Webtoons has developed into a significant player in the independent comics scene. With a ravenous comics-reading audience traversing the site — and even a few opportunities to get paid upfront as a Featured Creator — there are a lot of potential benefits. But is it worth the effort?The content you are trying to access is only available to members.
Patreon creates fund to help creators
Patreon has established a fund for creators affected by COVID-19, called What the Fund. If you are in need of help, you can apply for grant money here by April 14. If you are able to help, please donate here.Read more
ComicLab Ep 118 — Coronavirus, conventions and cartoonists in crisis
Show note: After we recorded this show, Emerald City Comicon announced they are cancelling the show originally scheduled to run March 12-15, 2020. Scroll down for more information. Today’s show is brought to you by Wacom — makers of the […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...Read more
Patreon will now give you your earnings in advance — for a small price. It’s called Patreon Capital, and it’s actually a cash advance against future earnings. Some artists are comparing this to predatory “payday loans” and others are conjuring […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...Read more
Hiring an assistant — What I learned
Last year, I achieved a first in my career — I hired an assistant. Here’s what I learned from the experience.Read more
Getting more Patreon backers
I attended the Patreon On Tour conference in New York City, and I strongly advise you to take advantage of this opportunity if it comes to a city near you. It was packed with great data-backed information, like information on […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...Read more
ComicLab Ep 115 — Patreon Capital — is it predatory lending?
Todays show is brought to you by Wacom — makers of the incredible Wacom One! Patreon has announced a new initiative called Patreon Capital that many have compared to predatory payday loans — but is that accurate? Dave and Brad disagree. But first, […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...Read more
Jetpack is retiring its Mobile plug-in
As more and more people access our site on their mobile devices, it has become crucial to make those sites responsive. That means that a special version of your website is delivered to mobile devices when they visit. In 2015, […] ↓ Read the rest of this article...Read more
Whether you’re trying to write a more compelling story — or trying to punch-up a joke — elevating the conflict is often the key to success. Conflict is at the heart of both comedy and drama. But conflict alone doesn’t create the narrative tension that is so vital in good storytelling. So let’s take a moment to examine narrative tension in detail.
Conflict is when characters are placed in opposition with other characters or with their circumstances. There are several types of conflict, including…
- Character vs. Self
- Character vs. Another Character
- Character vs. Society
- Character vs. Nature
- Character vs. Machine
- Charactern vs. Fate
- Character vs. Supernatural
However, conflict alone does not create narrative tension — and narrative tension doesn’t always arise from conflict. Narrative tension also incorporates an element of suspense — and uncertainty as to the outcome of the conflict.
Narrative tension can be broken down into three components:
There are different ways to create each ingredient, and the way you mix them together will determine the type of the narrative tension in your writing. Think of it like a recipe. Adding different types of seasoning and changing up your ingredients can make the difference between a soup, a stew, and a gumbo.
To get a reader hooked on a story, you have to make them believe there’s a good reason to turn the page. That’s not going to happen with a wall of world-building text. It’s going to happen by setting up questions or uncertain outcomes. It doesn’t matter if the reader can guess the outcome right now. All that matters is if they’re invested enough to make a guess in the first place!
Anticipation is all about possibilities. As a writer, you want to set up a compelling situation, with several possibilities — including at least one that’s very unfavorable from the standpoint of the protagonist! You can do this directly — by simply stating the undesirable outcome — or you can hint at it. Foreshadowing works very well here, too.
Now that your reader is anticipating a potential outcome, you introduce doubt. For example, you might introduce further facts that make the initial situation much more complicated than you originally implied. Or something that seemed like a certainty is now removed from the available options.
As a writer, you’re setting a trap. You’ve set up a situation — and encouraged the reader to guess what happens next — you change the rules! Or you reveal a few things you kept hidden. Or you simple upturn the apple cart and throw everything into chaos. The uncertainty can be internal — as in, an internal monologue — or it can be external — like a new event introduced into the situation. If your reader’s interest had been piqued before, it’s intensified now.
A combination of anticipation and uncertainty may mildly arouse the reader’s curiosity, but to create strong narrative tension, the reader must also feel invested in the outcome.
The best way to instill this investment is to make the reader identify with the protagonist. Once the reader makes an emotion connection with the protagonist, it will matter what happens next. There are other ways to invest the reader, too, like:
- Intellectual or emotional. A mystery is a puzzle for the reader to try to solve. This isn’t so much emotional as it is analytical.
- Positive or negative. A revenge story is based on the reader’s desire to see bad things happen to a hated character, rather than a desire to see good things happen to a beloved one.
- Conceptual. A story about a civil uprising in a society may have unlikeable characters on both sides, but the idea behind the uprising itself can be the central engine for reader investment.
As soon as your reader wants a specific outcome, they are invested.
Look out for these tell-tale signs of low tension:
- Meaningless chit-chat between characters
- Inner dialogue that doesn’t drive the narrative or intensify conflict
- Creating an easy solution for your protagonist
- Info dumps / massive backstory
This episode of ComicLab is sponsored by Wacom! On this week’s show, the ComicLab guys talk about buying advertising. Actually, the discussion centers more closely on where NOT to buy ads. Then they advise a writer who is on their third draft and struggling to get to a finished version. And finally, the guys discuss what comics do better than any other medium.
