Okay, I think I've abused the power of wavy text enough for one month. I mean it's good for ghosts, good for singing...it's incredibly versatile.

Anyway the rest of today's news post is going to be a response to a reader. I got an email asking how I drew the webcomic and how I created the website. I of course immediately lost track of the email across my various accounts on various computers, so I'm going to respond here. I figure it's a good thing anyway since I do tend to get these emails every so often. I obviously don't have the market cornered on webcomics so I figure I'm not letting slip any industry secrets.

First and foremost, I use Adobe Photoshop. It's an expensive piece of software but being a graphic designer I kind of have to have it anyway. An option for you might be Gimp, a free piece of software that some compare to Photoshop. I think it sucks, but that's in part because I'm familiar with Photoshop, not Gimp. Second, 100% of my comics are drawn with a Wacom graphics tablet. This comic would not exist were I to draw with a mouse (or worse, my laptop's track pad). A graphics tablet is pretty much required if you want to give your comics any kind of individual artistic style other than "sweet tea, this is awful". They are expensive.

The next piece of advice is, without trying to sound elitist, that I am a trained professional graphic artist. I've been using Photoshop for a decade, and I use it every day to earn a living. I went to college for classical art. I know the comic is "stick figures" but there are a lot of drawing and software techniques I use about which a beginner would have no clue. The various selections, layer styles, and drawing cues I use all come together to not only give the comic a consistent yet unique look but also make my workflow easier. If your workflow isn't easy, you're not going to continue to update. Not to mention the subtlety that's required to convey a wide range of emotions. Even as it is, it generally takes me about an hour to make each comic. Yes, a whole hour. Imagine how long it takes Tycho and Gabe, or Ramsoomair. It's literally their full time jobs.

The other end of the spectrum is Randall over at XKCD. His art is of the utmost simplicity and yet his characters are still unique and convey a lot of emotion in their actions and stances. His minimalist style is just that; a style. It's not someone who can't draw better. It's someone who has perfected his niche.

Okay, now you have a web comic, so how do you get it out there? I've been specifically asked this several times and the answer always seems to frighten people, because they never write back: I code the entire theWAREHOUSE web page by hand in notepad or Metapad or Coda (both web page text editors). I've put together everything you see here. That's the other thing: I'm a web designer too.

So now you're thinking "Oh, man, I have to learn Photoshop and how to program websites? Nuts to this!" But don't get so discouraged. There are plenty of ways to start publishing a website without much experience. It doesn't get much easier than a Wordpress page. There are many other free blogging sites out there, from Tumblr to Livejournal and so on. Heck, if your comic is actually good enough that soon out of the gate, just put them up on a Flickr page and garner enough interest to see if someone wants to make a site for you. Or you could always pay someone. I do pay for my webhosting.

One of the biggest concerns and consternations with webcomic webpages, however, is the archive features - by which I mean navigation in general. I get asked quite regularly for a "random" button, despite the fact that anyone can just type in a random number at the end of the URL in their address bar. XKCD is created by a web programmer, so his functionality is great while his design (like his comic) is very spare. Penny Arcade on the other hand has a big fancy layout to match their graphic flair.

So, long story short, you need two things. Equipment and Talent. Equipment includes a graphic program, a graphics tablet, and a webpage. Easily this could also include money for a graphics tablet and webhosting and Photoshop. Talent includes first and foremost a funny, creative, and unique idea that you can carry across an entire series. Then you need the talent to draw it well enough that people can stand to read it. Then you need the talent to be able to put it up on a webpage, the more custom of which the more unique your comic will appear.

I tell you all this not to discourage you but to give you a reality check. Don't waste your time diving into something as frivolous as a webcomic unless you're going to take that frivolity seriously.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think my oatmeal is burning into a black discus at the bottom of the pot.

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