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17 December 2010 @ 01:26 pm
Blog: Writer's Block, Part 3  

So I've come up with something of a plan: I've started working on a 24-page story. I'm making it up as I go. It's very different in tone than the stories I usually do. I am trying to work at a faster pace--a few pages a day--with the hope that I will have it done by the end of the month. I will post it on the web when I am done.

Possibly a silly question: what's the best way to post comics on the web these days? On a blog like this? On my own website? God, I'm so behind the curve with this technology.


 


 
 
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( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Dylan Meconis: brett-waitquirkybird on December 17th, 2010 08:51 pm (UTC)
A great idea!

There's really no consensus on how to post short comics these days. Long comics are generally run off of Comicpress/Wordpress, but that's a bit elaborate for a short story.

I would post here as you go and then also compile it in a sub-site on your website when it's done.
Alex Robinsonalexbot3000 on December 17th, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC)
I'm sure I'll probably just wind up posting it on my own site and linking to it, since I'm incapable of learning anything new.
Dylan Meconis: heart-bookquirkybird on December 17th, 2010 10:50 pm (UTC)
That works just fine! Especially for a short story like you're describing.

When people ask me about the complex mechanics of online comics, I tell them that mostly people want to be able to read regular content without a big hassle. Fancy database features or elaborate Flash interfaces are things that don't necessarily do much for the reading experience.

As for the experience of reading a webcomic that's a longform narrative...it can be a great way to build an audience, even if it's not your ideal notion of how the work should be read.

I post my book online a page at a time. It's still a big, slow-moving story and it's drawn in portrait format: definitely not web-ideal.

But some folks follow the updates religiously; others wait and read a big chunk. Still others clicked through a short chunk, liked what they saw, and promptly bought the print edition.

Either way, without a publisher or distributor, I had enough audience to fund a $10K print run of the book solely off of pre-sale orders, and have been busy selling copies ever since.

If you want to put a whole book online, I'd recommend hiring somebody to take care of the mechanics for you. It's not overwhelmingly expensive and it's a great way to reach new readers who don't go into comic book stores.

Some longform comics online that might give you ideas for how to go about it:

http://www.dicebox.net
http://www.meekcomic.com
http://www.lackadaisycats.com
http://www.hereville.com
http://anderslovesmaria.reneengstrom.com/

and mine:

http://www.lutherlevy.com

All of those listed above have print editions out (except for Anders Loves Maria), some self-published, others through comics houses, and Hereville (in an expanded version) through major publisher Abrams.

Mine's the only one that uses Comicpress.
Liz Baillielizbaillie on December 18th, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
Yes! Everything you said is basically what I was trying to say in other comments. You said it a little more succinctly than I, though.
Liz Baillie: bslizbaillie on December 17th, 2010 09:33 pm (UTC)
I have no good advice for you, since most people just build a site using Wordpress with the Comicpress plugin, but that would be a LOT of work for just one short comic. You could do like L. Nichols does and make your main website a Comicpress site, but keep the different stories separate using tags (on her site you can click on a tag like "Recipe Comics" or " Outlaw Dog" to see any of those short stories or ongoing stories). Unfortunately there isn't a LiveJournal equivalent for posting webcomics in an easy-to-navigate way that doesn't look like total garbage.

That said, I would love it if you had a webcomic. There need to be more of the kinds of comics I like out there, like just straightforward good stories without some weird gimmick. Like Mike's Troop 142! Also I find that having a webcomic keeps me honest, knowing I have people expecting more work from me so it keeps me working harder and better than I might if I knew no one was looking. I hope you do it!
Alex Robinsonalexbot3000 on December 17th, 2010 10:18 pm (UTC)
I definitely want to have my new comic available in some kind of digital format. My original plan was to begin posting it when I had a big enough backlog so that I could post it weekly and not have to worry about any rough patches (good thing I didn't do that!).
My only hesitation is that I don't know if weekly posts are the best fit for narrative-driven stories like yours or Mike's (as opposed to something like AMERICAN ELF or Kate Beaton's stuff, which are short, self-contained bits). It can be hard to keep track of plots, characters, etc when they're stretched out that way.
mikedawsoncomic on December 18th, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)
I think posting a graphic novel in weekly installments on a hard-to-navigate website like the one I setup is not ideal for really creating an audience of people who are 100% following along.

Instead, I think it was probably very good for creating a general awareness of the comic, and then I get the impression people would sit down occasionally and catch up on big chunks of it.

And, that's totally fine with me. I love putting comics online, and can't see myself not putting all my comics on my website from here on out. That's because I think stories like mine are really best enjoyed as books, and I think the audience I'm aiming it at, would prefer reading it "for real" when it's in print.

I was thinking about this: the idea that people won't buy a graphic novel b/c they read it online. It's possible, but I don't think it's the same as people not buying monthly issues of X-Men b/c they're getting illegal bit-torrents of it.

One is about a story that's best enjoyed as a whole, and in print, and the X-Men situation is about people who need to keep on top of a forever-narrative. I could imagine they might just feel the need to read what happens in an issue, without feeling a strong urge to own it.

Anyway, just put in on LJ for now.
malaisia on December 18th, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)
One thing you might try if you can make a pdf of it is issuu.com, so you can upload it, but don't have to host it, and it lets people read it fullscreen on their devices.

This guy : http://milonogiannis.com/aptera/ has a pretty good site design that seems to be just well thought out html with tables, and he does long stories. IE, http://www.oldcityblues.com/- All the issues are just html files with like 20 pages up.

