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Sam and Fuzzy Q & A: Long Answers Edition
Got a question you want answered? Just drop me an email with "Q & A" in the subject line!
"Ninja Showdown is my FAVOURITE TSHIRT. Is it yours too?" -Alex
It's definitely one of my best, I think! I'm also partial to Conscience Cat, and the Hedgehog and Tanuki designs.
But for a long time, my absolute favourite of all the t-shirts I'd ever designed was the now-retired Overkill is One of My Many Modes. It wasn't my most successful shirt ever, but it did solidly, and in my mind it was the one I was always trying to "beat". That said, I think I finally topped it with Rewrite History. I'll have to live with it a few more months to be sure. But in both cases, I'm just particularly happy with the joke text, the main image, and how tightly the two are integrated. If you ever see my wearing one of my own shirts, it's probably going to be one of these two.
On the other end of the spectrum, the design I think I'm the least fond of is Cannibal Pride. I can understand why some did (and still do) like it -- I think there's probably the germ of a good idea in there -- but boy, did I struggle with that one. The fact that I made it available in four colours is probably a good sign that I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. (Of course, like most artists, it's hard for me to look at all of my old art and designs, so maybe I shouldn't single poor Cannibal Pride out like that.)
"You probably answered this sometime already and I totally missed it, but how did you get people to read your comics when you were starting out? I have no idea how to reach a larger audience than my friends and family." -Mike
I'm not sure if I ever did, actually. And honestly, that might just be because I'm not sure I have a good answer! Things on the internet change so quickly, and there are ways of promoting yourself these days that didn't exist three years ago, let alone when I started Sam and Fuzzy back in 2002.
Stuff can get passed around so easily now, be it with Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr or what have you. It's made word of mouth from regular readers an even stronger force than it used to be. If you happen to hit on the right topic, your stuff could be seen very quickly! (Although admittedly, this is much more likely to happen if you are doing gag strips and topical humour, rather than story comics like mine.)
I know in my case, what helped the most was forging social connections and trading links with other webcartoonists through emails and conventions. A few of them were really established, but most of them were other cartoonists who were just starting out, and it's actually that latter group that I think is the most help initially.
Yes, if you send out polite emails to a bunch of bigshot webcartoonists, you'll might luck out and find one who really likes your stuff. Which is great! But the truth is, those cartoonists are probably getting dozens of emails from other new cartoonists every week... which makes it really easy for them to be overwhelmed, and really hard for you to stand out.
But other artists who are relatively new or starting out... those are the people you are likely to form real bonds with. They aren't going to have the most readers to point in your direction, but they are the ones who will have the most time for you, who will grow with you and help you out one step at a time. That's certainly how I made some of my closest webcomics friends. And look at us all now! Billionaires, with solid gold computers.
Seriously though... established or newcomers, make friends with other artists. Real friends... not just for the sake of nabbing some readers. And don't be hurt when some artists are too busy to talk or just don't click with you... it happens! Just stick with the ones that do talk to you, and help each other out. It'll be good for you, and your comic.
That's a wrap for this week, team. See you on Monday!