Friday, February 29, 2008

How I See My Comic

My wife and I write and draw Scratchin Post, a web comic you can view here.

We think it's a good comic or we wouldn't release it (though that hasn't stopped a lot of people).

We're up against some serious challenges if we're going to earn a large following. Let's analyze some, along with my work-arounds, and see whether the strip is likely to make it. Consider this "Part II" of the last post.

Problem 1: The characters are animals.
My assertion: So are the characters in Achewood, a very popular comic. People want strong characters, whether they are animal, person or robot.

Problem 2: The gender of the #2 character is seen differently by different players.My assertion: This is part of the depth of the comic. It's something you have to "get" before you are hooked.

Problem 3: The Russians speak with accents.My assertion: The accents are mild compared to, say, many of the accents in Viz. People will adjust. The ones we lose won't get the jokes anyway.

Problem 4: We color with Photoshop, but avoid fancy tools like gradients. We're sacrificing the beauty of hand coloring for the convenience of technology without using the finer points of the technology.

My assertion: More technology would dull the soul. It doesn't look right with brush-inked lines.

Problem 5: It's a big cast -- eight main players and a zillion supporters.
My assertion: That puts it somewhere in between Peanuts and The Simpsons. We''ll be adding a cheat sheet for the main characters.

Problem 6: Supporting cast are main characters in some stories. This could confuse new readers.

My assertion: Yes, it could. But if they are strong characters, they'll keep reading.

Problem 7: The humor is often subtle and sophisticated. There are no gags.

My assertion: That should mean it's fun to re-read. And it exists on different levels for different people.

Problem 8: A Jewish character seems to be a contemporary of Henny Youngman.

My assertion: This is a problem?

Problem 9: We have not posted "origin" stories.

My assertion: We've got 'em if we need 'em. If we struggle, maybe we'll bring them out. But this isn't Spiderman. The animals are stand ins for humans.

Problem 10: We use a muted pallet against the advice of many.

My assertion: I concede we're probably screwed. But we can't bear to be garish.

Problem 11: There are too many good, well-established web comics already.

My assertion: Yeah? Tell me more.

Talking to my friends, I'm hearing that the biggest barrier to entry is managing the large cast. We'll see if the cheat sheet helps.

I believe there is always an audience for wit, strong writing, and yummy art. Whether our comic delivers is for you to decide.

Take a look at our comic. What do you think holds it back?

No illustration today. I'm giving you a whole comic to look at.