Friday, January 4, 2013

Lessons From My First Webcomic

In about three months time Mascara, my first webcomic, will be coming to an end. I’m excited about finishing it, but at the same time, saying “goodbye” isn’t going to be easy. This comic has been a part of my life for so long.
But throughout the process, I’ve learned all kinds of things that will be helpful for when I start my next manga style comic, which is already in the works, by the way. ^_^
So here are a few things I’ve learned from making my first webcomic, which maybe helpful for others who are thinking about doing the same thing.
1. Don’t let lack of ability stop you.
When I started my comic, my artwork had a lot of growing to do. But here I am, 500 pages later, and my artwork has improved significantly. It still could be better, but the only way that it was able to improve in the first place is that I kept trying. If I would’ve stopped, I would have never gotten better. The best way to learn how to make a comic and graphically tell a story is to do it, instead of giving up after the first few pages because you’re so disappointed with the artwork.
2. Create for Yourself.
I wrote Mascara to entertain myself, and as a result, it was a story that I was passionate about. I couldn’t stop myself from drawing it. So in the end, regardless of if my comic was popular or not, I still have the deep satisfaction of creating something that I love.
3. Try Different Things.
Experiment with storytelling and the way you promote your comic. I draw in manga style, so wanted things to happen in my comic that doesn’t typically happen in manga. As a result, I ended up with a story that has a unique plot. 
When promoting my comic, I went to sites that aren’t typically used by comic artists, but at the same time, is frequented by people who would enjoy reading it. For example, there is a site called Textnovel. Textnovel is a service where users can create stories that can be read and written on cellphones. I noticed that there are a lot of anime and manga inspired stories on this site. So I started posting my manga there, and it’s worked out very well, especially since at this point in time, I’m the only manga artist that posts there.
4. Don’t Stress About Promotion.
Comics can be promoted on Facebook, Twitter, Deviant Art, various webcomic posting sites and also with ad services, like Project Wonderful. Using any of these services to promote a webcomic takes time and energy that could be used for creating. There were times when promoting my comic I felt bogged down in advertisement stuff. It was actually a little depressing. Then I remembered that I’m not an advertisement  agency, but an artist. So I focused on what I really do—which is drawing comics and moved promotion to something that I do once and awhile.
5. Listen to Critics. And Then Ignore Them.
Especially when I first started my comic, I got a lot of criticism about my artwork. It wasn’t like the critics were wrong—they were totally right. My art seriously did need some improvement, and I listened to them. At the same time though, I didn’t keep thinking about the criticism. To keep working, I had to ignore it. If I didn’t, I would’ve became paralyzed from negative thoughts, and I wouldn’t have been able to finish my comic. And some criticism is just rude and not constructive. Those are the best comments to ignore completely.

So that’s what I’ve learned from creating Mascara. Oh, yeah—one more thing:
6. Have Fun.
What’s the point of creating comics if it isn’t fun?