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  • Mood: Anxious
  • Listening to: Soundgarden, "Pretty Noose"
  • Reading: The Elements of Harmony
  • Watching: MST3K - 803 "The Mole People"
I saw :iconfyuvix: was having a crisis of artistic proportions over in her recent journal www.deviantart.com/journal/Art… And while I wish I could help her out with some nice friendly advice, it occurs to me that I'm more or less in the same boat as her.

A lot of the concepts I'm currently working with are more or less unmarketable. Forever 16 is my primary series, the one I've poured the most creative effort into over the past seven years, yet I've formatted it in a way that's really hard to sell. It's an "archive comic", with each strip corresponding to a specific day in the past, so it pretty much can't be published in the present (not as a daily strip, anyway). All its cultural references are to things that happened 10 to 20 years ago, so most modern readers will be lost. I've had to explain the premise so many times to people who were confused: "So wait, did you draw this in 1993, or did they re-release Jurassic Park recently and I just didn't know about it?" Plus, I tend to hop around the timeline a lot, which I imagine can get kind of disorienting.

Then we have Adorkable, which I'm still struggling with as I try to finalize the characters' personalities. I'm flipping back and forth like crazy on whether I should make Abby an aspiring underwater fashion photographer. On the one hand, it's something I know pretty well, and thus I can draw on my own personal knowledge and experience for the stories. On the other, it's extremely niche, and most people out there don't know or care about the underwater subculture that I'm a part of. I'm constantly reminded of an article :icontorquesmacky: wrote for his website a few years back about people who draw fetishy fan art - just because you have an idea that's close to your personal interests, it doesn't mean everyone else wants to hear about it.

So it makes me wonder, can either of these ideas actually go anywhere? Or should I just cut my losses and try to think up something that's a little more mainstream?
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:icongeorgia-o-queef:
Georgia-O-Queef Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I personally think Forever 16 is marketable, but it would need a bit of revising. I liked the idea of them never growing up and you could actually throw in it in any decade you wanted to by the next collection, but the "archive comic" angle is crippling it (Do you even care about Snow? or Disneyland Paris? Hell, even the Spice Girls was your sister's passion, and not yours.)

Maybe invoke the decades you like while narrowing the references down to specific events that really affected you. Also, the underwater element wouldn't stick out at all if she was just a regular art student. You just have to offset it with other zany photoshoots
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:iconjbwarner86:
jbwarner86 Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2013
Basically, I'll tackle any aspect of pop culture if I think I can make fun of it somehow. But I'm gravitating further and further away from the archive format - I'm thinking I'd rather go back to the short stories I tried in early 2012. With big pages and no set limit, I can stretch out a bit more and get to know my characters a bit better.
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:icongeorgia-o-queef:
Georgia-O-Queef Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I really like that idea!
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:iconcount-kraumburger1:
Count-KraumBurger1 Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Not sure if you'll like it but I made a tv tropes page for F16;

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:iconjbwarner86:
jbwarner86 Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2013
That is pretty cool, although right now it looks more like a page about my entire DeviantArt gallery, not just Forever 16. Also, I no longer regard the 2010-2011 strips as canon. Actually, I'm planning on overhauling Forever 16 entirely in the coming months, so I hate to say it, but the whole page will probably be totally out of date pretty soon. But I still appreciate it :)
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:iconcount-kraumburger1:
Count-KraumBurger1 Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
What stories from 2010-2011 would be non canon? I have a feeling the ones I like the Prince and Pauper one would be one of them. I do realize I only scratched the surface of the comic but there's so many of them I haven't the time to get them all down.

What type of overhaul might be in store? Is it like a reboot? 

No worries man, I'll just have to work hard on it this next year.

Merry Christmas!!
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:iconjbwarner86:
jbwarner86 Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2013
All the ones I did from October 2010 to April 2011, I've thrown out of continuity. And yes, that includes the Justin Bieber story - I know everyone loved that thing, but I really can't stand to read it anymore. There's plot holes everywhere, and I know I can write a better story than that.

Yes, I am rebooting the entire series. It'll no longer be a comic strip that looks like it was published in the '90s and '00s, because I can't sell it that way. It's too high-concept and nobody will get it. It'll just be short stories that are set in the '90s, so I can focus less on the archive gimmick and more on the characters.
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:iconradicalrave:
RadicalRave Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2013  Hobbyist
marketability is a bit of a funny issue when it comes to trying to appeal to as many other humans out there besides just yourself with the idea that you have that you want to present to the large masses.

as for adorakable, or any series for that matter, don't worry too much about solidifying or making a character's personality or nature very stagnant. in reality, they never stay the same. that's the last thing you want to do. you want to implement gradual or sometimes sudden shifts/change.

just be aware of what they respond to when you decide to put in different situations, characters, things into the environment and how all the characters react and respond to things.

