how to make a comic
step 1: acquire a writer
you can skip this step if you are a writer yourself, but if you are a writer who is not yourself you might want to acquire an additional writer so that you may claim them to be “yourself”. this additional writer can be used for a variety of things such as:
* praise when the writing is complemented
* target practice when the writing is sub-par.
* coiffure and gatherer of foodstuffs
* body double or assassination dummy
the steps for acquiring a writer are relatively simple:
1. go to a liquor store
2. buy any brand of whiskey
3. go to a coffee shop
4. find the guy that looks the most depressed, yet alert (this includes employees)
5. offer said whiskey in return for witty dialog
you will now be locked into a time-table, because this writer is going to be coming to you like a crack-head at varying intervals with loads of material asking for whiskey and coffee. this is both a good and bad thing. good if you are working as fast as he is, and bad if you don’t have a lot of money. there is also the alternative of:
this is a necessary step for those that do not have a constant supply of whiskey on hand, or if you are trying to cut corners. using this step you should always target collage students so that once you are done you can say it’s an initiation to “skull and bones” and they failed. repeat as necessary.
step 2: acquire an artist
you can skip this step if you are the artist. that said, having extra artists can be quite beneficial. lets say you are going on a vacation, or fleeing the country… what happens to your comic? nothing. enter the replacement. you can even get a rag-tag bunch of artists to trade days, lightening the load on you and your whiskey supply.
to find an artist is probably the easiest thing to do, and you will be specifically looking for a doodler. the reason behind this is you can tell at a glance what the artist is capable of. because of their doodling nature they will have examples of their work all over their person; tattoos, on their belongings, carved into the booth they were just in… etc.
to hire this artist simply say (while pointing at a doodle) “did you draw this?” they will then tell you the entire back-story of that random drawing. no matter how uninteresting it is, go through the whole thing nodding and lightly laughing. now this next part is very important. look them squarely in the eyes and tell them. “i have candy.” “i have candy, and that candy can become your candy.”
you now have an artist.
as a side note, if you have a choice between multiple artists and any of them are “anime” style… pick the other one. for the love of all that is holy- pick the non-anime one. this style has a unique appeal that no matter what you do- it all looks like the same damn thing. and that is a bad bad thing in a business that you want to stand out. the exception of course is a workaholic, which should always be your first choice on any question. 15 divided by 3? workaholic. who was the third president of the united states? workaholic.
step 3: the focus
no comic can come into being without a focus. sometimes they aren’t apparent, but i assure you one is there. this should be a mutual agreement and should be as vague as you can possibly get while still holding meaning. a comic based on “purple” isn’t gonna cut it, yet a comic that has the focus of say… “tuesday” is feasible. the focus is the entire point. how to get to a decision can be done in numerous ways such as:
- a renewable source. such as work, friends, family, that thing that’s in the back of the fridge that tries to bite you while you are getting the mustard bottle and after a while it becomes a game where you “compliment” it on it’s slow reflexes and eat in front of it while taunting it, school, the gym, etc.
- a social understanding. such as a political party, a type of people like; emo, preppy, or zombies who crave nothing more than to play the bongos in a bohemian coffee house. normal kinds of things that everyone can instantly connect to.
- an Id. i don’t mean identification. i mean the part of your artist, or writer, or both that wants to set fire to a water cooler because it’s a conundrum. the part of you that is after the whiskey and candy. i call mine slinky.
- heavy drug use. you don’t actually have to be the one taking the drugs, as many inebriated souls have been known to spout out divine truth and other random things you’d never think of by yourself, only to never write it down, and indeed decide it’s a better idea to pee in a silverware drawer.
- stealing. that’s right, the likes of people like todd goldman have made an entire (and profitable) career by being thieves. if you choose this path, please consider suicide as well. or at the very least, maim your own reproductive organs so as not to taint the rest of the gene pool even if it’s by accident.
this step of deciding a focus will also tell you how well you will work with your partner artist, or writer especially if both are you. nothing like undertaking a new project only to find that you can’t stand yourself.
step 4: the name of your comic
when you think of the title of your comic, it should either make you (as a viewer) say “what the hell is that?”(Starslip crisis) or a more comfortable “oh, hey i know what that means. cool.” (PvP) but don’t stray too far from your focus, i mean you can’t have a comic about fluffy bunnies and happy fields called “chucky’s bloodthirsty bordello” it’s a conflict of interests. While picking your name remember that this will be slapped all over your work forever. forever. don’t get stuck with something that will make you angry when you see it after a few years.
