Updated November 19, 2015
With the ease of publishing and the lowered costs, comic creators are sprouting up all over the world at a vociferous pace. Whether they have dreams of making it big or just plain desire to produce in the medium they love, creators are foregoing the route of submitting to the numerous established indie publishers and going it alone. I originally started out on this path with my digital comic Satanic Hell, but ended up publishing through the established indie Alterna Comics (you can check out why here).
However, the sheer volume of new comics can’t be serviced by the existing publishers and many creators don’t want to wait around for their work to make it through the competitive submissions process. The quality of comics coming out of the wave of self-publishing varies, but there are many high-quality stories with striking art that are meeting their $4,000+ Kickstarter goals and becoming reality. Many creators are establishing their own small presses to distribute their works, and in some cases, other people’s works too. You want to get overwhelmed by the mountains of people creating comics? Check out IndyPlanet or Kickstarter or the Facebook Indie Comics and Art Forum.
If you’re going to stand out in this ocean of comics, then you need a place where potential readers and fans can learn about you and your work. Yes, you need a website. It’s shocking but in the 21st century you can still find walking, breathing humans arguing the Earth was created 5,000 years ago, pizza deliveries that take longer than 30 minutes, fans of the Brady Brunch, and comic book Kickstarters with no website. No. fragging. website. The creator has this nice, splashy Kickstarter page and then doesn’t bother to create a site for it. Or the website is a Facebook page, or some blog that has a hundred other things going on so you have to fish for information on the comic like you’re trying to extract some ersatz Transformer toy out of one of those machines with the maneuverable claw.
Obviously, some creators are debating the need for a website, perhaps because of the costs and time involved. I think it’s clearly worth it. A website allows people to learn more about you and your comic. If you’re promoting more than one comic book or novel, then a website makes sense to collect them all together so fans and potential readers have a place they can find all of your work at. This goes for webcomic creators too who want to turn their hosted material into a graphic novel – you need a designated website. I can’t learn much about you or your comic by just reading it on Duck Webcomics. I always check out creator websites when I’m looking around at indie comics, whether it be from Twitter, Facebook, or Kickstarter. And it’s almost always the case that those with the websites get the sale because they give me background and offer me other options if I like my initial purchase.
The website should be easy to navigate, clearly display your comic for sale and make it easy to buy. A site doesn’t have to be a Michelangelo, just don’t make it a Jackson Pollack. My website for Satanic Hell works fine. I’m not an HTML genius, but you can easily locate stuff on it and learn about the comic. Here are some self-publishers and small presses that have great websites. Check these out and use them as model to make or improve your own website.
Bloody Gore Comix
This site is basic but it pulls you in right away. It’s easy to navigate and visually tells you what they’re all about. I was immediately intrigued. The one issue that I have with it is that the comics are only available in print, save for one on Comixology, “Rise of the Blood Queen,” which I purchased of course. It’s unfortunate the rest aren’t digital as well because I would definitely be buying them. If not Comixology, then one could sell PDFs on Gumroad. Please, if you make comics, make easy to locate digital versions as well. Otherwise, you’re losing fans. Another thing is there’s no Twitter or Facebook links. Definitely need those too.
After pouring over this amazing website, I clicked the Comixology link and hit buy on Diskordia volume 1. Why? Because the website is one of the best ones for comic books that I’ve ever seen. It features its content in a simple, one-screen scroll down but also has an easy to use menu. The site displays the wonderful art of the comic well and draws the viewer in with its compelling world. This outstanding series is a bizarre dark comedy mixed with equal parts Lovecraft, Tolkien and the brilliant mind of its creator, Rivenis. It’s websites like these that create fans after one click. Rivenis is now using Patreon as well and put up the whole first volume up there for free. But the good thing is that he’s not solely relying on Patreon. His site is still there and current with updates. If you’re looking for inspiration for your site, this is a must see. And after the website, read the series. Neither will disappoint.
This site kicks ass and the comics look great to boot. If you want to know how to do a website, here’s another one. Fantastic layout, simple, easy to purchase digital comics for a great price. I love it and I’m going to learn from it.
Bloke’s Terrible Tomb of Terror
This is a great retro-horror anthology comic book series. It gets solid reviews, has a good following, and is available in digital and print. The reason I listed it here is because this phenomenal series has no designated website. It uses an Etsy storefront as the de-facto site and is joined by a Facebook page. One of the problems with the Etsy site is that you can’t see the full name of each title – they all appear as “Blake’s Terrible Tomb of Terr…” with no more info. Unless you want to click through each image in the ample catalog to figure out what you want, you have no way of knowing just by looking. A designated website would solve this issue, as well as giving a potential reader like me more background on the series and fans a nice spot to get updates. It also would vastly improve the comic’s SEO – meaning potential fans would more easily find the site (see my Matt Nastos post for comic book SEO advice). While the Facebook page may try to accomplish some of this, it’s not a good way to list your comics for sale or give a lot of info on the series and the creators. Facebook serves a different purpose and doesn’t fill fans in the way a real website does.
So to summarize:
Not designated websites:
deviantart account, Facebook page, Tumblr, a Kickstarter page, Patreon, storefront page, a website for a bunch of other stuff like drawings of cats on bowling balls (unless your comic is about cats living in a bowling alley). Of course, a creator should link to these social networks on their site.
something like “www.TomTheBombAssCreator.com” or “www.SuperJesus&theRedneckLegends.com” or “www.blogspot.TheZombieGirlz” are acceptable*^.
*But an actual website domain name is always better than a free account. It just depends on how serious you are about your craft.
^The zombie comic is only an example – Don’t be crazy and make one yourself. But I digress. That’s getting into another post.