“The story you want to pursue is the story you want to write, even if you are the only one reading it.” – Michael Terracciano
From August 14th-16th, imaginative geeks convened together at the 6th Annual Intervention Convention. Intervention, which is a mashup of “Internet” + “Convention,” was created by Marketing/PR expert Oni Hartstein and her husband James Harknell in 2010 with the intention of providing sound advice and inspiration to people who want to professionally utilize their creative talents. This year, the convention drew in hundreds of people and covered an array of topics including Internet radio, building a web series, starting a profitable blog, and much more.
One of the most interesting panels took place late Saturday night. Webcomics 101: Creativity, Art, and Writing was an info-packed, one hour session designed to help webcomic newbies discover how to go from having a genius idea to publishing and sustaining an online comic series. Married duo Thom and Kambrea Pratt from Shadowbinders (a popular fantasy web comic) and Michael Terracciano, author of fantasy webcomic Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire used their expertise as panelists and tackled a barrage of questions from the attendees.
Here are the best questions and answers during the panel:
“How do you start? And, what tools do you use?”
Michael Terracciano immediately spoke up and tackled this easy, yet loaded question. He said that the beauty of webcomics is there is no standard way to get started. He began his comic well over 10 years ago using pen and paper sketches. He would scan his comics into the computer and finish them off with some light photo editing. Now, he has an artist he partners with who handles all the artwork digitally. He also reminded the audience that some people still use and love the old-fashioned method of clip art and talking bubbles. The important thing was not the method, but an engaging story with solid characters.
Tom took on the “tools” portion of the question and said he used to use Adobe Photoshop, but now he is a fan of Manga Studio 5 because it is designed specifically for comics and also has fewer steps than Photoshop.
“I have an idea. How do I start scripting and developing my webcomic without getting too far ahead of myself and going overboard?”
Check out the following video clips for the answers! *colorful language warning*
“How do I publish a webcomic?”
Kambrea swiftly stepped up to provide a list of publishing methods including Drunk Duck, Comic Genesis, Smack Jeeves, and ComicPress (available through WordPress). Thom and Kambrea both recommended Tapastic for an international reach. Of course, starting a website was also an option, but panel attendees were warned that if they don’t have to skills and time to maintain the website it can be a costly endeavor.
“How do I make money?”
As a full-time webcomic creator, Michael was the perfect person to answer this inquiry. According to him, income usually comes from online ads and merchandise. He also recommended Patreon, a website where people can support a webcomic directly as opposed to dealing with endless advertisements. Attending conventions to boost visibility was suggested as a way to have more fans to possibly lend financial support. Of course, Kambrea reminded the audience that making money is not necessarily the bar for success and it is always best to follow your own path:
“We often see success that was years in the making. It’s impossible to find success doing exactly what someone else has done. Don’t miss the new wave because you are trying to follow a single surfer.” –Kambrea Pratt
Not only did the panelists give superb answers to audience questions, they also offered nuggets of advice based on their observations. Michael said a new webcomic creator should have a month of buffer material to ensure enough time to work on new material and to “find their rhythm.” But, he warned writers/artists to never lie down on the buffer and let themselves slack off. Michael also encouraged writers who work with an artist to thoroughly outline scene details so the artist can make their vision come to life. A person who is equally talented with writing and artwork can do both, but as the webcomic becomes popular it can create a heavy workload.
He made sure he stressed the benefits of starting a webcomic: no editors to impress, no pitches, the only cost is time, and the audience is online and waiting for material!
Thom and Kambrea chimed in and said webcomic creators need opinions outside of their own. All web comic creators need to have at least one outside perspective to look at the comic and provide methods of improvement.
The attendees were engrossed in the panel and it ended up going past the scheduled hour. But, everyone’s questions and comments were addressed by the panelists. Webcomics 101 was one of the best panels at the con and represented the “Intervention way” of providing actionable advice to creatives.
Tai Gooden is a freelance writer, mom, wife, part-time blogger and full-time Whovian. In April 2014, she published Amour Rising: A Collection of Poetry. She has written for xojane, BlogHer, HelloGiggles, HamptonRoads.com, BlackAndMarriedWithKids.com, MadameNoire, HamptonRoads.com, and Clutch Magazine. When Tai is not waiting for the TARDIS, she’s either on Twitter (@taigooden) or rambling on her blog, www.taigooden.comClick here for reuse options!
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