How to Make Webcomics

This is *the* book to read about making webcomics, because the four co-authors are creators of well-known webcomics — Brad Guigar (Evil Inc.), Dave Kellett (Sheldon), Scott Kurtz (PvP) , and Kris Straub (Starslip Crisis) — who know what they’re talking about. Their works cover the most popular genres of web strips: video games, humor, and science fiction.

How to Make Webcomics cover
How to Make Webcomics
Buy this book

The second big plus to this book is its format. It’s a very handsome, readable book. Flipping through, you’ll see an illustration or relevant sample comic on almost every page. Sidebar notes (and inspirational quotes) are clearly set apart with lines and a different font. The tone is conversational, which makes it very readable, as though you’re listening to a chat instead of hearing proclamations from on high.

The introduction clearly lays out the aims: not to teach you how to cartoon, but to tell you how to have a successful webcomic, one you might even make a living from. Creative topics are tackled — the early chapters cover motivation, character design, format, and writing, among other topics — but over half the book is about business decisions, such as promotion, publishing, website design, and making money. There’s an undercurrent of “and that’s why you don’t need a publisher or syndicate” that pops its head up every so often, which is interesting, since three of the four have current or past print newspaper experience. But the biggest message is that a successful webcomic cartoonist is both an artist and a businessperson. (And also insecure, based on Scott Kurtz’s chapters. I’m not reading that in; he keeps saying it, that artists must acknowlege and get past their insecurity.)

Each chapter is voiced by a different one of the four, as indicated by the opening illustration. When the different authors share notes, there are little head-shot drawings to show you which one is giving their perspective. Each of them also gets a two-page focus section in which the four analyze a couple of their strips.

In almost every chapter I read something valuable that I either hadn’t thought about before — for instance, with restricted text space, you should keep character names short — or knew but wish more people paid attention to — such as the vital importance of sticking to your update schedule. Someone aiming to do a frequent humor strip in traditional horizontal format will likely get the most out of this book, since that’s what most of the authors do, but that limited focus is only really noticable in the writing chapter, which only makes a token nod at any other kind of comic. Most of the rest of the advice can apply to any creator.

While there are topics I wish they’d included but didn’t, that’s not a reflection on the book, just different priorities. For example, I wish the character design chapter had included diversity of genders, skin tones, and heritage; instead, the only diversity mentioned was that of body type. I would have liked to have seen much more emphasis on the importance of RSS feeds, instead of just the two paragraphs of “here’s what they are”, because I think any major webcomic must offer them. (It’s the only way I read them.) Instead, one creator plugs the older technology of mailing lists. I do like that there are two separate chapters on conventions and audience interaction, both tricky topics for the modern comic creator. The con chapter advice is worth the price of the book all by itself.

Oddly, the promotion chapter doesn’t mention either press releases or getting reviews, both sources of free coverage; instead, dealing with critics is covered in the audience chapter. The author of this section, Dave Kellett, breaks them into four categories and says, “each one can be diffused or made impotent by kindness and politeness.” So the goal here is not to listen, but to deflect. And that’s reflected in his categories; not one covers someone pointing out a legitimate flaw or place for improvement in the work. In other words, he doesn’t think critics are ever right. (The categories are the person who’s mean without meaning to be and really loves the comic; nitpickers correcting “useless details”; the hater; and the troll. This section, by the way, was the first piece of the book I read — it’s where the copy I was browsing fell open when I first picked it up. Fate!)

The biggest flaw of the book is the proofreading. It’s a bit disconcerting to find two obvious typographical errors on page six, in one of the author introductions, or to see the word “webcomics” misspelled early on. It lacks the final coat of polish that would support the air of competence they’re trying to create. (I also hate seeing Web, Webcomics, and Webcartoonist capitalized almost everywhere they’re used — I find it old-school and pretentious — but that’s personal opinion.) It also would be nice if they didn’t assume that their readers all knew the details of their strips. During the chapter on character design, for example, Kurtz uses his cast as examples throughout without ever matching up names and images for those who don’t remember or know what they’re all called.

One last note that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else but struck me: One cartoonist feels that how one’s readers behave reflects the author’s personality, that if a creator complains about her readers being jerks or lazy or mean, that that’s whom they attracted by what they were putting out. An interesting observation, that.

The book’s website is halfpixel.com. The authors also do a weekly podcast.


89 Responses to “How to Make Webcomics”

  1. Kris Straub Says:

    Hi Johanna. Thanks for the review! Readers may be happy to know that the second printing of the book has undergone a round of proofreading, correcting the typos that the first printing contained.

  2. Johanna Says:

    Wow, that was quick! Glad to hear it. I shouldn’t be surprised that you’ve had to do multiple printings already.

  3. Glenn Hauman Says:

    What? You mean you don’t have to unshark images? Okay… but we’re never going to be able to see Aquaman in this issue.

  4. Scott Kurtz Says:

    I think we need to introduce a whole chapter on unsharking for the 2.0 version of the book.

  5. Don’t let critical insulation become a padded room Says:

    [...] before is great and should be step one in any new artists plan for internet domination). Now while Johanna’s review is pretty much glowing Scott took umbridge at Johanna’s wondering why there was nothing in the book to suggest that [...]

  6. B Clay Moore Says:

    Criticism is fine, but the last thing a creator should do is compromise or adjust his or her work based on internet reviews. For every review that thinks black is black, there will be one that thinks black is white.

    I absolutely agree with Scott here, for what it’s worth.

  7. Johanna Says:

    Scott is responding passionately with ideas that clearly mean a lot to him, but not to what I actually said. I thought it was funny that the section on responding to criticism assumed that all of it was always wrong. That’s just as silly as saying that all of it should always be listened to (which is the strawman that you seem to be hinting at, Clay).

    And when he says I’m lying about the first page of the book I saw, he’s just being mean. I wouldn’t have made something like that up … what would be the point?

  8. David Says:

    Ma’am,

    First, you missed what he said about critics in the end, “And that’s why there is no chapter in our book on when to accept that, sometimes, the critic is right.” In his own way, he has said that critics can be right or wrong, but they shouldnt influence the direction an artist is going.

    Second, Scott never said you were lying. He said “I’m having a hard time swallowing that pill.” Once again he is expressing his opinion, just as you did.

    In your defense, I find your review to be well written and to the point. As a reviewer, you know that some will agree and some will not agree. Sadly, the Critic is subject to views of critics.

    Please insulate yourself and keep writing. You never know what will happen.

  9. Ryan Says:

    Scott is full of it. I write (CREATE) for a living, and as a hobby I sometimes offer critiques on the internet.

    First of all he is inferring that critics CANNOT be creators, which is just utterly untrue. (Check a flap of a novel sometime, notice many OTHER authors acting as critics on said novel)

    As a creator, I could not agree with him less. The more you insulate yourself, the less interesting you become. Critique is freely given, and the creator is free to accept it or disregard it at their whim.

