Creating Webcomics – Part 1
So you’ve read our feature on Axe Cop in issue 2 of Start the Story and now you want to have a go at creating your very own webcomic. You’re not alone. There are approximately forty-thousand webcomics available to view online, and more are being added every day.
To help you on your way to becoming the latest comic publisher on the web, we’ve created this guide, complete with downloadable files and links to further resources.
Every comic ever created started off with an idea. Before you pick up a pencil, figure out what your comic is about. Is it a superhero story? A comical adventure with a cartoon cat? A World War II adventure story? Your comic should be about something that interests and excites you.
Write a single sentence summary of your idea – e.g. “A masked man protects his city from the forces of evil.” (Batman), or “The day-to-day adventures of an overweight house cat.” (Garfield). Not every strip you write needs to fit this sentence exactly, but it should give you an idea of the overall concept.
So you have the idea, now you need to get your cast of characters sorted out. Again, these can be whatever you like – aliens, robots, talking goldfish, or maybe the stars of your comic are your friends or family. Here are a few things to keep in mind when coming up with characters:
- They should look different. Unless your characters are twins, they should look different enough that people don’t get confused when reading your comic. Give them a variety of hairstyles and colours. Ensure their clothes are distinct, and that their facial features are unique, otherwise you may end up with some very puzzled readers. Remember, even stick men can be different. Look at the examples below to see what I mean…
- Make sure you can draw them easily. If you decide your main character is going to have ten thousand eyes and a hundred legs, it’s going to get boring to draw by about the second panel. It’ll also be tricky to fit anyone else onto the page. Come up with characters who you can draw again and again, and who will look the same every time you do.
- Give them a strong defining characteristic. This is especially true in short, cartoon-like comics. Is your character brave or cowardly? Smart or stupid? Fast or slow? Good or evil? That’s not to say your characters can’t sometimes behave differently, but they should be easy to sum up in one or two sentences. Superman is heroic. Garfield is lazy. You don’t have long to establish the characters in a comic strip, so by choosing one main defining characteristic you make life easier for yourself and for your readers, too. Populate your comic with a mix of character types to keep things interesting.
Once you have your characters, decide where the stories are going to take place. It may be that they always take place in the same location, or that every strip is set somewhere different. Try to come up with at least one good location, and write some notes about what it looks like before you even start drawing.
While there may be some obvious settings to put your characters in – a school would be one for a strip about school children, for example – it can often be more interesting to put characters in locations you would never expect to find them. So you might have a comic strip about an alien working in Tesco, or a tale of tiny pirates sailing through the sewer system. The obvious answer isn’t always the best one.
Part One Summary
By now you should have:
- A single sentence summary of your overall comic idea
- A list of characters and their defining characteristics
- Notes describing at least one setting for your comic
And that’s it – you’re ready to get started. Part 2 of the guide will be available shortly.
Creating Webcomics – Part 2: Creating the Comic (Coming soon)