Popularity and Production Values
Wow. I didn't expect it, but this little webcomic thing
is starting to take off. Oh, not in a major way. But I
noticed the other day that Clone's Dream is now more popular
than an average webcomic. At least, more popular than the
average webcomic hosted on WCN, as measured in unique visitors
per day. Considering that an average webcomic languishes in
obscurity along with 10 or 20 thousand other webcomics that
get about 100 views per day, that isn't saying much.
Still, it's unexpected, and gratifying. So, all you who've
been reading, or who've started recently? Thanks. I didn't
think I'd care this much about the attention, but it makes
me feel good to know you think my storytelling and art
skills are worth taking time out of your day to read. And
it's making me happier about putting effort into the comic,
day after day and week after week.
And it's got me thinking. There is worthwhile work I've
been not doing in terms of making the comic. For example:
I've been working at about twice the resolution at which you
see the comic on the screen, then shrinking it down to 750
pixels. The result is that the highest high-resolution stuff
I've got so far isn't high-resolution enough for printing.
That didn't matter, when I was assuming I'd never be popular
enough for there to be a demand for print collections and was
just doing this to practice my art and storytelling technique,
but hey, if you're going to print something you need at least
300 DPI, and at that resolution my comic is only 2 and 1/6
inches wide as you see it, or about 4 inches wide at the
resolution I've been working at. And the originals? They're
gone, friends. I took 'em off the scanner and tossed
'em into the trash. So the stuff you've seen so far (well, to
be honest, the stuff I've scanned so far, which goes up to page
100 or thereabouts) is probably never ever going to see print,
no matter how popular the comic gets.
Here's another thing that doesn't work in a more serious work:
I need to have a consistent lettering style. My speech balloons,
panel and page numbers, and sound effects have been bigger or
smaller from one day to the next, kind of randomly. Sometimes
I've been leaving my bad handwriting on the page instead of
actually doing the lettering properly and making regular speech
balloons. If I want it to look good - more to the point if
people are actually looking at this - then for their sake and
the sake of my own pride, I need to be consistent.
And I need to start separating those elements from my line art.
Seriously, just to save myself work, I need to do this. I scan
stuff in, then mask out the speech balloons and panel borders
and numbers and so on, just because they're messy, and then go
in and do proper speech balloons and panel borders and numbers
and so on, and then I wind up filling gaps in the artwork - with
the mouse - because my new balloons aren't the same size and
shape as the old ones.
Seriously. With the mouse. A mouse is a miserable tool
to attempt to do art with. Even the so-called "Pen mouse" that
you hold like a brush is miserable to do art with, because you
have to disable mouse acceleration and the lines still never go
exactly where you want because the angle you're holding it at
changes during the stroke. Free advice for all the would-be comic
artists out there; don't use a mouse to try to do art. If you
form your opinion of yourself this way, it will convince you
that you suck and you'll give up art. Thinking about the fact
that I have already scanned 70 more pages that will all need
this treatment is annoying.
Instead of this mess, I need to be doing the line art and the
lettering elements entirely separately. If I need to "test
fly" a speech balloon to make sure I've got room, I should
do that with a post-it note or something on my art.
Hmm, what else should I do if I'm to start taking it seriously?
Ooh, how about having a darn URL somewhere in it so that if someone
sees it an image somewhere random he or she can figure out where
it came from and where to go to see more? How about a consistent
title across the top, embedded in the graphical image? How about
making the comic the same height every day unless there's
a good reason not to?
Yep. Lots of good things I probably ought to be doing. I
probably don't believe as strongly in the goodness of the
print medium as most comic authors, so some things intended
for the convenience of printers are not terribly compelling
to me. But, a title and a URL? That's pretty basic. You
can't have a webcomic without putting the title and URL out
there and making it accessible; why not in the comic itself?
I'll tell you why not. Because I haven't been taking it
seriously up to now.