Friday, October 3, 2008

Don't Start Your Webcomic Without Reading This!

Only at my college could the following happen in the span of one day:
  • One friend asked me (via facebook) about how to find an artist for their webcomic.
  • Another one asked about how I started mine, since they already have some webspace and want to put it to use by also starting their own.
  • Both of these people are not only reasonably intelligent, but female.
Hooray feminism! But that's beside the point.

The point I'm making today is that both of these girls have already made the same mistakes most creators make -- that is, that they've already decided to start their projects with certain limitations in mind. There's nothing wrong with acknowledging your own limitations or recognizing outside limitiations, but there's no reason to invent new ones out of whole cloth. Some limitations aren't really limitations -- you may have sunk some money into webspace or a domain name already, but that's not a limitation you have to live with since you can always buy new hosting or a new URL.

But deciding you already need an artist for your webcomic?

That's a big decision you'll have to live with in regards to your comic and its lifespan. That's not to say that artist/writer pairs are inherently bad or that pairing with somebody versus going alone will make or break you... but it IS saying that it's something that should require plenty of thought beyond "I can't draw, but I want to make a comic, therefore I need an artist!"

There's a lot of decisions that can be seen this way; the concept that webcomics must be like newspaper comics. That there's no room for anything but superheroes in "mainstream" comics, so you have to emulate them to get anywhere. That this genre is superior to that genre and you can't make a strip about this or else you'll get raided by 4chan or that the only webcomics that succeed are video game webcomics. What size and what format and what update frequency your comic will be. And yes, no matter what you do, in order to actually start you'll need to make a certain number of decisions before you post the first comic.

Ironically, deciding what your comic actually means usually isn't one of them. It should be.

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