rules, one of them requires site membership to view (it contains some slightly gruesome cartoon zombie art and I wasn’t sure if this met the criteria for “mature content” under DeviantART’s rules). It will be posted in full here though.

Anyway, one of the things that I’ll be doing to make up for this gigantic difference in release dates is that the complete “work in progress” line art for the series will be posted here (and only here) on the 30th March. Line art will also be posted sometime after the other two mini series that I have planned to post here too.

In addition to this, one blog article that will be posted after “Damania Redux” finishes here (or possibly during it’s run, I can’t remember the exact date for the article) will contain an exclusive comic update that was cut from the series. Likewise, during the spring and early summer, there will also be at least a few “making of” articles and articles about making webcomics.

In addition to this, I’ll also provide you with a list of dates for when all of my upcoming “Damania” comics (these include both traditional-style webcomic mini series and short B&W narrative comics) will be posted here. They’ll probably appear on DeviantART earlier than this though.

1st – 12th March 2016: “Damania Redux” (12 episode webcomic mini series)

12th -27th April 2016: “Damania Resurgence” (15 episode webcomic mini series)

11th- 18th May 2016: “The Charity Case: A Harvey Delford Mystery” (Yes! Harvey finally gets his own comic!)

25th May – 10th June 2016: “Damania Returns” (17 [?] episode webcomic mini series)

14th June – 22nd June 2016: “The ‘Let’s Play’ ” (Derek and Rox try to make a “let’s play” video for a banned computer game from the 1990s. Hilarity ensues.)

Sorry again about the differences in release dates, but – whether you read the comics here or on DeviantART – then I hope that you enjoy them 🙂

The Power Of Deadlines (For Artists)

No prizes for guessing which TV show I've been watching a lot recently...

No prizes for guessing which TV show I’ve been watching a lot recently…

A couple of months ago, I was watching an art video on Youtube by Mary Doodles, when she mentioned something that reminded me of an important part of my own creative work.

In about the last third of the video, she talked about the power of deadlines and about how setting a deadline can be extremely useful because it both stops you from becoming a perfectionist and it means that you will actually finish your paintings, drawings etc…

Although the Mary Doodles video discusses this subject in far more detail (and it’s certainly worth watching), I thought that I’d talk about how I’ve used deadlines in my own work, in case it’s useful and/or interesting to you.

My very first experience with making art to a deadline for an extended period of time was back in summer 2010 when I made an absolutely terrible (both in terms of plotting and art) daily webcomic for a couple of months.

Oh god, the memories!!!

Oh god, the memories!!!

Luckily, I’d made a fairly large “buffer” of comic pages before I started posting it online, but – for a couple of months at least – I posted a comic strip online almost every day.

This was something I’d wanted to do for a while (and I finally got the motivation to do it when I read a webcomic called Unicorn Jelly) and I chose a daily schedule because almost all of my favourite webcomics posted updates daily.

Fast forward to about two years later and I’ve pretty much lost interest in making art. It’s spring 2012 and I’ve made as much art over the past year as I’d probably make in a couple of weeks this year. Anyway, I was feeling kind of bored one day in April, so I made a small drawing which was about a quarter of an A4 page in size:

"The Important Question" By C. A. Brown [2012]

“The Important Question” By C. A. Brown [2012]

Suddenly, I remembered how much fun it was to make art. So, for some reason that I can’t quite remember, I decided to make one of these small drawings every day and post it on DeviantART. At first, it was fiendishly difficult and I felt like I was out of my depth. In fact, I felt like I’d probably last a couple of weeks before I gave up in frustration. But, I kept at it just out of sheer momentum and habit.

Within a month or two, I was producing several of these small drawings every day – and actually posting them online on the same day that I made them. I’d keep doing this until sometime either last year or the year before, when I finally started making a buffer of drawings in advance (at the time of writing this article, my buffer now contains about three months worth of art – and I still add to it daily).

By summer 2012, I finally took the leap to making A5-size drawings and it was an absolute revelation to me. Since I could easily churn out an A4 page filled with small drawings in a single day, making one or two larger drawings every day didn’t seem like so much of a leap – and this meant that I could do more stuff in my art, because I had more space to work with.

Plus, it was the first time that I started to draw in landscape rather than portrait. ------ ("Magic Coin" By C. A. Brown [25th August 2012] )

Plus, it was the first time that I started to draw in landscape rather than portrait.
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(“Magic Coin” By C. A. Brown [25th August 2012] )

After that, I never really looked back, and most of my daily drawings or paintings have been at least half an A4 page in size. And, although I set myself the minumum requirement of producing one drawing per day, I’d often make more than one and post more than one online every day.

I’m not sure exactly when I went back to just posting one piece of art online every day, but it was probably due to working on both these articles and the other daily features I used to have on this blog (eg: my old “how to draw” guides etc…). Eventually, I felt so overloaded that I went back to making one painting per day and this kind of seems to work best for me.

Anyway, I’d have never got as good at making art as I am now if I wasn’t for using a regular, daily deadline. If I hadn’t incorporated making art into my daily routine, then I’d have never got the sheer repetitive practice that I needed in order to improve.

