Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Mirror, Mirror - Drawing From The Other Side


Sometimes I like to work back from the last frame because it's often the most important one. I can then take elements I've already drawn and use them in frames that come before it.

Drawing the Reverse
The animation doesn't look quite how I wanted it, but it shows that the drawing won't work quite right without altering the silouhette a little. The heads needed to be turned in slightly or looked wrong.

I did similar for the desk (notice the angles match), then the computer monitor, and finally swapped the order of the layers to give me the new scene.

The Completed Scenes

Using this technique saves a lot of time and provides a consistent look. But, just make sure your characters are different enough from each other or you will confuse the reader. You have swapped their positions in the frame so use as many tricks as you can to differentiate them.

Link to cartoon >>> http://funstreak.webcomic.ws/comics/33

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Posting Your Comics on Reddit (Part 2)


In my last blog I talked about the pros and cons (mostly the cons) when using Reddit to promote your comics. But I also wanted to pass on some of my musings about the reason that one of my comics performed so well.

Let’s start off by looking at my submissions:-
16th Oct 2017
2 (75% upvoted)
16th Oct 2017
2 (100% upvoted)
16th Oct 2017
4 (75% upvoted)
16th Oct 2017
3 (81% upvoted)
16th Oct 2017
2 (63% upvoted)
17th Oct 2017
3 (100% upvoted)
18th Oct 2017
167 (90% upvoted)
19th Oct 2017
98 (81% upvoted)
20th Oct 2017
20 (75% upvoted)
22nd Oct 2017
6113 (85% upvoted)

What does this tell me?
  • If you look at the score, it shows that you nearly always get down-votes. The percentages look small, but when you start looking at Sauce of Genius, that’s a thousand people expressing their dislike. It reduced my score by a thousand, which impacts how easily it goes into (and stays on) the ‘hot’ page.
  • Comments tend to track Score, it’s not until you get a cartoon on the ‘Rising’ or ‘Hot’ page that you attract the attention of those that feel the need to tell you something.

So, why did “Sauce of Genius” do so well?

The Sauce of Genius

That’s a great question, because I didn’t think it was better than say “The Gas is Greener”. It’s not a bad comic idea, it's drawn quite well and has the following attributes:-
  • It’s relatable, everyone likes sauce.
This generated most of the positive comments, people talking about their favourites and what foods it's good for. Some even talked about alternatives they didn't like.

  • I had altered the label of HP Sauce to read “Brown”. 
Loads of people needed to tell me it was actually called HP, completely missing the point of the joke. In the UK it's all known as brown sauce, I just chose that one because it was so recognisable. This also generates conversations about the UK and how HP was no longer available in the USA.

  • Some of the statements are not true.
OK, here's where people started to really take issues. I took a lot of flak for Buffalo really being named after the place, and even my statement about Tabasco (which was true) was generally rubbished. Way to ruin a joke guys!!
Some asked if my intention was to be as inaccurate as possible, while others were amused that so many were getting hung-up on these details. (It certainly made me laugh)
Others started to get creative and came up with their own fake-sauce-facts. (very funny)
But generally I'm a bad person for doing zero research!

  • One of the pictures appears to portray Thousand Island as a tropical island.
This one probably caused the most friction. Yes, it’s really up by New York, but I never said it wasn't. People seemed to be genuinely insulted by this one. It also generated a lot of discussion about New York and what Thousand Islands is really like.

Lessons Learnt

Although unintended, this comic was a little controversial. At first I was a bit embarrassed that people were finding obvious holes, but it soon started to feel like a joke on the readers when so many were taking it so seriously. It's one way to generate interest, but I imagine it could easily backfire if enough people down-vote it as soon as you post it. You also need thick skin and should resist the temptation to defend yourself.

That aside, I think mainly people could easily relate to it and understood the joke.

Something I'm still uncertain of is whether post images directly into Reddit is better than linking to a comic site.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Mixed Blessings - Promoting Your Comics on Reddit

Moving to A Bigger Audience

Trying to grow your comic audience is a big challenge to most cartoonists, you can create the greatest material in the world, but if nobody sees it then you might as well not bother. Most artists find one or two comic hosting sites to post to, and find they can easily get some followers and readers from amongst their peers. But you always want more, which generally means promoting your work elsewhere.

I’ve experimented with a few such as Ello and Tumblr, but by far the biggest impact I’ve had so far is with Reddit. The first day I posted five old comics and pushed my site page hits to just short of a thousand, but it’s not without its problems.

Posting Cartoons To Reddit

My teenage son was surprised when I told him I’d started posting cartoons to Reddit, like he knew something that I didn’t. I could tell something wasn’t quite right because of all the Reddit user advisory notes down the right hand panel on the /r/comics sub-reddit page.

There's stuff about General Conduct, What's OK to Post, What's NOT OK to Post, and some tips for artists. There's similar in most of the other sub-reddits, so you get the impression there's been abuse of the system in the past.

The Bad

It's best to think of /r/comics like a toxic tank full of piranhas, but if you decide to risk it you can get incredible levels of page views. In my experience they’ll either swarm all over you or ignore you completely. (mostly the latter) This week however, I did have a cartoon that went surprisingly well. It was a bitter-sweet moment, and probably something I'll cover in another blog.

Let's just say I learnt a few things.


Let's for a moment consider reader's comments on Reddit,...
  • Don’t feed the trolls, try to take a back seat and don't get drawn in.
  • Some may be pedantic or picky about certain details in your work.
  • Some have a Asperger's level compulsion to correct anything they consider incorrect.
  • Any sort of self promotion, including posting a link to your site may be voted down, possibly with a few snotty comments.

