Sequential Underground #52 – Print First vs. Digital First

Sequential Underground

Two AudioShocker regulars step into the Sequential Underground! Ross Campbell and Kaylie McDougal join Shawn Atkins and Nick Marino to discuss making comics for print versus making comics for the web and digital devices.

Wet Moon 6 launched as a webcomic before the graphic novel was in stores.

After an improvised list titled 52 Things Nick Marino Loves About Digital Comics, we dig into the indie comics conversation!! Ross has always designed his comics to be printed first, but he recently took the digital first plunge with Wet Moon 6. And while Kaylie is planning to print Dinogeddon when the time is right, she’s always focused on debuting her comics digitally.

Dinogeddon is formatted for print despite running as a webcomic first.

Shawn began his prolific comics output with only print in mind, but eventually shifted to digital first after years of reposting his print comics online as webcomics. And Nick prefers to format his comics for the digital reading experience, hoping to one day only have to worry about selling digital products instead of trying to cram his webcomics into frustrating print formats.

We also explore other related comics topics like audience, criticism, and motivation in this x-tra long episode! Enjoy :D

13 Responses to “Sequential Underground #52 – Print First vs. Digital First”

  1. 1 Heather Nunnelly

    I feel a lot better that other people feel mopey about their work like I do. I feel like I am the only loser in the world who is actually effected when I get no comments. All the time no one ever really responds to Vacant. I’ll go months without anything. After a while I just sit there thinking, ‘Man i must really fucking suck”. And everyone gets mad at me, but I look at someone else with a webcomic and they get 500 comments….I think…well…what am I doing wrong? is it really because I’m new since I’ve been doing this for 4 years? It’s not like Vacant is my first comic. I’ve had several others.

    I have to just convince myself that people are tuning in so I keep drawing it on time.

    Like you had 10 comments on stick cats. That would be an EXTREMELY good day for me. The only person who is good about commenting is Ross. So Ross is the only comment on most of the pages on DA. On my site it’s worse. Once every month I might get one comment. It sucks….because that’s what I like about web comics. I like interacting. When no one comments it’s like…ugghhh.

    Also I like how Super Haters is copy and pasted, by the way. There’s a fair amount of comics like that, and it serves a purpose. Then again, I am a fan of super independent work. So Stick Cats is something that I enjoy. I still need to read them, though. I just don’t have time with Vacant and my other work.

    Anyway, I actually wrote a little thing about this podcast on my tumblr. It’s here if you guys wanna check it out. I have also said so much. Hahaha.:

  2. 2 nick marino

    I’m glad you had so much to say!!!

    When I said I got something like ten comments on Stick Cats, I meant ten comments over a few months of me posting pages. Fuck, probably ten in the totality of the 45 pages I’ve posted! So I can relate to not getting comments on a regular basis.

    With Super Haters, I get a lot more comments, but that’s also because it posts Monday-Friday and I promote it like crazy, posting links on four social networks every time a new strip goes up (and the new strips go up around noon consistently on the days when I post). That, combined with the fact that it’s a gag-a-day comic, seems to generate more comments. Still, we’re only talking about 2-3 comments per comic. Which is awesome, don’t get me wrong… but I work my ass off for those 2-3 comments!!!

    In particular, my social network outreach is something I’ve worked ridiculously hard to perfect. I try to tailor each link I post to that specific social network. So, for example, I know what my Twitter fans like when it comes to a link description, based upon which links have had the most retweets in the past — clear announcements that mention the number of the strip, provide a quick description, and mention where it takes place in the story arc. I also know what tends to work better for my Facebook fans — short, punchy jokes. Google+ and Tumblr, however, I have no fucking clue what works best on those networks.

  3. 3 Brian John Mitchell

    I kinda feel like Super Haters versus Stick Cats really indicates the difference between the level of pushing it. I consider myself a fan & I only randomly notice a new Stick Cats & I go to Super Haters every day whether there’s a new strip or not….

  4. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    Dinogeddon webcomics

  5. 4 Heather Nunnelly

    I guess I don’t have the social networking down. After a while I just give up because after a while it feels pointless. Ever comment I get feels like the world is lifted from my shoulders. It’s a huge surprise.

    I am also not sure if it’s also the change in internet. Somehow 4 years ago it was easier to get this kind of stuff around. Maybe that’s just me though.

