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Making Webcomics - out at the edges of our field

Not that long ago, I didn't even know what a webcomic was. This year, I’m making one!  

(Hint: Webcomics are graphic novels - but instead of being drawn for print, they live online, and usually are drawn primarily to be viewed on mobile devices.)

Here are a few of the highlights from my process thus far.

The biggest challenge in the beginning was orienting to a vertical canvas instead of the landscape layouts that I’ve grown used to, as a scribe. At first it felt squeezed, but now, six months into the project, it feels familiar. 

And unlike most webcomics that still use boxes and borders (like traditional comics do) my own comic is laid out in a more infinite, vertical scroll. I wanted a sense of movement, expanding beyond what could be seen, rather than try and fit - literally - into boxes that are too small for me. 

On the technical side, this ‘infinite canvas’ decision meant that I needed to design a template canvas size that let me work across multiple panels (phone screen views) at once. I use Fresco, so the pixel limit of a Fresco image dictated the limits of this canvas size for me. 

I keep the image resolution much higher than required for the web as I work. This is so that I can repurpose the images for large format printing at some point down the road. Given this, the template that ended up working for me was a canvas that’s six panels high. So I draw my episodes in these sets of six. (Afterwards, I use Clip Studio Paint to slice them back into the individual panels for upload to Webtoons and Tapas. There, they get reassembled seamlessly, start to finish.)

On the creative side, this decision meant letting the images speak to and through me, stretching into the unseen worlds of emotion and what is beyond the frame. 

Another technical/design decision was around my fonts. I did not want to use a standard font or someone else’s lettering for a project so personal. So I spent two weeks creating and tweeaking my own fonts. They’re not perfect, but they are sure doing the job so far. 

The same hurdle happened with speech bubbles. If I were using another drawing program, I could have access to a whole library of bubbles and tails, built in. But the benefit of that did not outweigh my preference to keep drawing in Fresco, which I’ve been using since 2020. So I drew a variety of bubbles, boxes and tails by hand, photographed them, and imported them as vector shapes into Fresco. After a few episodes, I now have a solid little morgue (storage field) of go-to sizes and layouts to repurpose as I write. 

While this may seem more labor intensive than using a program that supplies this, it means that I’m putting my own personal mark on every aspect of the design. There is no element that’s coming from anyone besides me. 

My webcomic creation is so different from my graphic recording. Even though my scribing experience - in particular, my generative scribing practice - is what is enabling me to do it, the experience is wholly its own.

One, there isn’t time pressure to get my images right. I can manipulate and redraw, and let an image speak to me. Sometimes the images even lead the way into the story when I don’t know what’s coming next. They can also be far more detailed, I can work from photographs or sketch roughly, I can combine styles in ways that might look jarring in a map, but look perfectly natural in a comic.

Two, this content is my own. I’m listening to a voice inside, not outside. I’m listening to what is beneath the words. It is generative scribing, but from within. It’s daunting, but liberating, too. 

Father. Mother. God. is an autobiographical tale. Dealing with addiction, mental illness, and spirituality, it asks the question: What does it take to heal, and how far is Play willing to go, to do it? 

Please come have a read  - there are four episodes live now, with more being published monthly. 

See you there,

Play

 

 

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