Robert’s #CBR4 Review #10: How to Make Webcomics by Brad Guigar, Dave Kellett, Scott Kurtz, and Kris Straub
How to Make Webcomics is not a book you’re going to pick up as a casual read. It’s a well-planned guidebook to all the big technical topics that come into play when you want to launch a webcomic. Brad Guigar (Evil, Inc), Dave Kellett (Sheldon), Scott Kurtz (PvP), and Kris Straub (Starslip Crisis) break down everything you need to know about running a webcomic.
There’s a big area of webcomic creation that falls outside of the book: actually writing and drawing a webcomic. This is not an art guide book. There are some design suggestions–silhouette exercises to help identify character, creating a line-up showing the relative height and proportion of the characters–and a few writing tips, but this will not teach you to draw or write a strip. You’ll have to find that experience elsewhere.
How to Make Webcomics focuses on putting your comic on the Internet. One chapter teaches you how to properly scan hand-drawn line art into your computer for upload or further manipulation. Another discusses all the possible factors you need to consider when naming and branding your website. The more business-driven the task, the more detail the creators put into the chapter.
This is a great first stop for learning about turning a webcomic into a business. The four writers are focused on marketing, monetization, and brand stability. They say right from the start that you need to learn about everything and try it all so that you can stretch your limits and minimize cost. The worst case scenario is hiring someone else to run part of your webcomic from the start because you can’t be bothered to learn for yourself.
The big drawback to How to Make Webcomics is the assumption that the reader doesn’t understand the subject at all. Every chapter starts with defining the most fundamental terms. Maybe I’m naive, but I highly doubt anyone who is interested in launching a webcomic as a possible business doesn’t know what a pixel is. Yet, the start of one of the chapters is a general overview of the topic and then a lengthy definition of pixel. Pixel is extrapolated to resolution, then file format, then manipulating digital images.
I understand the need to establish the fundamentals. It’s just really heavy-handed in the text. It’s almost like the writers decided that every subject, no matter how simple, needed to be handled like the reader had no idea what anything was. The problem with that approach is that a person who is going to pick up a book like How to Make Webcomics knows what a webcomic is. There’s a big difference between establishing an easy learning curve and pandering to an audience. This book panders at the start of every chapter.
When you get past the tone, How to Make Webcomics becomes a good resource for anyone interested in creating a webcomic. It would just be nice if they assumed a bit more knowledge on the part of the reader.
Robert writes about entertainment media at Sketchy Details. He loves it when you comment on his work.