After the Local Cartoonists panel that took place at the 2012 Olympia Comics Festival, I decided to compile a list of pointers and resources for people who are new to putting their comics out there. This post is aimed at those who already understand how to make a comic (how to write a story, how to draw pictures in sequence, how to color and add in word balloons, etc). Here I’ll explain the different things you can do with that comic once it’s done, and how!
STEP ONE: Decide whether or not you want to show anyone your comics!
A lot of people will tell you that you should show your comics to everyone and anyone, but that doesn’t mean that you have to. Sometimes comics are just another way to express yourself and your feelings creatively. If the comics you make are about private matters you’d rather not share, that’s perfectly okay! You can turn around now, satisfied purely by the act of creating. If you’re not satisfied and are dying to share your creations with the world, keep reading.
STEP TWO: Decide whether you want physical, printed copies of your comic OR you just want to post it online!
You can always do both (put your comics online and print them out), but I will give a separate explanation on how to do each one. Before all that, though, let’s look at a list of pros and cons to both options.
Printing Your Comics
- You get to hold your comics in your hands and personally put them in other people’s hands, which is pretty sweet!
- People can read your comics anywhere without having to worry about an Internet connection or computer (e.g. on the bus, at the park, curled up in bed, at the beach, etc).
- It’s easier to sell your comics to people this way!
- Printing comics costs money – either you have to pay a professional printing company to print your comics, or you need to pay for photocopies down at your local FedEx Office. Even printing them out of your computer at home means buying more ink eventually.
- The location of physical comics (a box in your closet, a copy you donated to the library, the copies you have for sale at a local comics shop or at your convention table) limits your audience to those who can physically access them.
- Paper kills trees (hey, it’s true).
Posting Your Comics Online
- There are many sites you can use to post comics online that are 100% free of charge (bye bye, printing costs).
- Webcomics are instantly accessible to millions of people all over the world (so long as they have an internet connection and can read the language your comic is written in).
- Making your comics available to read online usually amounts to giving your comic out for free to anyone who wants it (and not a single tree wasted), thus getting rid of the money hurdle between your story and your potential fans.
- Not everyone enjoys staring at a glowing screen or being stuck at a desk to read a comic (no matter how awesome that comic is).
- Making money off a webcomic is a bit tricky if you don’t also produce printed book versions to sell to people (a comic that exists only online can make a profit by generating enough website traffic that you can start selling ad space, but it takes tons of viewers before that option becomes lucrative).
- People often post their webcomics one page at a time, a few times per week, to keep a steady flow of visitors coming to the site, which can sometimes lead to readers jumping to conclusions about your story before they’ve had a chance to read the end!
These are just a few examples of helpful considerations when deciding how to put your comics out there. A lot will depend on why you want people to read your comics as well. Some of the pros and cons were money-centered, but it’s okay not to care about making money with your comics. It’s also okay to want money for your comics – they’re a source of entertainment that you worked hard to make, possibly with others already in mind. I find that choosing both – posting comics online as advertisement to build a fanbase and printing book versions to sell to fans who want a physical copy as well – is the best option at the time of this writing, but your mileage may vary.
STEP THREE: Take advantage of these extra readings and resources to get you started down the path you’ve chosen!
Resources for Print Comics
- Printing Comics: Setting Up for the Print Shop
- Printing, Hosting, and Financing for Independent Comikers
- Small Press How-To Guide to Small Press Comics
- Printing Your Small Press Comic
- A Primer On Xerography, Silkscreening, and Offset Printing
- Ka-Blam Printing (Printing Service)
- RA Comics Direct Printing (Printing Service)
- Brown Printing (Printing Service)
- Oregon Web Press (Printing Service)
Resources for Webcomickers
- Advice On Starting A Webcomic
- So You Want to Start A Webcomic
- SmackJeeves.com (Free Webcomics Host)
- DrunkDuck.com (Free Webcomics Host)
- ComicGenesis.com (Free Webcomics Host)
- WordPress.com (Free Blogging Platform)
- Blogger.com (Free Blogging Platform)
- Using Tumblr for Webcomics
Good luck, and happy self-publishing!!! (Contents Last Edited: 6/8/2013)