Man-Size (man_size) wrote,

Community is the currency.

A little while ago, I got an email from a cartoonist I've never met asking me about webcomics. Here's our (edited) exchange:

"Hi. I've been following you on Twitter for awhile. I see your Red Hook is on the Webtoon App. I wanted to ask you if there are any tips at getting your webcomic to be viewed by Webtoon? I have been creating a webcomic and been trying to get more exposure for it. I do see that Webtoon doesn't really have a submissions page. Any insights or tips on how to garner more exposure for my webcomic would be greatly appreciated."

My answer:

It's an uphill battle getting people to read a webcomic that is literally in your pocket and on your phone for free.

I have no idea what sells or appeals to mainstream webcomics fans. To be honest, I don't read most webcomics. I'm 53 years old and prefer paper. I miss picking up comic books at newsstands. I "get" the virtues of digital comix and champion the heck out of 'em (including being an early progenitor) but I spend so much time online that, when I want to relax and immerse in a comic, I want a book in my hands. Maybe my fans feel the same way.

I live hand-to-mouth, month-to-month. I have no other appreciable skill sets and I'm locked into making comix, occasionally writing plays I never make a dime on, and develop lots of spec work that often collect dust in a vault bursting with ideas.

I love what I do but I sacrifice a lot for my current autonomy -- and it won't last. If I had dreamed bigger than filling a blank space with my fantasies and testaments, I might actually be able to take a Friday night off and see my girlfriend. Cook a good meal. Watch a movie or a TV show BEFORE 1am as my eyes struggle to stay open.

Alas, the deadline anvil hangs heavy over me as I punch and scream about my work on social media just to be met with the occasional cheer (from folks like you -- thank you very much) and a whole lot of crickets with a few knuckleheads sprinkled in.

Bottom line: making comix isn't about money. Unless you're just cashing in on some popular, proven intellectual property. No -- comix is about making connections. The community is the currency. I've been trying to build a community since 2006 when I first launched a free webcomics collective on Live Journal. Sure, you want to make a living but the art of comix is so much more satisfying than the business of comix. But, don't look at me for answers. I'm a paycheck away from living in the street.

Keep making your comic. If it's not exclusive to any particular publisher, upload your comic to other platforms. I'm not too savvy with Webtoon but I was made to believe that anybody can upload their comix in a certain section. Go for it.

More importantly, be super aware of the industry, when/where/what's happening, and build a community. YOUR community -- if you can spare the extra time it takes. Otherwise, make comix because you have to. And, if you don't have to, that's okay. There are MUCH easier ways to enjoy life.

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