To Webcomic or Not to WebComic...

AbdulthenNewtAbdulthenNewt Registered User
edited February 2010 in Artist's Corner
Over the years I've posted a few times to this forum (previously under a username and email that have long since been lost) and I've always tried not to "site whore," so I apologize if this message comes off that way. However, I've been having a bit of a creative crisis as of late, so I thought I'd take a chance and appeal to this forum for some insight (yes, call me crazy).

I'm coming up on 200 webcomics and I'm trying to decide if I should call it there or continue "fighting the good fight." My issue isn't really about traffic or monetizing the site - I'm not doing anything to try and harvest cash at the moment, I've really just been focused on building the body of work and finding a rhythm for the strip. My concern is more of a quality and an "am I wasting my time" kind of thing. My stuff is pretty good, but I'm not sure it's great, and more importantly, I'm not sure if I'm just building up a big pile of mediocrity.

I recognize that not every webcomic theme will appeal to everyone. I also realize that I'll have good strips and not-so-good strips. But I hate to think I'm laboring at something that people will generally just shrug off as not worth their effort to read/view. I've had doubts before, but I've always attributed that to the pile of reasons we all come up against that tries to derail us from making stuff. Now, I'm trying to have a rational conversation over deciding if this is where I should put my time or not. I have plenty of creative outlets, so it's not like I'd abandon art/comics altogether. This is more about trying to decide if this particular effort is worth it or not.

I'm also guessing that others have struggled with this very issue of whether to continue with a webcomic or not. I've posted a few strips here and would welcome thoughts, critiques, criticisms, comments, praise, and harsh words. Thank you.

baddesign.pngcaveman.pngantigrav.pngbear.png

www.lunatechfringe.com
New comics posted daily Monday-Friday
AbdulthenNewt on

Posts

  • Faded_SneakersFaded_Sneakers Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I liked the Caveman Tradeshow one.

    Your art is very nice even if your brick wall is made out of rubber.

    I would say though that you seem to be at the stage many comic writers are at in that your jokes fall into the line of "seen it before." Just as many artists start off almost mimicking their favorite artists styles most writers mimick jokes they have seen or heard before whether or not they realize it or not.

    The good thing is that it is good practice on setting up timing and punch lines and helps you learn how to prepare a comic visually for the words to have the most impact. The bad part is that many times the first couple hundred comics can usually be thrown into the trash because once you start really writing material that is straight from your own observations and life etc you realize how generic your previous jokes were.

    This in no way means stop writing comics. Quite the opposite. Keep doing it and try to pull more and more from your daily conversations with people. Keep a small 3x5 journal with you and when you hear something funny or have a thought throughout the day write it down. It may not be funny later but this is still a good way to brain storm and come up with more unique material.

    Good luck. I like where you are going.

    Faded_Sneakers on
    Instagram: fadedsneakers
  • KendeathwalkerKendeathwalker Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Something I heard once said to some one basically asking the same question

    "If anything I can say to you is going to make you quit then you need to find something else to do"


    These all made me smile, enough that I went to your website and surfed through some. Some good some not. The one thing kinda putting me off was what faded touched on was the the jokes were a bit generic. Id suggest if you are looking to improve on them just try to think how to stage them differently?

    Not that this suggestion is any funnier but it illustrates what im describing. take the strip with the guy growing ears on his back, in stead of just him showing ears growning on his back add another narrative line by instead having him crafting some kindve stick device with q-tips on it so he can clean the ears on his back/ or have him listening to headphones with the jacks going to his ears or something.

    I dont really know if that makes sense.

    Kendeathwalker on
  • AbdulthenNewtAbdulthenNewt Registered User
    edited February 2010
    Faded - Thanks for the thoughts and comments. Much of what you said fits my sense of the work and also echoes some of the comments I heard 100 strips ago - so clearly I'm not evolving as fast as I might wish. :D
    I do keep a sketchbook and regularly work through concepts (I've got a stack of half-strips and rejected ideas), but obviously I need to push even harder if I'm going to make this work. Thanks for the thoughts and the encouraging words.

    Kendeathwalker - Yeah, I'm familiar with that quote and recognize the truth behind it. However, in this case I think it's more about questioning this particular property rather than comic arts in general. I don't think there's anything that could be said to make me stop drawing - it's too entwined in everything I do. I like your thoughts on twisting the strips (could've used your help on the "ear" strip ;). Both your and Faded's comments have me re-evaluating my process a bit (in a good way), because I think I may be pulling the trigger on the concept gag too soon. I may need to roll 'em around a bit more. On a side note, I enjoyed reading your webcomic - wonderful illustration that you do.

    Thanks, guys, for your thoughts. I'd love to hear from more people. It's an interesting place to be with this property and I really appreciate the C&C. I'd also welcome other webcomics authors' stories of continuing or stopping production.

