Comic: How Not To Run A Comic
Creators: Terotrous, Phalanx, and McDuffies
Like all storytelling mediums, webcomics suffer from a pool of common mistakes and clichés. Being the free publishing field that it is, there are certain significant problems in art, writing, and format that are less prevalent in traditional works. Absolutely anyone can make a webcomic regardless of skill, practice, or even effort. However, making a good webcomic is challenging and requires understanding of not only what to do, but also what not to do. How Not To Run A Comic is created precisely for the purpose of teaching what mistakes to avoid and what every new webcomic author should know starting out. How effectively does it do this job? Well, let's look into it.
The format for this site is quite simple. It's really not so much a webcomic as it is a tutorial. Numerous people have submitted examples pertaining to one of ten specific categories, including "How Not To Start A Webcomic", "How Not To Introduce Your Characters", "How Not To Do An Action Scene", and so on. Each of these categories deals with a specific subject many writers and artists find particularly difficult. They focus mainly on the writing and visual aspects, though there are occasional nods to the technical elements and other things more specific to online comics. Although easy to navigate, the site isn't very eye-catching. It's hosted on Keenspace and has links to a forum, a collection of tutorials on how to do things right, some FAQs, and more. Content and information-wise, it's fairly solid. However, a livelier page design and some additional social networking options might get the site more traffic so more people can benefit from the information presented here.
There's really no sense in skirting around how bad the art is. It's obviously terrible on purpose. At times, especially when dealing with the problem of gratuitous fanservice or poorly-depicted action, the bad art makes an effective point. However, on some pages, the text can be very, very hard to read. Unless the page is specifically dealing with the issue of unreadable text, everything should be written legibly. It somewhat defeats the purpose otherwise. The low quality of art is fairly effective in making certain points. More often than not, the pages make heavy use of things such as MS Paint, recolored sprites, copy-paste, stolen art, cheap materials like lined paper, and blatant anatomy and composition errors. The pages are not enjoyable to look at, but that's exactly the point. It's a visual thesis of what can go wrong artistically.
The best advice is the storytelling advice. Each category tackles problems that plague inexperienced writers, albeit in an exaggerated manner. Things like pacing, characterization, and other essentials are highlighted. There's also a lot of material covering humor, such as what jokes to avoid to keep readers from rolling their eyes, as well as addressing explicit material and how to use it properly. These are common, general principles all writers would benefit from. People who already know these basic rules probably won't be learning anything groundbreaking here, but there's a satirical quality to the presentation that's worth a laugh or two. The tutorials are rounded out with a few pointers on webcomic-specific topics, including filler, hiatus, and page resolution. Overall, it's useful stuff well worth getting acquainted with.
Just about anybody could get something out of this tutorial comic. It's a quick read and even if nothing new is learned, it's still entertaining in its own right. Ultimately, it's quite successful in clarifying the pitfalls many webcomic creators fall into, where these mistakes come from, and how to best avoid them. How Not To Run A Comic is far from an exhaustive resource on how to write or illustrate well, but it's a good starting point with sound advice and a little dose of humor sprinkled in.