Category Archives: How To

Fast and fun tutorials that help everyone from the brand newest of newbies to the veterans stuck in a rut and ready to try something new.

How to Find the Webcomic for You

Screen shot of inkOUTBREAK's reader

The internet is a big place. Discovering a webcomic can be next to impossible unless you’ve determined to comb the intertubes for an entire weekend, or you visit just the right sites. Fortunately, there’s a promising new alternative called inkOUTBREAK that doubles not only as a portal to discover new webcomics, but a way to bookmark your current favorites so you never miss an update.

Sure you could subscribe to an RSS feed, but what if you’re at a different computer? Or have no clue about RSS thingies? Or just don’t really like RSS feeds? inkOUTBREAK lets you follow webcomics you like and takes you to the specific website that houses the webcomic, so you get the entire experience. And every time your favorites update, they’re at the top of your screen. Plus, it does what RSS feeds can’t, it recommends new webcomics to discover. Through the use of customized tags, you can specify the kinds of webcomics you’re interested in. Combine that with the “bump” of a thumbs up you can give strips you enjoy, you also get a suggested stream of webcomics, somewhat similar to exploring music on Pandora Radio.

I’ve just never been a fan of RSS and my email inbox gets pretty cluttered, that I’m reluctant to subscribe to webcomics that way. So this is great news to me. Thanks to inkOUTBREAK, I’ve been able to find several webcomics I lost track of because I’d forgotten the title after some late night internet-wandering (notably Amazing Super Powers). And I’ve already discovered some new ones I’m liking (such as I am Arg!, this surreal Cat and Girl, and this visual treat on Ellie on Planet X). And I’m very happy to be able to read some of my favorites without having to remember their update schedule (like Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and The Abominable Charles Christopher).

Having said that, it’s not perfect. It’s still in beta after all. Some of the navigation to work out your settings, like tags and favorites, isn’t the most intuitive to me. You definitely have to be willing to tinker around with it a little bit. Because of just how many webcomics are out there, even a site like this can’t be expected to have everything, especially right out of the gate. But there are a few surprising omissions, as well as some of my favorites that are missing. No Hark! A Vagrant, no Max Overreacts, no Sheldon, no Destructor, none of Kevin Church’s Agreeable Comics, no Now It Can Be Told (or any of Act-I-Vate, for that matter). You get the idea. And unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a way to suggest webcomics to be added to the service. (It looks like that option used to exist but now the creator of the webcomic has to do it themselves.) Friends with Boys is there but something in the code seems messed up. I’m sure a lot of this will be fixed in the near future.

But it’s a promising start and a fantastic idea. For more on the site, check out this walk-through.

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How to do PR for Comics Right

Reed Gunther press release

"Comics for Everyone" Reed Gunther press release by Shane and Chris Houghton (click to read)

Los Angeles siblings Shane and Chris Houghton get it. If you want to sell comics, use the powerful and appealing language of comics.

The creators of Reed Gunther issued a press release in the form of a 2-page comic that trumpets their book’s strengths as an entertaining and funny read. It also explains how their comic book series is intended for all-ages, a reading category that tends to get interpreted by retailers and readers as dumbed down kiddie stuff. The series is published by Image Comics. The press release smartly ends with a plug for ComicShopLocator.com, so that you can find your nearest shop to ask for Reed Gunther issue #3 (on sale now), issue #4 (on sale Wednesday, September 7) and issue #5 (on sale Wednesday, October 5). The first five issues will be published together in the graphic novel Reed Gunther Vol. 1, on sale November 2.

I really wish people in comics would do this kind of thing more. Use the very language that we work in to communicate about comics. How great would it be to regularly read press releases, articles, interviews, and editorials covering comics in such an engaging format? Sure it’s a bit meta. But it’s also a more effective way to show not tell when discussing the very works and topics that we’re excited about or mad about or however else we feel. It might be more time consuming but I bet the content gets better mileage. Heck, if I could draw, this site would be a blog comic.

Anyway, read Reed Gunther! The creators have been doing signings at local comic shops in and around LA. They were at Galaxy of Comics in Van Nuys yesterday for the release of issue #3. Their next appearance will be at the Wizard World: Los Angeles convention at (appropriately enough) the LA Convention Center in Downtown LA, the weekend of September 24 and 25.

How to Make a Graphic Novel: reMIND reveals the process from web to print

Hey, let’s make a graphic novel! They’re the cool new thing and it’s easier than trying to turn a big idea into a movie.

Not so fast, Trigger. A graphic novel isn’t just a movie script and storyboards slapped together as a book. It takes a lot of time, commitment, and money. And there are a lot of difficult lessons to learn. What lessons? Ask graphic novelist/animator Jason Brubaker. He’s been learning, and sharing those lessons, as he makes his graphic novel reMIND, which will debut at this year’s Comic-Con International: San Diego. (Although I understand The Comic Bug in Hermosa Beach had some copies that sold out within a day. Check with them. Maybe they’ll get more before Comic-Con.)

His website reMINDblog.com has a Making Graphic Novels section that explains exactly that – great material for process junkies, fans of behind-the-scenes extras, and for people interested in making their own graphic novels. Learn how to make money with webcomics, how to design your book for publication, how to color and letter, whether to self-publish or go after a larger publisher, how to get a literary agent, selling on Amazon, the best website hosting and blogging services, web vs. print, how to make money online, how to advertise smart, how to win the Xeric Award Grant, how to make over $12,000 through Kickstarter, how to collaborate with others, and lots more. What’s great is that he is openly sharing his personal experiences with a startling level of transparency. And let me be clear. These aren’t just vague articles giving you the high points and a “go get ’em!”. He really gets into the nitty-gritty, explaining exactly what worked and why and to what extent, and how to do it, all in a very helpful and clear headed tone.

And it is that same spirit that he shares the first three chapters of his graphic novel online and it is great. These were originally posted over the last couple of years as they were completed, with the caveat that the final printed graphic novel may have changes and/or corrections. There are also some guest strips to tide us over while we wait for the rest of the story next month.

Learn to read comics with fan-made Power Records videos

As I’ve mentioned in the past, not everyone takes to the language of sequential art instantly. Some need to ease into it. One possible solution probably isn’t really a solution at all, but it makes for a unique way to read some early comic books.

In the 1970s, Power Records released a series of vinyl 45’s of a fully produced performance of comic book stories, complete with voice actors, sound effects and music. A couple of years ago, a crafty YouTube user, noielmucus, put these recordings to an edited presentation of each issue included with each record so that the dialogue and captions being spoken appear on screen. A great way for kids to read along. The pacing is kind of slow for today’s audiences and some voices are just plain weird (like the weird sped up effect on Mr. Fantastic’s voice when he uses his powers) but others are actually quite good. It definitely makes for a fun curiosity.

The Marvel Comics records gave a performance of three classic issues, so it’s a unique way to experience these stories of the origin of the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk, and one of the earliest adventures of Spider-Man. But the DC Comics ones appear to be original stories made just for these records (although I can’t identify the creators). They feature Superman against the inter-dimensional imp Mxyptlk, the Joker making his own utility belt to fight Batman and Robin, and more complete silliness.

Apparently this collection of 10 are just the tip of the iceberg. Over 90 LP records and 45-rpm singles were created. A modern version of these for young readers might be worth looking into by some enterprising company. (If you need any voice-actors, let me know.)

Amazing Spider-Man #1 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (1963) parts 1-5

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