Time to change a few things around here.
Being completely open I’ve got to admit that my recent endeavours in connecting with the web community have, shall we say not been wildly successful. I’ve never been much of an attention hog and I’ve always been at my happiest in a niche middle ground, but with the exception of a few kind-hearted regulars – thankyou! – as a webcomic, feedback and readership on my graphic has been more than a little underwhelming.
To make a useless analogy: It feels like I’m at one of those ‘friend of a friend‘ parties, where there’s only one person you know and everyone else is so firmly locked into their cliques you’d need a crowbar to pry them free. Time passes and you slide to the back of the room, drink at a half consumed event horizon, eyes glazed over, sending inane texts to people who’ve turned off their phones…
It all boils down to one thing: what am I doing wrong?
Not at the parties I mean, but with this whole webcomic thing. Back in Summer Paul Gravett placed huge importance upon becoming involved with relevant communities as a part of the context behind my work. Having tried this on my own terms for three months it’s time to accept that my current strategies simply aren’t working.
I contacted Matt Hemsworth on recommendation of my tutor since besides being a former student of my own Hull School of Art and Design he’s someone with a much keener understanding of illustration and comics, with a great deal more direct experience of promoting his work over the internet and elsewhere for that matter. E-mailing him over the weekend I honestly expected little more than a paragraph of advice on my comic, blog and methods but he was back to me within hours with a whole page of feedback and suggestions – so first and foremost hats off to Matt for being so awesome!
There was plenty of food for thought in what he wrote but to keep things reasonably succinct I’ll summarise the most important points he made along with my planned response:
This will likely be the first thing I tackle as it affects pretty much all of my graphic. While fine with my art itself he thought that my speech bubble text detracted from the overall quality, being oversized and inconsistent. Looking at it with fresh eyes I see what he means so an overhaul of the font itself and edit of all existing pages is imminent. It might be worth having it done professionally at some point to get the best results, but with so much currently in flux it would be something I’d leave for nearer completion of a collected volume.
Excluding my uploads to ComicFury and The Duck the way I’ve archived pages under the ‘Read it!’ menu of my blog is haphazard at best. While reasonably accessible it doesn’t make for easy reading in sequence and gives an unprofessional impression. Matt’s recommendation of ComicPress as an alternative place to upload and archive in conjunction with my blog definitely sounds like a good idea as it makes for a much more inviting reading experience. In relation to this it may also be worth forking out for a proper domain name at some point too.
A matter I’ve only given fleeting thought to as a distant prospect. Besides pointing me in the direction of one of Hull’s more reasonably priced printers, he suggested I start printing promotional material as soon as possible to drum up interest, even a preview booklet or small poster might be worthwhile.
Leading on from the last point another strong recommendation made was to get a table at a convention. Again, even if its only a teaser item or something given away for free it can only help draw interest. He had a high opinion of the Leeds Thought Bubble Festival in particular which I’ve just missed but would do well to plan ahead for next year.
A pretty obvious point which I ignored at my peril; it’s worth setting a specific day(s) for updates in order to build up a buzz of interest and ensure people know when more will appear. Even if I can’t make weekly uploads every time, keeping them on a fixed day no matter what would almost certainly be for the better in terms of consistency.
Lots to think about and lots to get on with then!
Some interesting and useful points made there. :-) Will add my two pence on some of the things:
Getting your webcomic seen is very hard imo unless you practically live online. I’ve never really discovered the secret behind it, but my best method is to show interest in other people’s comics as it both gets you involved in the scene and encourages other people to engage with your work, especially if you’re writing positive/constructive things.
I’ve been self-publishing for a couple years now and still feel very much a newbie in the comics scene. There are many fellow artists that I’ve yet to meet or speak to despite attending the same events on several occassions. There are a few cliques out there, but being at an event physically as opposed to online makes it harder for them to avoid you. Heh, heh… >:-) Of course once initial contact has been made in person, online interactions become easier. (there’s also a bunch of us on twitter, I strongly recommend signing up on there!)
Also +1 for getting your stuff printed – I’m always keen on this point. I know the digital market is the big cool thing these days, but I think I have more physical readers than I do online which is kinda of amazing as those guys actually *pay* to read my work. Also it’s nice to have something to show after all the hours you’ve put in and feels more natural reading off a screen imo. It helps boost morale when you’ve got something on the shelf cheering you on to make more, lol. *grabs copy of A Cornered Fox* XD
@Ushio: Thanks a bunch for your thoughts :) I was actually thinking of contacting you for advice on future expos and how to approach them (going on your blog, it looks like you’ve got all the experience!) not to mention, I’ve been meaning to set up on Smack Jeeves since forever but fate has had other plans…
Anyway, once I’ve relettered the archives and got everything in order again then I’ll definitely start moving towards some kind of printed material. And yes, ‘Six’ and ‘A Cornered Fox’ are definitely something of a morale booster for me!