01/23/03
Webcomics
    by Laurie Taylor

After reading the Sunday funnies, why not move your chair to the computer and try making your own. Kids and adults of all ages dream of writing comic strips and comic books, and webcomics offer the chance to actually take that creative leap. Webcomics are becoming increasingly popular with young people and are a blast to start. In case you haven't heard the term before, a webcomic is simply a comic strip that's available only on the web and so it doesn't need an actual publisher to get launched or to become successful. In fact, many webcomics are immensely popular, having tens of thousands of online readers a day from all over the world.

But before you can have an audience, you need that comic filled with action, mystery, or just plain silliness. For those starting out, one of the basic bits of advice that all webcomic artists and writers offer is to keep paper and pencil handy at all times, so that you'll be able to write down those neat ideas and sketch out those amazing concepts.

If you're like me and can't draw, there are ways to work around this lack of artistic talent. Most computers come setup with simple image programs, and those are a good place to start playing with making digital images. You can also use a scanner or digital camera to put your pictures on your computer where you can edit them. The main thing is to try. While it's important to experiment with new techniques, webcomic writers like Barry T. Smith recommend that you "see what you're comfortable with, and stick to it." (http://www.inktank.com/101/howto/tools.cfm)

Finding space on the internet for that first comic masterpiece shouldn't be a problem since there are any number of sites online that offer free space (normally with add banners that will clutter your page).

It's also important when just starting out, to look at other webcomics. You can even start by reading your regular paper comic strips at sites like www.ucomics.com. Marvel.com is even offering several full-length comicbooks online, with familiar faces like Spiderman and Daredevil gracing those pages. Or you can read great comics that you won't find in any paper, at sites like www.Squinkers.com (http://www.squinkers.com/sqkrs/Squinker.html) and then follow the links from Squinkers to more choices. Just a note of caution to parents and teachers: you may well want to try out these sites and their links yourself before suggesting them to your young webcomic artists.

I don't know about you, but I'm stocking up on cocoa this weekend, sharpening my pencil, and logging on for another Sunday of comics -- someone else's and, with any luck, one of my own.

Sources

Squinkers: http://www.squinkers.com/sqkrs/Squinker.html
http://www.webcomics.com/
Inktank: http://www.inktank.com/101/howto/tools.cfm
http://www.webcomics.com/top/Kids/Entertainment/Comics_and_Cartoons/
http://www.ucomics.com
http://www.marvel.com
http://www.indiaking.com/kids.htm

Copyright 2003 Laurie Taylor

Today's program reviewed the webcomic Squinkers and the image on the calendar is from Squinkers.

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Tuesday, 07-Jan-2003 21:25:44 EST


"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."