Note: This article was made by the awesome namenad so be sure to check his gallery for more comic goodness.
My name is David and I've been making the comic strip "The DaneMen" for the last 7 years.
It is a strange comic strip.
No story. No dialogue. No characters.
Stranger still, every single person in "The DaneMen" looks exactly the same.
Visit this gallery for examples.
This article is meant to briefly give you some advice about comics, and for me to feel self-important.
We are already off to a great start.
First, some quick advice:
1. Read Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud.
2. Carry a small notebook with you everywhere.
3. Give yourself a deadline and keep to it.
4. Share your artwork with the world (probably via the Internet.)
5. Haters gonna hate.
That last one is more of a warning than advice.
Second, I cannot tell you how to make a popular comic strip, because I don't know.
I'll leave that to The Oatmeal.
Remember, there's a word for people with a "formula for their success.
That word is "pornographer."
Haters gonna hate.
Third, when it comes to inspiration, there is so much I'd like to say, but I'll try to constrain myself.
Be open and vigilant.
"Vigilant" means looking everywhere all the time.
"Open" means lower the bar. Come up with more ideas than you need.
Good ideas are everywhere, but they rarely come fully formed.
I've had fragments of ideas ripening in my notebook for over a year before I understood how to use them.
Recently, I heard a podcast about inspiration that does the job nicely.
Check it out.
"Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You understand it better, but the frog dies from it." --E.B. White
What follows are some of my ideas on how comics work.
Early on, I developed a 1-2-3 approach to comics.
Most of my early strips were 3 panels.
As I saw it, a good comic consisted of three stages:
1. Premise - the character and their situation
2. Complication - what action does the character take
3. Conclusion - the ironic result of the character's action
Let's look at an old comic of mine "Lunch Money".
1. Premise: A beggar is hungry.
2. Complication: Someone gives him some money.
3. Conclusion: He eats the money.
Is this comic funny? Who am I to say?
Funny is an aesthetic, which means if you think it is funny, you are correct.
In addition, if you think it is not funny, you are correct.
Did you understand it?
I think this is more important than funny.
This leads me to my next point:
Understanding = Enjoyment
Under the right circumstances, a joke functions like a puzzle.
Where is the pleasure in a puzzle? In solving it.
Let's look at the more recent "Bait and Switch."
1. Premise - What is the character doing?
2. Complication - What action is occurring?
3. Conclusion - What happened?
Is this comic funny? Did you understand it?
The riddle is simple.
In the first panel, we understand that the man is catching a mouse.
In the second panel, he gets a bite.
In the third panel, he glances disapprovingly at a computer mouse.
My theory is that it is actually pleasurable to unravel this riddle.
Last, I want you to do something for me. Just an experiment.
I feel that many comic strips are over-reliant on dialogue.
I want you to make a wordless comic strip.No dialogue. No written explanations.
Try to make it in as few panels as possible.
When you finish, let me know. I'd like to see them.