I am by no means the most popular fan comic artist on DA, and by no means have the best TLK comic. I can think of many who have amazing comics. To name a few ones I know about and enjoy:
And I know a lot of you enjoy my comic as well. So here's the question I hope to tackle slightly in this journal. What makes the comics I've listed, and my own, successful? Everyone has different style. Some mimic TLK style very well, others have their own spin on it. So it's not the style, it's not how identical it is to the movie that makes people enjoy them. So here are some key points I think are important, if you want to start your own comic.
Original Art Work:
This is very important. Not to offend you base users, but when has anyone seen a comic, especially in the TLK fandom, that has used bases and been successful? I mean successful as in the number of views, comments, and faves per page. It's not because you aren't popular, so don't try to pull that card. It's because no one enjoys them. There is something wonderful about reading a comic that has original drawings. Especially original drawings in every panel, which is something I quickly learned. I used to re-use drawings a lot in Mohatu's Reign, and when I hit Uru's reign I changed that. Each panel, with the exception of the backgrounds, is freshly drawn and new. And I update my backgrounds every few months or so when I feel they are getting out of style with the characters. (I actually plan to re-do them in the next few weeks) Original content is super important. Trust me, people would rather see you grow as an artist than see you resort to bases. Seeing an artist grow page by page is enjoyable! And the panel by panel, page by page practice makes you a drawing machine! So yes. Everyone prefers original content. Compare a base artists comic to a none base artists comic, and compare the difference in popularity.
Canon and Semi Canon Characters:
There is nothing wrong with putting an OC or a fursona into a comic, a lot of people do it. But more often than not, readers like to be familiar with characters, which means they like to see some familiarity in the faces of canon and semi canon characters. Even if they only pop up occasionally. People like to see the connection between your characters, and the characters they grew up with. I have seen very few OC comics in fandoms make it very far. And those that do include canon and semi canon characters into their plots.
A Good, Realistic Story:
A good story meaning, of course, well developed. For example, I pre-write my scripts usually a chapter or two ahead of what I'm actually working on. And before I script, I make a time line. And before a time line, I brain storm ideas and figure out how to connect everything in a way that is entertaining. There needs to be a balance of action, dialogue, and character development is a must. And whether you like it or not, most good stories have some element of romance in them. Even if it is just a little bit. Also, on top of developing a good story, it needs to be realistic. From my experience, people do not enjoy comics that are off the wall. Such as humans being involved in the TLK universe, crazy characters paired up with canon characters, relatioships that don't make sense, messing up the TLK time line, and so on. If you are going to add unseen things to fill in TLK plot holes, at least make sure they work well with the main plot of the TLK movies. Unless your doing a "alternative universe" or "what if" comic, messing with what people know as Canon can be dangerous. Semi canon you can push, but never mess with canon too much.
Composition, paneling, text bubbles, and font are all very important. You want to make sure people can read your font, you want to make sure your text bubbles don't cover up anything important, and you want to make sure the page flows in a way that is comfortable to the eye. I have found that large bulks of text can be boring to read. So it is better to space a chunk of text over 2 pages, than it is to bunch it all up into 1 page. If people reading comics wanted to read more than look at the images, they'd read books XD I'm not a master of layout. I stick to a very simple square panel system in my comics simply because I'm not fantastic when it comes to lay out. So know your strengths. If you're like me and can only do simple layouts, don't go crazy. Don't push your layout comfort zone or you'll just make a mess. If you are capable with layouts then go nuts! paneling is an art in of itself!
Know Your Artistic Strengths And Weaknesses, and Tone Them Accordingly:
I would never suggest that you don't try to push yourself! You need to grow as an artist through tutorials, reference, sketches, critique, and many many other things. But play to your strengths and harness your weaknesses before you put them into play. It's hard to explain without being a debby downer, but quality in art is an important thing for people reading comics. They like to see strong art. And strong art can show itself in many styles. People will always appreciate original work over bases and line art from other artists, but really push yourself to learn new skills when starting up a comic. anatomy is very very important. so are facial expressions. Practice, learn them well, THEN make them into a comic. You don't charge head first into the bull ring without first learning how to fight the bull.
Connecting With Your Audience:
I try to respond to every single comment I get, answer questions, host many contests, have related polls, and try to keep the community active in my comic. I do stop responding to comments on pages after they become old, and have moved on to the next page usually. But so long as a page is the most recent one I always reply; even if someone is being rude. Make it very clear to your audience what is acceptable in comments, for example my no critique rule, so that they know what to expect. If you don't like swearing, tell them, if you don't like critique, tell them. If you don't want them to use your art work for any reason, or create bases, tell them. Let them know what is acceptable, and they will usually respect it. Which will make you enjoy the fandom more. Do this all politely, and remain polite even if you need to block someone. Getting too defensive is never good. And keep the community active! I try to host a contest a month with great prizes offer commissions. occasionally offer them at a discount. Polls asking opinions about the comics are a great idea, I find polls about canon or semi canon theory get a lot of interest. Post journals about your processes, how you create. Post tutorials(something I need to do more of) Live stream. Every time you are active in your community and appreciate your fans, you increase and improve your fan base. Even if you are one of those "I don't care about the popularity, I just do it for fun" people (cough cough, bs, cough) you should still get to know your fan base and appreciate what they do for you.
If you have made a good story, with your own art work, and it's been a few pages and you aren't getting the response that you had hopes, seriously, just be patient!!! It took me a long time to develop the fan base I have now. It started from 0 commenters per page, to 5 per page, to 10, and slowly it rises. Never quit. Never give up. If you are doing original quality work, it still might take a while for people to notice. Unless you were popular before your comic, in which case you might have instant success. But for the most part I find that isn't true. I had an ok following before the comic, but the comic is really what brought all you wonderful people in my life. So if you want to start a comic, don't think it's instant success. It takes a while.
Well, I'm sure I could think about many things to make a point of. But I'm on 7% battery life on my mac right now, and I have to wake up super early tomorrow.
Other comic artists, feel free to post your own suggestions. I'm sure up and coming fan comic artists would love to know your advice.
and comic readers, tell us what you like to see in a comic!