Comic Non-Sans: How do I get people to like my webcomic?

I draw pictures on the Internets. Pwease wuv me. No, sewiously, man.

Going on ten years as a webcomicker has jaded me.  Whenever I find myself at a con and get asked the typical questions, I go a bit twitchy.  Questions like:

In other words, when it comes to webcomics there are no stupid q… okay, there are some seriously stupid questions.  Anything that can fall under the heading of “I want people to like me” generally leads to a dead end.  There are no foolproof solutions there.  If there were three easy steps to going pro I’d be zipping to my Toano homestead in a bright blue Sileighty instead of trundling back to my upstairs two-bedroom in a station wagon.

Unfortunately, I’m finding myself in exactly that position right now.

There seems to be a lot of “moving on” going on in webcomics over the past year or so — comics ending because they’ve reached the end of their stories, artists switching out and going it alone, what have you.  And with the end is usually a beginning.  It’s that way for me at the moment, actually.  I’m five months outside the end of one of my own comics ending, and now going on to something new and (I think) rather daunting.  And while generally an experienced webcomicker will have learned from previous mistakes/snags for Round 2, there’s still that question: what now?

Somehow, it was pretty easy to start, at least back in the early Naughties.  There were no expectations — personal or otherwise — nothing to outdo or live up to, and no one in particular to attempt to please except oneself and possibly one’s roommates.  But now there’s more — if you don’t have fans you want to try new tactics to get them; if you do, you want to try to keep them.

It’s true, then.  No matter how long we’ve been at it or how experienced we’ve gotten, or how many times we tell ourselves we’re gonna do it our way and damn the punters … we just wanna be loved.

I got hate mail when I announced I was coming to the end of my first project, and more when I actually did, and I find myself wondering if it was the same for bigger and better comickers.  I’m sure many are so good and so fail-safe that starting something new is like seeing a favorite director’s new movie.  And I’m also wondering if (though I have a feeling it’s the case) others know — especially if they’re going left of their old work — they’ve got about five pages to win people over and convince their readers they can do something else.

So I find myself slowly, and rather shame-facedly, shuffling back into the ranks of the webcomic noobs and having to eat my words concerning “stupid questions.”  Sorry, guys, I find myself having to take a good chunk of that back, and it’s gonna be really fun doing that at panels.  Though this time, I’ve got an answer for the younglings.

How do you get people to like you?  You don’t.

Oh, wait.  That’s the same answer I’ve been giving.  I’m just not being sarky about it anymore.

I’ll just give the advice my wiser friends have been giving me.  If they like it, they like it.  If they don’t, you can’t force them to.  Maybe it’s time to reach out to a different demographic.  And then, you know, trade links and buy cheap advertising and make yourself cool enough to get written up on a blog by some cranky columnist.  It can’t hurt.

Posted on September 7, 2010 at 10:31 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, Webcomics · Tagged with: ,