Okay, so there’s some initial development. You’re going to pick a body type, a head type, some expressions and some basic personality traits. Now it’s time to get going. Is your character perfect? No. There is still a lot of development to be done, and you will get to it. What I’m going to tell you is a highly guarded trade secret. Are you ready? On the job training. That’s it.
Your character isn’t going to be perfect out of the box. So what should you do? Work on it for a year and then start publishing? You could, but you would be the only one. Everyone evolves their characters over time and in front of the audience. Does Superman look the same today as when he first premiered? Batman? Look at the first season of The Simpsons or Family Guy. Have you ever seen an early Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse cartoon? These are some of the most iconic characters of all time and they all have had major evolution in before our very eyes.
Web comics are the same. Go to any of your favorite webcomics, read today’s comic, and then jump all the way back to the first one and compare the two. Unless this webcomic started yesterday, without fail, you will see major differences between then and now. Disney embraces this sort of character evolution. You can buy posters, shirts, mugs, just about anything with a Mickey, Donald or Goofy through the ages.
My web comic, The Drive In, went through major changes before I even started publishing it. After I completed my first comic, I wanted to see if I could draw a few of them and still feel the magic of being a cartoonist, albeit an unpublished one, but a cartoonist nonetheless. I drew a second and a third, and before long I had a decent backlog, which is a really good idea, but that’s another story. Once I had this buffer, I focused on getting my website up and running. This took me quite some time, months actually. For starters, I didn’t know anything at all about blogging, which is basically what a web comic. I had to research this and try to find some technical help. When I finally published my first comic on November 1st, 2010, I was drawing comics for January 2011. My characters didn’t look the same anymore and I hadn’t published a single comic yet!
Everything evolves, so go with it. Get started and let your comic evolve. I’m closing in on one year of The Drive In, and only two people have commented on how much better my comic looks now than when it began. It looks better because it evolved. It’s still evolving, and I’m glad, because things usually evolve for the better. Your comic may evolve so slowly that nobody will notice, but it will evolve.