Sunday, June 15, 2008

William Hessian, on the Verge of the Big Plunge

Remember William Hessian from a few days back -- the artist who is polling his blog readers about what theme he should pursue if he enters web comics? He proposed a question swap for our respective blogs, and here he answers questions about his perspectives on the field.

Q: You're a professional artist, so you know the rough and tumble. From where you stand, how do the opportunities look in web comics today by comparison?

A: I think online artwork is a very smart thing to do now days. With the ease of Google Adsense and easy adspace selling companies like Project Wonderful it seems like any skill one might have translate into potential success. Webcomics seem to be a great way to tell a story and find an audience.

Q: More people are discovering web comics every day. What was your introduction, and how has your experience progressed?

A: One of the first things I ever did when I had a computer with internet was find webcomics. I've actually never found one that held my attention longer than a year or so, however I enjoy finding archived runs of webcomics and reading the entire collection. The way webcomics give a reader instant access to the backlog, makes it a very exciting encounter. If you like this it all right now. As webcomics evolve and become more impressive, it's nice to get a variety from all over the world, with thousands of stories of subject matters. It is becoming a very monumental way to tell a story.

Q: You recently polled your art blog readers, asking which of eight themes they preferred if you develop a web comic. What was learned?

A: So far not as much as I would hope. I want to continue to feed my readers and art collectors to this voting process. The vote is partially to convey that I want my audience to feel like they have influence on what I create. It is also a way to get feedback on my ideas, I have a history of getting overly excited about an idea that nobody wants to see. I want to do everything I can to keep that from happening.

Q: When I use page hits, fan voting and awards to identify the most popular web comics, the range in sophistication of those titles is enormous. Looking at the more primitive art styles and mixed writing quality of some of the popular title must make success look easy. Or does it make it look random?

A: Interesting question. I think each webcomic can appeal to an entirely different crowd. Which is why webcomics have so much potential. You can set up star wars action figures and simply add word bubbles and have a successful webcomic. If you know what audience you are attempting to please, your writing and artwork can vary. I think a lot of people can get lucky, but most comics that are successful seem to know exactly who their are writing for and how to get them to read their work.

Q: One thing I know about success: a really good comic stands a much better chance than one that is just OK. Some comics creators are content to do their strip and aren't expecting to break out. But there are many who are very hungry who are going to fail, and entering the web comic world means breathing in the fumes of desperation. How do you plan to cope?

A: You mentioned to me the concept of "short form comics". I am not completely familiar with the term, however, I do know that all of my concepts are based around the idea that there is a concrete beginning and end. I have no interest in starting a story that cannot finish in 5 years. I would much rather create a short run, or do a chapter, with no schedule as to when the next chapter may be created. I understand the desperation of simply being an artist, and realize setting small goals is the best way to go. Plus, there is nothing worse than dissapointing your readers.

Q: What web comics catch your eye?

A: I seem to research webcomics more than I read them recently. I like the way Redmask looks, being computer generated. I also enjoy the many Battle Chaser-esque fantasy style that a lot of people seem to be creating. I have to admit I feel the writing in most comics are lacking, although I find some of the funniest webcomics and most addictive are typically not very impressive artistically, and thus not eye catching.

Q: Will you share some links to your art?

A: Indeed. This displays an image I planned to use for the cover of a collection of 4 page graphic novels. This is one of a few sketches for my immortality blog. Here is a link to my creature illustrations.