step 5: get started
now comes the fun of deciding what your first comic will turn out like. and as such to get started you will need to choose which comes first : the art or the writing.
now most people seem to choose the writing first, and it could be the vindictive, controlling nature of the writers themselves that makes this happen. there is nothing like losing an argument because you have to go look up what they said.
words to look out for as the artist: Sycophant (sick-O-Fant), Philistine (Phil-eh-stein), and anything that sounds French. aggressive behavior in the face of these unknown words is always an acceptable response.
if the writing is what is leading your strip then try to have the writer be as descriptive as possible about what scenes your little panels will be. once this is done, hand your script to the artist. this will result in the following roles:
*if you are the artist: tell them they are crazy,and there is no way you can draw all that. proceed into throwing a tantrum.
*if you are the writer: look for a shiny object or jingle your car keys in the artists face to reacquire the situation. the promise of candy upon completion also works.
if your comic is driven by art then do yourself the favor of drawing ONE panel. that’s right, just one. allow this one panel to become any of the boxes your comic will comprise of. have the artist make a copy of this draft panel and hand it to the writer.
be sure to make a copy! as this avoids having to murder the writer when he draws over the art work in a red pen and adding scribbly doodle-men in the blank spaces. leaving you in the position of having to get a new whiskey bottle and begin writer fishing again.
once the COPY is given to the writer allow him a moment to mar all your work with his correcting pen of doom, and smugly hand it back to you. if you have any additional proposals make them now. otherwise, take their advice. if there is no story yet, continue to make frames until there is. i’ve heard that this strip-making technique can be done internally as well if you both share either the same understanding, or same skull.
Step 6: the finished product
now that your comic is complete you will want to run and post it on your site, but do not. there is this phenomenon in the comic world that has a delaying effect. it’s like life-lag. something down in the DNA of both your writer and artist screams to only finish your comic near or after your deadline. so you want to create a buffer. now before you start trying to build a polishing device, know that i’m referencing to a collection of at least 1 comic AHEAD of your deadline. and the best time to do this is of course, when you are just starting.
Step 7: advertise
any open chance you have, tell someone about your site. people will begin to avoid you and that’s how you know it’s working. we live in a society that is over-saturated with bright, flashy, glossy, products and services crammed on every inch of available space. the only real way to compete is to make yourself a complete ass. incidentally, this part of the guide is a wonderful opportunity for your alternate writer/artists to do. if any of the hate comes back your way, say you don’t know who that jerk is that’s spamming your comic everywhere, but you would never stoop to such levels.
some good attention getting methods are:
- write reviews of yourself as different people.
- become a member of thousands of chat groups having your link in your profile or exit message.
- threaten your own life as someone else.
- start fires
- call fox news. say the word “terrorist” you’ll be on the news for a week.
- hand out fliers
- leave a comic and web-address in the drawer of every hotel/motel room you ever stay at.
think of anything that would catch your attention and do it. that’s the name of the game, there is almost no such thing as bad press (PETA sure knows now that there is such a thing as bad press) this step will never stop, so you might want to hire additional free help.
on your site itself set up ads that either mesh well with your site, or to the highest bidder that isn’t a complete sleaze bag. the ad company double click should be told to violate themselves with a rusty screwdriver.
step 8: merchandise
nothing says “you can take your job and shove it!” to your manager at McDonald’s quite like the fall back of merchandise. now some people think that a shirt is the only thing you can sell, and that’s just not true. you could probably sell toilet paper with comics on them, if you look hard enough. (mental note to look for a place that will make that) and a great way to find out what you can sell is just to ask. go on your site and say “hey. minions. tell me what you would send me money for.” you can dress up that sentence as your site requires. now look through the responses you will get and pick the one or two that isn’t impossible. set up a shop, or have a magical-shop-monkey do it for you, and proceed to step 9.
step 9: finally
roll around in money. this will give you a taste for it. sort of like feeding raw meat to a junkyard dog. while this step is optional, it’s highly advised. encouraged even. take pictures of yourself rolling around in money and send it to your friends, family, and teachers that said you’d never amount to anything. send it as a x-mas card every year.
step 10: retire
this step depends on how popular you actually get. if you achieve god-like status, retire. your books will sell for eternity. and if they ever wane, you can start doing it again. if you are a steady comic that will always be around (peanuts, Garfield) then you can hire a company that does it for you, so you have more time to roll around in money. and if you ever do reach step 10, help out other comics. our profession is unique in that we virtually have no reason to have competition with any other cartoonist, other than personal tastes. so be cool and help each-other out.