Demon of the Underground

Monday, October 31, 2011

FEATURE: Here Be Voodoo, by Valériane Duvivier

I mentioned in a previous entry that Nanomango is starting tomorrow, and I thought that now would be a great time to feature a new comic by one of my fellow participants from the June round! After seeing the work of Valériane, a.k.a. Kineko, in June, I've been keeping up with her comic projects and eagerly awaiting the release of her new webcomic, Here Be Voodoo.

The comic officially starts today, and in honor of the event, I asked Kineko if she'd be willing to participate in my feature. And yay, she said yes! Keep reading for the basic plot info as well as a Q&A with the creator:

-by Kineko

Bob: Basic plot description?
Kineko: Sunday, a little witch living in the Bayou, seek revenge against the Witcher, an evil sorcerer, who killed her parents. For that purpose, she create Mojo, a voodoo doll.
But they are separated, and Mojo start a journey to find his 'mom', and save her from the Witcher, wreaking havoc in the Bayou if needed.

Bob: Update Schedule?
Kineko: Every monday for the moment. It will be subject to change for special pages, announcement, cover art, or just me forgetting to upload the page (it WILL happen, I know what I'm like)

Website URL:


Bob: How did you first come up with the idea of Here be Voodoo?

Kineko: It all started when I was employed in a casual game company in... 2007. It wasn't that bad as a job, but the art style was very simple, the characters childish and I feel frustrated with these limitations and stressed out because of the insane schedule.

I was doodling a lot of monsters to cope and one day, between two meeting, I drew a little voodoo doll with a ponytail and a big butcher knife. I liked this scribble so much I start doing more and more voodoo doll, some were caricature of my coworkers, other being inspired by everyday item. I had a spidery doll inspired by a broken umbrella for example. The story start developing a month later, with Sunday's first appearance as a little girl with a top hat and the basic synopsis didn't change from there.

I wrote the synopsis for the nanowrimo 2008, and tried a few times to start the comic version, without finding the time or motivation, until last june.


Bob: During Nanomango, we saw you do a full set of pencils, plenty of revisions, and a few versions of finished pages. Can you talk a little bit about your process? For example, do you start with a script, or thumbnails, or just jump right in? How do you get from initial drawing to finished page?

Kineko: Well, my process is chaotic, even if I'm trying to be a little more organized.

I start with my nano-synopsis from 2008, which is already divided in chapter. First I read it, then cringe a lot and start correcting the narrative mistake, dialogue, and other error.

Once I have a clear idea of what's going to happen in a chapter, I doodle the pivot scene of the story. I tend to decide of a panel for the mere reason of 'it will look cool that way”, but I'm trying to change that and work on my paneling.

I generally do a few different thumbnails, to make sure the storytelling is coherent, and I start the pencils. I work with a blue pencil, and make correction and note with a red one. At this point, I submit my pages to a friend who is a lot better than me with story telling and layout and she help me correcting the bad cut and continuity mistake. I do generally one to three revisions of the pencil before I'm happy with it.

Then I scan the pages, enlarge every panel and print them each on a page in light blue. I ink them with my trusty pentel brush pen, then scanned them again at very big definition (600 dpi, my computer hate me), I erase the blue line and rebuilt the pages.
Then I texture with photoshop and my old cintiq and letter the dialogues.

I also send the finished pages to my English beta reader, Richard Roberts, who kindly check if the slang and grammar is correct, and to my friends for their advice. There is often a few last minutes corrections before I can label the page finished. From start to finish, I can work on a page 8 to 12 hours, but I make a lot of break so I can always have a fresh look on my work.


Bob: What media do you use to create your pages?

Kineko: It's a mix of traditional (for the sketch and inking) and photoshop (for the panel enlargement and the texturing). I sketch a lot faster with a pencil than a tablet and I recently discovered the joy of the pentel brush.


Bob: Tell us a little bit about Sunday.

Kineko: Sunday used to be a very happy little girl, always smiling and laughing, until her parents death. After this, she will grow up into a surly silent pre-teen. In the first draft of the synopsis, she was meant to be mute, but I decided against it.

She is intelligent and a powerful witch for her age. She rely a lot on relic and magical component to use magic. For example, she use her skills in sewing for her spells, that one of the reason she created Mojo. Upon meeting her, people find her cold and undemonstrative, and she is able to do some immoral thing to get what she want. She is fearless, if not foolhardy, and does not always evaluate the trouble she can get into before rushing head first.

But she still act like a kid in certain situation. She hate being mocked and will throw a temper when teased. She is repulsed by bugs and worms while Mojo LOVE them.

Oh, and she will never admit it, but she love pretty dress. Especially the pink one.