You do want to show the concept of change, while showing what attributes and ideas that the characters remain very tenacious to, over the progress of time.
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:iconmetalheadfan2500:
MetalHeadFan2500 Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2013
Why dont you actually make a real webcomic with ad revenue
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:iconmetalheadfan2500:
MetalHeadFan2500 Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2013
Why the fuck do you want to be syndicated or mainstream, make it a graphic novel series
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:iconmetalheadfan2500:
MetalHeadFan2500 Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2013
Im waiting till after college to make my own comic, it's epic street sci-fi superhero drama with four girls with superpowers growing into women in cyberpunk 90s Miami, with one basically a teenage girl version of Walter White with Aspergers, another is a Communist Russian/Cuban government experiment who nows protects her new homecity, another is Middle Eastern rape victim turned vigilante, and another is partying anarchist

it will totally passed the Bechdel test and the Deegan Rule
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:icona-fox-of-fanfiction:
A-Fox-of-Fanfiction Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Hmm, I might have some advice for this...would you be willing to hear about it?
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:iconjbwarner86:
jbwarner86 Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2013
Sure :)
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:icona-fox-of-fanfiction:
A-Fox-of-Fanfiction Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Groovy,you shall soon receive a note, then I shall explain afterwards.
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:iconyeldarb86:
Yeldarb86 Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
A lot of mainstream projects, even particularly good ones, have many stories about artists who were never able to create any sort of niche for their work. You actually have the advantage, as an independent artist, to run with your own ideas the way you see fit.
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:iconsupermariosuperstar:
SuperMarioSuperStar Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013   General Artist
Mainstream sucks most of the time. If you can't get Forever 16 syndicated, then focus on making comic book collections, like what Bill Amend did with FoxTrot. You don't need to mass produce the books, unless the demand calls for it. I think, based on your fanbase on DA, you'd have a decent starting market. I can guarantee you I'd buy the books, since I love the series.

I'll tell you the same thing I told one of my best friends (who, sadly, hasn't done much of anything with his original characters and comics in the past couple of years... and he had been drawing them for more than a decade): Draw what you like, keep to what you know is good. Don't hold out for universal popularity, as you'll be waiting for a LONG time.
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:iconellen-natalie:
Ellen-Natalie Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
Sure they can! There's all kinds of markets for all kinds of audiences! (Take it from someone who's marketing a Mormon Furry comic.) If you're worried about 'Forever 16' taking place in dated events, just ramp up the appeal of it taking place in the past. (For example, 'That 70's Show', 'The Goldbergs', 'A Christmas Story,' etc.) To be honest, I thought 'Forever 16' was specifically about a group of teenagers in the 90s. ^^;

Keeping a target audience in mind is good, but the most important thing is creating a story you enjoy. If your love and dedication is put into a story, it'll reach someone.
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:iconshareyourworldwide:
shareyourworldwide Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
If you have an idea interesting enough you will find some buyers and if the message goes around and your art style is corresponding with people you might go long ways. But it all boils down to how lucky you are in the end.
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:iconclosetshipper:
Closetshipper Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
I suggest instead of mostly relying on 90's pop culture references, simply find ways to make the stories more 'timeless', the humor and stories coming from the characters rather than media and pop culture. Don't drop that aspect entirely, so much use that to give the series its flavor.
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:icondoodley:
Doodley Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
I wouldn't recommend canceling series you like just to make things that are mainstream. You might end up not liking what you make, but will end up stuck working on it solely because it makes money. Besides, what's mainstream in webcomics anyway? Gaming? You really want to make a gaming webcomic?
Any webcomic will do well if you promote your work like at a con, and have likeable characters in fun and engaging situations, and stick with it. But more important, you have to be consistent with your updates. People hope and expect to read a new webcomic at the times they're promised an update.
I was once told that webcomic creators take about a decade before they can do it for a living. If you follow the advice posted above, you'll get to that point sooner.

I know it was rough, but making Forever 16 a daily comic covering current topics was the best format. You don't have to make it daily, maybe three times a week. In fact, in that format your comic will have it's little story arc told in two weeks!
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:iconmetalheadfan2500:
MetalHeadFan2500 Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2013
"Web comics are easy, Gunky. They're all about video games, gamernerds, webgeeks, dorknerds, gamewads, nerdgames, webwebs, and elves. So just pick one of those and start tableting! Like the one where the slickly drawn college roommates make nothing but video game inside jokes!"
- Strong Bad
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:iconfyuvix:
Fyuvix Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
In regards to Adorkable, I don't think having the character with a unique niche job/interest like that will limit your audience. In fact, it makes it unique and interesting. As long as the story is relateable to people, with situations and events they can relate to, it should be fine.

