The 'Help Me Start My Webcomic' FAQ

Okay. I have people come up to me at cons, send me forum PMs/IMs/e-mails asking me for 'help' on starting their comics. This runs the whole gamut, from 'Where do I host?' to 'Will you help me with part of it?' Unfortunately, this is happening so much now, and the questions are so repetitive, that I've gotten tired of repeating myself.... In fact, you may have landed at this page after I gave you the URL at a con. So, refer to the list below ... these are the answers I'd give you at my table or anywhere else.

Server Space and Tech | Artistic Basics | Getting Noticed | Getting Into Print | 'Can You Do _____ For Me?'


1. Where's the best place to host?
Comic Genesis and Drunk Duck are the most popular venues -- they are free, and handle automation/archiving internally. However, I prefer to host my own and use a php updater. My webspace is supplied through Fuitad. Their hosting fees range from $7.49-38.49/mo., and domain registration is $9.95/yr.

2. I wanna host my comic on my own site. What PHP script do you use?
The makers of Snafu Comics came up with their own code, which they are offering for use here.

3. The code isn't working right! How did you fix yours???
I didn't. Someone else did. The Snafu guys may have fixed it since then, but if they haven't, they're the ones to contact. Sorry, I'm a total PHP incompetent.

4. I want a messageboard! What do you use?
If you're hosting on your own server, go with phpBB. If you don't want to mess with PHP or are somewhere else, try ezBoard.

5. Can I update my site on LiveJournal instead?
You can do anything you please. I don't recommend it, though. It makes archiving a real bitch. Now, a simultaneous LJ feed is something else entirely. If you've got the time and can remember to do it, that's great. But hosting solely on LJ, while you can do it, is pretty tacky unless you're, like, I Harth Darth or something.


1. What art supplies do you use?
In my experience, simplicity is best. I use printer paper, a mechanical pencil, and the thinnest Sharpie you can buy at Staples.

2. What about tablets?
I have never used a tablet. Can't help you there.

3. How do I get my art onto the computer?
Generally with a scanner. I use a CanoScan 8400, but generally any Canon model has served me well.

4. Can I just take a picture of it with a digital camera and upload it? It's a really good digital camera.
No. That is stupid. Buy a freakin' scanner or use the one in the computer lab at school.

5. How do you put together your comics once they're scanned.
I use Photoshop, and beyond that it's really trial and error and what works best for you. Manga-size tends to be 537x800 pixels at my best estimate, but go with what works best for you and your style.

6. How do you do your speech bubbles?
Al's Speech Bubble Script is a great Photoshop action for that. However, I don't use the 'Shape Bubble' half of it. I draw the bubbles with the lasso and marquee, then move on to the 'Solidify Bubble' action.

7. Should I do colour or greyscale? Ink or pencil? What will people like better?
It really doesn't matter. No one believes me, but it doesn't. Do whatever works best for your story, whatever looks prettiest to you, etc.


1. How often should I update to make people want to keep reading?
There is no 'magic schedule.' Set it to a schedule you know you can keep, whether that's daily, weekly, or irregularly. What keeps people reading is posting what your update schedule will be. If you say 'updates once a week' or 'updates whenever I feel like it, so check back once in awhile,' readers will keep to it.

2. How do I get readers to visit my comic in the first place?
Link-trade with others. Put up an entry on Sign up for a Top 100, like TopWebComics. If you've got the spondoolicks, take out a week's worth of ad space on a popular comic (Dominic Deegan and Misfile are both well-read and offer ad space, for example).

3. Those aren't working!
Be patient.

4. What about at cons?
Buy table space. Get free business cards from somewhere like VistaPrint. Make ashcans (small one-page flyers of your artwork) with your URL on and put them out on the flyer tables. Be creative.


1. What publisher do you use?
My graphic novels are very kindly published through Unseen LLC, who specialize in small-press runs of webcomics. The quality is great, and they print through Lightning Source. One run of 50 costs me about $300. For con specials and smaller issues, I self-publish through Ka-Blam, which is very reasonably priced.

2. Is your publisher taking submissions? Will you put in a good word for me?
They pick and choose on their own. Sorry, I don't think they'll be taking submissions in the near future.

'CAN YOU DO __________ FOR ME?'

1. Will you design/master my site for me? I love your layout and want one like it.
No can do. I'm a busy girl. Do a Google for 'CSS Templates' and you should see stuff like mine -- that's what I used.

2. Will you link to/advertise my webcomic on yours?
A lot of webcomics come and go, so I have what may seem like rather a strict rule: Show me ten consecutive on-time updates, and I will link to you. In the past, I've linked to too many who wrote to me and never got anywhere. I want to recognise the ones that pull through.

3. Want to hear about the plot? I've had the idea since I was in sixth grade, and I've got the whole thing detailed for you ...
I'm glad people consider me a 'good enough' webcomicker that I deserve to hear their ideas ... but I'd really rather see it in action ... and if you want me to read it, it's like a good movie: don't spoil it! If you want actual plot critique ... well, I'm a really really harsh critic, so be sure that objective critiquing is what you're looking for before you bring it to me. I am Simon, not Paula.

4. Can I write for you? I don't have time to do my own webcomic, but I'm a huge fan of yours and have some really freakin' awesome ideas.
Short answer? No. I have co-writers whom I stick to, and that's all I need because they are Just That Good. Besides which, if you can't keep up your own comic, I can't count on you to deliver scripts for mine in a timely fashion.

5. Will you do a guest comic/fanart for me?
Well, it's not 'fanart' unless I'm a fan ... so if I'm a fan, yes. If I'm not, it's 'guest art,' and I'll sure think about it. Since I'm doing a lot of paid work, I cannot guarantee anything. So if you're in a pinch for guest comics, I'm not a good bet.

Anything I forgot to add? E-mail it to me.

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