    The real issue here is that Kurtz is UNABLE to disregard critique. He is unsatisfied producing a successful web-comic…he wants to be friends with all of his readers…which is why he is always talking about the ‘relationship’ between fans and creators. (A relationship which doesn’t really exist) So hearing that even one critic dislikes his work, or an aspect of it, forces him to jam his fingers into his ears in such a way that he can only hear his halfpixel lackeys talking.

    It wouldn’t even be that sad, except he actually writes and draws a pretty good webcomic.

  10. jimmyjojo Says:

    @david:

    here’s what scott said, you took it out of context:

    I’m asked to believe that the chapter on criticism was, by chance of fate, the first chapter this particular reviewer happened onto. I’m having a hard time swallowing that pill.

    he’s calling johanna a liar, and seems to be imagining some kind of agenda on her part.

    i liked the book, i found it very helpful, i would recommend that anyone buy it. i would also recommend that writers need to learn to listen to critics and either deal with them or dismiss them, but not ignore them.

  11. Bean Says:

    For you, Johanna, the review just came at a bad time for Scott. He’s been dealing with the (god, there is no way this doesn’t sound bad) “critical issue” for the past week or so. Both sides are coming into play, both believe they are in the right, and really it’s just a political issue at this point.

    I liked your review. I, luckily, was able to purchase the last of the “unshark” production from a local venue, and agree with most everything you had to say.

    There should have been a chapter, or at least a bulletpoint, on dealing with critics, or even reviewers, and their opinions. And I stress dealing not accepting .

  12. Johanna Says:

    Oh, I’m sorry to hear that this played into something else for him. That may explain why he focused on that one paragraph out of the whole positive review.

    I would alter your last paragraph a bit. I’d say that there should be a section (not a chapter, there’s not that much to say) about dealing with journalists, which would cover press releases, online interviews, reviewers, and so on.

  13. Jeremy Says:

    I’m curious to see how I handle criticism myself, maybe I should get the book to study up.

    Also for the promotion chapter which would help me get to the criticism stage. I guess you need readers to be criticized.

  14. Bean Says:

    I would alter your last paragraph a bit. I’d say that there should be a section (not a chapter, there’s not that much to say) about dealing with journalists, which would cover press releases, online interviews, reviewers, and so on.

    Agreed, ‘chapter’ was a poor word choice on my part.

  15. Tomu Says:

    Kurtz says there’s nowhere about accepting when the critics are right because yadda yadda yadda.

    But here’s the thing that I think is self-contradictory. Not all “Critics” are critical. What happens when a critic applauds your work, with a sycophantic tirade of praise? Are they automatically wrong then too? Or are they only wrong when they somehow disagree with you on the merits of the work? If you’re unwilling to accept criticsm, then you should likewise be unwilling to accept praise. And that’s just ridiculous. I mean, yes, when a major television show has a popular character, and the executives meddle trying to make that character show up more in the show in order to have more audience appeal, that can sometimes screw the show’s “art” over by conceding to the masses. But the idea that the masses are always wrong completely misses the point-that art is not *just* about the creator or *just* about the audience, but rather about the communication between the two. Otherwise, the only reason you’re publishing something rather than keeping it stored in your little head, is for the money. And if you care about the money, you should care about what people have to say, because it kind of determines what gets bought or not.

    Clearly, I have no idea what I’m talking about.

  16. James Schee Says:

    I saw the book today in a local book chain, so I grabbed the spine and let it open by itself to see where it opened up at. Page 104, interaction with audience section which was just a few pages away from the critics. Take that for what you will.

    It looked like a very well done book, I may go back and pick it up later. I’m not overly familiar with webcomics, so it could be interesting.

  17. Shava Says:

    I’ve noticed that a lot of people have taken offense at some of what Kurtz has said in the past, particularly regarding the rights of a creator, and the criticism others offer. Some of these disagreements have been very civil; others have been absolute flame wars. I have also noticed, however, that Mr. Kurtz does tend to respond rather defensively. Though I haven’t read the book, I understand the authors suggest deflecting, and rising above hurtful criticism. While I can understand Mr. Kurtz’s desire to defend himself (criticism is itself a hard pill to swallow), I have found that some of his defenses have been, themselves, slightly offensive. I would suggest he take his own advice, and be the bigger man in such a situation. After all, his reputation is highly respected, lauded, and carries a lot of weight in many circles. This book, alone, has been well-received, and even debate proves his influence on those who follow almost any webcomic regularly.

  18. Bean Says:

    Maybe that’s his problem. He is on the defensive, without actually defending his work. So many arguments can be halted by simply explaining why a choice was made at a given point. Instead of saying, “Well, we needed to shave some space in the book, and we thought we had already covered critics”, or something similar, he instead gets defensive about how he thinks critics are too “invested” in work not their own and wanting of praise/attention undeserved.

    I like debate, it’s actually fun with the right person(s), but when you go after the person, the topic, or some tangent unrelated to the point of actual discussion; that is when debate ends and endless back and forth arrises.

  19. Paul Says:

    This book is called “How to make Webcomics” for a reason. It’s written by four very talented, respected, and successful author/artists and is meant to help those who would like to attempt to create a successful webcomic of their own. If you want to create your own webcomic, buy this book and follow it’s instructions. If you want to be a critic, buy this book and post snarky reviews about it by nit-picking little, unimportant points. This is a book for creators, not critics… maybe some people should wait for the “How to Critique the Hard Work of Others” book.

  20. Johanna Says:

    If you think this glowing review is snarky, you’re missing the forest for the branch.

  21. 4thletter! » Blog Archive » On Criticism and Art Says:

    [...] conversation on the blogohedron last week. It was about criticism and its place in art. It started here, with Johanna’s review of How to Make Webcomics, which was written by Brad Guigar (Evil Inc.), Dave Kellett (Sheldon), Scott Kurtz (PvP) , and Kris Straub (Starslip Crisis). [...]

  22. C. Edwards Says:

    In the world of art it’s the critics role to speak to the world that is viewing the work, not the creator him/herself.

    With the internet, the line between educated and uneducated opinions has been blurred; every yahoo with a blog or the ability to comment on one thinks their opinion is valid, when unfortunately, that just isn’t true. But on the flip side, the creator now has the power to critique their critique.

    No offense to the reviewer (I think the review was well put together), but ultimately it seems like the area of the review in question is designed to give the critic more power over the work. Sort of like a, ‘You should listen and learn from your critics, i.e., I’m a critic, so listen and learn from me.’ I don’t necessarily think this was intentional, but I think it can be perceived this way.

  23. Paul Says:

    “Snarky” wasn’t aimed at this review, or any other journalistic review, but rather at the “armchair quarterbacks” of the internet. Posts by people who know the subject are a delight to read when presenting thoughtful and pertinent reviews, this one included. I was referring more to the people that feel that an author/artist OWES them something because they read the webcomic and their opinion should affect the “product”. These are, in my opinion, the same people who tell police officers that “My taxes pay your salary”.