But first, we can learn a lot about comics craft in watching “The Madalorian.”
Questions asked and topics covered…
- If you had $10k to spend on advertising, where would you spend that money?
- I’m on my third draft, and I’m having trouble with getting to a finished draft. How can I rework my writing better?
- What do comics do better than any other medium?
Listen to ComicLab on…
Award season is upon us. Although I’ll be featuring a post with the details of each as it is announced, here’s a look at some of the awards you may want to start preparing for. For more information on any of these awards, feel free to use the Search function on this site to look up nomination/submission instructions from past years. They’re usually the same from year to year (except for the deadline dates, of course).The content you are trying to access is only available to members.
A while back, I made the point that many creative people underperform on social media because they’re creative people. Ironically, the thing that makes them amazing creators makes them horrible social-media managers — originality. Let’s talk about why that is — and how to turn this to our advantage.
Creators are usually pretty obsessed with originality. “Has somebody used this idea before?” “Is this a new approach?” “Am I breaking new ground?” It’s a definitive trait. The need to stand out makes us creators who we are.
None of this is particularly rewarded by social media.
In fact, if you remember the Three Cs of Social Media, you’ll recall that fully one-third of your social-media strategy should be guided by Curation — the sharing of other people’s thoughts and ideas!
Now, consider this. According to Moz.com, the average lifespan of a tweet is 18 minutes. (That is, unless it gains a large amount of engagement very quickly.) PostPlanner.com suggests that a Facebook post receives 75% of its engagement in the first five hours. Engagement on Instagram is trickier still — likewise for sites like Reddit and Imgur.
Now, consider the Rule of 7 from the world of marketing. Marketing’s Rule of 7 states that a prospect needs to “hear” the advertiser’s message at least seven times before they’ll take action to buy that product or service.
Put it all together and you’re left with a landscape that’s quite unforgiving to original content. In fact, social media rewards repetition. Why? Because with a shelf life that’s measured in minutes, it’s nearly impossible to be repetitive on social media. The chances that a single follower will see a repeated message each time it’s re-issued are pretty slim. (And, if they do, they’re likely to simply scroll past it without a second thought.)
Keep that in mind when you feel as if you’re tweeting about your Patreon too much — or when you’re feeling as if no one could possibly stand one more post about your Kickstarter. Not only is this probably not the case, but, according to the Rule of 7 they need to hear that message a few more times — and the odds of that happening are stacked against you without frequent re-messaging.
Use your archive
Aside from breaking out of the “I’ve tweeted too much” mindset, consider what this means for your archives:
- A post that garnered healthy engagement should be filed away and brought back in a few months for another go-round. (As long as it’s still relevant.)
- Seasonal tweets — cartoons about holidays like Christmas and halloween — should be reused in following years.
- Your comic’s archive is a vast — and growing — repository of future social-media posts. Sharing a post from your archive should be as frequent as sharing new work. If you’re like most creators, this is a tremendous untapped resource.
Does that mean that you shouldn’t be striving for originality on social media? Of course it doesn’t. You should always be angling for that devastating tweet that’s going to turbo-charge engagement and gain new followers. But let’s face it. Those posts are few and far between — even for the best of us. When you find yourself between flashes of brilliance, you should be making good use of your social media to do what it’s there for — promote you and your work.
And that’s going to include a healthy does of repetition.
The season finale of ComicLab is sponsored by Wacom!
To celebrate the new year, the ComicLab guys are taking a look back on some of their favorite moments from 2019.
The Best Of ComicLab in 2019…
- Calvin & Hobbes audiobook
- Dave Kellett’s So-So Art
- The Jigglr (feat. Kevin McShane)
- Dirty throttle body
- Dave’s wedding cake
- Satanic pugs
- Drunk Orson Welles
- Brad’s podcasting under a blanket
- Dave at the dentist
- Inspirational Ikea e-mails
- Country singers
- Smooth move
- These jerks enjoying their lives
- Brad’s reading Dave’s comics out loud
- Brad talks too much
- Dave needs to do sci-fi cons
- Brad’s “Do You Wanna Be in Sci Fi” song
- Ollie on drugs
- Dog in the house
- Have you tried reading?
- Twenty-one seconds to pee
- Ensure killed my pappy
- Underselling the message
This episode of ComicLab is sponsored by Wacom! On this week’s show, the ComicLab guys talk about hand lettering. How can someone beat the learning curve? Then, Dave pitches a superhero comic, while Brad pitches a space opera. And finally, when a listener share their mentors admonition to “learn the rules so you can break them,” both Brad and Dave share all of the mistakes they made following that very advice.
But first, while their house undergoes a full remodeling project, Brad and his family has moved in with his in-laws.
Questions asked and topics covered…
- Hand lettering
- Brad and Dave pitch a comic in the other’s genre
- “Learn the rules so you can break them” — is it really good advice?
iMovie is a great tool for producing quick and easy video to promote your comic on social media. However, it has only two options for aspect ratios — Widescreen (16:9) and Standard (4:3). Unfortunately, these aren’t good fits for social media — particularly Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok. After struggling with several workarounds and stopgap measures, I finally developed a clever way to get the square shape I want without learning more complicated software like Premiere Pro.The content you are trying to access is only available to members.