Things I've learned about making comics

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Things I've learned about making comics

Postby MadCat on Thu Mar 20, 2008 9:03 pm

Well, since webcomics seem to be a very 'learn by doing' oriented medium, I'm working on learning things as I go, and I thought perhaps a thread of things learned, to share with other people also wanting to make webcomics, might be good. This is all personal experience stuff, not gospel of how to make webcomics or anything.
Anyone else who has learned things about webcomics and making them, feel free to share little bits of wisdom as well! (Dave, Dan, Dee, all you D-named people, I'm lookin' at you. ;) lol) This isn't just a Me thread, more of an "All the Dire Creators" thread. :D

Things I've learned so far today (first weekly update day, woot!):

Always put your comic up the night before or the early early morning of update day, so that it's there when people go to look for it.
Always get the thumbnails in ahead of time so they can be put on the front page.
(in short: get all the prep work done Ahead of Time and put the comic up On Time!)

Other things I heard today that I'll have to wait and see on:
1x a week may be too few updates for some people's tastes.
I want my job description to be: "gets paid to draw sexy ladies." :D
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Re: Things I've learned about making comics

Postby Mike on Thu Mar 20, 2008 9:14 pm

Since you're just starting I don't see a big problem with once a week. The tough thing about once a week is that it has to be interesting enough to keep people interested for another week so that they come back.

I'm glad I don't write full time... because it's a pain in the ass. I get hit by inspiration and can do a fat run, but I'm bad at continually continual.

The most important thing I learned was to bounce ideas off of people. Dave and I usually throw ideas at eachother at lunch, just for fun. When I did the prank war run I was on AIM with Steve and Dee pretty heavily trying to flesh things out better.
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Re: Things I've learned about making comics

Postby Dave on Thu Mar 20, 2008 9:20 pm

Prep work and timeliness is good in any field. With that said, I'm guilty of slip ups, but I get better and better about it as I continue to work on the strips. So yay for conditioning (... and I'm sure the beatings distributed by one Mr. Yun are also somewhat responsible...). Just keep doing it and eventually you'll realize that you do this without thinking ^_^
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Re: Things I've learned about making comics

Postby Dave on Thu Mar 20, 2008 9:31 pm

Mike speaks truth. I strongly agree with Mike on this one. Let me share what my experience with all this is.

As Mike stated, we usually talk at length about his writing when he's doing stuff for Squishy (he's working on something now, but you'll have to wait to see what ^_^ :mrgreen: ).

Dee is a bit more independant, but even he bounces off his ideas off of me when he's stuck, and he DEMANDS that I tell him if something just doesn't cut the mustard with me. Rare is the time when I pull that on him, but it has occurred. Also, he loves it when our playful ramblings give birth to a great strip idea (Momma Vargas strips were one of these).

Dan's a special case. He and I'll will discuss the overall plot of what he wishes to do, but then he's off to write things on his own. What we settled on was he tells me what he wants to do, I tell him what I want to see. We knead the ideas into something we like and he writes away. He then sends me the scripts for me to panel and edit mistakes as best as I can (as we stated before, the artist is color blind and uses the computer to assist in coloring while the writer is dyslexic and has trouble writing properly :cry: ). At times I'll ask Dan to revise something if I just don't get it, but that's mostly a thing of the past... Dan's been on a roll :D

So yeah. I highly back Mike's suggestion to you. Share your ideas with whoever you wish to get a feel for what your writing before you write. It'll really help you give shape to your comics :)
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Re: Things I've learned about making comics

Postby David Yun on Thu Mar 20, 2008 10:33 pm

The main thing I whipped Dave about was "not to reinvent the wheel". Comics in the modern sense is a century-old American tradition. It's good to research and learn everything you can about what makes newspaper comics and comic books work (and doesn't work), so you avoid wasting time working out rules and principles that have long been established.

On the other hand, don't get stuck in paradigms that don't apply anymore. Sometimes Scott McCloud goes off on sugarplum rainbow fantasies, but he does have a point about webcomics stifling itself with outmoded rules. We're not constrained by the limited size of newspaper strips; guys like Watterson fought tooth and nail for more creative freedom his entire career, and here we all are cranking out stodgy 2x2 panel strips.

