Where to Start Your Comic

I talk a lot about starting a webcomic

but I've never actually talked about the

start of a webcomic like that is to say

like what happens at the very first few

pages of your webcomic do you just write

whatever and then send it off into the

abyss that is the Internet I mean you

can but if you want to have a webcomic

that's easily accessible to new readers

enticing to revisit and just something

to be dang proud of well stick around I

guess cuz I'm about to ramble about it

with my sore freaking throat throat

throat I got tea you guys I don't feel

too bad for me first things first I'm

gonna narrow things down a bit here when

I'm talking about the beginning of a

comic I'm talking about like the first

scene of your comic not the first third

cuz you know that's also a beginning was

kind of different whether your comic

starts off with a prologue in media res

or begins at the beginning I'm talking

about like what makes a first scene

stick technically you can start your

comic anywhere but you can also like

drunkenly show up to like your sister's

wedding I guess and like anywhere

between like 10:00 and 1:00 a.m. but

like should you do that it's probably

probably not a good idea your first

scene is very important it's where you

get to sit down with your reader and

tell them what your story is going to be

about and why they should stay if they

leave it should be because this isn't

their type of story they shouldn't leave

because you couldn't properly articulate

why your story is awesome and they need

to read it the first scene is a

microcosm of your webcomic this is why

stories don't always begin precisely at

the beginning of the protagonists

struggle grander tales frequently begin

with a glimpse into the larger world

epic scope adventure and they do this

before they set you down next to boring

protagonists and their humdrum life and

oh god I wish there was so much more in

my life kind of thing one of my favorite

examples of this is Gurren Lagann

so consider Gurren Lagann and how it


not with Simone living underground but

in a later moment out in space Harry


begins with a prologue which offers you

a glimpse into magic and implications of

a larger scope it doesn't just start

with some kid living in a cupboard and

being sad

likewise stories that remain small don't

start with space battles why because

imagine how disappointing it would be to

start reading a comic about space

battles and then it turns out just to be

like a slice of life with a beginning

scene that makes the wrong promises to

your readers you draw in the wrong

readers and you turn away the ones that

you do want basically if you don't want

to write about space battles don't start

with space battles if your story is all

about space battles start with a space

battle this is why when you begin your

comic it's a good idea to at least have

some sort of outline or idea where

everything is headed if you have no clue

don't fear I usually don't have any clue

either but I've done pretty well despite

this I often start by writing out a list

of cool things that I want to happen

they think out cool pages I want to see

feel Zee moments I want the audience to

react to and this list quickly becomes

my audience promise list from these cool

scenes and elements I can extrapolate a

more general list of promises

these are grander promises which shape

the comic overall what is the mood of

the comic what are what are some of the

symbols what are the main themes the

genre the answers to these large

questions answer what your comic is and

therefore shape your opening scene

let's run through a quick example to

show you how this works

I mentioned Gurren Lagann so let's start

there what is the overall mood it's big

over the top with a general sentence of

like kick-ass Ness does this translate

in the first scene yes is there any

symbols used yes the very first image is

the spiral theme I'm not gonna rewrite

like high school essays here but the

overall theme is introduced from the

very first moment and the genre is to

find clearly with the final glimpse of

the mecha which ends the whole opening

scene upon examination you can also see

another list of concrete promises from

the opener you can see that we will

follow Simone into adulthood and that

we're gonna end up in a battle against

the universe it's

and there's plenty of other notable bits

of foreshadowing there as well

if Gurren Lagann isn't your thing try

this exercise with some of your own

favorite comics movies and other forms

of storytelling mediums their openings

will share these same basic traits if an

ending was unsatisfying to you in a

piece of media try looking at the

beginning what promises did it start

with were these promises fulfilled my

recent comic the magpie begins in a

flashback but still foreshadows future

events I attempted to accomplish this by

choosing a flashback that lines up with

the mood theme in genre as well as

connecting it to the stranger elements

which will dominate the story later

I could have been more effective in some

parts like establishing the relationship

between the prologue and main story but

you know live and learn what is the mood

of my comic horrific and depressing how

do I show this monsters crying child

beating cymbals yeah they're kind of

their theme yes I I packed them pretty

tightly into the prologue but you know

it's about the same ratio as it goes on

throughout the whole comic in genre if

it isn't clear that this is a horror

well um you have a very interesting life

other elements that I packed into the

opening are the inclusions of monsters

from my previous story pretty mouth

which shows that these stories are in

the same world it also states that this

comic will be full of monsters and you

can expect conversations with them and

finally the last page shows that this

comic is brutal and mature so when

people's heads start exploding later

down the line my audience isn't like

what I thought this was a romance and

then they're mad at me but I also

include kissing early on so that they

know that there if there is kissing so

if they're more put off by kissing them

these playing heads they're good there

too anyway and all of this is just the

basics of story premises your visuals

also imply tons of things to your reader

is this a gag strip or narrative the

page layout speaks volumes to that what

does your art style choices say about

the questions of theme tone and genre

and while it all can get like really

overwhelming remember that you aren't

perfect and it's in an imperfect

beginning to an imperfect comic is

perfectly acceptable because because

again it's a promise to the reader

you're promising hey this is my first

comic and it shows I hope that helps go

forth now and start your comic and if

you've already started your comment try

looking at your first scene and see what

you've promised through it and if you

haven't even published this first scene

ask someone you trust about it see where

they think things are going and if

they're way off base then maybe it's

time to rethink your opening a bit

anyways my voice is like dying now um

thank you for watching

bla bla bla and ending credit stuff like

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