If you’re new to making webcomics, then it can be very easy to look at the webcomics that have inspired you to start making your own and feel discouraged. After all, you might think that the art looks ten times better than anything you can make and the writing makes yours look terrible.
Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal! In fact, the people who made the very webcomics that inspired you probably thought exactly the same thing when they were starting out. Being terrible at making webcomics is a phase that literally every webcomic creator has to go through.
I’m hardly the first person to point this fact out, but you can see evidence of this yourself by comparing the both the very first and the very latest updates from your favourite long-running webcomic.
One will look terrible (and will probably be badly-written too), the other will look and read significantly better. If both look good, then all this means is that the comic creator in question is hiding their really early stuff.
The best way to think about making a webcomic is that it’s a bit like playing an old-school RPG game. When you start playing, your character is at level one and has no experience or skills, but through repeated, regular activity – you’ll gain experience and your character’s skill level will increase. Like in an old RPG game, you might start out as a weak character – but, after playing the game regularly for a while, you’ll become an absolute badass.
However, if you give up early because you don’t think that your webcomic is very good, then you’ll never gain the practice, knowledge or experience that you need in order to make better webcomics. The format itself will help you with this for the simple reason that webcomics are traditionally meant to be updated regularly (but, beware of comics burnout – it’s why I only make comics occasionally these days, even though I still do daily art practice), so it’s a good incentive to get lots of comic-making practice
Likewise, don’t expect instant improvement. Webcomic improvements are the kind of subtle, gradual things that you’ll probably only notice when you look back on your comics from several years earlier.
To use a personal example, here’s what my occasional long-running webcomic series looked like in 2012 (I technically started posting webcomics online in 2010, but only started my current occasional comic in 2011/ 2012):
And here’s another comic update from a mini series that I posted here earlier this year ( as the first part of a trilogy that also includes this mini series and this one). This is after 4-5 years of daily art practice and occasional comic practice:
So, how do you keep going even when your webcomics look terrible and are badly-written? Well, if you actually need to ask, then you’re possibly not quite ready to start making webcomics yet.
You keep going even when your webcomic looks like crap because you’re actually making webcomics. Because the idea of actually posting a webcomic (however bad) online seems ten times cooler than the idea of not posting a webcomic online.
In other words, the thing that will carry you through the crappy earlier phases of your webcomic is your enthusiasm for the medium itself. If you don’t have this enthusiasm, then wait until you do before you start making webcomics.
This enthusiasm will also carry you through days when you are feeling uninspired or dispirited. It will also carry you through the inevitable times when making comics feels more like a chore than anything else. It’ll help you to fight uninspiration, rather than give in to it. And, most importantly of all, it will make you keep making comics even when they look crappy.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