Bob: When you first posted work on this comic for Nanomango, you were like a machine! You kept the pages coming, and they all looked great. Not many people make it all the way through Nanomango without slipping. Do you have any words of wisdom on how you kept up your pace and your motivation?

Kineko: I was unemployed, I could take all the time I need to polish my pages... Not that I suggest to resign, of course!
First I think it's important to have fun. If you don't have fun while doing your pages, it's going to be harder to finish and be satisfied of your comic.

Use a technique you're at ease with. Pencil, direct inking, painting, graphic tablet, whatever you want, just be sure you won't be hindered by a technique you're not mastering very well.

It's good to have a clear idea of what you want to do for the mango. If you're in for the 30 pages, it's better to try with a short story, or to have a defined script of what's going to happen. Thumbnailling is important too, so you will not end with not enough or too much pages.

Don't feel obligated to draw if you don't want to. If you're not inspired to draw one page, draw the next one, or do something else, character design, background research, scripting.

If you feel you won't be able to do the 30 pages, it's not a problem. Give yourself another aim. 20 pages inked and 10 pages sketched for example. Of a complete script and all the pencil. You don't have to finish, you just have to feel proud of what you did.

And if you're not happy with the quality of your page, don't worry. There is always revision. Just make a note about what you need to change and December can be your own National Revising Mango Month.

Don't forget to take a breath, check the others participants comics, chat with them too! We don't bite and there is always someone ready to help with reference, advice or just to chat and unwind.

Or you can just take a scrap of paper, a pencil and go completely on impro.

This is very very fun too.


Bob: Which character from your comic is the most fun to draw? Who is the most difficult?

Kineko: The funnier: Mojo. He is very expressive with his body language and I love his ponytail and his little boots. I love drawing Sad the ghost doll too, because she is very simple and elegant.

The harder to draw is Eshu, the wood doll, because his chara design is HELL to draw. And Big Brother. His details are killing me.


Bob: As a fellow author of a b/w comic, I've often believed that full color comics have an automatic advantage when it comes to catching the eye of a reader. But at the same time, some stories are just meant to be in black and white, and I think black and white comic art can be just as beautiful as color. What made you decide to do this comic in black and white?

Kineko: In my head, Here be Voodoo has always been in black and white. The comics was supposed to be gritty, a little disturbing, borderline horror and I think color would have deserve this. That and I always color my picture as if a rainbow explode on the paper.

I was also a dire hard follower of the webcomic Digger by Ursula Vernon. I was hooked from page one and it was this comic that made me realize that black and white was a legit way to draw a comic without making it feel like a manga look alike or an unfinished color comics (for the reference, I love manga, but I think it was too much copied in western comicing and not always in a very good way).

I also admit at first I wanted the page to be made quickly, but this kinda derailed once I discovered the texture brushes of Photoshop.


Bob: Also, your comic has a very unique look, with a little bit of a scratchboard feel to it that I haven't seen anyone else doing. How did you nail down the style of your finished b/w pages?

Kineko: I used to draw in manga inspired fanzine when I was a teen, and I realized my inking... Well.. sucked. I was always disappointed how my inking looked flat next to my sketches and I wanted Here be voodoo to keep the dynamism of the pencil. I knew also I didn't want screentone, too cold for me.

I did a little reference digging in my favorite comics to find how I could improve my inking, mainly Sin City, Digger and Blade of the Immortal. All black and white comics, but very striking in their own way. I first tried a scribbly inking, à la Blade of the Immortal, but while trying to create a photoshop brush to emulate ink, I realized I could also make a scratchboard like texture. The hardest part was to find a way to render the skintone of the characters while keeping the line art readable.


Bob: What's your favorite part of working on a webcomic? Least favorite part?

Kineko: Having the idea. I love having new idea. I have wayyyy too much idea at the same time. The part I hate... Hm.. Let's say I dislike drawing background. A lot. But I'm trying to improve.


Bob: Anything else you'd like to say to your readers?

Kineko: I hope you will like reading“Here be Voodoo” and that you won't try to kill me when some unpleasant things are going to happen to the characters!

And as usual: This comics is NOT for kids!


Check out the amazing cover! (Full size available at the official website)

by Kineko

Now go on and check out the first page, and bookmark it for future updates! After seeing the Nanomango pages, I can say for sure that the story is exciting and unique and well worth the read. I also have the ultimate respect for people who have unique comic styles, and her art is both unique and gorgeous. Go look!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Exciting November Voting Drive

Here's the gist:
*I'm giving away a free DOTU Underground Card Deck!
*I'm giving away three free signed prints!
*If DOTU ends November in the top 100 at TopWebComics, throughout December I'll update the comic twice weekly instead of once!

The details:

-Starting November 1, when you vote for my comic at TWC, you will see a "word of the day" on the thank you page. There will be a new word every day. Put together in order, the words will form a special message.