For my story in particular, a lot of people don't WANT to relate to the characters due to the nature of my WWII niche. But then again, that's the whole point, is to try to get people to put themselves in the shoes of their 'enemies.' I realize I'm fighting an uphill battle with my manifesto, but I guess that's the challenge I've decided to undertake.

As for Forever 16, it sounds to me like a nostalgic type comic that people of the 90s would probably enjoy. As long as the strips are understandable within the context of your other strips, it should also be fine.

But yeah, in the end, it's difficult to market an extreme niche, but it's part of the challenge of creating unique content. My thought has always been, if it's a story worth telling, it will be told and SOMEONE will like it. But whether that someone is enough to quit your dayjob over, financially, then it may not be a "marketable" subject.

But I say don't try to force something your heart isn't totally in. That's what i'm struggling with too. Even though I have these very marketable ideas, I just can't bring myself to go through with them. Which, ultimately, will fail because if if I'm not passionate, my audience will be able to tell it. 
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:iconblairaptor:
Blairaptor Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I really don't see the problem with Forever 16. Really I think it's a good way to preserve those older events. As long as you can find a clear way to quickly explain how it's formatted, I think people will like it. I know I do, and I'm 16 now, haha. I just like your artstyle a lot and I think your jokes and characters are funny. :) 
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:icontorquesmacky:
torquesmacky Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
A lot of the concepts I'm currently working with are more or less unmarketable. Forever 16 is my primary series, the one I've poured the most creative effort into over the past seven years, yet I've formatted it in a way that's really hard to sell. It's an "archive comic", with each strip corresponding to a specific day in the past, so it pretty much can't be published in the present (not as a daily strip, anyway). All its cultural references are to things that happened 10 to 20 years ago, so most modern readers will be lost. I've had to explain the premise so many times to people who were confused: "So wait, did you draw this in 1993, or did they re-release Jurassic Park recently and I just didn't know about it?" Plus, I tend to hop around the timeline a lot, which I imagine can get kind of disorienting.

No one who reads BANG has told me Forever 16 is disorienting. Of course, I made the concept clearer by sticking fake syndicate copyrights on it.

And if it's really a problem, then who says you have to stick to it? I told you to draw some weeks from various years in a specific order, so people would get the idea, and then from there you could do whatever year you wanted to. That includes this week. I know you previously said the strip "ended" in 2009 but that's only a rule because you made it one.

I'll continue this in a note; look for it....
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:iconthecrimsonemo:
TheCrimsonEmo Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Maybe its just the way you do the comics, as webisodic shorts it's hard to expect anyone to want to pay to see them when it's the sort of thing you'd expect to see on the internet for free anyway, but in another comic style or format, who knows... Forever 21 could very well be the next scott pilgrim
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:iconthecrimsonemo:
TheCrimsonEmo Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It depends on how badly you really need to make the money. The minute you stop doing what you enjoy in order to appeal to an audience you feel you don't have any real business in is the moment where your passion is going to become more of a chore.
Ask yourself, would you still be doing what you do if DeviantArt never existed, or even the rest of the internet for that matter.
I know I would. It's great that I can share my work with the world and give other people the chance to enjoy what I do but tbh I'm just happy enough to see my own work exist. It really gives my life a satisfying meaning seeing my own creations come to life, and if other people don't 'get it', well then that's their problem.
That to me is what being an artist is all about.

As for making your comics more marketable, you could always try selling them in an actual comic book format perhaps, with 3-4 strips and storylines per page?
like maybe 4-5 storylines per comic and archive them that way? even the random strips that dont have a continuing story arc, just bundle those in their as well.
Or even offer commissions to fans to come up with their own ideas for storylines or what situations they'd like to see the characters get caught up in. (I think you might of actually done that at somepoint, I cant remember tbh)

Like you said, what you do is a very niche market and it's hard to appeal to people not already in your own subscriber-base, but on the other hand, it's probably going to be really hard to compete with other artists on this site by selling commissions doing something different which they might have been doing their entire lives and are considerably better at doing it. 

On the other hand though, you could always sell commission's for short comics like Pokemon, the Simpsons, etc
I don't know if other people on the internet actually do that or do it in a similar way you would.

I dunno, DeviantArt isn't something I'd probably quit a part time job over, but it might be something to think about either way.
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:iconthe-golden-knight:
The-Golden-Knight Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
I'm sorry I can't help. Good news for me is Myth of the Legendary Warrior is successfully marketable for me (as proven during the 2013 Baltimore Comic Con), but the bad news is creating the rest of the series is extremely time-consuming even with a tablet and a stable computer! What's funny is that the whole story is essentially a period piece, happening in the 90s. But the period piece is more of a detail for setting the background and painting the picture, not the focus of the story or plot.