  24. Tomu Says:

    “Educated” opinions only exist when there’s some kind of fact to the matter. It’s the same preference for “Art education” that leads to books loaded with huge amounts of symbolism being lauded as ultimate and taught in schools. That’s not to say symbolism isn’t good. That’s not to say it isn’t bad. But the fact of the matter is that when we call it “Education” we’re talking as if there’s a fact to the matter, when really, it’s just a technique, and if you don’t like a book that some would consider unnecessarily indirect, it’s because you’re not part of the target audience, not because you just “don’t understand art/literature/whatever.”

    This being said, I encourage people to learn about various techniques, so they can include themselves in certain “refined” target audiences. But I heavily discourage the notion that anyone who doesn’t do so is just uneducated, and therefore wrong.

    Yes, people seem to value their opinions highly. That’s true of everyone. Some people are just more obvious about it. It’s only when people lose their self-awareness of the actual situation and make *demands* where it gets in trouble. And not every critic does that.

    Does the book need a section explicitly for dealing with critics? Nah. Do I think that the implications about criticism in the book are wrong? To an extent. Do I think that Kurtz’ original response on his site to this review was ultimately made in the efforts of being defensive, and probably not thought through fully with an extent of introspection? Very much so.

    Because Kurtz was hurt when Mike decided to abandon the new coloring technique. But here’s the thing: Kurtz’ suggestion was *also* irrelevant by his own logic, as he’s external himself. And he made an overt demand-ignore all the emails etc etc. That’s the same thing, it just happens to be the same thing but in affirmation of a current technique.

    I think the biggest difference, and Kurtz saving grace, is that afterwards he dropped the issue. Well, except for using it as an example of why he feels the way he does…

  25. What Do Reviewers Know? | ArtPatient.com Says:

    [...] talking about a review of their new how-to-make-comics book. It seems the book’s reviewer was disappointed in the advice on dealing with critics. It basically seems to boil down to “don’t listen.” Maybe he was kidding or he [...]

  26. What Do Reviewers Know? | News | ArtPatient Says:

    […] talking about a review of their new how-to-make-comics book. It seems the book’s reviewer was disappointed in the advice on dealing with critics. It basically seems to boil down to “don’t listen.” Maybe he was kidding or he […]

  27. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for clarifying, Paul — sorry I misunderstood.

    CE, no, I don’t want to argue that I should have more influence. Instead, I think “dealing with reviews” are an important part of instruction for a creator, so I found it a notable lack in an otherwise remarkably complete reference. And yeah, there are some sucky critics — but those of us who’ve been doing it for decades are entitled to defend their craft and their skills just as much as a webcomic maker is.

  28. Dennis W. Says:

    Here’s one passage in Johanna’s review that I think was sorely overlooked but I believe would have been a valid topic to cover in the book (which I’m in the process of reading.

    Oddly, the promotion chapter doesn’t mention either press releases or getting reviews, both sources of free coverage

    I totally agree with the free coverage aspect of press releases and getting reviews. I know that you can’t guarantee that every review is going to be positive, but chances are really high that even if the reviewer has negative things to say, it’s still going to get the reader of the review to visit your site. It’s then that the reader will be able to decide if the reviewer was right or wrong.

    I’m getting ready to launch my own web comic next month and I’m definitely hoping that I’ll be able to have someone blog about my strip so that I can get some traffic to my site. In my opinion, that’s a huge way to get free traffic.

    I even write reviews myself at http://www.groundlings-review.com and from time to time I’ve written about my friend’s projects hoping to get them some free traffic and they’ve really appreciated it and I would do it again and I hope that someone would do it for me.

  29. Johanna Says:

    I know I have a group of readers who don’t agree with me about much of anything, so just a mention will drive traffic as they check it out for themselves.

  30. Scott Kurtz Says:

    Whew! Who would have thought that my post would have generated so much attention? I don’t think it’s fair to attack either Johanna or myself for expressing our opinions on this. So no need for anyone to get upset over either side.

    I apologize for not addressing in a more clear way that I appreciated the nice review of the book. My taking exception with the one passage has been painted as me slamming the review. Which I’m not.

    The section you read did indeed instruct creators to deflect the wall of noise coming from outside criticism and review. I still hold to that. But I think it’s unfair to say that our book does not address the role of constructive criticism and critique by means of improving your work. We have four sections of the book where we tear each other’s work apart in the hopes of improving it.

    There is simply too much differing opinion coming at creators from the blogosphere for us to take any of it to heart. Which review or reviewer should we NOT dismiss? Which one has the true and correct opinion? I would think that two reviewers could take opposite opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of my work and both make strong and compelling arguments.

    Your bread and butter is reviewing. It’s not surprising that you find it hard to believe that we instruct people to deflect the work that you do. We flat out instruct creators to dismiss your work by means of artistic growth.

    So yes. I found it hard to believe that you took a mere accidental passing look at this section. I know if I were a reviewer, I would head to that section first. I’m not searching Technorati for my friend’s name. I’m looking up what people say about me.

    There are a lot of things we haven’t covered in the book and plan to cover in future editions. But it’s inaccurate to say we did not cover critique.

  31. Johanna Says:

    Regarding the first piece I saw: Ask Brad. :) I bought it from him at the NY show, and I remarked on it to him at the time. (Although he might not recall, I’m sure he sells a lot of copies.)

    The question you ask — how do you filter valuable feedback from useless? — is exactly why I thought there was more your book could have gone into on the subject. Aspiring creators should be given advice on that, instead of being told “be nice and ignore what everyone says that isn’t praise.”

    But neither one of us is going to change our minds at this point. Good luck continuing to improve the book.

  32. Scott Kurtz Says:

    Aspiring creators WERE given advice on filtering valuable feedback, Johanna, you just didn’t like it. Our advice is NOT to bother because comic book reviewers are not a part of our creative process.

    Good luck reviewing more of my work.

  33. Johanna Says:

    Oh, I wouldn’t dare, given how well it’s gone in the past!

  34. Dave Says:

    I can’t believe Scott had the nerve to write, “comic book reviewers are not a part of our creative process” followed by, “Good luck reviewing more of my work.”

    Not only does he contradict himself (reviewers aren’t important – review my work), but he is completely lacking in class.

  35. Scott Kurtz Says:

    I do, indeed, have a lot of nerve.

  36. Strip News 8-15-08 | ArtPatient.com Says:

    [...] to read Kurt’s followup comments at Comixtalk. UPDATE: I read the newest comments on Comics Worth Reading. That was very rude of Kurtz. He started out reasonable but finished [...]

  37. Blog@Newsarama » Blog Archive » Everyone’s A Critic: It’s not about you Says:

    [...] so there was a bit of a kerfluffle on the Internet this past week regarding an otherwise extremely positive review of the book How to Make Webcomics by Johanna Draper Carlson, which included this little tidbit: [...]

