The Road Ahead
So as chapter 4 is drawing to a close, I’ve been thinking about about how things have been going with Kitfox Comics and what I might be doing with it in the future.
I’ve been drawing the story for nearly five years now. Originally I had envisioned it as an RPG style video game, but lacked the skills I needed to do that, since I really into different sort of games from RPG to casino games as baccarat online where I can make some money on the web. Above all, my drawing skills were terrible and I thought that presenting the first few chapters as a comic would be a great way to build skills.
Even the title is tentative – rather than giving it a proper name, ‘Kitfox Comics’ is a reference to the web domain it’s hosted on (I used to follow D C Simpson’s ‘Ozy and Millie’ during its original run and knew about the trouble Simpson ran into with a domain name poacher – so I wanted to avoid naming it unless I could secure a domain for it first).
Anyhow, five years later I have improved quite a bit at drawing and rendering, but still fall short of professional level art skills. I’m also having a lot more demands on my time which is making producing each page more difficult. Each page takes about six or seven hours to make. On top of that, I’m only getting about 40 hits per day – a rate which hasn’t changed in years. It’s hard to say what percentage of that are unique humans, but in any case the strip isn’t pulling in huge numbers.
Ive been thinking of changing up the format. Maybe going to black and white, maybe dropping the format down to a weekly newspaper size, maybe even rebooting the whole story and going with something gag-based with short story arcs rather than the novel-length and increasingly grim serial that I’m currently doing.
In any case, I need something more manageable. And I would really like to bring viewers something they really like too.
While I can see that the art may put off people, personally I feel that it’s sufficiently stylish and consistent for that not to matter. It works. The poses are occasionally a trifle stiff, and maybe some of the less often seen characters are hard to tell apart (without significant diversity of build or facial features, there’s only so much that can be done with jewellery, clothing, colouration and hair style), but the art is good at portraying mood and motion and the characters look plausible within the setting.
If you did switch to black and white, would you be able to have shading (even hand-sketch shading), or would that take just as long as colour? I think the comic might suffer from being flat outlines. Something like the black and white pages of Golden Age (http://goldenage.comicgenesis.com/) might work?
As for the length and tone of the strip… well, I tend to feel an unpaid (or advert supported) artist should do whatever they feel happy with. Some of the grim stuff has been most effective. Having said that, I’d enjoy either approach.
I do think that going too small in size might make your comic a bit cramped, but as I’m not familiar with weekly newspaper size I don’t know if you mean a small four-panel talking heads style of thing or half-page rather than full-page.
Anyway, good luck with whatever you decide to do 🙂
In digital coloring, colors are usually applied in two stages. The first is the ‘flats’ where you block in large areas with a single, solid color. The second and more time consuming stage is where you go back over the flats and add in tones to make the forms rounded, have lighting effects or bounce their colors off nearby objects in the scene. In my experience, doing the flats in a program like Manga Studio doesn’t take too long and is only slightly more difficult than doing a similar thing in grey tones. The rendering stage, on the other hand, takes a lot more work to get right.
One of the main reasons I started using color was because readers were having trouble distinguishing minor characters. It also makes the page more unified. I did most of chapter 3 in black and white, and when you’re just scanning over the thumbnails, it can be really hard to tell what’s going on.
As for a smaller size, I was thinking along the lines of a four panel strip, ala Calvin and Hobbes or Pogo. Something funny with short arcs that don’t require new readers to know a few hundred pages of plot to be able to understand. I know there are some strips like Two Kinds or Lackadaisy that can do the long running serial format well, but they also have really high production values. I may need something less demanding and with fewer plot and art constraints, at least for a while.
Anyhow, I’m not planning any changes just yet. I’ll have to see how things develop over the next year.
Thanks for the reply 🙂
I looked back at chapter 3, and I must admit I found the simple ink-lines with no shading at all to be a trifle stark. It felt, to me, a trifle disconcerting. My memory had actually added in shading that wasn’t there 🙂
I don’t know how common that impression would be among your readers, though.
This might sound obvious (if so, forgive me), but one of the most important things is to determine what it is that your audience likes most about your comic. What makes it stand out from the rest? What makes people keep coming back? If you don’t have some sort of feedback system in place to find out these things, getting one should be one of your top priorities in the coming weeks. (This is something I’m not very good at with my own comic, so I’m still trying to figure out the best way to go about it!)
As for me, I’ve been following for a while now because I like the characters and the story. I think it has just the right amount of humor and while it has some violence and other serious moments, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I would continue to read even if the art style or format changed (and I’ve seen it change in the past and it hasn’t bothered me). If it became a gag strip I’d probably continue to read because I’m always on the lookout for quality, entertaining, SFW anthro comics, but I think I would prefer a most story-based comic like you have currently.
Howdy! Ive been following the comic since the early days, back as you said when it was a bit more humorous over serious. I found it to be like Order of the Stick in a way, a parody of table top games.
I follow it simply because SFW comics are getting rare these days. That and I like the art style :3 I think it took a hit in numbers simply because it wasnt as advertised as well as others in qll honesty.
I would be happy with where ever the comic goes even if you decide to end / reboot the comic by having them all get eaten by a dragon :p so long as it doesnt just drift off into obscurity xD i. Hate. It when comics just dissapear.
Either way, thanks for entertaining us for the last 5 years 🙂