You do not want to go through the 3 days of Wordpress hell required to put that thing together. It's just not worth it, unless you are going to go do something like freakangels and do regular updates forever.
Liz Baillielizbaillie on December 18th, 2010 05:03 pm (UTC)
Blecch, I hate those fullscreen fake-book internet things. I don't know anyone who actually follows a comic regularly that uses those things, or at least I've never heard of anyone who achieved any notable success using them. I think those services are better-suited for showing a preview sample of a book you are selling or something, like in your online store or whatever and you want people to be able to sample a bit first.
malaisia on December 18th, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC)
For a one time thing, for Alex who already has an audience, for one multipage comic, it seems like it would be fine for disseminating just one comic. As would just posting all the pages on one post in LJ or his site for this one thing.

For a regular web comic, I think it could be done, just because it hasn't been done yet doesn't mean it's not possible. I don't understand, beyond the effort of putting it together, why people don't put their chapters together into pdfs so people don't have to go through the terrible interface of comicpress or whatever, to read potentially hundreds of pages of comics that don't have to be downloaded one page at a time. It might bump some book sales, but if it made it easier to read all the back stuff, presumably it would help increase readership.
Liz Baillielizbaillie on December 18th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
I think most people are averse to downloading pdfs to read something (I know I am) because you just end up with a desktop littered with random pdfs eventually. If I had to download a pdf just to read a chapter or a comic unless I really really wanted it I would avoid it.

I think a site like L. Nichols' is great for people who want to do different shorter stories but have everything on one website. All you have to do is tag each comic with the title, and anyone can just click that tag to read only that comic. If Alex did something similar, he could still do multiple different comics, do a few short ones, a long one, whatever he wanted, and still have ease of navigation for new readers as well as comments and whatnot while having everything on one single website.

Serializing a comic on LJ is way worse than anything I could think of. Like I said in another comment, that would be way, WAY harder to navigate for someone jumping in in the middle or if you just want to read it simply beginning to end, not to mention the fact that they'd have to navigate around all of Alex's regular non-comics posts. On a comicpress site you just click "next" or "back" or "first" or whatever, and you can always have a page that lists all the Chapters so people can jump around that way. There's a plugin on comicpress now that even lets people bookmark where they were so they can come back and read exactly from where they left off.

Of course just because something hasn't been done doesn't mean it's not possible, but the few people I know who've tried that weird onscreen book thing haven't had such a marked increase (if any) in anything that I would consider it a good idea. There's a reason people use and find success with some version of the "webcomic" format and i see no point in testing out new formats if you haven't even done it the "regular" way first.
malaisia on December 18th, 2010 09:49 pm (UTC)
I'm saying in ADDITION to your daily whatevers, why not give people a choice of how they want to read things? PDFS are super efficient on bandwidth, too, and a lot of people are used to downloading all their comics in forums anyway, if not legally. Once your chapter is done, you can make it way easier for your fans to read, but still leave it up in the continuity of things. Hell, you could even put ads at the end of it that way and let it float around the web to let whoever wants to post it gain you some traffic.

And no one is advocating serializing anything on LJ. A one time comic though, who cares what platform it is if you can link to the page?
Liz Baillielizbaillie on December 18th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
As long as nobody's saying LJ is a good way (on its own) to post one's comic, then all is right with the world. I got a big scratchy hair up my ass just thinking about trying to read a full chapter of a comic that way. I just started to strangle my dog because I thought for a second she was thinking about serializing her new webcomic that way. In case you were wondering, my dog's new webcomic is called fewpoIOWers'opisIO because she doesn't have thumbs (yet). Don't ask how she got an LJ account, I have no idea what she does when I'm not here.
malaisia on December 18th, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
No. Everyone agrees that would be the worst idea.
Alex Robinsonalexbot3000 on December 19th, 2010 12:00 am (UTC)
Ok, it's resolved then: I'll post it on Live Jour--wait wha??
Liz Baillielizbaillie on December 18th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
I find that true as well, and I don't follow a lot of comics online (I prefer to buy complete books once they're collected) but a lot of people DO read longer stories online. I know I definitely increased my audience at least by double if not triple in the past year since I started posting Freewheel online and have definitely gained a few really awesome "die hards" in the process. The thing is, you do have to have a regular update schedule for it to really work. Even with RSS feeds and whatnot, people tend to lose interest if you're not on a regular schedule. I think for long stories the bare minimum is three times a week, otherwise people forget and lose interest.

If you're thinking about seriously doing a webcomic, I *highly* recommend checking out the book "How to Make Webcomics." It's out of print I believe, but you should be able to locate it at the library or I can loan you my own copy if you want. I found it invaluable, and everyone I've loaned it to (at least five people) has gotten something out of it.
Liz Baillielizbaillie on December 18th, 2010 05:06 pm (UTC)
The other bad thing about posting it on LiveJournal is it's much harder for people to link to and follow. If I wanted to be like "hey check out Alex Robinson's latest page, it's so awesome, read his comic" I would have to link to your LJ, which includes all this other non-comic stuff and people would likely have a VERY hard time figuring out how to actually read the comic from the beginning on your LiveJournal. There really has to be some kind of navigation in place to make it easy for people to read. Not to mention you can't track your stats on LJ (that I'm aware of) so you'll have no real idea of how many people are reading it or who is linking to it and whatnot.
Xaviar Xerexesxerexes on January 7th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)
Lots of Good Options!
Alex,

There are lots of great options for presenting comics online -- Dylan is right that making it as easy as possible for the reader to get to the comic is pretty key. That said you can easily drop in an install of wordpress and grab comicpress or stripShow to do the navigation for a single title.

I love your comics btw and would be really interesting in seeing your stuff online too.

-xerexes
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