-On November 30 at 8pm CT, I will post an entry to the Demonblog. Simply reply to the entry using the 30-word special message to win!

First Prize (1):
The first person to reply to the entry with the 30-word special message will win a free DOTU card deck AND a signed print of their choice from my Imagekind print gallery.
Runner Up Prize (2)
The second and third person to post the message will receive a free signed print of their choice (but not a card deck).

-As a thank you to everyone for voting, if DOTU ends November in the top 100 at TopWebComics, throughout December I'll update the comic on Mondays and Thursdays instead of just Mondays - starting Thursday 12/1. This means there would be 9 new pages in December instead of 4.

The fine print:

-The new word will be put up on my TWC page at roughly 2am CT, the same time that voting refreshes.
-Contest is open to anyone from any country.
-In order to win, you must post all 30 words correctly. It's okay if the spelling is wrong, but I have to be able to tell that the word itself is right.
-In order to claim the prize, you will need to provide an address for me to send the card deck and/or print. I promise I'm not a stalker or criminal and will not use your address for any other purpose!
-Although the winners can choose any piece of artwork from my Imagekind gallery, the signed prints will not be printed through Imagekind. I'll be using my own printer, which is of professional quality.
-Prints will be roughly 8x10, depending on the dimensions of the artwork. The portrait of Annie, ferret portrait, and cockatiel portrait may be slightly smaller than the others.
-FYI - if for some reason you vote but miss or forget the word of the day, you can vote again in the same day in order to see it. The second vote won't count towards DOTU's total, but it'll give you a chance to see the word again.
-Guesses are welcome! :)
-If you have any questions, please reply to this entry or send me an email at bob (at)


In other news, I've put up a new incentive - the pencil sketch for page 18 of DOTU. Vote!

And here's the incentive image from 8/22:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lame Female Characters

Types of lame female characters:

---The damsel in distress - comes in a wide variety of disgusting flavors.

---The damsel in imminent danger (she doesn't need to be saved *yet* - but she is a target, and the story revolves around the men keeping her protected. Lite version of the Damsel in Distress.)

---The woman who "stays at home" while the men go off to have an adventure (fyi, this includes the ever popular woman who insists on going with the men, is told to stay back, goes anyway, gets in trouble, and then has to be saved by the men)

---The static female character who exists as a foil so the dynamic male character can grow, develop, and find himself.

---The woman who exists as a pawn and/or bargaining chip to be used by the men of the story.

---The woman who is talented and useful - but NEVER as talented or useful as the men of the story

---The woman who is the constant supplier of fan service for male readers/watchers

---The woman who's included in the story just so the story would have a woman

---The token female in an ensemble. Descriptions of the main characters are usually along the lines of "shy and bookish Dave, charismatic overachiever Jon, witty slacker Steve, and sexy Valerie" - because "sexy" is the only character trait that many writers care to ascribe to women

---The woman who's dead before the story starts and is an idealized memory that symbolizes the male character's previously happy life.

---The lead woman who blindly and unconditionally supports/follows the lead male and doesn't have any aspirations of her own.

---The woman who falls in love with the hero, but the villain wants to marry her. (Sometimes female characters become sucky not just through their own personalities, but through the situations that the writer decides to put them in. See also: damsel in distress)

---The hysterical girl who does nothing but shriek and throw fits

---The woman who is a "female version" of one of the male characters

---The "sweet and gentle" girl. (She's good with children and animals. That's usually the extent of her character development.)

---The one-dimensional nurse/healer/nurturer (similar to the above)

---The fragile woman who breaks easily (always crying on the man's shoulder, seeking reassurance, unable to support herself emotionally)

---The woman whose sexuality is her main weapon. (Any woman for whom sexuality is their main weapon clearly doesn't have any other worthwhile talents.)

---The sheltered woman who waits around for a man to show her a "new world," an adventure, true love, etc.

---The woman whom aaaaall the men in the story have a crush on. (Usually the hero gets her; after all, that's why he's the hero. It's all about trophies and bragging rights.)

---The woman who represents negative female personality stereotypes - catty, manipulative, PMS-y, sets "traps" for the men, etc. - rather than *real* character flaws that aren't so misogynistic

---The beautiful woman who belongs to a society that's under attack by the male lead, who then falls in love with the male lead and convinces him to spare her people. (It all boils down to the woman being at the mercy of the man, and the woman only has an impact on the man because she's sexually attractive.)

---The beautiful and/or popular woman who's out of the male lead's league - but he gets her anyway. (Because men are supposed to win the prize, and women are supposed to settle.)

---The super awesome chick who, through the course of the story, transforms into any of the above. To me, this is the worst of all!