Yes, my art tends to improve fairly slowly – but it does improve – as you can see by these two paintings that I made about a year apart from each other:

"Chainmail and Chainsaws" By C. A. Brown [21st June 2014]

“Chainmail and Chainsaws” By C. A. Brown [21st June 2014]

"Chainmail and Chainsaws (II)" By C. A. Brown [ June 2015]

“Chainmail and Chainsaws (II)” By C. A. Brown [ June 2015]

The other thing that sticking to a deadline teaches you is perseverance and persistence. Part of sticking to a deadline means that you still have to make art on days when you are feeling “uninspired”.

Even though this means that you might make a rather crappy painting or something slightly unimaginative, it means that you will still actually have to make some art. And, well, this is a quality that is worth practicing and cultivating.

Plus, as Mary Doodles mentioned in her Youtube video, it also means that you will actually finish the art that you make – rather than spending ages tinkering and trying to make one of your pictures look “perfect”.

So, yes, it’s certainly worth setting yourself a deadline.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Two Reasons Why Regular Webcomic Updates Are Useful When You’re Uninspired

2014 Artwork Regular Updates Webcomic uninspired days sketch

Even though this is an article about webcomics, I’m probably going to have to break the “Don’t blog about blogging” rule here. This is because, at the time of writing this article, it’s been quite a few months since I last worked on something resembling a regular webcomic.

So, since the only regular thing I tend to post online these days is my art and these articles, I thought it would be better if I spoke from my more recent experiences.

But, it doesn’t matter – the principles I’m going to describe here can easily be applied to webcomics, episodic fiction, Youtube videos etc…. Basically, anything that you post online on a regular basis.

Anyway, if you’re posting your creative work online on a regular basis (and keeping to a schedule), then you’re going to produce something crappy every once in a while. Trust me, it happens to all of us. No-one can keep to a regular schedule and be at 100% of their creative capabilities literally all of the time.

So, every once in a while, you’re going to produce something mediocre, lacklustre or downright terrible and – because you’ve got a schedule to keep, you’re probably going to have to post it online (or risk falling behind).

And, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, it is always better to post something mediocre online and on time than it is to post nothing at all.

Of course, if you’re anything like I was for quite a few months after I started this site, you’ll probably be thinking something like “Oh god, everyone will hate it! I’ll lose my audience! People will desert my site in droves!

I’ve got news for you, they won’t.

Why? Well, it all comes down to the fact that you’re keeping to a regular schedule. There are two reasons for this and they each apply to different types of readers (eg: new readers and long-term readers).

1) Your Back Catalogue: First of all, if you’ve been keeping to a regular update schedule for a while, then you’re probably going to have a large “back catalogue” of material on your site that people can view.

Whilst you will hopefully have at least a few regular readers/ viewers who might be annoyed when you post something crappy on your site, not everyone who visits your site is going to see it.

Why? Because people don’t always look at websites in the “correct” order and they don’t always start by looking at the latest thing that has been posted. This is especially true with “narrative” webcomics, where most new visitors to the site usually have to start at the beginning (and not at your latest update).

Likewise, people stumble across random old pages from websites accidentally when they’re searching for things online, people visit random pages from links on other sites etc… I’m sure you get the idea.

As long as there is at least some good stuff on your website, then there’s a good chance that new visitors will see that before they see the crappy thing that you’ve just posted. So, there’s a chance that they will already love your website (and see you at your best) before they stumble across your latest update.

Of course, the best way to make sure that this happens is to ensure that your site contains a larger amount of good stuff than crappy stuff.

To use an example from this blog, I have a few really old posts from last year which pull in a modest number of views on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter if my mind has gone blank and I’ve had to scan a few random pages from my sketchbook and cobble them together into something resembling a blog article, people will still regularly look at those old articles.

So, if you have some good stuff on your site, then it will keep people interested on the days when you are unlucky enough to produce bad stuff.

2) The Future: Yes, you might not have to worry too much about new readers if you keep to a regular schedule and produce something crappy every once in a while, but what about your regulars? What about the people who look at your site everyday and absolutely love it?

Will they be disappointed if you post something crappy? Possibly.

Will they abandon your site in disgust? Probably not.

Why? Well, it all comes down to the fact that they’ve been following your site for a while and the fact that you’re sticking to a regular schedule.

First of all, your regulars are people who have seen you at your best before – so, they know that your latest low-quality update doesn’t define you as an artist and/or a writer. Yes, they might be a little bit disappointed, but they’ll probably still remember why they look at your site regularly because they’ve seen how great your work can be.

Secondly, if you stick to a regular update schedule (and any automatic scheduling features on the site you use can be invaluable here), they know that your mediocre work is only a temporary thing. After all, there’s going to be something new on your site either tomorrow, in a couple of days or possibly next week. So, it isn’t like you only get one chance to keep your long-term readers interested…..

For example, when I get uninspired – it can sometimes affect up to a week’s worth of daily blog updates (or even a month – seriously, October certainly wasn’t one of my best months on here). But, eventually, I get inspired again and start producing good stuff once again – so I know that people who read this site every day won’t usually have to wait longer than a week or so before they can start reading great stuff again.

But, if I didn’t update on a regular basis or stopped updating altogether whenever the quality of my work dipped, then I wouldn’t be giving both myself and my regular readers the hope that the quality of my articles and/or art will improve in the future.

So, yes, always remember to stick to your schedule – even if it means producing low-quality work every once in a while. And remember, posting something crappy on your site isn’t the end of the world – we’re all human and no-one can be perfect all the time.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