But to boil it down, in theory any idea can go places. It's the execution that's make-or-break!
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:icontooneguy:
ToonEGuy Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You could always go back to your BarbozaToons idea for a comic series.
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:iconjosiah-shockency-jcs:
Josiah-Shockency-JCS Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
I always thought you need to find a comic incorporation or something in order to get your work printed!
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:iconthe-golden-knight:
The-Golden-Knight Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
Nah. There's a whole slew of indies (such as myself) who only need an occasional printing company to put the work on paper. Now, affiliating with such an incorporation may be beneficial for spreading the word of your existence, but not being affiliated shouldn't stop you from touring conventions and hawking your wares.
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:iconjosiah-shockency-jcs:
Josiah-Shockency-JCS Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
How is it different?
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:iconthe-golden-knight:
The-Golden-Knight Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
Because, the definition of indie means you don't have to put a brand logo on your work. Marvel or DC can't do that; it's always marked as their appropriate company.
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:iconjosiah-shockency-jcs:
Josiah-Shockency-JCS Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Well, you need millions of dollars!
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:iconthe-golden-knight:
The-Golden-Knight Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
Only if you want to produce in giant bulk, and that's only assuming you're going to have millions of fans to cater to. For someone who is just beginning, a batch of a hundred would be more than ample for a 2-day convention, for maybe 1 or 2 fans (or the move obvious count: 0). But yeah, selling thousands or millions is the only way to make a living off of this kind of work. That doesn't happen immediately, or even after months of constant work. It takes years, maybe even decades, to rise up from nothing to that point.
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:iconjosiah-shockency-jcs:
Josiah-Shockency-JCS Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Well, that seems that will make it a long way to go!
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:iconthe-golden-knight:
The-Golden-Knight Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
It is a long way to go! But it's not nigh impossible, nor does it require a mammoth upstart (although affording said upstart certainly makes for a slick and comfy shortcut).
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:icontichshowers:
TichShowers Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
Well, it's perhaps better to look at the future.

is it possible to turn these characters into a more long term specific comic. Right now they have sort of backstory, and a rapport with their others. Can you turn this into something.

Secondly, never think something is lost, perhaps you can change it around. Underwater fashion photographer can become fashion photographer with a speciality in underwater photography, bam, you have something regular but with your own personal twist.

What you could do is write a story, a fun story, but drop in your own likes and favourings in there.

The jist is, do it often, do it more often and you should have less trouble. And remain consistent from now.
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:iconmissluna-kitsune:
MISSluna-kitsune Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
What if for adorkable  she  was still trying to discover her career and underwater photography was one of her ideas she pursued? I mean a lot of us try and figure out our career in college and change career ideas several times in our college careers lol :) that way it's still different but not too pigeon holed to your viewers:) if you continued forever 16 int relevant events today it also may still gain audiences who would enjoy the older comic ideas :) hope this helps a little? 
Happy holidays!!!
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:iconvictor639514:
victor639514 Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Student
Mainstream is utterly overrated, my friend. And considering how much repetitive stuff we have received from the media and entertainment industry, that's saying a mouthful. 

Again, tell the stories YOU want to tell, but at the same time, in a way that even those around you can appreciate. If they don't like it, fine. Let them be.
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:iconjbwarner86:
jbwarner86 Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
I do try my best to make everything I write accessible to as wide an audience as I can. I've been working on the pilot story for Adorkable for about a month now, and it deals with Abby's struggles as she attempts to pursue her dream of being an underwater fashion photographer/model - she want to make a career out of it, but she's afraid to talk to anybody about it because she thinks they'll think she's weird. Again, this is borne straight out of my own experiences with my underwater art, and it's something I think everybody can relate to on some level. But at the same time, I'm still struggling with it myself in real life.

To borrow a quote from Sweetie Belle, "Why does life have to be so ironic?"
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:iconvictor639514:
victor639514 Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Student
I understand completely. I can sorta' say the same for the story ark I already established with my new OC Peter Skunk. Like you said, it's based on personal experience. :nod: I guess that's the reason I created this lil' guy, to help carry out personal experience while still conveying the different elements that, as a whole, can finalize the story you're crafting. :)

And yes, Sweetie Belle summed it up very well right there. :XD:
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:iconbladedge:
BLADEDGE Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013  Student General Artist
shouldn't it be "Ho do I Sell comics"?
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:iconskoonie:
Skoonie Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
It's a reference to the meme "How do I shot web?"
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