Clone's Dream

Tuesday and Thursday

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.

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Ray Dillinger ||   

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