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Mendo Lake Family Life

DIY Webcomics

By Amy Ratcliffe

If you have a fondness for both fanfic and fanart, you might want to think about combining the two and making a webcomic. It’s a way to tell stories visually through panels of art and words—like comic books for the web! Usually released in brief installments on a regular schedule, webcomics can use existing fandoms and canons as a base for their stories or feature completely new, original content. The history of webcomics goes way back to the ’80s, but they became more popular in the mid-1990s because of how much easier it was to create and share work on the Internet.

Then, the medium had another big spike in South Korea in the 2000s, with the help of the webcomics platform LINE Webtoon, also known as just Webtoon outside of Korea. Today, you can easily read webcomics on your phone or computer through platforms like Tapas, Webtoon, Tappytoon, The Duck Webcomics, and more—even on Instagram and Imgur. With so many new creators writing and drawing amazing stories now, some companies are even adapting webcomics into physical comics and graphic novels, like Check, Please and Heartstopper, or into animated series and anime, such as Lore Olympus and Tower of God.

Of course, if you only want to write or draw and not do both, then webcomics are also ideal for collaboration. Plus, making a webcomic with a friend might help you come up with even better ideas and learn how to cooperatively tell a story. Two heads are better than one, you know. If making a webcomic sounds like a blast, the next thing you should do is focus on the type of story or characters that you want your comic to have. Don’t worry too much about the audience or what is popular right now. Instead, create a story based on whichever of your fandoms inspires you, like an animated series you can’t get enough of or the latest superhero movie that blew your socks off. If you are working with a friend, talk about the different things you both love—and maybe a few of the things that you don’t—so that you can gather all the elements that you want in your webcomic.

The next stage is to throw it all down on paper and see what magic happens. Sketch out thumbnails, which are rough representations of what you want the comic panel to look like, and write ideas for dialogue underneath them. Thumbnails will give you an excellent starting place to organize your thoughts and refine your art before you go on to your final illustrations, dialogue, and story. Maybe you’ll find that your story needs a few installments to complete; if so, you can sketch those out, too.

Remember, there’s no single way to create a webcomic, so experiment and see what works best for you and the stories you want to tell. Then, with the help of older family members, you can upload your drawing to the web. If you’re making digital art, make a template to unify the look of all your installments, and start illustrating. Don’t forget to come up with a name for your new webcomic and, most importantly, be sure to sign your work—be proud of what you’ve made!

Excerpted, with permission, from A Kid’s Guide to Fandom by Amy Ratcliffe, illustrated by Dave Perillo (Running Press Kids, 2021),

Amy Ratcliffe is part of many fandoms, including Star Wars, The Witcher, and anything Tolkien. She’s cosplayed as Han Solo and Merida. She’s the author of Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy and Elee and Me. She’s the managing editor for Nerdist and an entertainment reporter.