So You Want to Start a Web Comicon March 28, 2012 at 12:11
Some tips from me:
Well, for starters, good for you – starting a webcomic is a massive undertaking, and if you’re committed and skilled enough, you’re going to find that it can swiftly – for some – become a full-time job. This isn’t a winning lottery ticket, however, and there are a fair few questions you need to ask yourself before you even start, because if you can’t answer them yet, it might be best to hold off or find another project.
First of all, there’s one question that has to have a “yes” as a response, or you’re best off sticking to reading Questionable Content or Chimneyspeak between partypoker sessions. What’s the question? Here it comes: “are you willing to be regular?”
It sounds like an odd question, but it’s not – take it from me. If you can’t post regularly, many readers will leave and never come back. With the popularity of RSS, however, some will keep you in their feed as long as you continue to communicate, but if you go silent for too long you had best have a very good reason for it. To make things worse, it’s much harder to gain or re-gain readers once you’ve alienated them. They assume you’re simply incapable of fulfilling your promises and find it harder to trust you.
Secondly – how original are you? Don’t write another comic about gamers who hang out on a couch, or a girl who finds out she has magical powers. It makes people want to beat their heads against the wall, because you’re not doing anything new. Do something weird, or something that reflects life in a way that makes people laugh and identify with what they’re reading. One of the secrets to success is not looking or reading like most other web comics. Simple, but not easy.
Finally, it’s important to remember that the actual quality of your web comic is important, but it’s not always the artwork that keeps people coming back. Don’t get me wrong, if it’s horrific to look at, people won’t come back no matter how good the story is. But there are scads of stick-figure comics (see Cyanide and Happiness or Popstrip) that are just as successful and popular as the beautifully rendered graphic novels (see TDUGN or Drow Tales). As long as your artwork fits the style and tone of your comic, and doesn’t make people want to claw out their eyes, you should be fine. If you’re afraid that people will never like your wonderfully-written but not-so-wonderfully-drawn comic, just look at the early days of Questionable Content!
A webcomic is a lot of work, but as long as you’ve got skill, a ton of ideas, a businesslike attitude to regular content and maintaining your site and making appearances at events (to please fans and to promote your work), you’re heading in the right direction. Good luck – maybe I’ll be reading and enjoying your stuff in the near future.