Let's all endeavor to push the medium forward. Guys like Walt Kelly and Charles Schultz were revolutionary; let's try to carve new paths as well. I've been pondering where to take Dave the Direman myself. It's obvious to everyone that I've been following in the wake of Penny Arcade (nothing wrong with that), but time allowing, there is more potential here.
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Re: Things I've learned about making comics

Postby MadCat on Thu Mar 20, 2008 11:09 pm

I agree, I want to learn to push the boundaries on what webcomics can do, and try to break new ground. First, though, I have to get my art skills up to where I can pull it off. So Everwas may be the very standard 2x2 right now, with somewhat wobbly art, but I hope a year from now to be far beyond that. :D
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Re: Things I've learned about making comics

Postby Maru on Fri Mar 21, 2008 6:09 am

One thing that I've found out when doodling small comics: plan your dialog ahead of time. Otherwise, you'll be stuck cramming it in last minute, and it won't look good. Or, worse, it'll fit but the bubble-tails that indicate who is speaking won't look right, and it'll make your comic look... well, cramped.

Guess who learned this the hard way. :B
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Re: Things I've learned about making comics

Postby Dave on Fri Mar 21, 2008 6:25 am

Yeah, I was victim of that myself. Now I lay down the text BEFORE I even start sketching. Then I edit the text and sketches to suit my needs before going on to inking and such. Saves tons of frustration... and tears...
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Re: Things I've learned about making comics

Postby Aranthos on Sun Mar 23, 2008 2:31 am

Eh, I seem to have taken a totally different approach altogether with Underscore. Me and a mate of mine were talking in a chemistry class and started writing down stupid things about World of Warcraft and a few other games. For no reason whatsoever, I then decided I was going to start a webcomic. At this point I was utterly crap at drawing (I still am by the way...) and I had no idea at all how to use Macromedia/Adobe Fireworks. I also taught myself some very basic web design and made a webshite for Underscore.

It went from "I'm gonna make a webcomic" to "Well this is shit, but at least it's on the Internet" in about 3 days. I didn't read up on how to draw people, I didn't read any print comics, and at the time I read only a few webcomics (and even now I only read them, I don't learn).

Now my Fireworks talents have improved vastly, and I strongly doubt my hand-drawing skills would have improved so much in the same timeframe.

So far I've learned a few things:
  • Make sure your computer works. It can get annoying for both you and your readers when you repeatedly give them excuses as to why there's no comic. There have been several occasions on which I have strongly considered binning the comic altogether thanks to hardware/software issues.
  • If you're going to make your own website for your comic rather than join Dee, I strongly advise you to use some sort of PHP/MySQL dynamic site. If you're good, you can make one yourself. If you're rich, you can hire someone to do it for you. If you're poor and telentless like me, just download one from the internet. The HTML site I made for Underscore over 6 months ago was extremely simple, offered no interactivity, and was a bitch to update. Compare this to the dynamic setups such as the custom-made one for Direman, or even the general-purpose system I use for Underscore. I will never regret making the move to dynamic content.

Things that have surprised me:
  • Almost nothing in Underscore is the result of a lot of thought. The characters were dreamt up in seconds, and the events depicted in the comic usually sort of pop into my head while I'm gaming.
  • Vectors are quite hard to work with when it comes to poses etc. Part of Underscore's current problem is that because I can't draw every character is just a set of equations. Moving said equations in a manner likely to create a good illusion of human form is rather hard, even when aided by a program as awesome as Fireworks.
  • Even someone like me, who lacks any real artistic talent, can make a comic that receives praise. Whether or not the praise is genuine doesn't really matter to me. It makes me happy either way.

@MadCat - Does my post get deleted because I'm not a Direman contributor?
@everyone else - I'm going to be a right bastard now and blatantly plug my comic. For those that don't know (I believe there are several amongus) Underscore can be found either by Googleing underscore comic, or by following this link.
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Re: Things I've learned about making comics

Postby MadCat on Sun Mar 23, 2008 2:43 am

Aranthos wrote:@MadCat - Does my post get deleted because I'm not a Direman contributor?


Nope! I was actually hoping you'd chime in as well, and considered you an unofficial part of the "Dire Creators" since you are: A) a webcomic artist and B) part of the Dire Forums Community.

So you're good to go, IMO! :D It's all about learning and sharing knowledge and experience!

Speaking of, has anyone read "How to Make Webcomics" by Dave Kellet (Sheldon), Scott Kurtz (PvP), Brad Guigar (Evil Inc.) and Kris Straub (Starslip Crisis)?

http://www.pvpstuff.com/howtomawepor.html

I'm curious if it's any good; I kind of want to pick it up someday when I actually have money, and I'm wondering if it's worth it.

At the moment, of course, money goes to things like, oh, food. Basic little necessities like that. I wonder if this is where the phrase 'starving artist' comes from. ;)

Also:
Ooh, blatant plug! ;) LOL!
I want my job description to be: "gets paid to draw sexy ladies." :D
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