As someone who writes about comics and pop-culture for a living, I get a lot of emails from people asking me to take a look at their “awesome” this, that or the other. It happens more often with independent comics, especially web comics, which is understandable. They have something they’ve (hopefully) put a lot of hard work into and want to make into a success. They don’t have a big name company behind them either so the best approach is the direct approach. Unfortunately, most of them have no idea how to write.
Their emails, that is. Their web comic could be Pulitzer Prize winning material but I’d never know it since I couldn’t get past the horrific sales pitch. There are vast galaxies of web comics out there today, more than ever before. You can’t expect to be the next Penny Arcade, Megatokyo or xkcd if you don’t put any effort into it. Plus, they don’t know who they’re dealing with. I’m a difficult customer.
I don’t like reading for long periods of time on the computer screen. A web comic strip without continuity is easier for me to check up on now and then but trying to read through an ongoing story issue by issue online just kills me. It’s why I’m so happy DC Comics started collecting some of their Zuda books, but again, not everyone can do that. Not everyone should feel obligated to either, after all web comics are the future, it’s just my own preferences I’m talking about here.
So how do you go about getting someone who doesn’t particularly like reading comics online to pay attention to what you have to offer? The surest way for you to get me personally to read your web comic is to have a cat as a reoccurring character and let me find it on my own.Cat Versus Human I’d say something like, “I’m such a girl,” but cats aren’t just a girl thing and everyone knows it. Why the hell do you think LOLCats is so popular? The smartest thing anyone can do when making something creative with cats is to have it be relatable. Want a million plus views on YouTube? Film your cat skidding on the hardwood floors or sleeping on your face. Want people to laugh at your web comic and keep coming back for more? Draw a cat ignoring his expensive store bought toy to play with a cardboard box. You’ll have people going, “Haha, MY cat does that too!” It’s kind of like Jerry Seinfeld’s “Did you ever notice...” but with cats.
Artist Yasmine Surovec may not be the first to exploit such a simple technique but she’s doing it with panache. Surovec’s Cat Versus Human has only been running a few months but already has a decent following. She’s also got a new fan in me. Not only are her strips beautiful to look at, she’s got an extremely quick wit in both them and the stories she sometimes tags on. For instance, “If my cats were my facebook friends, our relationship status would be ‘It’s complicated.’”Gronk Katie Cook is an artist whose work I was already a big fan of when she began her new web comic. Gronk is about a sweet little monster who rejects her own kind and “goes where no monster has gone before.” To live with a human. Like Cat Versus Human, Gronk hasn’t been running for all that long but has grown exponentially in popularity since it’s debut but unlike the former, Gronk is a continuing story with a cast of regulars. There’s Gronk of course, the human he goes to live with Dale, a dog named Harli, a kitty and Kitteh. Gronk’s beloved stuffed cat. Honestly, I was sold just by reading Gronk’s “About” section.
Sure, you can have successful web comics about zombies, cowboys or aliens but when it really comes down to it, there’s nothing like a little pussy to ensure success.