General Comments:

---For the most part, female characters are infinitely cooler, more realistic, and more capable in children's/young adult stories than they are in stories with an adult audience. I think one reason for this is because the characters themselves are often underage, so the writer doesn't have the option of turning them into sex objects. Also, many of those stories are actually written for a female audience. In the end, it's nice that so many children's and young adult novels teach girls that they are talented and capable, before they grow up and Hollywood tells them that they're worthless unless they're sexually attractive.

---Too often, when writers want to tell a story about a universal human condition, they use a male lead. When they want to tell a story about a female/feminine condition, they use a female lead. I wish more writers would use female leads to tell stories with universal meaning.

---Along those lines, movies with female leads are often automatically labeled "chick flicks." It suggests that regardless of theme, too many men have no interest in hearing about a woman's point of view. (For example, I don't know why so many people call Erin Brockovich a chick flick. How is it a "girly" story?)

---The women I know and like in real life are universally cooler than any fictional female I can think of (because so many female characters are written badly and are not based on any form of reality)

---There is a difference between a "cool woman" and a "cool female character." Interesting characters are not necessarily people you'd like or admire (or want to sleep with!) in real life.

---It's a lot easier to find cool female characters here on the ground level (self-published works). Somewhere between here and Hollywood/Marvel/DC/other major publishers, the cool girls get weeded out.

---Just for the record, there's ALSO a lot of really crappy male characters out there. But I'll let the guys talk about which male characters do them a disservice.

---In my opinion, it's better to have no female characters than to have only crappy female characters.

SUPER RARE and awesome things I'd like to see more of:

---Female leads who are not "girlfriend material." Books, movies, and comics have a wide variety of male characters, but it seems like all leading ladies are required to be cute, sexy, sweet, or otherwise the kind of girl that the average guy would want to sleep with

---Female leads who actually provide a unique talent or point of view to an ensemble, other than just providing the token female point of view

---Female characters who are realistically flawed. (And I'm talking about flaws other than "dumb blond," "sex worker," or other stereotypical crap.)

---Female anti-heroes

---Dynamic female characters who grow and go through a mental/emotional journey that has nothing to do with romantic love

---A female lead who doesn't have a crush, fall in love, have a significant other, or have a guy who's crushing on her

---A female character who is presented as a human rather than a woman

---Female characters who are as unique and varied as the women I know and talk to in real life

---Adventure stories with female leads - or basically any depiction of a woman having an actual adventure (that doesn't involve becoming a damsel in distress or needing a man to *give* her an adventure)

---Lesbians who are neither (a) villains out to destroy men, nor (b) essentially straight girls who kiss other girls just to turn guys on. (FYI, "lesbian" isn't a personality trait in and of itself. Too many writers think it is.)

While DOTU is obviously very male-heavy, I do have other stories in the works where women are more prominent. (Ludwig the Rock, for example.) In any case, I can promise that NONE of my female leads will fall into that top list.

Eh... Long-winded much, Bob?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Webcomic Listings, Services, and Resources

I've only been publishing my webcomic for about three months, and before this comic, I never had any luck getting viewers to whatever my current art project was. DOTU is a very different project for me, because I was somehow able to find more readers than I ever expected in a very short amount of time. DOTU has a long way to go in order to become an "established" webcomic, but I'm happy with the luck I've had so far. I figured it would be a good idea to share the resources and sites I've used during the past months with any of you who are also new to the webcomics world.

In this post, I'm focusing on venues that allow you to publicize your website. I've listed the pros and cons of each site based on *my* experience with them. If you've had a different experience, feel free to comment! I'm not going to change my post (like I said, it's meant to be based on my experience and what's worked for me), but if you disagree about the value of a particular site, your comment will let readers see a different perspective other than mine. I've summed up each mini-review by simply deciding whether or not it was worth my time to use the site.

Also, I'm writing this entry based on my experience as a comic creator, not a comic reader. Some of the sites I list as not being helpful to me might be great for someone who is only looking to read comics, not to gain exposure for their own.

At the end of this entry, I also have some additional resources such as hosting options, advertising, and webcomic management.

I understand that it takes time to maintain all the sites listed below, and I appreciate that effort, so I apologize in advance if any of my reviews seem harsh. I just want to help fellow creators use their time in the most efficient way possible. But I'm long-winded as it is, and honesty takes fewer words than sugar-coating.

I hope you all will find this listing somewhat helpful!


These sites are comic directories, but there is a competitive focus. Comics are listed based on popularity, votes, visits, ratings, or other similar factors.

All my investigations have told me that this is the most popular comic ranking/voting site on the web. It also offers several promotional tools for creators. In addition to listing your comic, you can put out an avatar that will show up when guests come to vote on other comics (for free), you can post sample comic pages (for free), you can put out an article about your comic (for free, and in my opinion under-utilized), and you can buy ad space. You can also track how many votes you're getting and when you're getting them.