  38. David Says:

    WTF?!?

    How thick can people be?

    I tried pointing out politely, but it seems that it is being missed.

    An artist creates because that is who they are. And most importantly, they create for themselves first. Critics do not have influence on what I draw or write, because if they did, I lose what I am trying to create. Seems everyone wants Scott to listen to what they have to say about what he is creating? Why? Did you draw it? Did you put up the website? NO! Scott did this himself.

    Scott creates for himself first and foremost. I have yet to met an artist who doesn’t do it for themselves first. If people like what you are creating, all the better.

    BTW Dave, you claim Scott has nerve to say what he says? How much nerve does it take to post your work? You rake him over the coals, yet do not acknowledge what he has done?

    Also, just for the record, I am not a PVP fan nor am I a PVP hater.

  39. Dave Says:

    I made my comment for me. I don’t care what you have to say.

  40. Tomu Says:

    Alright David, we all understand that the artist creates for themselves. But they *publish* for, well, the money partially, but after it’s been created, why would you share something with the audience if it wasn’t *for* the audience? You also completely missed my earlier point-if you’re going to say you’re not going to listen to critics, it’s hypocritical to listen to people who say your work is awesome. If you don’t need criticism, you don’t need praise. If you’re willing to operate under that guideline-the line that Kurtz had no right to tell whatshisface at Penny Arcade about the coloring technique-then fine. But that doesn’t appear to be Kurtz position, based on how he acts. So we call him on it.

    I think the real issue is that, Scott creates for multiple reasons. He creates for himself, he creates for the public. He creates for his own desire to create for the public. These things aren’t always in perfect harmony. And since he wants all three, he basically has to compromise between them every now and then-doing anything else is just disingenuous. It’s not selling out to listen to public appeal when it’s different from your own artistic sense-it’s making a choice between two different motivations. And I think there’s this pretentious underlying bitterness against criticism (both intelligent and otherwise) that fuels the stance he has chosen to take that isn’t rationally founded-it’s basically being angry at the world for it not always agreeing with what you think makes for the best art.

    Do I think Kurtz has any obligation to listen to critics? No. It may be mildly hypocritical to listen to praise and reject criticism, but that doesn’t inspire any actual obligation in his work. But the people know what they like (sometimes) and are going to say it, and it’s not wrong of an artist, Kurtz or otherwise, to sometimes listen to those voices of dissent. Because everyone who publishes does it to share with the public-they may not have control, but they do have a voice. And that’s not a bad thing.

    Though I don’t want to endorse FanDumb either. All I’m saying (/ranting) is that there are intelligent comments both praising and critical, and their are stupid comments; you can spend the energy sorting out the two or not, and if you’re not going to, that’s okay. But a stance that all criticism is inherently wrong is merely an ignorant one.

  41. Tomu Says:

    You made your comment because you wanted to call people thick on the internet. You did it for your own motivations-everyone does everything for their own motivations. And I told you how stupid your comment was for my motivations. Fancy that.

  42. Dave Says:

    Now you’re getting it.

    By the way, I don’t hide behind a pseudonym. My name really is Dave – Dave Rose.

    If I say Mr. Kurtz has a lot of nerve -and I said why, if you’ll bother to read the whole (short) post – I do so using my real name. I’m not trying to get away with anything.

    Also, I don’t make Internat comments to blatantly insult people – no matter what they say to me. If I make a comment about what someone has said, I explain myself. To do otherwise would make me appear unintelligent and childish. I would be partaking in an argument rather than a discussion.

  43. David Says:

    ::takes a step back::

    And this is why I dont play well with others……LOL

  44. Tomu Says:

    Now, are David and Dave the same person? I hate to assume, and if they’re not, then my responses are a wee bit silly because I’m clearly not paying enough attention…

  45. David Says:

    Sorry Tomu, I can only speak for myself. But it would seem that there is some confusion, hence my reason for “taking a step back”

  46. Tomu Says:

    Fair enough. I confused you two for eachother! Oh well. Dave, David, whatever. Clearly, we all post here. And we post our feelings on the subject. And we basically have the right to. But in that right to post, everyone else also has the right to post about posts. So when someone says something like “I made my comment for me-I don’t care what you have to say” it’s basically trying to construct a double standard. That, or it just reinforces the idea that the creator should just ignore the voices of everyone who speaks about the created work, without having any real serious argument for it. I mean, if a person doesn’t care what people have to say about what they’re saying, then it’s not really communication-it’s just a diary.

    And online diaries are incredibly bizarre if you ask me.

  47. Dave Rose Says:

    Tomu,

    When I wrote, “I made my comment for me. I don’t care what you have to say” I was sarcastically responding to what David said about creators creating for themselves and not caring what others thought of their work (unless it was something positive).

    Of course they care. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t come to forums such as this one to read people’s comments about their work (or the work of friends and collegues). I’m sure they don’t need such commments to create and/or inspire and influence the work, but they do care, just as you and I care what people think of our comments.

    If there was no caring from either side of the table, people wouldn’t take part in these discussions or read what people think of their work. Likewise, people wouldn’t get upset over what they read, as it wouldn’t matter.

    But people do come here, and they do post, and they do get upset. Therefore, they obviously care and I won’t accept an argument for anything else.

    You see, I care that I’ve been judged by someone who didn’t “get” what I was trying to say to another person – even when (from what I read in your post) that we are basically on the same page in this matter.

    Dave

  48. Tomu Says:

    Sarcasm requires a lot of context and sometimes inflection, so it can be hard to pull off, especially if your reader assumes you’re the same guy who you’re actually criticizing. Go figure.

    It’s clear that in this instance, I’m just flat-out wrong. I hate admitting I’m wrong! It’s like when I had the same reaction to that Obama cover of the New Yorker that the masses had, not realizing it was satire-after the fact, I was like “You’ve got to be kidding me-how could I not get that?! I’m such a @!#$ing idiot!”

    So, though I think the points I’ve made are generally “in the right,” the fact that I was making them to the wrong person means that I’ve just been ranting like a moron here! Oh well, what else is new, right?

  49. Johanna Says:

    I’m so impressed when my readers work things out for themselves. Everyone ok now? (I was confused by multiple Dave/Davids, too.)

  50. Tomu Says:

    Well, the confusion was summed up. But I think that brings up an interesting point-there’s sort of this underlying idea, generally amongst moderators and administrators of boards, that if there’s an argument, there’s a problem that needs to be worked out. Obviously, in the case of a flame war, there’s certainly something that needs to be dealt with, but in an actual rational argument (not as in a shouting match), there are points being dealt with on both sides, and just because people disagree that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong-merely that two people have decided to mutually engage in a discussion. Of course, on the internet, we tend to randomly throw more offensive language into the mix (“How thick can people be?!” or “You moron” or whatever), which makes even the most intelligent points tend to be seen as nothing more than a glorified flame war.

