Have you only just had your Comic Genesis account activated and want to know where to start? Are you thinking of joining Comic Genesis and want to know how difficult it's going to be? Then read on.
This is just a general overview and links to the various tutorials available. If you don't understand something, just skip over it. If you have a specific question that isn't answered here, feel free to pop into the Comic Genesis Help Center and ask. There's normally a few helpful people around to give support.
Where to begin?
Do you have an account? Go down to the Getting your comic off the ground section. Not signed up? Read on:
Comic Genesis provides some very powerful, heavily customizable automated comic software tailored specifically for hosting webcomics with a minimum of fuss. Anyone who has the desire to have their own webcomic can be up and running without needing to know any html. However, it does help to know some html.
What does Comic Genesis provide? At no cost to the Author (the person making the webcomic), you can host almost any type or genre of webcomic without discrimination, so long as copyright is not being violated. The server handles everything from updating the comic to creating archives without any intervention from the Author. Other than creating the webcomic that is.
Already signed up? Read on.
Getting your comic off the ground.
Firstly, a few basic principles:
- Do not email or send private messages asking for help, unless the recipient has invited you to converse in such manner first. Especially do not try to contact the Admins or Mods for help. You'll be ignored. Why? Because they are not paid employees (the Admins are but they also have day jobs and try to get it on a weekly basis, and they're not paid that much -- ether way, they're overworked). The Wiki has plenty of information available, and anything difficult can be handled in the Comic Genesis Help Center. The exception being for non-support help issues, such as being attacked by another member, being harassed or discriminated - that sort of thing.
- Naming conventions: One of the most common "newbie errors" is to name the comic images 1, 2, 3 etc. This will work, but only after a fashion. For example, 10 will come before 1, not after 9. You would need to name the files 01, 02, 03 etc, but with the problem coming back when you hit 100. On Comic Genesis, image files are named for the day they will appear. So the comic for Christmas 2006 would be named 20061225.jpg -> YYYYMMDD where Y=year, M=month and D=day. More information on getting you comic images ready can be found here.
- The 'search' button is your friend. In the forums, there is a handy little button at the top of the page marked "search". As implied, this will let you search through the forums to see if your problem has come up before. You can also use Google's site search feature. If you have a problem with creating your archive, you can put the following into Google:
site:http://forums.comicgenesis.com problem with archive
- However, note that if you don't put the 'forums.' bit at the front, you'll also be searching though all the comics.
- Something has gone wrong, but you're sure you are doing everything right: When you go into the Comic Genesis Help Center, check the 'Sticky' and 'Announcement' threads at the top of the page. It may be a problem that has already come up or is affecting a lot of people.
So, if that didn't scare you off...
...then the first thing you will want to learn about are Keentags. What's a Keentag I hear you ask? Let me tell you:
A Keentag is part of the way that the Comic Genesis Server works. You'll know one when you see it because it will be three asterisk's, a name and three more asterisk's; like this: ***todays_date*** which (as is implied by the name) will display the date for that day.
Basically a Keentag is a temporary placeholder that will be replaced when the server updates your comic.
Let us assume that your name is John Jebediah Smith the 3rd. Let's also assume that you are lazy and don't want to type "John Jebediah Smith the 3rd" every time you want your name to appear. One of the Keentags is ***author***. What will happen is that wherever you put the author Keentag, the server will replace it with the name specified as the author's.
Didn't understand that? Read the Keentag explanation page for more. It also lists all the Keentags and what their various uses are.
The next thing that you will want to learn is html. Teaching you html is way beyond the scope of this simple tutorial, but a simple search for 'html basics' or 'html tutorial' will give you loads of places that will tell you how. If you can't or won't learn html, there are some templates available, plus the default one. So even if you know zero html, you can still get your comic going.
If you prefer to concentrate on the artwork and let someone else take care of the code, have a poke around in the Comic Genesis Yellow Pages (found at the top of the Help Center) and see if someone is available to do it for you.
An important thing to keep in mind is fairly fundamental, but you may not have encountered it before. There is a process called ftp (which means File Transfer Protocol) which is used to get the files from your computer onto the Comic Genesis server.
You use a web browser (such as Internet Explorer or Firefox) to look at what is on a server, but you need an ftp program to put something onto the server. There is a browser-based ftp program available, but your best bet is to get a third-party program such as SmartFTP (free) or Dreamweaver (paid). The current recommended program is Filezilla.
Uploading to your comic account
Firstly, there are two ways to get at your comic account: through ftp as described above, or through SiteAdmin (Important: use your Forum login name and password to get into SiteAdmin. And it is cAsE sEnSeTiVe) . In SiteAdmin, you can upload the comic image files directly, change the settings for your comic and account, and you can also manually trigger an update.
You would perform a manual update when you change something in the templates or if you just want to update the index. You do not normally need to trigger an update manually as the Server will attempt to update your comic once every 24 hours, 365 days a year.
By "attempt" we mean that the server will look in your account and see if there are any new comics to be put up that day. If there are, it'll perform an update automatically. If there are no new comics, it will move on and check again the next day.
Having said that, the best way to upload files is through ftp as it lets you upload your templates, text files and graphics as well as the comic images. You will want to read about how the folders are laid out and which files go where before you start uploading.
Summary: always upload to the workspace section of your account and not the public_html section. It is easy to be confused when you are starting because there are folders with the same names in both sections, so be careful!
And whatever you do, DON"T DELETE ANY FOLDERS!
Changing your comic
Something you don't like?
If you want to get rid of something (such as the sample comic from the application), you can see how to get rid of unwanted strips here.
Want to change the look of your comic? Read through some of the Intermediate Users articles on the Tutorials page.
And as mentioned before, if there's something not listed that you want clarified, the Help Center is just a click away.
Where to now?
Essentially, there are only two things limiting you on how your comic site looks: your imagination and your knowledge of html coding. The more html that you know, the better looking you will be able to make your site. However, here are some final tips to help you out:
- Put anything you want on the index, but keep your daily pages free of clutter. If someone is reading through your first 80 pages, they don't want to have your blog about your car not starting loading up 80 times on the same day.
- Simple is ok! Just because some of the "big" webcomics have loads of buttons / graphics / ads / etc on their site does not mean that you have to have that. And the less stuff you have on yours, the faster your site will load.
- Don't forget to read the preparing your images tutorial. It really will help you to share your comic efficiently.
- Use the search! With over 10,000 comics started and around 2,000 or so active webcomics, there's a slight chance that the problem you encounter has been seen before.
- Don't be worried about using a basic layout or to use existing templates. Focus more on your artwork and story. You can always change or improve the site later. Remember: the comic is what you readers will want to see! The site is just the wall that the canvas hangs on.
- Don't forget about your responsibilities! You must have the advertisement at the top of the page (actually, at the top of every page) and the Hosted by Message (ComicName is hosted on Comic Genesis, a free webhosting and site automation service for webcomics) at the bottom of the page (also on every page). However, the Hosted by Message does not have to be word-perfect. You can vary it to suit your style, so long as the link to the Comic Genesis main page remains, and the gist of the message is preserved (that it's free and it's for webcomics).
Having these two things on your site is how you 'pay' for you Comic Genesis account.
And yes, 'every page' means every single page on your comic site. That includes the archive page, the about page, the links page, the character's mysterious background explained page, etc. Not just the pages with comic images.