--Offers creators plenty of opportunities for self promotion - vote incentives, avatars, articles, ad space
--The voting and incentives process gives a way for readers and creators to interact
--This site is run at what I would call a professional level. Turnaround time for approvals is quick, and inquiries are taken care of right away. I had a glitch with a banner ad and contacted the admin, who took care of the problem within a day.

--It may be difficult for new comics to gain visibility through the ranking. The top spots seem to always be occupied by the same comics, and for whatever reason the votes seem to favor Smackjeeves comics.
--(This could be a pro or a con) - the ranking really doesn't have much to do with the actual popularity of the comics. The highest ranked comics here are not necessarily the comics that get the most pageviews or have the most readers. (If you advertise on Project Wonderful, you can see how many daily views many of these comics actually get.) I'd assume that the top comics are creative with incentives and probably offer a lot of them. The plus side of this is that it gives you a way to be noticed even if you're *not* already a popular comic. (And my goal with this article is to help people gain popularity for their comics, not to help already popular comics stay popular.)
--Because displays are based solely on votes, there's not much you can do to help your *target* reader find your comic. It's difficult to sort based on genre, style, etc.
--The queue for purchased skyscraper banner ads is loooong. I think my ad has been in the queue for well over a month. The wait for other sizes of ads doesn't seem to be as bad, though.

WAS IT WORTH MY TIME? YES. This is an interactive site. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. I've gotten a good share of readers through TopWebComics. I consistently get a decent number of referrals through the site, and I plan to continue using it.

Comic Hovel
This is like a "lite" version of TopWebComics, combined with a "lite" version of Project Wonderful. It ranks comics based on votes, but also allows sorting through ratings based on art, story, and website quality. It also offers a banner exchange program and an opportunity to make money by displaying ads for other comics on your site.

-It's a great idea! If I were to read the above description, I'd say "sign me up right away!" (but alas...)
-I think the site design is excellent. It's very clean and easy to navigate.
-The listings seem more favorable toward story-based comics rather than gag-a-day strips, which is obviously a plus to me because that's what I do.
-It's easier to sort based on genre than TopWebComics
-You're automatically given credits to advertise your comic through banner ads on other comic sites. You can also buy additional credits.
-I like that the ranking system acknowledges the importance of good art, good story, AND good website design.

-Voting is inaccurate/unresponsive. I say this based on the fact that the votes did not get reset at the end of the past month. Having joined the site near the end of September, September was obviously already lost to me. I was hoping to have a fresh start in October. But since the votes were not reset, I consider this site to be useless to me at least until November. We'll see if the votes get reset then, or if this site turns out to be dead.
-One of the most promising features of the site to me was the opportunity to place ads on my site to earn money. However, I've found this system to be completely unresponsive. While the site claims that the wait time for site approval is 24 hours, I've been waiting approximately a month.
-Unlike Project Wonderful, you can't target your advertising. You can't pick and choose where your ads will appear, so you're likely to get a very low percentage of clicks unless your comic has universal appeal. That's bad news for people with more of a niche audience.

WAS IT WORTH MY TIME? NO. There's not much of a point in updating incentives and asking readers to vote if the votes don't ever get reset. Thus I get *very* few referrals through Comic Hovel - and the point of listing my comic on all these sites is obviously to gain exposure. Also, due to the unresponsive nature of the site, I'm very leery of the idea of buying ad credits from this site, or the prospect of earning money through displaying ads and then having to request a payout. My belief is that if a site handles the exchange of money, it must be run and maintained at a professional, reliable level. Considering the unresponsiveness, I just can't trust this site with my money.

This is a comic "competition" site in which you try to earn points in order to win a "prize." The site claims to "bring you access to hundreds of free online comics." You score points by getting people to visit Comicracy through your site or to have them leave the site by clicking onto yours.

-This might be fun for people who are into that sort of competition

-I was personally turned off by the overall idea of the site, as in being a contest based on scoring and getting points and collecting trophies. It's just not my taste.
-For whatever reason, thhere is an emphasis within the top listed comics on typical sexist/misogynistic themes, suggesting that the readership skews in that direction. That doesn't do me much good, and as I said, I'm writing about what *I* found helpful.
-Despite the site's claim to bring readers access to hundreds of comics, very few comics are shown on the main page. There does not seem to be an easy way to display many comics at once.
-Even the "top-rated" comics are only rated at 3.8 or so, which suggests to me that people maliciously vote each other down. Bad energy. I prefer positivity.
-To me, this has an unappealing site design, reminiscent of superhero comics (again, not my taste)

WAS IT WORTH MY TIME? N/A. I decided not to sign up for this site, because it didn't appeal to me.

Comic Rank
This site is a straightforward ranking that lists comics based on how many readers they have.