    Which relates to the issue of criticism in that it tends to be seen as flaming the artist, whether that’s its intention or not. That’s no individual’s fault really.

  51. Johanna Says:

    Oh, I’m fine with argument. I don’t like it when people seem too upset, or start calling each other names, or as you say, use offensive phrasing.

    Personally, I’m glad Dave Rose explained his one-liner, because I didn’t get it, and now I think it’s clever.

  52. Kevin Says:

    I’m confused as to what was so hypocritical and/or classless about Kurtz saying “Good luck reviewing more of my work.” He never said criticism/reviews aren’t important, he said they are “not a part of the creative process.” That’s a big leap from denying their importance altogether. Besides, the statement read (to me, anyhow) as a response to Johanna’s “Good luck continuing to improve the book” from the previous comment. She’s wishing him well in his chosen craft, and he’s returning the favor. Does that make her classless as well? Of course not.

  53. Tomu Says:

    I’m not referring to “Good luck reviewing more of my work” actually. I’m referring to Kurtz post on his own webcomic where he explains that the reason why there’s no “dealing with correct criticism” segment is because he disliked how Mike of Penny Arcade fame was discouraged from a given course of action due to criticism about the new coloration technique. See, the only problem with that, though, is that by saying that he *should* follow it, saying that he likes it, he himself is being a critic, and trying to affect the process. I *suppose* if he realizes that his own comment is in and of itself irrelevant, that’s one thing. And of course, if he makes an exception for critics who are also part of the artists personal group of friends/contacts. The former is something that I’ll admit, I didn’t consider until now, and does make Kurtz less of a hypocrite (if not any more relevant), whereas the latter is something of an ad hoc decision-we all make exceptions in our personal philosophies for people we know because they’re more important than that.

    I still say that Kurtz’ posistion is not quite as self-aware as it likes to think, but that’s an entirely seperate issue. The thing that offends me is that if you read his original post on his own site replying to this particular review, you’ll probably notice that the way he tells “the story,” it implies that the “complainers” somehow robbed the world of a great and magnificent thing. I think Mike’s line is a lot more telling-“that’s what I get for trying to innovate.” Innovation isn’t blind, it’s not that new unthought of things are inherintly good. If you innovate, you innovate for a purpose, and if your purpose is to please your audience (which it is, like it or not, if you’re going to be discouraged from a path of action by them), then a new technique that they don’t like may be “innovative” but it’s not necessarily glorious.

    Though you can make the argument that the critics were just impatient, and would have really grown to love it. But that’s the point I’m making-there *is* good and bad criticism. A situation like this isn’t about how all criticism is bad, it’s how to recognize how valid criticism is-how meaningful it is.

    To make an analogy, let’s say that you eat an apple. And that apple gives you a stomachache. A super safe thing to do is to just never eat apples again. But it’s not true that all apples are bad-merely that not all apples are good. On the other hand, with apples or with criticism, it takes time and energy to decipher which one is which. It’s the artists own decision whether they want to spend time and energy figuring out who to listen to, and that’s okay, I respect either decision, as long as long as we remain self-aware enough to realize that’s a choice of opportunity cost, not a choice of absolutes.

    /end rant

  54. Tomu Says:

    … I certainly hope your reply, Kevin, was in response to something I said. Otherwise I look like even more of a gigantic ass than I did when I confused David with Dave!

  55. Chris Flick Says:

    This is an interesting discussion… but just so everything is laid out in the open, I’m an artist, designer and illustrator in the corporate world. I’m also an ex-high school baseball coach.

    In the corporate world, I’m used to getting my work “reviewed”. We don;t say “critiqued”. Some of it has been great. Some not.

    As a coach though, I had to be critical of my players as well as complimentary.

    That being said, I think there is a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE difference between a “professional critique” and all the self-proclaimed “experts” who have never laid down a single pencil line in their lives or tried to ever write a single joke before.

    That’s not to say they don’t have a right to their opinions. We all have that. But what I’m getting from this debate is the fact that those that claim to be “critics” are upset that an artist is telling them their opinion… their critique… their “work”… isn’t valid.

    The fact of the matter is, in the world of the web, we – as artists – just don’t know who you are. For all we know, you could be a 13 year old that’s flunked art 3 years in a row and is just massively jealous or upset their stick figure “masterpiece” wasn’t awarded 1st place in the Jr. High Art Contest. OR, you could be a 72 year old art history professor who has written five books on Renaissance art.

    But we artists are supposed to simply accept the 13 year old’s opinion as being JUST as valid as the 72 year old professor? That’s absurd.

    Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion but that doesn’t mean everyone’s opinion is a VALID one. Or even a correct one.

    I especially love the response that said “In the world of art it’s the critics role to speak to the world that is viewing the work, not the creator him/herself”. Huh????

    Oh, so as a critic, you instinctively knew what I was trying to do when I drew a particularly face or emotion? So you know my art better then I know myself???

    It’s crazy, self-important “critics-as-creators” thoughts like this that make artists weary of genuine critiques. At least on the web anyway…

    -Chris

  56. Johanna Says:

    No one’s ever said that all critical opinions are valid, Chris, so we’re in agreement there. In fact, part of my original point was that aspiring creators could use help determining which opinions *were* valid.

    I took exception to the book telling creators that NO critical opinions were valid, which strikes me as just as silly as saying that ALL are.

    And critics can’t speak to what you were trying to do, but they might provide some feedback on whether what you were trying to do made it through to the audience.

  57. Tomu Says:

    I pretty much parrot what Johanna just said (though I use about ten times as much text to do it). But as far as art school goes, that just goes back to the pretentious bull that there’s some objective truth about what makes good art. There’s subjective truths that lots of people are in consensus about, but the idea that some school has an idea of what makes good art or bad art is basically just ignoring the entire meaning of the word itself. When the public tells the artist their opinion, it’s really more about marketing than anything else-if you’re publishing something, in general, somewhere down the line, you want to please someone. If you want to be an artist that creates art for its own sake (as opposed to, say, your average comic book artist, who creates for the project) and work merely for the sake of inspiration, that’s fine-but that’s not what webcomic authors are doing-at least ninety nine percent of the time. They want attention-otherwise they wouldn’t publish-and attention comes from both ends, positive and negative. Like Johanna said, saying all criticism is worthless is just as silly as saying that it’s all valid. What *opinions* are relevant is a bit more important, in that part of the point is marketing to the audience-if 99% of the audience thinks a new technique sucks, unless you’re universally favoring “art” over “audience,” you likely want to try avoiding that technique.

    This is remarkably similar to “selling out” a term which is often derogitorily used when one compromises their values for the sake of fame or fortune. The problem is that, as I’ve said previously, fame and fortune are personal values in and of themselves; it’s really a matter of deciding how much you value fame and fortune compared to your own ability to experiment. I have no problem with the position that experimentation is somehow intrinsically more valuable than audience. I just don’t like a Webcomics self help book to tacitly pretend it’s the only position anyone can have. Actually, it’s not even that, as that statement isn’t supported by the book itself-it’s merely supported by what Kurtz says.