  6. 5 shawn

    I totally hear ya Heather on all fronts I don’t know how to bring in the folks to read and stay either. My concern about the internet changing is how people want their content. Do they want webcomics once a week or in chunks at a time. Is it worth it to add extra stuff like wallpaper images, paper dolls, etc.

    I guess I’ll keep on keeping on with my webcomic.

  7. 6 Brian John Mitchell

    I definitely feel like the internet has jumped the shark a bit as far as “this is going to level the playing field & is the future of the industry (no matter what your industry is, I might add).” It seems like all noise & little signal. On Facebook, people post they like your comic without reading it & 50% of my feed seems to be politics (which will hopefully stop next month). I always get a little pissy that a post about a new book generates a dozen likes & zero orders, while a joke about crapping your pants generates 50 comments & 500 likes.

  8. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    Gello Apocalypse webcomics

  9. 7 Smars

    your list… >3<

    haha ross' response to reading comics on your tv.
    it's called an hdmi cable, ross. "tsk" "tsk" "tsk"

    for me its convenience. it's just so much easier to get more people to take a chance on your comic when it's digital and posted online, than if you were like at a con or something. people tend to be more judgemental at cons. they look at you, then your table layout, the quality of your printing, and all this is being factored in before they even consider picking up your comic. people judge based on their perception of the artist first and then decide if they want the comic, versus online where the work stands alone to be judged.

    dude… i used to reduce all my comic from 11×17 on copiers from 98 to 02. i had a love hate relationship with it, but getting a finished comic made me feel soooo good.

    this was some good comics talk. you guys made a good healthy round table of experiences and input. very cool.
    listening to you guys talk shop really made me remember my print comics days, and made me both happy and charged me up to make more comics.

    also… on the psychology of commenting.
    a lot of artist don't realise but most people don't comment because they don't want to look stupid to the creator, or they can't think of something smart to say. (people often want to seem witty or smart)
    it's like the shy fan who is timid to approach your table at a con, they sometimes feel like they're not worthy. it's the way we raise movie stars to these standards above regular folks. but they are. but in my personal experience, being a creator people automatically put you in a higher category or class. more so when they are non creatives or beginners. when they admire what you do, it creates a degree of intimidation for them.
    it's weird, this thing we call the internet and the people who travel through it.

  10. 8 Brian John Mitchell

    Here’s a question to Nick. Do you have an increase in comments when you put the first one from one of the Super Hater character accounts?

  11. 9 nick marino

    @Brian: Yeah, I agree with your comment about pushing content. I basically make sure that I’m screaming as loud as I possibly can without being a nuisance when it comes to Super Haters. With Stick Cats, I gently nudge people to let them know it’s there.

    I think the internet is just another tool at the artist’s disposal, not the one and only channel to use. But with that said, it’s my favorite tool for promotion, communication, and dissemination. I’m sure as hell not gonna cold call people on the phone to get them to read my comics.

    As for your last question, ummm… sometimes? Back when I first launched, nobody was commenting. And I knew that was gonna happen. So I figured that if I let my characters leave comments, then at least there would already be a few comments there and it would be funny.

    It kinda plays into the whole shy thing Smars is talking about. Some people don’t wanna be the first to comment. They wanna be second or third because it means that 1) other people already approve of the content, and 2) they don’t have to be the only voice on there.

    Personally, I don’t give a shit. I comment on people’s stuff regardless because I know how great it feels to get feedback. But I can relate to the timidness thing. Anyway, to answer you clearly — yes, in the beginning it made a difference. Nowadays that the comment culture is more established on Super Haters, it doesn’t matter as much if I leave comments as my characters.

    Also, people know that I’ll talk to them or about them in the Super Haters blog posts if they leave comments, which I think is a bit of encouragement. I mean, if I know somebody could name drop me on any given day, I’ll interact on their blog!!

    @Heather: It’s not pointless!!! But I think it’s somewhat important to enjoy the social networking stuff, because if it’s totally joyless for you, then it’ll show. For me, I enjoyed doing that stuff before I even had links to post, so it’s not a hassle. I mean, sometimes I get sick of it. But most of the time I think it’s fun and necessary. I view it as the last step of posting my webcomic online.

    @Shawn: I’m with you on that confusion… it’s hard to figure out what peeps want. From my POV right now, the best I can tell is that they want to read it in whatever way they want to read it, regardless of how I post it.

