Making Comics at SDCC 2014

Comic-Con 2014 was a blast! (If you were unable to attend, my sympathies. That’s why we do these wrap-up posts.) Make sure to check out the audio link below.


The local Making Comics crew—Patrick, Adam, Kevin, Devin, Evan—were there to rep the “revolution” and generally brag about our community and future plans. We’re really excited by the enthusiasm readers have shown in response to our “Get A Grasp” MOOC and daily challenges, not to mention my own (hi!) #FAQDevin column and Adam’s (in)famous Gutter Talk podcast. You guys have been awesome, and your creativity sustains us.

We hosted a panel on Saturday called Uniting the Worldwide #makecomics Community. It was, without exaggeration, one of the best panels at the convention (at least amongst those discussing actual comics). The lineup was crazy: we had Rachel Beck representing our friends over at Storyforge, Mark Waid (of Daredevil fame) and Christina Blanch (writer of Damnation of Charlie Wormwood) from Thrillbent, Andy Schmidt from Comics Experience, Jim Zub (writes Skullkickers, Wayward), and Palle Schmidt (artist on Thomas Alsop) from Comics For Beginners. Patrick ran the panel while the rest of us listened intensely.


After a brief rundown of Making Comics (dotCom) participation stats (number of MOOC students, worldwide readership breakdown), Patrick previewed some of the things we’ve been working on for the future. I’ll let him determine what announcements are made public, but suffice it to say some neat stuff is coming. Then the discussion kicked off, and boy, was it glorious.


The Web has enabled one of the biggest paradigm shifts [for] breaking into the industry. Webcomics let me see your work ethic. @MarkWaid

Webcomics are no longer a vanity project for artists. They’ve become a legitimate option for breaking in. @JimZub

Showing you already have an audience lends a kind of gravitas to your work for publishers. @Palle_Schmidt


Much of the discussion concerned the changing landscape for comics in the last decade. Many on the panel have been working in/around comics for a while, and have observed this change firsthand. There used to only be one real way to “break in” to comics, as Andy points out:

The question used to be “How do I write for Marvel or DC?” and now the majority of people want to know how to make their own stuff. – Andy Schmidt @ComicExperience

The internet has democratized this process. Webcomics are a perfectly commercial form of comic that anyone can create and consume. People without access to a physical comic shop can still read comics online, which removes barriers and brings in more readers.

Comic books are now available to everyone regardless of age or race or location. And that for me is the most exciting thing! @JimZub


Many echoed this sentiment. Christy (@christyblanch) talked about the promising increase in the number of women who make comics, as well as the success she’s had in reaching aspiring creators through her (juggernaut) SuperMOOC 2. Rachel discussed the ways in which creators of webcomics can bypass traditional gatekeepers—like publishers—and form mutually beneficial relationships with their audience:

There is now a rise in patronage again, only now the niche market isn’t the wealthy, it is the many. -Rachel Beck @Storyforgers


Old paradigms of distribution no longer apply.

People now trust friends and personal interactions more than blaring advertisements that we’ve learned to ignore. @JimZub 

People are now interested in genuine people, genuine passion, genuine projects. -Andy Schmidt @ComicExperience 

Everything that used to be the non-professional route is now just another option to use. @JimZub

There was a lot of excitement and optimism on the panel, and why not? Access to comics is expanding. The tools for making comics are widely available, so anyone can make whatever type of story they like. The future is bright!


I could continue, but this post is running long as it is. If only we had recorded the audio from the panel…

Thanks again to everyone on the panel, those in the audience, and all of you out there in internet land. Can’t wait for the next one!

The Legal Stuff:

Intro Song:

“RetroFuture Clean” Kevin MacLeod (  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

“Akashic (Instrumental)” with permission from Spike & Reggie Music Licensing and Publishing (

Outro Song:

“Come to Me” Texas Musicforge ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0


InceptionBrassHitMedium.wav: Herbert Boland /

record_scratch.wav: nixphoeni /
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6 Responses to “Making Comics at SDCC 2014”

  1. Franky Plata

    Hi guys,

    This was my favorite podcast so far.

    There’s a little sub-subject in the discussion where I think I can be a bit useful: Software.

    I have been trying Krita and Sketchbook Pro for a while as PS alternatives to produce my comic and do some sketching tests. Krita is open source and free, and Sketchbook Pro went free on tablets/iPads, which is a medium to draw your comics as valid as any other.

    But then again…

    Composition and sequence-building are way trickier than just learning how to work from one kind of software or other. Your comic can be done in post-its photographed from a 2MP cellphone camera and still be as interesting and appealing to tell your story as a mainstream comic format. The story and art go together first, the rest is just for embellishing.

    Draw more comics!

    • Patrick

      Love the suggestions! I will definitely look into those softwares to see if I can do some sort of review.


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