04/19/2015

Webcomics are a business.

It's amazing, really, how things escalate. The barrier to entry is virtually nil and getting nill-er: just make pictures of some sort and put them on the Internet somewhere. That's it. And yet, in the decades since the first webcomics launched, we've seen Penny Arcade expand into a media empire. We've seen MS Paint Adventures create a fandom and a subculture. We've seen big names like Questionable Content and Hijinks Ensue and Schlock Mercenary support their creators and allow them to expand into all sorts of other projects.

But, of course, while "webcomics" is defined by putting pictures on the Internet, if you want to be a success story, you can't stop there. You have to self-promote. You have to cross-promote. You have to engage with your audience. You have to start a dialogue. You have to leverage your brand.

And, as webcomics are a business with thousands upon thousands of participants, one can fairly easily compile a list of best practices. Have a comments section to encourage participation. Set up an RSS feed, so readers can see when you update. Get a tumblr, a DeviantArt, a Facebook page, a subReddit.

(Side note: I should probably do some of those things.)

There is even the meta-industry of webcomic-related tools and websites that exist to help artists promote themselves. There's TopWebComics, Comic Rocket, Comic Fury, Comic Chameleon, Just the First Frame... and, of course, Patreon isn't specifically for webcomics, but it might as well be.

And if you're a fledgling webcomic artist and you want to see how to set all of that up properly, well, I can think of no better example to follow than Woohooligan!

Yes, the exclamation point is part of the name.

Go ahead, open that in another tab, mouse around for a bit. Look at how easy to use, how clean, how well-designed everything is. Look how the logos for Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and such are all clearly visible, yet unobtrusive. Look how easy it is to find the books - digital and paper versions! - in the store. Look how quickly and frictionlessly you can leave a comment or check out the Patreon or tell your friends about Woohooligan! This website is a masterpiece.

Hell, I just checked, and right from the front page, I'm exactly two clicks and one scroll away from sharing the comic on something called Tagza. Tagza! I don't even know what that is, but I can share the comic on it!

So... what would I be sharing, exactly? Well, I'd be sharing things like this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or possibly even this:

As you can see, wackiness. Pop culture. Snark. Not a whole lot of recurring characters or themes, and certainly no plotlines.

(There are a few exceptions - The Secret Lives of Klingons series, the NerdGasm story, and there's a recurring erudite zombie character, but these are the exception rather than the rule.)

Some updates are witty. Some updates are wacky. Some updates are thought-provoking. Occasionally, some updates are just splash images.

In short, Sam Dealey uses Woohooligan! the same way I use tailsteak.com : as a braindump for whatever crosses his mind. His update schedule is irregular but reliable - about 1-4 posts per month. As of this review, he has over 200 entries, and although his archive stretches back to 2006, you could probably read through it in an hour or two.

Now, as with any artist whose work stretches back that far, you can see a definite progress in both Dealey's writing and his visuals. He has matured over time as an artist, and there's even an official apology he's posted about the way he's handled female characters in the past. (That's another thing I should probably do at some point...)

So if you want to see a variety of jokes and insights, if you want to watch as a cartoonist grows and changes, if you want to see the whole webcomic thing done right... go ahead and check Woohooligan! out. Start from the beginning.


Art: 6/10
Writing: 6/10
Comedy: 8/10
Being a Webcomic: 9/10
Update Regularity: 8/10
Overall: 7.4




My art!