    In that sense, daily content has worked well for me. People who want it daily can go to the site every day at noon. People who want it a few times a week can check back at their convenience. People who read it once a week can go check it out on Fridays or on the weekends. And people who want it in big chunks can wait for a while and then binge on past comics.

    But then the problem becomes having daily content, which is a fucking pain the ass!!! Frankly, I’m getting a little tired of the grind.

    @Smars: I used to read toooonsss of comics on my TV. I barely even scratched the surface on this episode. Back before I had HDMI, I was using a VGA cable to hook my laptop up to the TV and I’d read .cbr files or Marvel’s Digital Comics Unlimited or webcomics or whatever. But Rambo 3.5 was the one I specifically read thru the PlayStation’s browser (which sorta sucks, BTW).

    I agree that it’s easier for people to take a chance on my work online. I hate setting up my table at conventions, and even though I have fun and talk a lot, the whole experience stresses me out. Online, I have fun posting my stuff around the web when it’s complete. The interactions aren’t always as deep or rewarding as the person to person thing at a show, but I feel like I know how to push my stuff better on the web than in person.

    And OMGGGGGG you’re so right about commenters. I think there’s a huge degree of insecurity and timidity on the part of fans that has nothing to do with the content or the creator. I also think that it’s one of those scenarios where seeing that a comic already gets comments makes it easier to leave your own comments (which brings me full circle back to what Brian asked about how my characters sometimes comment on their own webcomic).

  12. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    Nik Furious instrumental music

  13. 10 ross

    regarding commenting, there’s also that you have to take into account where the comments are coming from, on what site/platform. i get a good amount of comments on deviantart, but hardly any, often zero, on my livejournal, on the same images. so that’s another sprawling, often inscrutable factor, it’s not as simple as “people aren’t paying attention” or “people don’t like my drawing.” the format, site, and interface also play a part. blah.

  14. 11 Brian John Mitchell

    How about this one Nick, when you started doing the blog bit with the strip instead of just posting the strip, did that make a commenting difference?

    Also what portion of comments do you get mainly from people you know? I think 75% of the comments on my blog (the ones that aren’t spam) are from the same four dudes, two of whom are bandmates. So is the secret to getting comments having three or four friends who comment on a regular basis?

    P.S. – Life sucks & then you blog.

  15. 12 Marques

    About commenting I personally am not big on it. It something I just rarely do. If I like something (particularly on the web) I bookmark it, like this site and keep coming back to see whats going on. Maybe i’m a bad fan. But i’m a fan of a comic (digital or print) because of the writer/creator and I personally feel that by me commenting on the work I will influence the creator. I do not want to influence something i like because I might ruin it for myself. @Nick for example is good a surprises, Time Log and Super Haters keep surprising me(have not read Stick Cats yet) and i’m loving it.
    I don’t want to lose that.

    Do I need to be a better fan? Maybe
    Anyway, all you guys are great and i’ll be/keep listening/reading

    P.S @Nick I know i’m a little late but the digital cards were great it was simple and easy to use.

  16. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    Free eBooks by Nick Marino

  17. 13 nick marino

    @Brian: It’s really hard to say because I’ve become more accustomed to writing a bit underneath my comics as time has passed. And, also with the passage of time, my comments have generally become stronger on Super Haters. But that could have happened regardless of the text accompanying the comics. So it’s hard to quantify the effect of the text.

    BUT… with that said, I think the fact that I ask people questions and introduce discussion topics into the text beneath the webcomics certainly gets me more comments. But, on the other hand, sometimes I’ll post something with pretty much no text and still get comments, so I don’t think it’s a clear cut type of relationship.

    Most of my comments come from people I know. And, yeah, I think the secret to getting comments is by encouraging your best friends to be regular participants. Then the passionate fans will join in too. And then even casual fans will occasionally chime in because there’s already a discussion going on.

    @Marques: You’re not a bad fan!!! As a creator, I always want to get as many comments as possible. But I also believe that I have to earn your comments.

    I feel like it’s my job to excite and/or compel you enough to the point that you feel like you HAVE to say something (just like your comment on this blog post :D )

    Interesting that you feel like your comments may influence a creator. Way I see it, comments are more like motivation for a creator. Of course, any feedback has the potential to influence someone, but I only find myself influenced by comments in the sense that really really positive ones encourage me to try and replicate my success.

    And I’m so glad that the digital comic cards were easy to use. Hope you dug the experience!!

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