-It's a great source for information on your comic. In addition to tracking the number of readers for your comic, it also tracks your conversion rate, so you can tell if people are actually reading more than just one or two pages.
-The concept is simple and straightforward. Just put a few tracking buttons on your site, and you don't have to do anything else. You don't have to "work" for your place on the site.

-If you're already popular, this site will help you be more popular. If you're not already popular, chances are you won't be seen. I'd say that this site does more to help readers find popular comics; it's not really geared toward helping new comics gain exposure.
-This site is unresponsive. I've been waiting two months and counting to get my leaderboard approved to even appear on the site. I still have access to my ranking information, but that does nothing to help me gain exposure for my comic because the banner isn't displayed on the site until it's approved.

WAS IT WORTH MY TIME? KIND OF... I really do like the ranking/readership information that the site provides. But in 2 months, I've gained 0 readers through this site because I'm still awaiting approval. I can't necessarily *fault* the website for being unresponsive; after all it's a free service and there's no exchange of money, etc. But it's still frustrating to me as a site user. Based on my number of readers (currently 1222), my leaderboard would be listed on the second page - which to me is great at this point in my comic's "life." I'm just sad that I don't actually get to benefit from it.

This is a ranking site where the results are based on exits to the comic sites and the number members favoriting the webcomic on the site.

-Easy submission process. It only took a moment. But I just joined today, so I'll have to wait and see how long it takes to get the comic approved and actually listed on the site.
-I'm amused by the fact that my profile says, "You currently has no friends." ^_^

-Site is difficult to navigate. It's difficult to find information on what the site is for. It seems to be geared more toward readers than creators. You can have "friends" and an inbox for messages, but I can't tell for sure what types of interaction actually happen on the site.
-They have a ridiculous avatar system. You can't easily upload your own. You have to choose one that's pre-existing from their collection. When you submit your comic, you can submit an avatar for the comic (which will then appear in the collection for you to choose), but it has to be approved. That's a lot of effort for just an avatar!
-I'm not a fan of the website design. Again, it feels very "superhero."

WAS IT WORTH MY TIME? TBD. I just joined today. This doesn't look to be a particularly popular site, so I'm not expecting a ton of referrals. But it also doesn't ask for a whole lot of effort or interaction, so that's fine.

These are sites that have a heavier focus on being comprehensive than on competition.

The Webcomic List
This is primarily a basic comic listing, but it does also have a ranking system in there based on "number of visits per update."

-It's an easy, straightforward listing, with plenty of sorting options
-It lists newly updated comics, so active comics can be displayed more prominently than dead comics.

-Not an appealing site design.
-Slow turnaround time for site approval and to check if it's updated
-It's primarily text-based, which to me is not very helpful when it comes to webcomics. All you get is an 80x80 image.
-I mentioned that it lists newly updated comics. I should have prefaced that with the phrase, "in an ideal world..." The site doesn't pick up my updates, but it also doesn't let me update manually or force update. According to the site, you have to be "special" in order to be able to update manually.

WAS IT WORTH MY TIME? TBD. If you're going to fail to pick up my updates, at least give me the option of updating manually! I get a ridiculously low number of referrals from here. (i.e. a grand total of 1 this month.) I've reported my site as not picking up updates and am waiting to see if the issue will be fixed. If it gets fixed, and in a timely fashion, I will update these comments to reflect that. (It took me a couple months to realize you can report the problem of not picking up updates! oops...) This is one of those sites that's free and doesn't ask for much of your time, so *if* the update issue gets resolved, the "TBD" will probably become a "yes."
UPDATE: The problem was fixed very quickly, and the site admin is incredibly friendly and responsive. Major plus! And since the problem's been resolved, I've already noticed a few more hits from here. So I'm gonna say that YES, this was worth my time.

Comic Listing
This site claims to be "the largest comic listing and directory, with over 18,000 and growing."

-This site does exactly what it claims to do - list comics.
-It's very easy to add a comic to the list. The approval process is quick.
-There are various ways of sorting comics so the same ones aren't always displayed at the top, as is usually the case with voting and ranking sites.
-The site design is pretty clean and not an eyesore.

-Anyone can change the info of your comic or even flag it as trash
-There seem to be a lot of duplicate listings
-This is primarily text-based, although you get a *slightly* larger image than you do on the Webcomic List.

WAS IT WORTH MY TIME? YES. To be fair, I just put up a listing the other day. But I'm still saying yes. The site didn't ask for a lot of my time and didn't make any big promises, so even if I get nothing out of it, it's not like I sacrificed much.

The site describes itself as a "webcomic tracking and bookmarking service." You can sort by name, popularity, last added, and last updated.

-It's easy to add comics. At least I assume it is, because my comic just magically appeared on the list without me submitting it. I didn't know this site existed until I checked Google Analytics and noticed a bunch of referrals through here. (but for the record, you can manually submit your site too)
-I love that it sorts based on the last update. How else do you know what comics are actually active?

