The case against guest comics
I hate guest comics.
I hate the whole idea of it. I hate when a creator that I follow posts guest comics, and I hate being asked to do a guest comic. (I’ve one done a guest comic a couple times, and in both cases, I really, really admired the comic.)
As a creator, I’ve never posted guest comics on my site. for me, it comes down to a 100% chance of disappointing my readers. In my mind, it breaks down like this:
• I have a 50% chance of disappointing my readers when the guest comic is a lower quality than my own.
•I have a 50% chance of disappointing my readers when the guest comic is a higher quality than my own.
Either way, I lose.
Worse yet, in a month or so, I imagine someone enjoying my archives and then running headlong into a block of guest comics — completely taking them out of the story. Ugh.
So, what happened this summer when I decided to break with 15 years of daily updates and post on a twice-weekly schedule?
After all… this would have been the perfect time to solicit guest comics. What would happen if I suddenly stopped posting at the same frequency.
I now know the answer: Very little.
My traffic has dipped — slightly — but not nearly as much as I had prepared myself for. My ad revenue is down significantly, but I could just-as-easily blame ad-blockers for that.
In a way, I might have caused my site more harm than good if I had run guest comics. My archive would be borked, my storyline hopelessly muddled, and my readers confused.
My plan is to eventually return to a daily schedule (OK, honestly, that’s going to depend on Patreon… but that’s a post for another day) — and when I do, I’ll have lots of ways to alert my readers (the ones who have stopped visiting the site regularly). I have a healthy social-media reach. I have my own site. I have friends who will help spread the word.
But most importantly, I think I have a good comic that compels readers to read. At the end of the day, that’s what’s going to bring them back (if they ever completely left). And if I’m wrong, well, it’s time to do all of the things that I did to earn that audience in the first place — do a good comic and use social media wisely. After all, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
So what about you? Do you use guest comics? Do you create them for others? maybe you have a philosophy on this that I haven’t considered. If so, please take some time and share your thoughts below!