Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'm not helping am I?

I recently installed some ad blocking software. I was just tired of the annoyances ads were causing me from the slow load times to annoying popups/redirects to trying to install malicious software on my machine. And so far it seems to be working quite well for me. But here's the issue, I'm a webcomics reader and quite a few webcomic creators and sites hope to make money off their advertising. So by blocking their ads I know I'm accessing their content while closing a source of revenue for them. Same goes for other news/comic sites I visit. I browse their free content and they get some page views but no ad revenue. I could start letting ads through from these pages but as much as I trust them I don't trust the people running the advertising.

Now in some cases I can provide support in other ways. In the case of webcomic creators I could donate money or buying print versions or commissions but in most cases I don't. I don't buy the print versions, merchandise, or commissions because I really don't usually need them lying around my already cluttered condo (though I have bought commissions at conventions). Or sometimes it's other things (like paying $20 plus $40 shipping/handling to Canada for an 80 page book that I don't really need/want in print). Donation seems like the way I should go yet I always seem to find an excuse not to do that as well. I either say it's because I don't want to pay the overhead (or have the creator lose money paying for the overhead) because of the fees the banks and other companies put on the transaction.

And let's face it, I still feel a little weird just giving people money. I know I'm supporting their ability to make a comic but I've already read it so I still feel like I'm just giving away money and not getting anything in return. I know I've already got the enjoyment and if I give them money and they're able to continue (though there's no guarantee that they will) then I'll continue to enjoy it but it just doesn't feel substantial enough return for my money (I know people will want to argue that it is substantial and I would agree but for some reason it just doesn't feel it, I guess it's still just too new for me or something).

So yeah, I'm not really helping.

[NOTE: I can say there have been a few webcomic creators I have helped, but it's a small portion of the webcomics I read.]

Monday, September 27, 2010

I'm a glutton for punishment (ie. Why I do a webcomic)

There is a thread in the DrunkDuck forum asking why webcomic creators do the webcomic thing. But I figured I'd ramble about the topic here since I don't post nearly enough on this blog. I'm not even sure if I've already posted this but what the heck, might as well ramble.

History 101
Okay, here's the backstory. I'm one of those typical comic geeks who enjoyed doodling Hulk, Spider-Man, Batman, etc in class or whenever else I got the chance. I even had dreams (when I was young) of drawing comics professionally. And some friends would compliment my doodles and I started to get it into my head that I was pretty good. As I got older though those ideas disappeared pretty quickly. Some of it had to do with some people (teachers, school councilors, other elders of some authority) bringing me down to Earth, that my art wasn't really that good and that I was better off going in to something that I could actually make a decent living at. Not that it all had to do with others, I never really put the work into my artistic endeavors. Not that I put much into my other endeavors either. So I eventually went the computer science route.

The Seed is Planted
So after spending 5 years doing an undergraduate degree (the co-op placements added a year to the 4 year degree) I started getting the drawing itch again. Ideas for comics had been floating around in my head for a while but I never really put them down on paper. But I suddenly had the urge to start thinking about doing a comic myself. So I started doodling new characters, different scenes, and jotting down story ideas from time to time. But I still didn't really think about putting anything together. So it got put away again as I finished my Master's and entered the "real world" (ie. getting a job, a place to live, etc). It wasn't until a couple years later that two friends who worked at the comic shop I go to told me about their comics that they had on DrunkDuck. I have to admit, I had flashbacks of friends in highschool complimenting my doodles and I thought "Hey, if they liked it I must be good. I can put something together, no problem." I even had the audacity to think it would be easy to put out something that people would be blown away by (I can imagine how any creator reading this is cringing and/or wanting to kick me in the nards right now). And posting them on the web for all to see? That seemed somewhat scary but also pretty simple enough. So I started working on Divine Leap, but I didn't tell anyone just yet. It was a few months later that I told one of my comic shop friends and he encouraged me just enough that I started posting some pages.

It Begins... With a Whimper and a Shot of Reality
So there I was, with my own webcomic started. I actually figured I'd read enough comics to know how to put something good out. And I had a few compliments come my way, mostly from the two or so friends that I had informed of my adventure in webcomics (including the friend that had encouraged me). But it wasn't long until I fully realized what an ignorant ass I was. First off, I had severely underestimated the time that would be involved, even in getting something so simple out there. I also quickly discovered that not even friends would keep coming back to a comic that was so amateurish, something with no backgrounds, lazy art, horrible lettering, poor inking, etc, etc, which meant investing more time to improve on some of it. And it wasn't like readers were clamoring to read any crap that was out there. You had to put something good out and then shout/advertise/network/sell yourself like hell for people to notice your work. I decided to skip that last part though and concentrate on at least making my comic good enough that I wouldn't be ashamed of it.

Improving (though I guess that's debatable)
So I began looking to improve. Mostly through books though a few people on DrunkDuck were kind enough to critique my work as well. So I went with Scott McCloud's books, Will Eisner's graphic storytelling books, books on writing for comics by Alan Moore and Peter David, a book on perspective for comic artists, the Art of Inking, lettering tutorials, the Wizard How To books, and a bunch of other stuff thrown in. There were plenty of times where I felt like giving up on it, after Chapter 1 I took a hiatus because I still wasn't happy with the quality of the comic and if I wasn't happy, and nobody was reading it, then why was I doing it. I eventually decided though that 1) I really wanted to finish the story I had set out to do and 2) I did enjoy making comics and the only way I was going to improve is if I saw this through. If I gave up on Divine Leap I figured I'd just give up on making any comics and that didn't seem acceptable to me. I love comics. I love reading them and I love making them, even though I don't have the talent to do it professionally. And I do believe I have enough talent and knowledge to put out something that isn't so painful to read. Something that at least a few people may enjoy.

In Conclusion
So why did I start making comics? Because I love comics and enjoy reading them, always have and always will, and I had the crazy notion that I could put out something that someone else would enjoy. Why do I continue? Because I still have the crazy notion that I can put out something that someone else would enjoy. Maybe not now but one day. I have no plan to try to make a living (or any money) out of it and I have the utmost respect for anyone who does because I now have a much better idea of what that entails. I still haven't got around to the advertising/shouting/selling myself thing, not sure if I'll ever have that conquered but if I can at least get a few readers and make a few friends along the way I'll be happy.

And that's why I do the webcomic thing. Now I have to go and prepare tomorrow's page, my 400th by the way.