-The listing is entirely text-based. Only the title is listed.

WAS IT WORTH MY TIME? YES. Er, especially considering it didn't actually take any of my time yet still gives me plenty of referrals. I'm not quite sure how that happened, but whatever. Thanks, Piperka!

Ink Outbreak
This site is like a cross between a comic directory and an RSS reader, but it shows the comic on its actual website, unlike an RSS reader that strips it down to almost nothing.

-It's innovative! This is a great way for readers to follow more than one comic, and thus a great way for creators to gain more readers.
-It's not text-based like most other directories. Comics are listed on the main page entirely through generously-sized images, so you have full control over how you choose to promote your comic.
-The listing is based primarily on when your comic last updated, so new comics don't have the insurmountable task of competing for visibility with already established comics
-This is a sure way to introduce your comic to new readers, as readers jump from one comic directly into the next, and yours will likely be in the queue of readers who are into the style and genre you write for.
-Readers have the option of selecting all their favorite genres and subject matter, so your comic is automatically targeted to the type of reader who's most likely to become a fan
-Although it functions kind of like an RSS reader, it preserves the full website so you still get your ad revenue and the aesthetic impact of your site.
-The owner of the site is very responsive and quickly addresses technical issues through the forum
-I like the forum. :)
-The site also bookmarks the most recently read page, so a reader can pick up where they left off in your comic even if they missed an update or two

-The listing isn't as comprehensive as many other sites - YET. It's a new site, so I'm hoping more comics will be added.
-The current collection of comics seems to lean more toward cartoony and gag-a-day stuff, which isn't my personal preference.
-Due to the way the site works, it's a little bit of a hurdle for sites that have landing pages. Some readers seem to get frustrated having to click a button to get to the latest page.

WAS IT WORTH MY TIME? YES. Definitely yes. This is one of my favorite "discoveries" in terms of webcomic listing services. It's just *cool.* And I've also met a lot of awesome artists through the forum!
I'm not going to go into a full review of this site, because for my purposes I consider it to be a DEAD SITE. I submitted my comic, and it sat a month waiting for approval. When I wrote to inquire, I got no response. Even the other sites that I noted as unresponsive at least gave me some sort of excuse when I sent an inquiry. This site didn't. So I'm basically just acknowledging that it exists, but definitely not giving it any sort of thumbs up.

WAS IT WORTH MY TIME? NO, for the reason mentioned above.



This seems to be the most popular way to publish webcomics, but I hate it. I gave it a shot, but I found it to be too bulky for my tastes. Customizing it took way too much time, effort, and knowledge. On the bright side, it does offer a lot of features, and since it's the most popular, all the comic listing sites seem to be configured to pick up its updates. Knowledge of HTML / CSS / basic PHP highly recommended! I didn't know enough PHP to make Comicpress work the way I wanted it to work. If you're not picky and are satisfied with the standard settings, it probably won't be such a big deal to you. But I wanted my site to look and act in a very specific way, and Comicpress made that difficult.

This is what I use, and I highly recommend it. There's not as many features as Comicpress, but I found it more user-friendly and easier to customize. It also runs quicker and lighter. Knowledge of HTML / CSS is a plus. You'll need it in order to "pretty up" your page. I don't know PHP, but I managed just fine. One negative is that I didn't like its built in commenting system. It doesn't let you reply to comments.

This quick and easy commenting system will let you interact with your readers better. It's very handy. Basic knowledge of HTML required.

Another commenting system. It seems to be more popular than Intense Debate, so I'm listing it here. But I don't use it. I like Intense Debate's interface better.

I don't use any of these. I pay for my own hosting because I prefer full autonomy. But if you need something free or if you want some automatic publicity, these might be an option for you. To be honest, they kind of remind me of cults, the way the some readers only frequent, say, comics hosted on Smackjeeves, and some creators only link to other comics hosted on the same site, and they're all blind to the outside world. Lol. But hey, whatever works for you.

Comic Fury
Rampage Network

Project Wonderful
This is a professional advertising tool that's focused more closely on webcomics and similar venues than, say, Google Adsense. You can use it to advertise your comic at any time, or once you've established yourself as a steady, active webcomic, you can earn money by displaying ads. The site lets you track the effectiveness of your advertising, see the best places to advertise, etc. You have full control over where you advertise. And if you're a publisher, you have full control over who advertises on your site. But advertising costs money. And you can't submit your site as a publisher until you have at least 30 pages under your belt. Once I get to that point, I'll post about the process and how helpful it is. P.S. No porn/adult content allowed, though some sites (ahem... *cough *oglaf *cough) seem to find loopholes. (I love Oglaf, by the way. ^_^)

Google Adwords
This is a professional tool for advertising your comic (or pretty much any non-adult website). Sometimes they have promotions and give you free money to advertise. There's no harm in using free money! Just be very vigilant and make sure you notice when the free money runs out! I wasted my free money on promoting my Etsy shop, stopped paying attention, and overspent - and it didn't get me any sales. I haven't tried it with my webcomic. Eh, no more free money, and I don't feel like paying...

