Monday, April 12, 2010

On the Topic of Partners...

Awhile ago, one of my readers asked me how the whole comic thing works with a partner, as she was thinking about starting a webcomic with a partner. Well, the short answer is: it depends on the partners.

Hear me out before you dub that the cop-out answer. There are numerous ways for people to work on webcomics together. For example, a group might decide to do things the Western way, with one person writing, one penciling, one doing flats, and one doing the coloring. Teams of two might have one writer and one artist - if you go to, you'll see a lot of postings looking for either a writer or an artist in the forums. It's a great way for writers who have a great idea for a comic but perhaps not the most talent in the art department or an artist really wants to do a webcomic but can't write. Other teams may have less defined roles.

When it comes to Koni and myself, Koni's role is that of "creative collaborator." Essentially, she's my muse. When I need a sounding board, get stuck on something, or need to work out the story lines, I turn to Koni. Waaaaay back in 2006, Strawberry Syrup got its start when Koni and I were watching a vampire anime and wondered why all the half-vampires always side with the humans. From there, one thing led to another, and next thing we know, we were in the nexus of creative fusion. We tossed out a lot of story ideas back then, ones I still have to get to. My role is to then take those ideas, flesh them out into chapters with dialogue and plots, and then do all the art.

Some things to consider when you take on a partner or partners for a webcomic:
  • Make sure everyone understands and is comfortable with their role.

  • Make sure this is someone you can work with for the long haul if you plan to do a long-run webcomic. Consider doing a trial run - a short one-shot story of 10-20 pages to make sure the two of you can work together. It's also a good idea with groups, to make sure everyone's happy with their roles.

  • Make sure everyone understands and is capable of meeting the deadlines. Your writer has to have the final draft of each page to the artist in enough time for the artist to finish the page in time for that week's post. Having a sizable buffer will help here.
  • Be flexible and open to change. If your partner has some ideas regarding your area, at least listen. It could make your webcomic all the better.

  • Consider a legal agreement defining who owns what and how any profits will be split. This is especially important when you don't know your partner, only have a professional relationship with them, or have plans to get your comic published. The last thing you want is for legal squabbling to get in the way of things.

Those are just a few of the things to keep in mind when starting a webcomic with partners. And remember, webcomics are supposed to be fun! Whenever more than one person is involved in a creative project, chances are there will be conflicts. Just try not to let them get too blown out of proportion, and you'll be fine.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Strawberry Syrup vs. NaNoWriMo

It's November, and to thousands of people, that means one thing: National Novel Writing Month, more commonly known as NaNo or NaNoWriMo. It's when would-be writers dust off their word processors, pick that story they've always wanted to tell, and try their darndest to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It may seem a little intimidating, but it's actually a hell of a lot of fun for people who enjoy writing... especially since the goal is just to get something down on paper and not focus on nitpicking and making sure every single word is perfect. It's something I look forward to every year.

Of course, a few little conflicts do arise. For one thing, doing NaNo means writing at least 1,667 words a day, which comes out to roughly 6 pages, double-spaced. I am not a fast writer, so this can take anywhere from 2-4 hours a day, assuming le Muse is feeling cooperative. Considering it can take the better part of two days for each page, time does become an issue. Never mind the tendency of many NaNoers to completely soak their brains in whatever story they're writing - a necessity for some of us creative types when we're working full-throttle.

So, how to reconcile this?

First off, I do not intend to put the comic on hiatus again. You guys have already stuck with me through enough of those this year, both planned and unplanned. Instead, I just need to do a little better time management and some kick my butt in gear. It also means accepting that I might not get the page up promptly at midnight when I prefer to - it might have to be later on Wednesday.

The key point is, it will get done - it will just take a little adjustment throughout November. Which means I should nail it... oh, about the last week. :D;;

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Life and Shop Update

Wow. Yeah. So much for THAT New Year's Resolution.

Anyways, thanks to all those readers who have stuck with the comic, despite the spotty updates over the last two months or so. For those of you wondering about the medical problems (er... last month), long story short is that the ER thought I had one infection, Regular Doctor said, "Aw, no, you shouldn't be on that medicine! They didn't even do the tests!", and Dr. Specialist said, "Regular Doctor was right, but you still have an infection... just not the one ER doctor thought." Which covers a good three weeks in Medical Land. On the bright side, all is well with the Kit now! :D;;

In other news, the Strawberry Syrup store will be moving to Zazzle sometime in the near future. I'll leave the CafePress shop up through the holiday season while I'm relocating to the friendlier (and free) neighborhood of Zazzle. This opens up all sorts of possibilities - multiple shops, new promotional tools, new products...

But, this begs a certain question... Should I keep my shop together in one place, or should Strawberry Syrup have its very own store on Zazzle? What do you guys think?

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Hiatus has Ended!

That's right, the hiatus is over! Technically, it ended on July 8th and I just haven't gotten around to posting about its long-awaited conclusion until now... almost a month later...


So, was it worth it? I think so. I took some time to recharge the creativity, take a step away and rekindle my love for Sammy, Hunter, and Ferdy, and actually hammer out Chapter 4 - some of it, anyways. I did not, in fact, finish thumbnailing the entire chapter, but there's enough of it to keep me on the right track for awhile. And hopefully, I won't have to skip any weeks due to writer's block, art block, or any other kind of block. That's got to be a plus, right?

It also gave me the time to work on other projects. Yes, I do have things other than Strawberry Syrup that I want to work on. That was probably the best part of the hiatus for me - just the opportunity to work on something else without that nagging voice in the back of my head going, "You SHOULD be doing next week's page! Have you done next week's page yet? You're going to be late!" It was just a nice vacation, and now, I can actually enjoy working on it again. Never underestimate how important enjoyment is - if you don't enjoy doing your webcomic, there's something wrong, and you need to figure out what it is and fix it. Otherwise, you'll start resenting the time you spend on it, and that resentment will soon turn to hate, and nobody wants that.

So, in short: the hiatus was good, glad I took it, and now I'm back and ready to work!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Creating A Comic Page, Part One: The Thumbnail

So, you've got your comic idea. You've designed your characters, decided on your first story arc, and even have some kick-butt action planned. Now what?

Now... You thumbnail.

A thumbnail is a rough sketch. It helps the artist visualize what their final work is going to look like without them putting a whole lot of effort into all the little details. This is the thumbnail of page 34 in Chapter Two of Strawberry Syrup:

As you can see, it ain't exactly a masterpiece. What it IS, however, is a guide to how I want the finished page to look. The panels are laid out, the action is depicted (if roughly), and some of the dialogue bubbles are added in. But why do this step at all?

There are several reasons. The two bigs ones are that it saves time AND your mentail health. With a thumbnail, I can see if the layout works and if everything flows right. If it doesn't, then I've only spent maybe five minutes, tops, on that thumbnail and can just go ahead and take another couple of minutes to hammer out another one, one that will hopefully work. It's way less devastating than spending several hours sketching, inking, and toning a full page, only to find out after stepping back to take a good look at it that something is horribly amiss.

Another benefit is that you can plot out entire chapters of your comic this way in perhaps a day, all before starting your first page. I highly recommend doing this. One of the biggest blocks I run into is getting stuck on layout. By plotting out the entire chapter beforehand, you can see how each page flows into the next, make sure you're not being repetitive in your layout, and know exactly what's coming next. It's all right there, and it can be done in a few days, tops.

So, before you dive head-first into your first page, spend some time thumbnailing your first chapter - you'll be much happier in the long run!