    I don’t really have a problem with Kurtz or his book. I just think that a little bit of self-awareness on the issue would make it come off as a little less pretentious.

  58. odessa steps magazine Says:

    I have to say, while I agree with many points above, I strongly dislike when people being critiqued (be it writers, artists, athletes or what have you) play the “you never played the game” card.

    I think that’s just a convenient way to dismissly an entire segment of criticism without bothering to hear it out.

  59. Chris Flick Says:

    Hi Johanna, I don’t think we’re completely opposite on this matter. Over at the Halfpixel forum, I have made many a posts claiming my disbelief about how all four of the HTMWC guys hate giving critiques at conventions. This is even more astonishing to me since critiques from other valued professionals – and teachers – really helped me along my career… either as a designer or as an artist.

    I might take a bit of exception to the use of the word “audience” in your reply though… mainly because – as I see it – a critic can really only say what worked or didn’t work *for them*. :-)

    Maybe as a critical writer, it’s easier or more valuable to write as if you were addressing an audience instead of giving a solitary opinion. From a writer’s perspective, I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on that.

    From an artist’s perspective though, I’d much rather prefer hearing something to the effect of “His line art simply didn’t move ME” rather then “The AUDIENCE wasn’t moved by his line art”.

    I think most artists will admit – some more willing then others – that they don’t really mind critiques. Most of us have had professors who were incredibly harsh with their words so it’s not like we can’t take criticism. It’s just that we would much rather prefer it be on a one-on-one basis or addressed as a one-on-one basis.

    I think what gets a lot of artist’s panties bunched up is when the critic is assuming he or she speaks for an *entire* audience when they really can only speak for themselves.

    Of course, if the use of the word “audience” was just a spur of the moment choice, forget everything I said above.

    :-)

    -Chris

  60. Johanna Says:

    Does it help if I say I don’t think there’s only one audience?

    Let’s do it this way. Let’s say one of my reactions to Story A is that it relies too much on previous Story B. I might say “As someone who didn’t read B, which I know this follows on from, I was lost. I didn’t understand why character Q was involved or why they were looking for macguffin Z.” There are likely plenty of audience members who did read B and love A because it’s playing off of it. So yes, I know that I’m not speaking for THE audience because there isn’t THE audience. There are many possible audiences. To answer you, in my comment, “audience” was intended much more generally than you’re taking it.

    The “one-on-one” idea is interesting, and not one I’ve heard before. I don’t write to talk to the artist, because that would be presumptuous, so that’s not what I’m aiming for. I do sometimes write things like “people who like (genre) or (book) may like this”, which again gets back to one or more potential audiences.

  61. Dennis W. Says:

    I think there are some terminology issues that could be helpful to be defined in this discussion too. Like the difference between a critic and a reviewer.

    At least the way the authors of the book view them, critics are random people who tend to come up to the artist directly and tell them what they think is wrong and how they should fix it. I think Scott and the others tend to recoil and such unsolicited feedback. Generally I think that Dave Kellett’s approach is the best and that’s to just be polite, no matter what they say.

    Then there are occasions when you put your work out there for critique. Most art students will recall critique sessions that happen in your art classes. These are generally done with peers or superiors and like any time, the feedback can be taken or left, but is usually meant to be constructive. I like these kinds of situations and it’s usually something you seek out. They do a good job of showing that kind of review and feedback throughout the book in their “hot seat” sections. Although most of the time the feedback is positive.

    Then there are reviewers. As opposed to critics or critiques, I view reviews as being an outward-facing account of why or why not someone would be interested in the book. Most, if not all the time, a review (by definition of the word) is occurring after the subject matter is complete, so really there is no way of going back and implementing changes or fixing errors brought up in the review. A review is what Johanna’s article is and I didn’t get anything out of it that made me think she was trying to tell them what to change. It seemed to me that she was telling the people who hadn’t read the book mostly why they would want to, with a couple of mentions of things she thought it lacked.

    All three of these tools, reviews, critics and critiques have their place to varying degrees in the creative process (some very little) and in the promotion of all of our work.

  62. Chris Flick Says:

    odessa steps magazine:

    From a coaching standpoint, I always love (sarcasm) going to batting cages and watching dads try to teach their sons or daughters crazy ways to hit a baseball or softball when it’s very clear that 1) they never hit a baseball in their entire life 2) they have never studied the intricate (and complex) details that go in to hitting a ball 3) that their sons or daughters – if they listen to their dads – will also grow up and not be able to hit a baseball.

    Now, I grant you that sports is in a completely different world then art but the point here is that not all critiques, advice or coaching theories are correct. Some you almost have to purposely ignore.

    I would never, ever have the nerve to give a guitar critique to one of my musical friends simply because I know absolutely nothing about music OR playing a guitar.

    And if I did give them a critique about how I thought they could play better, they would have every right to hand me the guitar and say “Well, let’s hear you play something…”.

    -Chris

  63. Chris Flick Says:

    I should have added to my previous post that I COULD tell my guitar playing friends what I liked or didn’t like… “I like that fast part… I thought eh first part was kind of slow”, but that’s about all I could offer them since I have no musical talent whatsoever.

    But… if they DID ask my opinion, I would make sure they knew that first.

    But, that’s just me.

    :-)

  64. Dennis W. Says:

    This is a separate, but related issue. What about focus groups? Although not done with our peers, we can sometimes get a group of people together that we’re thinking will like our work and find out from them what they like and don’t like.

    Has anyone done this? What kind of feedback did you get? Would you do it again?

  65. Chris Flick Says:

    Man, I’m spending too much time on this subject (slow day). :-)

    Okay, last comments for the day:
    Focus groups might be useful in some situations but in others, they are just a half-step away from THIS:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwqPYeTSYng

    Now, that video above is actually a very good argument FOR critics – or at least someone who can step in and say “This just isn’t working – you’re losing focus, people!”.

    :-)

    -Chris

  66. Johanna Says:

    Dennis, I use the terms almost interchangeably, but when I’m being precise, a reviewer is someone who tells you whether or not to buy something, a critic who talks about themes in the work, whether it’s successful at its artistic aims, that deeper kind of analysis.

    As for the “do it before you talk about it”, as someone said, you don’t have to be a chicken to know when an egg’s gone bad. :)

  67. Dennis West Says:

    Actually I have to agree with you about that, Johanna. I get a lot of feedback from my friends and family who don’t have anything to do with art or comics, but they know what they like and they can tell me if a joke is working or if my characters are communicating the feelings i want them to. I see that as being more like “focus group” feedback. I need to know if what I’m trying to do is actually working with the audience. It’s nice to test drive some things before I make them public and I don’t run people through a test to make sure they’re “qualified” to give me their opinion.

