Friday, June 13, 2008

The Pro's of Fan Work

Recently a colleague of mine spoke of her friend, a "brilliant writer," who used her talent to write fan fiction based on her favorite TV series. "What a shame." my colleague said.

For the most part, artists and writers see fan work as flattering tributes to the original. Inspired by the original work, they often share their inspired creations with friends and online fandoms. Some critics may look at this and say, "What a shame. They should be doing their own work!" Others see it as a flattering tribute. I see it as a potential promotional tool for the young artist or writer.

This week I wrote an article for about the Pro's of Fan Work (primarily fan fiction) and how the growing artist or writer can benefit. You can read the full article by clicking here.

Here are a few examples of successful fans who's fan work gained them the attention of some big industry names:

N. Matsumoto (aka spacecoyote)'s Simpsons and Futurama fan art that she shared on earned her a job with Bongo Comics, a company created and owned by Simpsons creator Matt Groening. She will be working on a short Simpsons manga and has been contacted by 20th Century Fox to potentially work on the relaunch of Futurama. You can read the full article about Space Coyote's success by clicking here.

Harry Potter fan, Francisca Solar, wasn't happy with Rowling's fifth book in the popular series so she wrote her own sequel "Harry Potter and the Decline of the High Elves." Published on, her story received positive reviews from all over the world and was viewed more than 80,000 times. Harry Potter publisher, Random House, took notice. The company liked her work so much they offered her a contract to write her own original trilogy. You can read more about Francisca and her series by clicking here.

Writing fan fiction or drawing fan art can be a simple labor of love, fun hobby and a way for a fan to give back to their fandom or express their inspired fantasies. In many cases, fan work serves a more professional service, acting as a form of practice for the growing artist or writer. Fan work can prove to be a fun exercise in emulating existing styles in drawing or writing. This can lead artists and writers to branch off and create their own original pieces. Fan work also makes great online portfolio bait. Think about how many people Google search their favorite books, shows and characters. Lure viewers to your portfolio website with fan work of a popular subject, and you have a better chance of getting your original work noticed.

Celebrating 10 Issues is celebrating 10 issues this week. I like celebrating with parodies... This one goes out to duqwingman.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

The Internet sure has changed since 2003, when I managed my own online comic, Dragon's Pride. Yesterday I was in the process of updating and promoting when my mind started to wonder. If I were going to design and operate a new online comic website today, how would I do it? How would I use the latest Internet practices, widgets and websites? How would my new site differ from my old site?

Well to start I would register a domain name. DP never had it's own domain. When I took the site from a free server to a paid one I didn't pay the extra fee to register. At the time it wasn't a big deal. I wasn't up on the best SEO or linking practices. Paying to host my portfolio was one thing, but I couldn't justify spending the extra money on something that was, at the time, just a hobby.

Of course I'd design a website based on my comic art using Photoshop, which is what I've done in the past. However, this time around there would be no massive image map with links to all of my pages. These days I'm experimenting with CSS and I recognize the importance of physical keywords.
Would I keep my site map the same? Back in the day I had an index page that linked to a table of contents page that would link to all of my individual html documents. One hand coded link for each individual comic page. Today I would probably look into using a content management system with tags for updates and have my newest comic display on the front page, like many other online comics do these days. It's convenient for readers and good SEO.

In 2003 I spread the word about my comic by looking up other comics, link exchanging with them, posting links on their forums, doing gift art, joining sites like, and the like. Today I would certainly seek out link exchanges, but there are new promotional tools available in social networking sites like facebook and myspace. I'd use to share content updates and to spread the word. There are so many new ways to generate feedback and site traffic, I won't even try to list them all.

As the Internet grows and changes shape, I look forward to finding new ways to use it. I may not be up on all of the latest practices but I sure have learned a lot since 2003.