So you've assembled your story, your setting, your cast of characters. You start putting out comics and now you want to do some bonus material for your website. One common feature is a cast page, showing a picture of all the main characters and information about them. Cast pages can benefit new readers by bringing them up to speed with the comic, though they can also become a self-indulgent mess of details that amount to nothing. Here are a few dos and don'ts for creating a good cast page:
Don't: Make a cast page to fix bigger problems.
So you've started with your comic and you start receiving comments from people who can't tell your characters apart or think they lack personality. So you think, “I'll create a cast page to fix that!” include their picture next to their name and a backstory with their Meyers-Briggs Type, their zodiac sign, and their blood type so you can know what their personality is. That's not a solution, that's slapping a bandage on a gaping wound. If your readers can't tell the difference between two characters, you may need to redesign them. Change their height, weight, build, head shape, or other major features. A different hairstyle won't cut it. If your characters come off as bland and interchangeable, then maybe you need to find ways to make their personality come off more, using both verbal and nonverbal cues like body language.
Do: Make a cast page to ease people in.
If you're doing a comic with an already sizable archive or plan on doing some sweeping epic with tons of important characters, it may be a hard sell to new readers, who have to either jump in cold or binge through the archive if they want to know what's going on. In that case, a cast page could help bring them up to speed enough to jump in midway, then become invested enough to binge.
Don't: Include “What's in their pocket.”
When it comes to fleshing out your character, there are so many resources online such as questionnaires and articles, giving advice to come up with details or roleplay the character as you fill out a dating profile or take a personality test. But don't post this information on the cast page. Again, it's best to keep it short, and more than likely, none of the information you come up with will have any relevance to the story. And even worse, if the really interesting details never show up in the story, you end up making the reader expect something that never happens.
Do: Keep the pocket lint.
That's not to say that the dating profiles, MBTI results, D&D alignment, interests, and pages of backstory are useless. It's a great way of getting an idea of what the character is like beyond archetypes. It's a great exercise and you can always refer back to the resulting pages of information if you ever get stuck on what they would do in a given situation. And if you decide to throw in some new skill or detail to the character later, you can play off fully intending to do it if you don't have their entire history written out on the site for everyone to see.
Don't: Include really obvious information.
Don't mention character traits like “He would do anything for his friends and family,” which could really describe just about anyone or contradictory information like “She's nice, but could be mean if people are mean to her.” In the former case, you could safely leave off that information, and in the latter, it doesn't help people really understand the character. If you're including personality, describe what their baseline personality is and show in the comic what it would take to make them break from that default.
Do: Keep it short
Keep in mind that this page is supposed to be a summary for new readers, not a work in itself. Include information like their name, age, personality, and story specific details in a description of the character. If you want to do something themed, like the sheet is part of some government documents, then include information that would be in such files like height, weight, rank, etc.