"Just fucking do it"
I wanna preface this by saying that this is all opinion and observation, formed from my own experiences and perspective. In fact, I think it needs to be said that I create webcomics in a bit of a vacuum...
The other day I was talking with a graphic designer friend, and he mentioned how now and then he'd get together with other graphic designers just to hang out and share stories. He also mentioned that I don't have that with fellow web-comic artists or with other freelance illustrators. At the time he said this I sort of shrugged it off, but it's true and it's a bigger deal than I first thought. Sure, I have plenty of friends that have entered comic tournaments, or with aspirations of being webcomic creators, but few to none that really produce them. At the least, none I feel I can hang out with, online or off, and go "haha yeah fans amirite?" or "oh shit _____ linked to you?! sweet!". Most importantly, webcomics can be a work-intensive unrewarding hobby at times. I can't describe how frustrating it is to spend 10 hours on a Derelict page for a response like "that's not how [insert object, science, etc here] works." Any hobby can get like that, but having friends who do it alongside you makes it easier - even if you're all working on different projects, you're all in something together and wanting each other to succeed.
I have great friends, many willing to help brainstorm and check facts for me, but I don't have webcomic comradery and have recently decided to stop trying to strong-arm my buddies into webcomics.
Still, this is partially to them. Mostly though, this is to the myriad of people out there who view webcomics as a holy grail of a goal and fear starting.
My point is, doing webcomics (separate webcomics, collabs are a whole different beast) alongside friends is a great idea when starting out. However you have to heed the four words there and Just Fucking Do It.
Maybe "do" isn't the right word. Maybe it should be "try". I think that a huge roadblock for many aspiring webcomics creators is that they fear failure. For many of us, these characters and their stories are our babies and we don't want to commit to their final story until we are absolutely ready and are the best artists in the laaaaaand! Well look, the best way to learn is by doing. Practice sketches and the like outside of the comic are great and important, but trust me, no matter how many pinups you draw of your characters or how well you define their allergies and various mental deficiencies - they will not prepare you for when your script calls for them to jump off of a moving car onto a fire escape while being chased by a helicopter. On that note, you should always try and push yourself, try panel layouts, angles, poses, people, objects and environments out of your comfort zone. Don't limit your story to what your art can currently do. Look at reference. Push through. Just Fucking Do It. You'll get better as an artist and a writer.
What if your webcomics falls apart? You fear to "fail"? Well, failure is subjective. I got 600 pages into Parallel Dementia before I called it off, and I'd not consider that a failure. I'd not consider 50 pages a failure! So long as you learn something and can use it to improve your next comic. Or, perhaps, learn you don't actually want to do webcomics and use that to improve your life. At least you gave it a shot.
But just as I mentioned strong-arming my friends into making webcomics, it's worth noting this isn't for everyone. It's a hard distinction to make, though! To many, a webcomic is a huge and lofty goal! I want to delve into the two creative communities I've probably spent the most time on, here, and what they mean for aspiring webcomic artists.
The first is was the Comic Genesis Forums. Now like any community, this place had its problems. #1 amongst them was that the place could be a bit of a hug-box. Once you were one of them, few would offer helpful advice for improving as an artist or writer unless you really asked for it, and those that gave harsh crit were often seen as mean and/or stingy. As such, I remember many people ignoring critique, or reacting negativally. However, the entire forum community consisted of people unified in one goal: make webcomics. Nearly everyone on that forum was making them, all the time! Some were not very good, but they were attempts. And if you keep trying, you can improve rapidly. That's almost a trope of webcomics.
The second is Deviant Art. DA is a much, much larger community with a staggering array of talents. It's no surprise, then, that now and then a beautiful thoughtful webcomic comes from one of its members. This comic inevitably becomes popular amongst DA and then spreads, so other people on DA think this is what they are shooting for. These people then refuse to get down to actually making comics until they are confident enough in themselves. For many of them, that confidence never comes. "There is always someone on DA better than me, so why bother?" Hell, DA can be a great place for feedback, and Original Character Tournaments are amazing practice, but Devinat Art can also be a huge enabler.
There are so many people on the site willing to gush about their original characters and how cool their story will totally be when you totally tell it, that many never leave this safe, soft comfort zone. Many on DA, it seems to me, become all about their characters* and forget about one day telling an interesting story with them.
*There are also those that get far too overdetailed with their setting, rather than characters. General rules for the world and a backstory are great! You don't need to figure out the name of every line of kings and the exact details on how magic works and every aspect of an alien's culture before you start, though. It's okay to figure out your world and characters as you go.
So inaction, complacency, fear of failure - these are the big roadblocks. If you think you wanna do webcomics, Just Fucking Do It.
It's not just about the validation of the fans or friends (though that helps!) and it's not about having amazing art and writing when you start (though you should always push yourself to be better!) It's about improving yourself as a creator and a person, and giving yourself something fun and rewarding to do.
Hope this helps someone! Helped me to write it down.
- Civil War 2nd place prize
- Dragon Cast Commission