Why Producing a Webcomic is a Lot Like Cooking

Vegan Feast Catering
Photo by Vegan Feast Catering

Recently I’ve taken to expanding my home menu and it got me thinking that running a creative project such as a web comic is very similar to learning a new recipe. You have the dish you want to prepare, which is comparable to deciding on a particular type a comic that you want to make; you have the ingredient list, which can be your genre or business model; and then you have the preparation of the meal.

Appetizer or Main Course

I often have clients come in with entrée ideas but with no plans for an appetizer for their consumers to sample. I feel that business should be treated in at least three courses. Before you can make money from your comic, you have to start looking at your project a little differently.

An entrée should keep the customer wanting more. While it should keep them satisfied, it should also keep them hungry for more. In a business sense this might be the web comic itself, a brief blog blurb, etc.

The main course would be the meat of the business, your real profit engine. If they enjoyed the taste of your appetizer, odds are good that they might enjoy the next meal. Of course if you promised them a steak and served them fish, don’t be surprised if you have a few unhappy people on your hands.

Desserts might be the added personal touches that you add to your business, this is a part that occurs after the money transaction, so it might be an added bonus or excellent customer service. It’s the part that will make them walk away full and with a positive feel-good experience that they would be happy to share with others.

There are as many different types of business models for comics as there are meals to cook. Which meal you choose to prepare should depend on what complements your natural talents.

Main Ingredients and Spices

I see the ingredients list as a plan of action for a business. In order to run a successful business, you’ll need the proper tools to make sure that you can effectively complete the work while getting the word out about your comic.

Just like in cooking, you can substitute some products for other, or even leave a few off the list entirely. For example, I hate adding flour to a number of my main courses and I often add a combination of chilli spices, paprika and cumin to my soups and beef. You’ll also want to use fresh ingredients over old out-dated products.

Being aware of how these ingredients interact can help you create a comic recipe that works for you.

Bring to Boil Then Simmer

The preparation of the meal is arguably the most important part. If you don’t do anything with the materials that you’ve gathered, you won’t have a meal. The same can be said about your comic—you might have all the tactics in the world, but if you don’t actually use them, then you just have a time-consuming and potentially expensive hobby.

Just like in real life, poor preparation can lead to a bad meal or food poisoning. In a business this just might lead to disgruntled customers, which can possibly lead to having to close up shop.

Being aware of which process really complements the ingredients that you’re using can be a tremendous benefit to preparing a truly tasty meal.

Once again, in real life not everyone can cook even if they are following a recipe; I have a relative who burns water on a regular basis and her take on KD leaves me suddenly not very hungry. The best way to use the various web comic models is to treat them like recipes. Once you understand how each element complements one another, start treating the model more like a guideline and start adding in the spices that you love to make your comic idea truly unique.

About the Author:

Amber Dalcourt is the lead design and digital media consultant for Evil Ink. Setting and working toward goals has enabled her to achieve many of her life goals.

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