Down Voting

If you've not seen Reddit before, you should be aware that user posts are up or down voted by the readers. Up-voting makes your cartoon more visible and down-voting has the opposite effect. So you may find that a perfectly good cartoon (one that’s been received OK elsewhere) immediately gets a few "down-votes" and ultimately bombs. This can be highly frustrating and may be an indication that your cartoon isn’t so well suited to this audience.

It’s well worth taking a look at the more successful cartoons, the crowd is “laddish” or in the US you’d call them “Bros”, so you might want to consider whether your cartoon is suitable.

Coping With The Swarm

Getting onto the ‘Hot’ page is not a simple matter and in my experience it involved a fair bit of luck. I found it helpful to consider every new submission to be an experiment and not get too attached to the process or the outcome. Your work is likely to fail here, but that doesn't mean it’s a bad comic. (keep that in mind at all times!)

Use the "[OC]" tag in the title and request “Artistic Flair” from the moderator. This generally involves putting a link back to your Reddit user page from your cartoon site (you can always remove it again afterwards). This highlights your posts with the name of your comic, but don’t expect this to grant you better treatment.

Most people don’t want to leave a comment, it’s just a fact of life, but some will be compelled to type these sorts of things:-
  • Witty comments (some are quite funny).
  • Corrections to your work that they feel would improve it.
  • How your work relates to them directly.
  • Reactions to other people’s idiot comments.
  • Thoughtful side discussion topics.
  • General scorn.
(It's a real mixed bag with a fair amount of negative stuff there.)

My son advised me to never reply or react to any comments. This seems very alien when elsewhere it’s encouraged, but based on my own interactions on Reddit I’m inclined to agree with him. Some comments may question you directly, but it’s best to sit back and see if somebody will answer on your behalf.

Here’s one of the comments I received when I tried to defend my posting of the comic site url..

OnlySaysHaas “You make some whiney-arse comment in every one of your comic submissions about people not having a sense of humour, or being downvoted. Grow up and take your criticism.“

Okay, you can block users who give you a hard time, but it’s best to stay out of it and let the chimps play.

(Go to part 2)

Monday, 9 October 2017

Webcomics - This isn't Catch-Phrase

Say What You See

My rampant abuse of idioms continued this week with the saying "Cooking The Books", and while it would be obvious to draw a book (or two) boiling away in a big cooking pot, it was starting to feel like I was just churning out ideas that would be better suited to the old TV show 'Catchphrase'

Catchphrase - yes they normally are this simple!!

Those not familiar with the show should know it was all about recognising well known sayings and titles based on cartoon-like drawings. I used to watch this show a lot, probably because I was quite good at it.

The original host was Roy Walker and he would say stuff like..

QuoteWhat he meant
Say what you see.You're on TV, just take a guess would ya!
It's good, but it's not right.No, that's not even close!
Keep pressing and guessing.We get the funniest answers when you guess.
Riiigghhhttt.Thank god for that, it was like drawing teeth that one!

**BUT**, this isn't what I want out of FunStreak.

Puntastic, Another List

Yes, I know,.. it's another list (laffs nervously), I guess that's just the way my brain works. I come up with ONE funny pun and then the challenge is on to see how many others I can find to join it. This time I decided to use them in a menu, then it's almost superfluous, but at that stage I still had no idea what my punchline was going to be.

This sounds a lot like the Micawber Principle, which is named after the character from the book David Copperfield who, whilst struggling at near poverty, hangs onto the notion that, "something will turn up". Many comedians build their humour backwards, working retrospectively from the punchline and then adding things they need to set up the joke. It doesn't feel like a very spontaneous way of doing it, but it does work quite well. I find my ideas come frontways, backwards, sideways, all sorts of methods,... no particular pattern or method is ignored. (so I'm not sure what that says about me!!)

I resorted to listing as many types of book I could think of, many of which I couldn't think up puns for. I also decided to steer clear of religious books, such as my personal favourite, "Quran t'bun", because some people waste their lives looking for insults. Hopefully those I did include made up for this serious omission.

Say what you see!!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Monday, 2 October 2017

MAD?.. No, But it Helps!

Introducing Alfred

Last year Alfred E Neuman, the MAD magazine mascot turned 60, having been featured on the cover of almost every magazine since 1956. Originally created by Norman Mingo to be a "What me, worry?" face, copied from postcards and adverts popular in the first part of that century. It has since become a famous image, even for those unfamiliar with the magazine. But due to the picture's origins, a court in 1965 found the image to be effectively in the public domain.

So my worries about basing my work on him where unfounded.

Back to the Idioms

The next item on my list was the phrase "better to give that receive". A phrase often used at Christmas to signify to children the importance of giving. What better than to draw something that most kids wouldn't want to receive.

My black-eyed kid based on MAD's mascot.
He's quite a lop-sided little fella isn't he?!

I started out with a rough copy of Alfred, but after I'd blacked his eye out it didn't seem right to keep that cheeky smile. So I changed the mouth and dropped the left eyebrow. This gives quite a non-destinct look, completely changing the character of the drawing.

The comic can be found at: http://funstreak.webcomic.ws/comics/25

Friday, 29 September 2017

Slow food

We've talked about whether you find a good joke by working through a situation and then thinking of the twist, or whether you start with the twist and work backwards.

This is the start of a story that I like. I'm convinced there's a funny and unexpected ending but I don't have it yet.

The squirrel buries a nut, Then comes back in winter but the ground is covered with snow, and our little hoarder looks puzzled. Then it's spring and there's a shoot coming out of the ground. Yvonne has observed all this.

The best end I have so far is that the squirrel comes back and trips over the seedling.

Maybe Yvonne munches the seedling with a comment about slow food, or helluva way to crack a nut. Or something.

[update] this is my favourite ending so far. Yvonne tells him she knew where it was, he only had to ask for help. He says he was fine, as his stomach rumbles.

(silhouette, sunset behind them)