I love comics. I love reading them, writing them and also writing about them; comics are a big part of my life. What I don’t love is the industry that currently surrounds comics. Quite a few people are fighting to change it, and all respect to them.
Read the whole thing; a lot of it gets to the heart of why I felt the need to launch OpenDoor Comics in the first place.
…or maybe it won’t, because what happened next was that a bunch of spammers left comments because that’s what they do.
BUT! If spammers are paying attention to the site, maybe they know something you don’t. Do you want those lousy spammers to keep one-upping you? Of course you don’t!
So who are you to say no? Someone who’s no better than a common spambot? Check out Napkin Comics!
What the heck are Napkin Comics, you ask? Unsurprisingly, they’re comics. On napkins.
Or on whiteboards, or chalkboards, or the backs of place mats, or on whatever medium happens to be handy when the urge to doodle a quick comic strikes.
Once you’ve created your Napkin Masterpiece, why not share it with the world?
Snap a picture, fire it off in an e-mail to email@example.com and indicate how/if you would like to be identified, Once your Napkin Masterpiece has been posted, you’ll get a link to the post that you can share on your Twitterbooks and Snapfaces.
Eventually, of course, the process will be simplified and automated through one of those apps that kids are always talking about (Note: If you’re an app developer interested in developing such an app, drop me a line.), but for right now, we’re sticking with a slightly lower-tech process.
In any case, like Liz Phair says, “Sometimes all you need is a napkin.”
As a reminder, if you’re interested in contributing something a little more complex than napkin-based art, you can always register with ODC and create your own comic site.*
*Once again, the spammers are way ahead of you in that regard. Man, they’re just leaving you in the dust, aren’t they? But one day, hopefully very soon, you’ll show them. You’ll show them all! Bwahahahahahaahaha! *Cough* Sorry about that.
After a great deal of searching and some trial-and-error – which will no doubt continue – I’ve managed to enable an automated registration process, allowing Creators to sign up and create their own site all at once.
The solution – a plugin called BuddyPress – allows for the creation of a sort of internal social network, which also enables Collaborators to offer their services directly (if they so choose).
The one major con to the solution is that the Name field is now required, and I can’t change that or the visibility of that field, so anyone will be able to see it. However, it is still the case that pseudonyms are acceptable.
As mentioned, there will continue to be some trial-and-error, and I’m looking into ways to integrate the registration process with existing social media accounts to simplify the process even further.
The plugin also allows for the creation of a rudimentary site directory, which is available in the navigation menu. Future development will provide better organization and categorization, though, of course, I still have work out what the categories will be. For that part, I will be looking to the Creators and the readers to help develop them, and that’s actually a topic for a future post…
The registration form also has a field for members to offer their services as comment moderators. The moderation rules are something that will also have to be developed, and, again, that will involve input from the community.
Additionally, with my current advertising network (and my limited WordPress skills – which are, fortunately, growing), I will have to manually add the advertising code to new sites. The good news is that the ads will be relatively unobtrusive, and will not interfere too much with the layout of pages or the readers’ enjoyment of comics. Eventually, I hope to have a more robust advertising solution, and automate the process of (still unobtrusively) inserting ads into new sites.
If you’re not comfortable with using the form, you can still e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be happy to set up your site for you.
Deciding that it was past time that someone start posting some comics on a platform intended to host, you know, comics, I took it upon myself to create a comic and post it.
I’m sorry because it’s not very good, and because that’s not what OpenDoor Comics is about; I didn’t create this site for me to post my own comics. Well, I didn’t create it just for that. I did plan to start posting some of my own content someday – ideally with the assistance of a collaborator – and when that day came it would be something better than what I just posted.
But if I were only interested in posting my own content, I wouldn’t have put as much effort in building this platform, or at least clearing the space and laying the foundation for a platform, as I have. I had a long-running blog, after all, and could have just as easily posted comics there.
