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How to Start a Webcomic: A Guide

Guest Writer: ThePurpleGriffin / Jan Vasquez

Note: This article was written to benefit from the Discount Deal.

Step 2: Decide What You Want To Do And/Or Plan Out A Story From Start To Finish

Some artists choose to stay on the mini comic route, exclusively keeping their characters locked in a comic strip. If you look at Garfield or Peanuts, notice how the characters do not go through groundbreaking changes or communicate one, continuous narrative (assuming that we are talking about the newspaper strips and comic collections, of course).

There is nothing wrong with sticking with mini comics and having a more traditional “slice of life” approach. In fact, this has worked well for quite a few artists on Instagram specifically (just search up #memecomic and you will know what I’m talking about). So, as stated before, the following information will only address those who feel adventurous enough to make a more solid, ongoing story.

Now, I’m not too crazy about cliches. But if someone told you, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, then yes, this seems like solid advice. Here’s why.

One of the most important foundations of making any narrative is to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Once again, ask yourself questions. Who exactly is the main character? What sets the character on this journey? Does the character have a goal? What problems will the character face? What message am I trying to get across?

Comic strip.
Page of the Darksiders comic strip, written without prior planning. Click to see full size image.

I wish I had known about this sooner. My first webcomic attempt was a disaster well beyond fixing. Titled Darksiders, the comic was about three anthropomorphic fantasy creatures who visit a mysterious campground site apparently haunted by evil, bloodcurdling versions of themselves.

Besides the lackluster art and apparent ‘angstiness’ that reflected what I thought was necessary for an epic story at the time, the biggest issue with the comic is that I was “winging it” and making up the events as I went along.

Comic strip.
The under-developed worldbuilding in Darksiders made the writing harder. Click to see full size image.

Once I realised this, I started to ask the important questions that I did not consider before. Questions such as... How big is the campsite and what is there to do? Who owns it? Are the kids visiting for a week, or for a whole summer? Why are the characters sleeping on the floor instead of in bunks??

Of course, it was already too late, as the first five pages were permanently posted to DeviantART. As expected, the comic flopped, never to be picked up again.

Now, for The Graveyard Quartet, I keep my notes in a Google document, with the beginning, middle, and end noted in bullet points. All the smaller details are sandwiched between, with the entire script written out on the next page.

Comic strip.
Title page of the comic City Underdepths. Click to see full size image.

After I knew I had a serious plan, I showed the notes to some friends, who gave me feedback and asked me for clarity on anything that might have grown into a massive plot hole. And so, unlike my other comics, I did not give up on the story for TGQ:CC because I knew that it was headed in the right direction.

Having an organized script is not uncommon in the webcomic world. I had the chance to ask my friend Scarlletepix369 about her webcomic, City Underdepths. The story is about three kids who find themselves in a literal hellscape called The Underdepths; guided by a mysterious hellhound, the group learns more about themselves, and how their strange land operates:

Comic strip.
A page of City Underdepths. Click to see full size image.

When our interview turned to planning, Scarllet advised, “WRITE A SCRIPT. It is VERY useful and makes the whole comic process tons easier, it prevents you from having scenes... changed or added after you’ve drawn the pages, and decreases your chances of abandoning/cancelling.”

So, the proof speaks for itself. Ask first, answer second, draw later.

Your next task is to learn how to draw a comic strip, and you can find that in part 3. See you there! ~Hayley


City Underdepths comic by Scarlletepix369
The Graveyard Quartet and the Crowned Corvids and blog post wording by ThePurpleGriffin. See her TGQ:CC gallery or check out her official Instagram
Title image by ThePurpleGriffin and used with her kind permission.