    Only fine artists attempting to express their inner angst can afford to work in that kind of vacuum.

  68. David Oakes Says:

    I was going to point out how it was wrong to compare a subjective skill like Art Criticism to an objective skill like Batting. But that’s not the point. It is wrong, but it is completely irrelevant. There are any number of objective standards that can be assessed even by people incapable of fulilling them themselves.

    If I am in a batting cage and Stephen Hawking says “Place your feet as far apart as your shoulders to solifidy your stance,” I don’t look at his wheelchair and assume that he is an idiot. In fact, many professional athletes go thorugh intense biometrics created an implemented by mathematicians and computer programers who have never swung a bat in their life. But they can still teach Mark McGwire a thing or two.

    Even if it were Joe Paraplegic sitting there telling me “You are swinging too soon, let the ball come to you,” I would still be foolish to dismiss them. Because that is something you can see even without a Doctorate in Physics. In fact, it is often easier to see from outside of the cage rather than staring down the barrel of the pitching machine. Very often people in the middle of doing something are “too close” to be able to see the problem. Or are so used to doing XYZ that when asked they say YZ, because everyone knows X, right?

    It is exactly the different perspective afforded the critic that gives their opinion value.

  69. Chris Flick Says:

    David, would you say acting is an objective or subjective skill?

    I would say at first glance, it might be easy to say that comparing coaching hitting with art criticism is a huge stretch. And yet, we can look throughout many professional baseball teams and not see a single Steven Hawking employed as a hitting instructor. Why is that?

    Surely it’s because hitting – like art – is much more complex then JUST saying “you’re swinging too early” or “your feet are too close together”. It’s much more complex then simple observation will allow.

    Yes, hitting a baseball and drawing a figure are COMPLETELY different things. You get no argument from me on that.

    My point wasn’t to claim they were the same. Instead, I was pointing out how easy it is to have the best intentions but still give useless advice. You can place your legs farther then your feet and still hit the ball with power. Intellectually, yes, you could be correct but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re right or that success will follow.

    THAT’S really the point I was trying to make.

    In my mind, coaching is not all that different from teaching and teaching is not all that far removed from critiquing since criticism is a form of trying to teach an artist how to improve.

    But like all things in life, you can have good coaches, teachers and critics just as easily as you can have bad coaches, teachers and critics.

    An athlete, student or artist needs to trust their own instincts as to what that is. And it’s never an easy decision.

  70. David Oakes Says:

    “And yet, we can look throughout many professional baseball teams and not see a single Steven Hawking employed as a hitting instructor. Why is that?”

    Because the team bus doesn’t have a wheelchair lift.

    You are being completely disingenuous using anecdotes about emotionally destructive fathers and requiring people to be professional batting coaches. My point still stands that people who have not excelled or even performed an act can still have information to impart. A blanket statement to ignore all criticism – as Mr. Kurtz did to initiate this thread – are not only useless, they are quite possibly more distructive than taking all criticism as valuable.

    “An athlete, student or artist needs to trust their own instincts as to what that is. And it’s never an easy decision.”

    It would be best for an athlete to believe in themselves, yes. And it is unlikely that anyone, no matter how gifted, will do well without that belief. But there is a difference between self-confidence and Hubris. A student who enters my classroom *sure* that they know more about the value of Calculus in the business world than I do will not learn anything. An athlete who dismisses biometric analysis because it comes from a computer geek is losing a powerful tool. And the artist who cannot bring himself to “paint like a child” will never be as good as Picasso.

    You are right, ultimately the artist makes the final decision, and that is very hard. And it should be, because whther you are an artist or an athlete or a student, you are putting yourself out there – your very Self – into the world and making it what you will. But part of the reason that being the best You you can be is hard is that it requires a lot of learning, a lot of information, and the very difficult task of separating the wheat from the chaff. A pre-hoc decision to ignore all outside commentary because it can “damage the sensitive artistic soul” or whatever is like refusing to let a child ride a bike for fear they will break their arm: Sure, they may never break their arm, but they will never win the Tour de France either. And you will never know what might have been.

    Facing up to external criticism is just as important as facing down personal demons. And when all is said and done, there is a lot more to be learned out there in the world than there is inside your head.

  71. Dennis West Says:

    I am terribly inexperienced at sports, but I could sit on the sidelines and watch my 8 year old daughter play softball this summer and I could tell when she was swinging too early or too late or when she should have let the ball go by.

    But I couldn’t watch a professional baseball player like Ichiro and say anything about his form or why he’s having an off day or anything. But I could watch and say he’s not doing very well today (but i’d never tell him that).

    I very much agree with David’s post. You don’t have to have an approved resume to offer feedback that might be valid. We as creators are creating something for public consumption and if we are not at least mildly interested in what the public has to say and at least entertain the option of implementing some of it, we stand the chance of loosing our audience.

    I’m not saying that every piece of feedback is gold, some of it might not be possible to implement, but I think we do ourselves a disservice if we don’t at least consider it a little.

    Now there are times when people will be cruel, perhaps more so because of the anonymous nature of the internet, and we definitely need to deflect those kinds of feedback. Or maybe someone doesn’t or can’t articulate what they don’t like about it beyond telling us that they think it’s crap. I don’t think anyone would argue that there’s not much you can do with that. But if someone has an opinion about my work, I think it’s valuable to at least listen to what they have to say.

    As a personal example: I’m working on my first Web Comic, and I recently got some feedback from an industry professional on a few points about my strip. I agree with all of the feedback and am trying to implement most of it, but there’s one that I just can’t do right now. He said that I should hand letter my text instead of using a font. I’ve chosen to do my strip on my computer with my Wacom and after experimenting with lettering on my Wacom, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m better off sticking with my font. I’m a little nervous about this decision and will keep trying to work out the digital hand lettering technique, but for now I think I have to concentrate on getting my strip established.

    I’m happy that he took the time to give me the feedback and I’m going to try to follow up as things get rolling, but in the end, it was up to me to decide what would be best for me at this time.

  72. Beeface Says:

    The thing is that failure in baseball isn’t the same as failure in forms of art. Pointing out to someone that they swing too early, or just that they aren’t hitting the ball, is useless in baseball, because to the person doing these things it’s generally obvious; what they need is to figure out how to AVOID these things. Figuring out how to avoid pitfalls is obviously an issue in creative works, too, but the trouble is that unless the audience tells the creator “Your jokes fall flat” or “Your characters are unsympathetic”, it’s something that they might not realise they’re doing wrong in the first place. The success of a (commercial) work of art, whether it’s a painting or a book or a webcomic, depends on a favourable reaction from its viewers; it’s not judged by some internal scheme like “hitting the ball” or “winning the game”, where your coach or the rest of your team are the best people to work alongside to improve. Certainly, professionals in your field can always be a help, but ultimately you’re dependent on your audience enjoying what you create in order to be a success – so how can your audience saying “I’d enjoy what you create if only…” be a bad thing?