    AbdulthenNewt on
    www.lunatechfringe.com
    New comics posted daily Monday-Friday
  • rtsrts Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I think these are great. Very funny. Though on the whole I don't think the artwork is contributing anything to them. It feels too stiff to me.

    rts on
    skype: rtschutter
  • AbdulthenNewtAbdulthenNewt Registered User
    edited February 2010
    Cakemikz - Glad you like the humor. I found the artwork comment a little surprising, but I also realize that no style appeals to everyone. I checked out your stuff (very good, btw) and that helped me understand where you were coming from - clearly a very different art style than what's happening in my strips (although, of course I realize that your tastes are probably far more diverse than your own particular style). I've done a lot of different styles over the years, but feel like the approach I've taken with the webcomics is appropriate to that content. Here's a sampling of some of my other less cartoony artworks (just in case you or anyone else was interested).

    Warning - Nudity (not much, just some life drawing)
    sampler.jpg

    Please keep the C&C's coming - I really appreciate the dialogue.

    AbdulthenNewt on
    www.lunatechfringe.com
    New comics posted daily Monday-Friday
  • Angel_of_BaconAngel_of_Bacon Moderator mod
    edited February 2010
    I don't think what Cake was saying was that the art or style was bad, on a technical level (though he might say that because he's kind of a jerk).

    I think what he was getting at is that in terms of entertainment value, the writing is doing all the heavy lifting, and would be just as funny as a script, with no art at all. If you look at something like The Far Side, everything that's there is needed for the joke to work- the caption punchline doesn't work without first having seen the art- and in many instances it's funny with no caption or text at all. The same isn't true of the examples you've posted- take out the text, and you are left with technically decent illustrations of a situation, but not necessarily entertaining ones. That's what (I think) is meant by the artwork not contributing- it hasn't made itself essential to the comic's purpose of making the audience laugh.

    I might suggest drawing some comics without any text, to stretch yourself in terms of getting across a joke purely through visual staging.

    Also, John K's blog has a lot of stuff on what makes a funny drawing versus a purely functional one. The Mighty Mouse stuff is hysterical to look at, without needing anything further to tell you why it's supposed to be funny- I could watch it in a language I don't speak and it'd still be funny- whereas the rest of the pictures it's hard to tell what the hell is going on, if it's supposed to be funny, and why it's supposed to be funny if it is. In that latter case, the art isn't contributing to the show in the way the former is.

    Angel_of_Bacon on
  • AbdulthenNewtAbdulthenNewt Registered User
    edited February 2010
    Angel of Bacon - Interesting insight (whether that was indeed Cakemikz's meaning or not). My approach is typically to think of concept/situation, write script draft, and then draw a scene to support it. I've had concerns of "talking head" type strips - although in my case it's more like " a couple guys standing and talking." I've hit John K's blog from time to time and found some good stuff - thanks for the link. So, I'll take this as a challenge and see if I can't pull off some strips where the visuals carry the load. Good stuff - thanks.

    AbdulthenNewt on
    www.lunatechfringe.com
    New comics posted daily Monday-Friday
  • Brainiac 8Brainiac 8 Don't call me Shirley... Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    It reminds me of The Far Side, similar style.

    I really do like your art style quite a bit. It's one of the more witty 'Far Side' style comics I've seen.

    Brainiac 8 on
    3DS Friend Code - 1032-1293-2997
    Nintendo Network ID - Brainiac_8
    PSN - Brainiac_8
    Steam - http://steamcommunity.com/id/BRAINIAC8/
    Add me!
  • earthwormadamearthwormadam ancient crust Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Yeah it is a bit odd that you could remove the bottom text in everyone except for the caveman one, and lose nothing. Plus you already have floating text in that one anyway, so you could have just put "caveman tradeshow" in the comic too.

    I think the alien one and the caveman one are the strongest, but the other two aren't quite up to snuff. It could also be that you read the panel on those two, and then you're like, maybe reading the underlying text will be funny, and then it's just another line about the joke you've already presented in the panel. You really don't need the redundant text.

    That being said, pretty cool art. Nice linework and it's nice to see some backgrounds, though you really could flesh them out a lot more. The color looks good too but I would suggest trying to stay away from gradients.

    earthwormadam on
  • Brainiac 8Brainiac 8 Don't call me Shirley... Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Agreed, the text at the bottom is a bit redundant in many cases.

    Brainiac 8 on
    3DS Friend Code - 1032-1293-2997
    Nintendo Network ID - Brainiac_8
    PSN - Brainiac_8
    Steam - http://steamcommunity.com/id/BRAINIAC8/
    Add me!
  • rtsrts Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Yeah Bacon got it. I think these comics are funny but the artwork contributes nothing to the humor. There is nothing wrong with the style exactly, though I think your execution of it is immature. That is to be expected if you haven't been doing this for many years. The artwork also lacks that certain something you might call 'soul' because you have sterilized the entire process of producing it.

    Hopefully you will really hear this because I genuinely think it will help to improve you comics and I wouldn't be posting if I didn't. In most of these images you are giving equal importance to everything. The trees in the background, or the brick wall...stand out just as much as the characters, and they really aren't nearly as important. Some of this is because of line-weights but I think it's mostly because of your color choices.