I’m also sorry because I clearly haven’t done enough to entice talented creators to want to sign up and begin posting their comics here, and that means that the few people who stop by every once in a while aren’t seeing the great comics that they could be seeing.
But, despite the low quality of the cheesy joke comic, I’m also not sorry, because the reason I decided to post something of my own was to test the process of creating a new site, setting it up, and posting to it. In those terms, my lousy comic was a success, as the process was relatively quick and painless.
In the future, that process will get simplified and automated, once I throw some resources into developing site features based on user feedback, but it’s good to know that, in the meantime, if someone does sign up, I can get them up-an-running pretty quickly.
And I’m also not sorry, because I’m viewing it as a bit of gauntlet-throwing. I posted a crappy comic. I’m willing to bet that you can do something better. In fact, I almost guarantee it.
As I’ve been toiling away working on the Media Kit mentioned in my last post – which is why it’s been a while since my last post – there’s been something at the back of my mind that’s given me a bit of pause.
We all know by now (I hope) that OpenDoor Comics is about inclusion and diversity, and giving the opportunity for people who have been excluded or underrepresented in comics – on and off the page – to share their stories.
My concern, though, is that I’m not articulating that message and what it actually means as clearly as I should, and there are certain paths that I’ve seen others who, in general, share the same vision and values that drive OpenDoor Comics, wander down.
That is, I’ve seen times in which the solution to the “diversity problem” – the scare quotes indicate that I don’t see it as a problem so much as an opportunity for improvement; also it’s exclusion, not diversity that is the actual problem – is to essentially take a segregated approach.
Namely, “Let’s draw in women readers by publishing a bunch of comics for women that feature women and are made by women.”
That’s not a bad thing per se, but it’s also kind of a half-assed measure that misses the point.
It’s also not the path I want OpenDoor Comics to take.
Do I want to publish comics made by women that feature women and appeal to women? Of course! Comics by and about Trans* people that are for Trans* people? Absolutely!
I want all of these things and more.
But what I don’t want is to have any sort of rigidly exclusive targeting or creative restrictions. “Oh, that comic is for women, and I’m a man, so it’s not intended for me.” Wrong! That comic is intended for anyone who is interested in it.
“I’m gay, so I have to make comics about gay people for gay people.” Nope! Make comics about whatever you want for whomever you want.
That’s the idea behind OpenDoor Comics. Everyone gets a voice, and everyone is part of the audience.
None of this is to say that women creators, as an example, can’t make comics about women that are primarily targeted at women if that’s what they want to do, it’s that they don’t have to do that.
If you’re a woman and you only want to read comics about women that are by women, that’s your choice to make as well, and hopefully you’ll find what you’re looking for here, as it’s certainly the intent for that to be available, but it is a choice, and the door is open if you want to check out something different, with “something different” being almost anything, with every possible combination of creator and content.
Make what you want to make, read what you want to read, and recognize that it’s your decision.
As for the Media Kit…it’s coming, I promise, and once that step has been taken I’ll move on to the other hundred billion things I need to do in order to make this open door one that people are interested in walking through.
In the meantime, as always, I’m hoping that any of you reading this think that the word is worth spreading and are responding accordingly.
While the site itself seems to be languishing with nary a visit nor, more crucially, a comic creator sign-up, I haven’t been idle.
As time (and energy) allow, I’ve been working on some projects to get the word out and hopefully increase traffic and generate some interest from prospective comics creators. They are, after all, the primary reason this site exists.
One of those projects is a press release describing the site and its mission and driving home the message that we’re looking for creators to start helping it fulfill that mission. The release will be, er, released very soon to assorted media outlets, as well as to some of the bigger names in Webcomics and other comics professionals with an online presence, in the hopes that they will help spread the word.
The other, somewhat more involved project, is a comprehensive Media Kit, of which that initial press release is only one component.
Given that this is a place for comics, naturally the Media Kit will emphasize that purpose by the very nature of its format. It’s still a work in progress, but here’s a sneak peek just to assure you that I am, in fact, still working, despite all other evidence to the contrary.