  73. Chris Flick Says:

    Tony Gwynn, one of the best modern day baseball hitters, use to lug around tons of VHS tapes of every at bat he had in a game. These days, lots or professional hitters use video ipods to study their swings so certainly, visual studying does have a place in becoming a better hitter but that’s only a very small part. If it was as important as actually DOING, then there would be no such thing as physical batting practice. All you would need is to record yourself and see where you failed but hitting is way more complicated then just observing. You need other input.

    Math and (most) sports are easier to judge because you quite often have definitive results. In its most simple form, a math equation is either right or wrong. An athlete either fails or succeeds. Many times, that failure or success is due to how well the student or athlete was taught or coached.

    If you get bad information – no matter what you’re trying to achieve – you will likely get bad results – no matter if it’s math, athletics or art.

    I brought baseball into this discussion because that’s something I know quite a bit about. Not just by observing but also by playing and coaching. And I do think the comparison is valid as I do see a lot of well intentioned dads give very bad advice. I’m not saying they do so intentionally – every dad would love to see their kid succeed at baseball but some of them simply pass down bad habits that were taught to them or simply try to wing it as best they can.

    It would be no different then if I tried to teach my daughter calculus based strictly on my Algebra II knowledge. I could give her SOME good advice – up to a point – but at a certain point, I would fail her because the problem exceeds the level of my experience.

    But when it comes to entertainment – whether it’s music, film or arts – we completely disregard our own sense of limitations since there are no definitive results in entertainment like there are in math or sports. We have been listening to music, watching TV shows and movies and looking at art all of our lives. So naturally, our experiences have made us experts at knowing what we like to hear, what we like to watch or what we like to look at or read even though many of us have never played music, acted or created any kind of art before.

    I think that’s where an artist might find frustration. Again, an artist has to decide if the opinions that are given to him/her are valid – and rightly or wrongly, we judge the value of the opinion by the experience of the person.

    I’m not going to listen to a little league dad tell me how to hit. If he says I’m swinging too early, I’ll politely thank him for his observation and go about what I REALLY know what works from coaches who actually knew the intricacies of hitting.

    But EVEN THEN, artists have to make their own choice. For example, I’ve also been told that it would be “cool” if I hand lettered my own strip by people I admire. And I am certainly capable of doing so. But I’m a graphic designer by trade. I LIKE the cleanliness of digital fonts and I like the flexibility digital fonts offer in terms of special effects, sound effects and, most importantly, the speed of a spell check!

    I have made a conscious decision to ignore a suggested made by others that I admire. I do so because it’s a decision that works for me and because I am knowledgeable enough to know what works for me and WHY their suggestion is a bad one for me.

    -Chris

  74. Dennis West Says:

    Thanks for reinforcing my decision to stay with the digital fonts. I’ve been self-conscious about it for a while now as I get closer and closer to going live. I’ve even recently toyed with the idea of redrawing all of my strips by hand, but i’m sure THAT impulse will fade pretty quickly.

    I think i’ll stick with digital. My process is getting pretty streamlined and i’m going to need it if I’m going to be doing these 6 days a week.

  75. Tomu Says:

    Now, is it like when you write down letters on your own, and those get translated into a font, so it can sort of “pull” from your handwriting? That’s kind of nifty.

  76. Dennis West Says:

    Now, is it like when you write down letters on your own, and those get translated into a font, so it can sort of “pull” from your handwriting? That’s kind of nifty.

    Actually, i should look into that. I’m just using the Dave Gibbons Font from comicbookfonts.com

    http://www.comicbookfonts.com/fontpacks/catalog.html?sid=0001lvEn5LnBY8Uqic9Z0w7&keywords=gp1

  77. Chris Flick Says:

    There are some companies that will convert your handwriting into digital fonts. I use to have a link to one or two.

    Since we’re talking about critiques… :-)

    If you hand-letter your fonts, it will give your strip more of a “personable feel” – there’s no doubt about that.

    A lot of times, you’ll find auto-biographical strips hand lettered due to that “personal feel”.

    My strip’s not autobiographical, so I never felt compelled to go that route. Again though, I did listen to some advice I valued, tried it and found that I didn’t like the results so I quickly ditched it and went back to digital fonts.

  78. Dennis West Says:

    Wow! I know this is off topic, but I just tried out Fontifier.com and created a font based on my handwriting. It’s pretty amazing! It really looks like my lettering! I think I just may use this!

    I guess this isn’t too far off topic because it’s been a good example how external input can help improve things!

    THanks!

  79. Tomu Says:

    It’s also an example of how an individual criticism can then be criticized further in order to create a sort of compromise that is better than the false dichotomy of the original criticism or just ignoring it.

  80. More on Webcomic Creator vs. Critics » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] sure everyone’s tired of the whole Scott Kurtz/webcomic book review/”are critics ever useful” debate by now (although I love that people are getting [...]

  81. Dennis West Says:

    I’ve been reviewing my Webcomics Weekly Podcasts and here’s one that specifically addresses everyone’s thoughts on receiving criticism:

    http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?i=19812176&id=263044864

    I think that if everyone listens to it you’ll all find that Scott’s blog about insulating from criticism was a very specific statement and not meant to be a blanket opinion about all forms of criticism. He actually says in this podcast some of the very things that have been argued against him in these blog comments.

  82. Tomu Says:

    I think a lot of it is semantics. All I want is people who keep an open mind, and I suppose that’s their position.

  83. You find this funny? « Blurred Productions Says:

    [...] Draper Carlson, of Comics Worth Reading, (whose work, for the record, I don’t even like) gave a pretty good review of Kurtz (and friends) new book, How to Make Webcomics. Carlson actually had pretty nice things to say about the book, though she [...]

  84. News Story Followup: Webcomics, Middleman, Expensive Printing » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] the Webcomics book review, I guess I’ll have to start reading PvP — at least this [...]

  85. moose river - August 30, 2008 - by philippe van lieu Says:

    [...] about how Scott Kurtz of PvP fame apparently threw a tantrum over a review of his (and three other guy’s) book about how to make webcomics titled “How To Make [...]

  86. Backyard Frontier » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] Dennis West emailed me to let me know that he’s just launched a weekdaily webcomic called Backyard Frontier, inspired to do so by How to Make Webcomics. [...]

  87. Baltimore Comic-Con 2008: News From the Front » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] pleasant conversation with Kris Straub and Brad Guigar about the reactions to my review of their webcomic book. They’re great guys, and I hope to get a chance to talk to Scott Kurtz as well tomorrow, [...]

  88. Press Release How-Tos » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] Guigar (Evil Inc.), one of the authors of How to Make Webcomics, expands on those instructions by covering how to write a press [...]

  89. How to Make Webcomics Sequel on Kickstarter » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] recommended How to Make Webcomics when it was released back in 2008. It’s essential reading for anyone interested in the field [...]

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