Webcomics 101

After reading Starslip Crisis, you might be hooked on webcomics, and you may even want to create one of your own! If that’s the case, I have great news: there are plenty of great webcomics throughout the internet, and creating and publishing your own only requires a little creativity and an internet connection.

Webcomics Basics

The first webcomics began to crop up around the internet as early as the mid-1980s. However, they only became popular as the internet became more accessible and widespread during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Since then, both amateur and professional cartoonists have created their own webcomics to varying degrees of success. Some webcomics have become popular enough for their creators to earn a living full-time from their work, whereas others remain known only to the creator’s circle of followers. However, as social media’s influence continues to rise, webcartoonists can more easily market their work and grow their following.

Webcomics have become increasingly common and successful because unlike traditional newspaper and print comics, they can avoid publishers’ requirements and take full advantage of the unique capabilities of image editing software and the web. Because webcomics’ images must be digitally uploaded, creators can produce new strips more quickly since they do not always have to completely re-draw characters or settings. Additionally, some webcomics use non-traditional techniques enabled by the internet; A Softer World by Joey Comeau and Emily Horne, for example, uses photographs overlaid with typewriter text as panels. Publishing comics on the web also frees creators from the content limitations of traditional publishers. Tristan Farnon’s Leisure Town, for example, explored mature themes and even modified Dilbert cartoons to discuss a variety of obscene topics (naturally, Dilbert’s lawyers took action against Farnon for his parody).

With the exponential growth of webcomics over the past decade, finding quality comics that pique your interest can seem overwhelming. However, websites such as Buzzfeed, Paste, and Birth Movies Death have created solid lists that encompass a number of popular webcomics. Poke around these lists to see what kinds of webcomics interest you, and start reading!

How to Make Your Own

As you read more and more webcomics, you may be inspired to create your own. Starting a webcomic can be fairly easy if you have creative chops and an internet connection, but doing so can be fairly intimidating. To get the ball rolling, Kel McDonald of Sorcery 101 advises: “firstly start the comic, don’t wait to be good enough.” While you should do some planning, such as outlining basic characters and plot ideas, most of the pros agree that you should just go for it – as Starslip Crisis attests, your comic can develop as you progress.

Once you’ve published your first few comics, you may wonder why your readership hasn’t expanded beyond a handful of friends and family. However, according to iO9, many webcomic pros suggest that new creators be patient and devote their time and energy to improving their comic as much as possible, and that new creators should show devotion to their audience, no matter how small. If you regularly post content, make improvements, and prioritize your art and your audience, your webcomic will grow organically, and then you can worry about merchandise and print publication. Until then, keep working hard and creating great content for others to enjoy!