Any tips for someone thinking of starting their own webcomic?


While I of course knew on some level I’d need a plan before writing a comic, writing FCA and LotH really showed me the flaws in how I was doing things. And, to some extent, how I’m still doing things. (The Cash and Carrie idea is partially a way for me to refine my process).

With FCA, I had an overarching plan. Nicola would be in Winnepeg backyard leagues, then go to a shitty wrestling school, then some high school gym indies, etc., roughly mirroring the real life career of Chris Jericho, who was my favorite wrestler as a kid and who I hate a little bit more with each return. I also had a very vague idea about Nicola getting a lot of shots to the head so that way down the line she could get CTE.

But that was such a broad plan! I knew roughly where I’d be in five chapters, but had no idea where I’d be in five pages.

I want to experiment with writing a script like

Carrie was a Vampire. She lived in an RV with her dad, Cassius. Carrie didn’t really like being a vampire. She wanted to go looking for the Vampire King to change her back. Cassius didn’t like that idea, and made Carrie promise not to go looking for trouble. But Carrie snuck out of the RV that night. She headed to a nightclub. The bouncer wouldn’t let her in, but she snuck past him. In the nightclub was a vampire. Carrie knew him because she read vampire magazines. Carrie waited until the vampire was alone with a girl. She tried to attack him. But he was bigger and stronger and beat her up. She ran away.

This was a stream of consciousness paragraph I wrote just now. I could turn each sentence into a comic page, so this is a nice proto-script. Seeing the story laid out like this makes the issues clear. In this case, I can see that vampire magazines is kind of a dumb idea (though, depending on the tone I go for, one I can run with). More importantly, I can see this is a bit of a shaggy dog story, since it almost immediately resets itself to the status quo with that last sentence, and spins its wheels. Now I can consider alternate ideas for this scene, like having Cassius show up with an axe to save his daughter. Knowing that that’s going to happen means I can show Cassius chopping wood in the second page, establishing the axe for later.

I have to admit, I haven’t tried writing a comic like this yet, but even just doing this little exercise shows me that this method has some potential. Even if it doesn’t work, doing a story comic with improvisation is really fucking hard. I’ve done improv for years and thought I’d be comfortable doing a comic that way. Nope. Nearly every problem in LotH can be traced back to me not planning it enough and calling lots of audibles.

That’s my hard-won wisdom, I guess. I’ll probably apply this method to chapter 2 of LotH and see how it actually works. Chapter 1 is written except for the big musical number at the end, so I’ll finish that up and mix up my methods for chapter 2.