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Webcomics and Update Schedules

HippieVan at 12:00AM, Jan. 29, 2016

Somewhere between “all the time” and “hardly ever” lies an ideal update schedule.

I’ve read several times that frequent content updates is one of the best ways to increase traffic to whatever it is you’re creating online, but of course both your audience and yourself need to be taken into account when determining your update schedule.

As a reader, I think that the ideal update schedule is once or twice a week, depending on the type of comic. If I’m reading a story-based comic with emphasis on the art I prefer to see the creator take their time. With a humour-based comic I’ll be keener to see more frequent updates. Three times a week is common among the more successful webcomics but I actually find that it’s a bit too frequent for me with my lack of free time and the number of comics I follow (part of the reason I tend to be a binge-reader these days).

The quality of the art is something that also needs to be taken into account – readers don’t want to see a comic that’s consistent but crappy. Common sense would seem to dictate that an artist who updates more frequently (and thus practices more often) would improve more over time. But I’ve noticed that some comics that have been plugging away for years hardly seem to improve at all (see Penny Arcade), while others are leaps and bounds ahead of where they began (see Gunnerkrigg Court). There seems to be a point at which the artist is concentrating so much on churning out their comic that they no longer have time to work on getting better.

Of course, the final item that should determine your update schedule is related to last week’s newspost about breaks – what can you handle? More frequent content may bring you more readers, but they’ll be disappointed if you get burnt out and quit altogether. Most of us have a lot going on in our lives, so you should never feel badly about catering your update schedule to your own needs rather than the desires of your audience.

How did you decide how often to update your comic? How often do you like to see your favourite comics updated?


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irrevenant at 5:41PM, Jan. 31, 2016

Penny Arcade is a weird case. Mike is actually a significantly better artist than he was when he first started drawing PA (see for example) - he just has a deliberately cartoony style and seems to mostly keep PA simple (for time reasons?). Personally I started drawing comics to improve my art, and it's fun and I'm finding that it helped a little bit but, if anything, it's a distraction from learning to draw better and is just cementing bad habits. I think Kim hit the nail on the head: If you want to improve as an artist, you need to set a schedule that leaves time for conscious art study/practice. Just turning out pages is applying skill, not honing it, and eventually leads to stagnation.

KimLuster at 11:23AM, Jan. 29, 2016

AS for other comics' schedules, there is certainly a 'sweet spot' for it - usually once a week, or just a few days shorter. The Comic Your Choice updates almost daily, and it I didn't like it so much that'd be aggravating too short of time - not enough time to digest it... But too long and you start to lose where you are in the story, and when you finally do see an update sometimes you have to back-read to refresh your memory. But, overall, we shouldn't be too hard on each other. We're (mostly) amateurs and should just enjoy what we do for what it is, flaws and all! ;)

KimLuster at 11:16AM, Jan. 29, 2016

When I started my comic, one of my goals was to become faster at art without using models (using the mind's eye)! I'd created many drawings and acrylic paintings over the years, but I always took my time (painstakingly slow sometimes...), and always had a model of some sort (photo, another painting, another person...), and I must say some of it turned out pretty decent! But I wanted to be fast and impromptu, and, I think if you want those skills, you have to practice them too, not just the art. So, I mentally gave myself a few days to do each page, and it was going up, no matter how it turned out... I hated almost all my early pages, and it was very hard to get figures right without a model, but I pressed on. Three years later I'm starting to see the fruits! Most of my pages now are done without referencing any other image or model (save my own face and hands at times...), and right now my goal is get a page out roughly every five days! I've kept that pace for a good while!

PaulEberhardt at 10:51AM, Jan. 29, 2016

At the moment I'd of course be happy if I could manage any update at all, but if I eventually do I still won't compromise the art over speed. There isn't much of a choice when setting some store by visual gags, anyway. ----- It's the same for me as a reader; I'll always prefer a really cool comic that only updates every once in a while over one that looks rushed and lacking passion but updates with the precision of a Swiss watch. Besides, I can be a pretty inconsistent internet user at times, so I might not even notice small lags every time.

HippieVan at 8:22AM, Jan. 29, 2016

@kawaii: Isn't it cute? I had completely forgotten it was coming so I had no idea what this adorable envelope was at first.

usedbooks at 7:16AM, Jan. 29, 2016

It takes me three good full days to make a page, so I can make two a week when I'm between jobs, one a week if I'm working. I like to see a page or two a week in the comics I read. I'd rather a comic be consistent at a page a week rather than one that does three a week but misses updates or burns out and goes on hiatus frequently. I personally try to keep a couple weeks of buffer to let me adjust.

kawaiidaigakusei at 2:21AM, Jan. 29, 2016

I love that Black Kitty drew on the envelope!

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