The internet has transformed independent comics and given creators an easy way to get their stories out to the public. There are a lot of different ways to publish your work online, but two of the most popular are WordPress and WordPress running ComicPress.
For most artists, computer code isn’t the first thing that they think of when sitting down to work on their stories. But depending on your knowledge level, either of the options above are fantastic solutions with a lot of options.
What You Need to Know
WordPress is a free open source blogging tool used by millions of people online for blogs and websites. Because it’s free, it’s perfect for independent comic creators on a tight budget. Using a blog is a great way to publish content since you can easily post, archive and tag content as well as get feedback and interact with readers.
WordPress is also an excellent Content Management System (CMS) that has a large community of developers. There are all kinds of additions (plugins) that can add to enhance your website and save you valuable time. WordPress uses a combination of HTML,CSSand PHP, so it’s relatively straightforward to learn and use.
You can use blogs hosted by another company if you choose and those work. But if you’re serious about publishing your comic online, it would be worthwhile to purchase your own webspace and then set up your website there. This gives you the ultimate control over what’s on your sites and how it looks.
If you’re looking for a slightly more advanced publishing platform, there’s ComicPress, which over the past five years or so has become increasingly popular. ComicPress provides you with the added functionality of displaying pages and navigation for these pages in your WordPress theme.
The WordPress/ComicPress combination is great for people who want to quickly and easily change how their site looks without a lot of coding experience. If you want to completely customize your website, it does get complex and you will need to understand coding, but we can get to that in later posts.
Fortunately, both WordPress and ComicPress have large communities and forums that you can dig around in for answers. These can be both helpful and frustrating since you can’t always find the exact answers to the problem that you are having.
Let’s start at the beginning…
If you’re just getting started, you need to evaluate what your skill level is. Even if you’re a complete beginner, there are a lot of resources online to help you through. Everything is extremely well documented online, so check out the links at the end of the article to get started. Once you’ve got everything installed, it is very straightforward. Some basics you might need to know are:
HTML – HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the predominant markup language used for web pages and it forms the basic building blocks of the web. Web browers read HTML documents (code) and then display them on screen for the user.
CSS – A Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) is a language used to describe the look and formatting of a document written in a markup language (usually HTML).CSS is designed primarily to separate the document containing the content from the document pertaining to how it is presented.
PHP – Hypertext Preprocessor is a widely used, general purpose scripting language. PHP code is embedded into the HTML source document and interpreted by a web server with a PHP processor module, which generates the web page.
Or, in summary:
1. Web pages are composed in HTML.
2. CSS tells the browser how the HTML should look.
3. PHP is dynamic code so that you don’t have to change every web page, just certain parts and those changes will take effect across the whole site. It also works with server based databases so that pages can call and receive specific content.
(There are probably better explanations than this, but that should help it make sense)
Where do I download the files?
Hopefully now you’re confident that WordPress/ComicPress is right for you. So get started by checking that your server provider is running a MySQL database to store all the blog information that you’re going to start to generate. Then you’ll need to install both WordPress and ComicPress on your server. All of this is well documented over on WordPress.org, so here are the links that you’ll need to get going:
Once you’ve done all of this, you should have a basic blog and comic website site up and running. It won’t look terribly unique, though – so in the next post in this series, we’ll cover some basic editing and customization, to start making your site more interesting!
You can see more of Jason Smith’s work at jsnsmith.com/ontheverge.makingcomics.com