Thoughts On Marketing

Over the December break, I’ve been thinking about how to market my comic Nwain, and it’s lead me through some interesting places.

I have no training in marketing, perhaps even the opposite.  In theory, art school taught me how to sell an image of myself so people would hire me.  In practice, I was conditioned to underestimate my work before critique began, to be humble and self-effacing during critique, and later to focus on what needed to be fixed rather than understanding what worked.  I’ve been trained to evade, to duck, and to anti-sell.  Are you interested in my work?  Well, I’ll tell you how it sucks.  Can I tell you what I’m proud of?  No, teacher, I have no pride anymore, please put the red pen away, I have plenty to fix already, let’s summarize how it sucks again.

I know enough about marketing to figure that’s not the best strategy to sell a comic—even a free one.  Hey, I made this thing!  But it sucks, so why am I even telling you about it?  Maybe I like the thing despite its many, numerous flaws, which I still have a list of would you like to read it?  I’m sure you’re more interested in the fix list than in my comic—OH you’re not my teacher!?  You’re a potential audience?  What even is that.

I have no idea what I’m doing.  I’ve done a little research into marketing, new marketing, social marketing, and whatever.  I’ve been reading discussions posted from within the comics and cartoon industries, about marketing, and how often it sails right past potential fans.  I got the impression that much of the marketing world has no idea what it’s doing either.  At least I’m not alone!

The Internet is forcing everyone to change, fast.  It gives creators and fans, previously two unheard voices, a place they can commiserate.  A place they can recognize each other as human.  And that undermines the demographic model, which is based on tricking stereotypes into doing things.

I don’t want to trick people into following a url.  I want a story that’s worth reading to the individuals who find it worthwhile.  Do I know who those people will be?  No.  I don’t.

I’ll just make my thing, and if other people like it, I’ll try very, very hard to not show them the fix list.  Unless they want that.

This is my animated webcomic, Nwain: The Knight Who Wandered Dream.  It launched today!

The story follows Nwain, a knight who wanders dreamland in search of wisdom.  She fights monsters, joins tournaments, solves disputes, and helps others face their nightmares, until she must face her own.

http://nwain.com

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I’ve been busy getting goodies ready for Olympia Comics Fest.  It’s still more than a month away (June 7th!)  This is my first table at a convention, so I want to be ready for it!

My Patreon also has the postcard (I mail it to you!), and patrons get early access to the mini comic (you can print it at home!).

Also!  The next two pages of Nwain will be up on Tuesday, April 29!

Nwain: The Knight Who Wandered Dream

Here’s the process I use for each frame in Nwain.

1. Rough:  I’ll scribble some lines to get things in place.  I do this step for all frames and check the animation.  Sometimes I have to scrap rough frames because they don’t add to the overall motion.

2. Background: A separate layer from the frames. The frames all go on top of the background.  If the background is busy, I have to check that the animation doesn’t get lost in it.

3. Tie-down: Next, I hone the placement of the lines.  I try as hard as possible to keep the sense of life that’s in the rough, and nearly always fail.  It happens.

4. Color: Once reasonably satisfied with the tie-down, I add color and lighting.  The colors are informed by the background and the panels preceding this one—where is the character in the scene, where’s the camera, where’s the light source, what time of day is it? And so on.

These steps don’t include the page thumbnail, the page animatic, or the actual animating.  It’s just the steps I go through when making one frame within one panel.

I’ll talk more about my process for page thumbnails and page animatics next week.

This is from a test page for Nwain, which I drew in photoshop and animated in flash.  Once I’m out of school in a few weeks, I’ll have time to work on getting this thing out of my head.

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Hello tumblr, I’ve got a Patreon for my webcomic.  It’s going very well, but I have a little problem.

I’m having trouble coming up with rewards for my Patreons.  I want to keep the vast majority of my creations free for everyone.  But I also want to give special thanks to the people who support me.

Right now, I’m giving Patreons early access to digital surprises that will become free later (like the wallpaper which is previewed above).  That doesn’t feel like enough, though.  I want to provide an extra bit of fun that people will enjoy.

What’s your favorite reward you’ve gotten from a crowdfunding effort?  Is there a story to why you like it?

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