The webcomics blog about webcomics

Why Haven’t You Reviewed My Comic, You Bastards?

Honestly, it’s not that we don’t like your stuff (although it may not be for us), it’s just time. Your story idea was good, but sometimes something that only makes sense to cover on a particular day comes up (case in point), and pushes your idea to the backburner until it’s lost its timeliness. And with one or two exceptions, it’s not because you were a jerk when you wrote us; it’s just that there are (as of right now) 34 decent suggestions in the “to be written” queue, and new stuff goes to the bottom of the pile.

But sometimes you just have to go with a suggestion right away; got this one earlier today:

How’s THIS for shameless?

I write a new webcomic. Very new. Tomorrow, we will have a grand total of 20 strips. Stay with me, I’ve thought of some positive things about this:

1) It is extremely easy to read the entire archives, and it can be done in a single sitting. In fact, even if you find out that you have only a half hour to live, you can still read the comic in it’s entirety.
2) It’s so early in the run that constructive criticism could make a much larger difference than it would to a more established comic.
3) Mentioning us would totally make at least two people’s day (myself and the artist), whereas it might only make 30-40% of a more established cartoonists day.
4) If anything ever becomes of it, you’ll be able to say you read it before it was cool. Because if our visitor logs are any indication, it’s definately in it’s “before cool” stage.

Anyway, I just wanted to scream about how we exist. Now you know, so I can stop screaming.

I like this letter a lot — shameless, funny, polite, to the point, but what made me want to run it today is not the endearing sense of neediness; it was item #2. It’s so early in the run that constructive criticism could make a much larger difference than it would to a more established comic. That caught my eye, because it relates directly to an upcoming bit in the Dave Kellett followup questions, and I thought it made for a good contrast. Here’s the Kellett Q & A:

Fleen: Questions for the webcartoonist just starting out: How big should your archives be before you try to join (or form) a co-op? And what’s the ethical, tasteful way to self-promote?

Kellett: You won’t really know whether your new comic has hit a stride until the 6-12 month point. If you can do a comic for a year, you can do it for three years, I’d imagine. So give yourself that time before looking for grander aspirations. And remember: you want obscurity at first. You want to try, and fail, and try again in obscurity. Your first cartoons will probably stink. So enjoy not having 100,000 people criticizing your work those first few months.

But when you are ready to start growing your audience? Phew … what’s the best way to summarize that? Talk with other cartoonists via e-mail, forums, and phone; cultivate your readers into evangelizing fans; give myspace a go; use forum signatures; perhaps join Keenspot or form a small co-op with like-minded cartoonists; and be very nice to every reader who ever contacts you.

The voice of experience is pretty telling here: your first efforts aren’t likely to be good, and even if they are, pretty much every cartoonist I know actively loathes their early efforts. But the eagerness of the newbie is also compelling: I know that! Give me feedback so I can get good enough to loathe my own early work some day.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, we at Fleen don’t enjoy stomping dreams into juice, which is part of why we generally wait to see more stuff in the archive before holding a candle up to it. We aren’t going to wang your server, but a link here could conceivably send a thousand people your way. Make sure you’re really ready for the kind of scrutiny that anonymous internet people will bring. And if there’s stuff in your archive that you’re already dissatisfied with … a quick redo before you put up the Welcome sign might help you sleep easier in the future.

So … did you just post that whole thing and not give so much as the name or a link to the comic in question?

I think his whole point was that linking to the site at this stage in its development would be doing the creator a disservice. If the creator isn’t convinced by Gary’s arguments, he always has the option of outing him or herself in the comments.

Something of a warning you mean? “If you’re ready for criticism please turn around and drop your pants” kinda of thing?


I think one of the funniest things is when you stumble across a comic strip with only five strips in the archive, and a prominent link to their online store.

That is SO CUTE.

HAH!! Good point. I’ve had my comic up for four years (as of next month), hundreds of web pages and on my fourteenth storyline, get a fair number of visits, but never set up an “internet store” of MINDMISTRESS merchandise.

Someday I’d love for a toy company to take a crack at it, though—you think BATMAN has a lot of toys associated with him, MM would have him beat…

Of course, I’ve never been reviewed by FLEEN, either, and judging from the list to comics to one side, I’m not one of the ones he regularly reads, either. No biggee. There are literally thousands of comics out there, and nobody can be appealing to everyone all the time.

I’m not sure that leaving the question of “when are you ready” up to the artist is such a great idea. Artists are notoriously either brutally self-critical or complete egomaniacs. I’ve got 234 comics in my archive and still don’t consider my strip “good enough” for me to either apply to join a collective or request a review on any blog. Not yet. And I’ve been doing this, more or less, for four years.

Oh, right. I had a point. My point is that this is what you get if you leave the decision up to the artist. Sometimes strips need to be dragged kicking and screaming into public view.

Yeah, i’ve got 314 comics in my archive… and although i am just now happy to receive reviews, i gotta say that the comic didn’t start hitting its stride until at least 164 comics in.

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