    To be honest you really just didn't put very much thought into them. It reminds me of a time I went to the art store to pick up some gouache, and there was a lady standing in front of them. I started picking out some colors and she started complaing that she could never find any help in the store and just had some questions about gouache. I said that while I didn't work there I might be able to help her. So she proceeds to tell me about how she needs to know which kind of red to buy to paint bricks. Like, she was doing a painting that had bricks in it...so she needed a 'brick red' color. I didn't really even know where to begin with this so I just grabbed a red and gave it to her.

    Right now your images read this way to me. "I need to paint bricks so here is red. I need to paint a tree so here is green. I need to paint some grass so here is a different green." This is really a beginner mentality and I think you need to spend more time thinking about the artwork for each comic rather than just jumping in. If you are going to put some trees in the background, don't just give them a thinner lineweight, maybe give them a lighter border. Don't make them bright green, desaturate them a bit. Think about the influence of the atmostphere on the scene.

    This may sound absurd for such simplistic images, but they are complex enough that more though needs to go into them. As an example lets look at two of my favorite comics that people post here on the forum. If you look at Polkout or Fletcher's Antics...you will see extremely simple artwork. In Polkout the artwork rarely contributes to the comic aside from facial expressions but that works great for such a wordy conversationally driven comic. Honestly I don't think I would want any more visual representation of the horrors contained within Polkout. But in Antics the simple characters and scenes allow you to easily focus on the things that are important. There is no unnecessary anything going on in the background to compete with the characters or what they are doing. The characters themselves are even simplified so even their specifics won't be distracting from the important things going on.

    Now don't take this to mean that I think you should simplify your artwork. That isn't the case. In fact if I were to produce a webcomic I would probably end up going in the complete opposite direction, with ridiculously complex artwork. What I am saying is that they found something that fits what they are trying to do. I don't think what you have going right now 'fits' and that is largely because of super-saturated colors on all the wrong things and thick black borders on shit that isn't important.

    But let's talk about the 'soul' issue. This isn't something I like to bring up on the forum that often because it sounds like such a pansy thing to say. But a lot of people suffer from it, and it's one of the symptoms of working digitally. Oh I know I am known as this guy around here. But what you are doing is classic. The digital medium has provided you with a simple way to 'perfect' everything so that is what you are doing. But perfect feels awkward. If you look at the great comics like Charlie Brown or Farside or Calvin and Hobbes...you will see a lot of irrelevant lines or splotches or scribbles that do nothing but serve to give the image character. After you posted all of your other artwork we can clearly see that you are a capable traditional artist. Why not try doing some of these traditionally...where you don't have the ability to make perfectly straight lines or zigzags or curves. Ink them traditionally and then bring them into photoshop to color them (with more subtle colors of course!).

    Anyways, this is all of the critique I have time to give right now. I will come back later and see if I missed anything.

    rts on
    skype: rtschutter
  • NibCromNibCrom Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I kinda wish there was an "I Agree" button for posts. Or "Good Advice" or something.

    NibCrom on
  • edited February 2010
    I appreciate that you didn't lime it. I also appreciate cakemikz's comments, though they weren't directed at me.

    Richard M. Nixon on
    chevy.jpgsteve.jpgmartin.jpg
  • MustangMustang Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    That was one of the best posts you've ever made cake.

    Mustang on
  • rtsrts Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    That doesn't speak well for my time here. But there are rarely situations where I feel I can genuinely help people or that they will listen anyways.

    rts on
    skype: rtschutter
  • NibCromNibCrom Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    This might help illustrate Cake's point: open up a photo in Photoshop and use the eyedrop tool. Paint with some of the colors off a brick or a tree or grass. It might help break you off of the habit of using default red, green, etc.

    NibCrom on
  • AbdulthenNewtAbdulthenNewt Registered User
    edited February 2010
    Some good and interesting thoughts - thanks everyone for taking the time to post.

    I want to be careful not to argue aesthetics, because at that point we might as well be arguing music tastes. And while I realize that not everything being brought up is a question of personal tastes, I do recognize that we all have different likes and dislikes when it comes to the visuals. Also since we're in an art thread, I realize that the visuals will come under the most scrutiny.

    I get that bricks aren't always red, grass isn't always green, skies aren't blue, and clouds aren't white (I'm reminded of that scene in "Girl with a Pearl Earring"). However, as a cartoon, I believe the goal to be communication and simplification of colors can help people get the message more quickly. And I also believe speedy comprehension is important to humor. To that end, I don't believe I'm just a few RGB values away from arriving.

    What I do take a lot of stock in from the comments are the notion that the drawings aren't doing enough to carry the humor, the gags coming across as too generic or derivative, the taglines being redundant (I tend to think of them as image titles), and the lack of soul (I don't think of that as a "pansy" topic). Realistically, I'm not likely to make major changes in the line quality (I draw and ink traditionally, then scan and color) and coloring style, although both of these things are likely to continue to evolve. I've previously posted a few samples of other art styles to show that this approach was a choice, rather than the only thing I'm capable of doing. To that end, the visuals aren't thoughtless on my part, even if perceived that way.

    I'm very grateful for all the thoughts and discussions because it's really helping me examine what is and isn't important about this strip. If it doesn't kill me, it's certain to make me stronger.

    AbdulthenNewt on
    www.lunatechfringe.com
    New comics posted daily Monday-Friday
Sign In or Register to comment.