Google Adsense
This is a professional tool for making money by running ads on your comic. I'm halfway through the approval process, but I haven't yet committed to running ads on my site. I really prefer to run ads for other webcomics, not random junk. But you can display ads through Google much sooner than you can through Project Wonderful.

Comic Hovel
I already discussed this in the "ranking" section, but I'm listing it here because it also gives the option of buying banner impressions or selling ad space. Unlike the three sites mentioned above, I consider this to be more of an amateur tool, because it's not run with the same diligence and responsiveness as the sites above. I would say that one of the pluses is that you don't have to wait until you have 30 pages under your belt in order to make money displaying ads. But like I mentioned, my approval is more than a month overdue, so I *can't* actually say that the wait time for Comic Hovel is shorter than the wait time for Project Wonderful.

Google Analytics
This is a great free service for analyzing your site's traffic.

WHEW! That took waaaay longer to write than I planned... But I hope someone out there finds it helpful!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

8/15/2011 Incentive, and Exciting News

Animated WIP shots of page 2!

And a new incentive is up at TopWebComics as well!

Nanomango is in just a couple of weeks, though - so I better start thinking! I'll probably be working on Ludwig the Rock for nano; it's always my November project, while DOTU is my June project. Usually the inspiration doesn't hit me until a few days before nanomango starts. Right now I have very little interest in working on Ludwig, but I know that'll change as the time draws nearer.

In recent news, a few weeks ago I signed my first short story contract with Dreamspinner Press! It's called The Dragon Tamer. It's quite different from DOTU, but I still hope y'all might still give it a shot! Just a heads-up, it's an m/m fantasy romance, and it's sad! (DOTU has its down and dirty moments, but it's certainly not "sad.")

I'll post more details about this along the way. I'm excited to see how the editing process works out, and so on. Also, I'm doing my own cover art! I finished it on Friday; I'll post it closer to the story's release.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

DOTU is spreading like Herpes!

Er... that is to say, I'm putting up pages for DOTU on various social media sites and comic sites so you guys can all keep updated on the latest news more easily! So far, you can find info about DOTU in all of these places:

Blogger @demonoftheunderground - That's what you're looking at right now! The official "Demonblog." I'll post all news and updates here, generally with more detail than what I post anywhere else. Also, I'll post all TopWebComics/Comic Hovel voting incentive images from the previous month here so you're guaranteed to never miss one!

DeviantART @anabosch - On DA, I post new DOTU pages one week after their release to the main site. I also put up other artwork - at least when I have time to do other artwork! I'll also put *some* old voting incentives here.

Facebook @demonoftheunderground - Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter will all have mirrored news posts and perhaps some random goofy junk. I'll also link my Demonblog posts through these sites. But I won't be posting actual pages to these accounts.

Tumblr @bob-artist - Same as Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter @shobana_appavu - Same as Facebook and Tumblr, but of course this is limited to much shorter posts.

Google+ - Still figuring out how to use it! ;)

Livejournal @bob-artist - I use this primarily for more personal posts - and ferrets! But there's plenty of discussion about DOTU there, and I re-post the comic pages in blocks after their release on the main page.

TopWebComics - This is an awesome comic voting site, and I get a lot of traffic from here! So I really appreciate every single vote I get. Last month I finished at #224, which was over 100 places higher than the previous month - all you voters are AWESOME!!! I always try to reward voters with fresh incentives every week. The incentive images range in theme, from ferret photos to WIP shots to shiny new DOTU-themed comic strips. It's a new month now, so please help so the comic doesn't slip in the ranks!

Comic Hovel - This is a comic voting site. It's not as big as TopWebComics, but I greatly appreciate any votes I get through here! The incentive will always be the same as on TopWebComics.

Ink Outbreak - This is a really really cool website that provides an easy way for readers to keep up with all the webcomics they read, while preserving the content of the original website rather than filtering it into an RSS feed. I use it both for reading and for sharing DOTU, and I think it's great. You can follow DOTU so it stays in your reading queue and will automatically pop up high on the list every time I add a new page. It's a relatively new site, but I think it's gonna be huge, and I encourage everyone to check it out!

And to start off, I'll catch up on old voting incentives by posting two of them here! First off, the 8/1 voting incentive: an image of Shango, who was the inspiration for Annie.

And second, here is the 8/8 voting incentive: the first ever concept image I did of Pogo for DOTU.