How to Start an Online Comic

By Jennifer Walker

While anyone with an idea and a website can start an online comic, there are some other steps to consider before uploading that first strip. A little bit of advance work before you launch your own webcomic can give you a head start at building your very own space of online sequential art!

Begin with your characters. Place your characters in a situation, give them something to say, and spread it out over a few panels and you have your very first comic.

Decide on an update schedule. Take a realistic look at the time you will have available each week to spend drawing your comic and use that to decide how often you will update. Starting at a single update per week may be the best choice for some while others prefer and have time for updates every 3 or 5 days.

Build a buffer. Now that you have your characters and an update schedule, figure out how many comics you will need for your first month on the web and complete them before your first upload. Not only does this ensure against the inevitable "life happens" scenario that we all face, it will give you a better idea of how long each comic takes to craft. Feel free to revise your update schedule based on this step.

Come up with a catchy name. Make it a good one because this is how people will find you. Either make it descriptive of the main character or the overall theme of the comic. Keeping it short will pay off in the long run. Catchy subtitles and slogans can be used to reinforce what the comic is about and can be chaged as the focus of the comic changes without confusing your readers the way a name change would.

Format your comic for quick loading and easy reading. The smaller the file size the quicker it loads. While the overwhelming trend for surfing the web is broadband access, some users still use dial-up so it's helpful to keep your file sizes small no matter what. Setting the image resolution to 72 dpi and using the "Save for Web" option in whatever program you use will create the smallest file size possible so your readers see the comic and not a blank page.

The most common monitor resolutions are 1024 by 768 and 800 by 600 pixels so you want your image to fit within these margins. Images 600 pixels wide will show up comfortably on most screens without a need for side-to-side scrolling.

Upload your comic. If you have your own website, hosting your comic on the web can be as simple as downloading a Content Management System (CMS) for comics or adding blog software to use for updates. If you prefer to go with a free hosting option specifically geared towards comics there are several to choose from, or you can purchase a domain specific to the comic and start from scratch with basic HTML.