I Want to Tell You about a Comic I’m Making

It’s big. Easily one of my favorite ideas, and one that I’ve been developing for months and months. This comic will end up totaling 500-600 pages when completed, and the drawings and story will be rich with details. Where Upside Down is spooky and fun, this story is adventurous and thought-provoking. I think that it will be really easy for people to get into, and it will be very rewarding for readers that continue to pay attention.

I don’t want to say too much about the story right now, mostly because talking about it makes me feel as though I’ve already made it, and we’re far from that!

Anyway, the reason I bring up this new comic is because it’s something very important to me and I want to do it right. The actual writing and drawing of the comic isn’t the issue – it’s getting my readers involved and following along that I’m most concerned about. I’d really like to make this in a way that people can collectively follow the story and create a kind of community around it. I also need to keep x amount of dollars coming in from the comic in order for it to be worthwhile for my family, since I’ll be spending time away from them and paying projects in the hopes of making this project work. There’s no way of knowing whether or not this will even work unless I try, so I’ve been putting in a lot of time and effort into both the comic itself and the way I’d most like to share it.

Because of the kind of control and involvement I want to have in the project, and because I want to connect with readers in a certain way, I’d like to announce that this will be my first web comic. I have zero experience making comics for the web, and I am probably the least tech-savvy guy you’ll meet, but i’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it and a web comic is the way to go.

I’ll be making all of the original drawings on paper, and then coloring them digitally. My plan is to follow Doug TenNapel’s plan for his web comic, Ratfist, by releasing a full comic page every weekday. That means you’ll get five full pages of finished comics pages for free, every single week! I like this idea, because it gives the reader something new to look forward to every day, and it gives me a good, consistent workload, knowing that people will be expecting pages as soon as I’ve drawn them. Of course, I’ll try to give myself a buffer of about two weeks between the time that I complete the artwork to the time that I post it, but it doesn’t leave much room for error or for taking a break.

Ideally I will have enough followers by the end of the story that I’ll be able to sell printed and mobile versions of the completed comic, but I can only dream of something so big right now. I have a few ideas as to how to keep money coming in from the comic without bugging you guys about it, and I’m close to getting the website and technical side of things taken care of, but I could really use your help. You know loads more about web comics than I do, so…what have you liked? What about web comics has worked for you? I’m talking about everything from how often comics are updated, to how the site functions, to following web comics into non-web formats. If you have a minute, will you just share your thoughts, or pass this post on to someone that might have something to offer? Conversely, feel free to ask me any questions you might have about the web comic. I don’t want to give any of the story or artwork away at this point, though, so please keep it related to the making of and the web comic processes.

This is important to me and I want to do it right. I want to bring you along for the ride, and I want you to bring your friends. If I were a filmmaker, you would see three movies coming out of this, but for now I just draw comics, and they’re gonna be sweet! …I hope.

Keep in mind that I’ve already been researching, drawing, writing and inhabiting this world for six months already, and the web comic will require an even longer commitment to the work. This is something that I want to make and something that I want to work. Thanks for your help!

P.S. If any of you know your way around developing a web site, please get in touch. I could really use your help.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. LordByrum says:

    Sounds wonderful, love your character sketches!


  2. I’m actually working on a project to help facilitate a web-comic specific experience, rather than using Tumblr or WordPress or what-not. In my experience, it seems that there’s not really a specific experience, and everything that exists feels very “bolt-on.”


    1. Jess Smart Smiley says:

      Cool! What I’m building has the same goal in mind. I’m kind of sick of all the plugins and templates, and I want something cohesive, that works with everything I’m doing, as a whole.


      1. Wait. So you’re building something? Are you working with someone to do this?


      2. Jess Smart Smiley says:

        I’ve been building it. Not something I enjoy, but when you want something done right…


  3. I did a lot of digging around before I launched my webcomic ( http://www.oysterwar.com ) and I have to say: there’s no perfect solution. I started using tumblr as a platform–which is tempting because it\’s free and pretty simple–but once your comic gets to a certain length it “outgrows” tumblr and things like navigation become difficult. I eventually got rid of the tumblr site. I don’t recommend it as a webcomics platform.

    There are two major webcomics platforms for WordPress: ComicPress and Webcomic/Inkblot. The former seemed more complex than I really was interested in dealing with. The latter–while not as feature rich–was fine for what I wanted and relatively easy to set up. You’re already running a WordPress site, so you probably won\’t find using WordPress for your webcomic to have too much of a learning curve.

    I don\’t think there’s any “way around developing a web site” unless you wind up joining in with some pre-existing webcomics collective like Studygroup 12. I know, though, that Top Shelf does a lot of webcomics stuff. Since you’ve got a book coming out with them, have you inquired about doing your webcomic via Top Shelf 2.0? That would save you from having to do a site yourself.


    1. Jess Smart Smiley says:

      Ben – what a nice surprise! Thanks so much for the comment. I’ve been following your work since “Midnight Sun”, but somehow missed Oyster War. I read it this morning and absolutely love it so far – the story, the artwork, the colors and dialogue, the mystery and storybook aspects…this is my kind of comic. Your site is actually really nice, too, especially compared with a lot of the ComicPress sites I’ve seen. I’m going to spend some time with Webcomic/Inkblot and try it out.

      I’ve been following a slew of web comics for a while now and have been looking into everything from color profiles to frequency of updates and spreading the word. I’m finding that there is a lot of information that will only come through experience, so I’m trying to prepare myself for everything else before I launch the comic. Thanks again, so much, for taking the time to help me out.


    2. Yeah, and essentially I want to create the Tumblr of web comics. Tumblr is for blogs, and blogs don’t translate well to web comics. I don’t want to create a collective so much as allow non-technical people without the resources to build something themselves to still participate in web comics.


      1. Jess Smart Smiley says:

        Sounds like a great idea!


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