Monday, June 02, 2008

Getting ahead of myself

I’ve been a busy bee this week.

I have the first 50 strips for my new comic scripted and have the first four drawn. Luckily the whole thing feels about 60% fun, 40% work…so I might just manage to keep this going long term.

The problem is that I’m finding I’m getting way ahead of myself and I know just enough about this business for it to be ‘dangerous’.

You see, today I finished up a strip and as I sat back and looked at it I thought “You know, this would look a lot better if it was in color.” After a bit of back and forth I decided against coloring the strip.

The first reason I decided against it is all well and good. I’m hoping to turn this into a daily (or at least every other day) strip. The whole process from start to finish takes about 3 hours. First I have to actually draw the thing, then scan it into photoshop to ink it, and then arrange the panels in the right order and add the text and word balloons.

If I add color, it’s going to take almost twice as long. First of all, even cell-shading (which I don’t particularly like anyway) can take a while…but it also means a hell of a lot more work in the actual composition. For example, right now I can use a line to denote where the ceiling starts…in color, that level of simplicity just won’t work.

The second reason is a ludicrous one that I had me laughing at myself.

I’m hoping to eventually make some money out of this and browsing some popular self-publishing services, I can get a professionally printed 100 page black and white book for about $5 per copy. That same book in color is closer to $15.

So I find myself sitting in front of my proto-webcomic, that’s only four strips in, making a serious style choice based on how much using color would cut into my non-existent print profits from my non-existent audience.

Great, huh?

Well, I suppose there’s another reason as well. Even if I launch this comic and it actually manages to become popular, from a pure business standpoint, there’s going to be a period of at least a couple of years before I’d start to actually earn anything approaching even minimum wage from it. Simple fact of the matter is I won’t have time to work a full time job and spend 5 hours in front of my computer every day.

Anyway, I doubt anyone cares at this point, but if you’re wondering when you’ll get to see this comic, my answer is that I’m not sure. I don’t know whether to do 30 strips as a buffer or do closer to 60 and release a lot of them all at once.

Coming up with a webcomic is a very strange experience. I can look at the first four and with my foreknowledge of what the strip is going to be about and where it’s going, it seems like a really good idea. However, just on the strength of those four strips, it’s fairly hard to get a sense of what it’s all going to be about.

The best way I can explain it is imagine making a movie, but only allowing people to see the first minute or so of it. If they don’t like that first minute they’re never going to watch the whole movie…and the problem with that is you don’t know what Lord of the Rings is going to be about by watching Bilbo organize his birthday party, or get a sense of what Spider-Man is going to be like by watching Peter Parker chase a school bus.

Oh, and even approaching the idea of what you have to do in order to get a website and get comic press set up on it is like being punched in the nuts by the devil himself.

What the hell is PHP and CSS anyway?

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