Tales From The Crypt A friend of mine once said to me 'You have to know what direction you're heading, pal, before you can truly aim to get there'. No. Wait a minute. It wasn't a friend who said that. It was a cab-driver. He wanted to know the destination me and my drunken mate were going to, just after we toppled into his cab ass over tit. Still. It's a nice saying, isn't it? And reminds me of something my buddy Richard told me only the other day, whilst we were talking about his webcomic ranking service.

New logo with all kinds of size

1) What are your own origins, Richard? Plus what path did you take in life to get to where you are today?   That is a complex question. My father was a waiter at a gourmet restaurant his entire adult life -- the same restaurant. He always had a lot of free cash -- due to tips -- so he would buy nearly every comic book that came out every week. Growing up, I remember going through crates and crates of comics, silver age, golden age, those old “weird tale” comics that were really popular decades ago. Plus those oversized Conan magazines too (the adult kind of lots of gore and naked women, we’re born and raised in Vegas, so that wasn't a big deal, even when I was a toddler).

I learned to read by trying to figure out what the comics were saying (and sesame street), and I think a lot of my ethics come from reading thousands of comics that talked about doing the right thing, responsibility. By six I was reading novels (Stephen King -- probably why I’m sort of cynical and dark sometimes), not just comics, but I never lost my love for comics.

Web Comics
Fast forward a few decades, and I was working as tech support for a website CMS company. This was during the time of Geocities -- I think webmail like Hotmail and yahoo mail were also getting popular. In the course of my job, I was teaching myself html, javascript, and other languages, then decided to learn “fancy” server side programming. I needed a project to push how fast I was learning, and I happened to be reading a webcomic based around Dungeons and Dragons -- Dndorks -- over on EnWorld.

So I contacted these two kids in High School and offered to buy a domain name, program a comic scheduling application, etc. I learned how to program by building

A few years later, and I’m the 'Director of Development' at a start-up doing online magazines. Dndorks was part of topwebcomics and buzz comics, and topwebcomics came up for sale. I had created a quick voting site for Rocket comics, and I had a large amount of money from the start-up and selling two houses, so I bought the domain name. Then the same guy sold me too.

And that’s it, years have gone by, and I've continued to grow and (hopefully) improve

2) Have you heard of any success stories coming out from your site?   I've received a lot of “thank you”s from various artists throughout the years. But while we can contribute to the success of a comic, obviously without a lot of effort and dedication a comic can’t succeed.

I like to think topwebcomics is a 'success amplifier'.

3) If your site was a piece of music or an object, what would it be and why?   Rob D’s “Clubbed to Death”. I have no idea why, it was just the first thing that came to mind.

4) Have you ever tried to create a web-comic yourself?    I have run and written for for years. Its currently on hiatus while I focus on topwebcomics and my day job -- director of software development for an insurance startup. 

5) Have you had any acknowledgement from the press or local media?   I think I did a few years ago, but mostly I’m pretty low key. 

Stan Lee Reading A Comic Book6) What was the first web-comic you ever read? And do you read mainstream comic books?   I can’t remember the name of the webcomic -- maybe one of your readers can help? It was sort of loosely based around final fantasy, and one of the comics I remember the main characters went up to someone in the village and the guy just said “Times are hard”, a nod to what npcs would say when there was nothing to say.

As far as mainstream comic books, honestly, they’re too expensive for me. I got into the Marvel ultimate series -- specifically 'Ultimate Spiderman' and 'Ultimate Fantastic Four' -- but I was reading them only as the annual volumes. Otherwise I can read an 18 page comic book in probably 5-10 minutes which just doesn't make me feel like I have a good return on my investment.

7) If you could get a celebrity – either living or dead – to promote ‘TWC’, who would you choose, and why would you want to choose this particular person?   Stan Lee. Who else? Hes become so awesome in the past decade. 

8) What piece of advice would you give to someone trying to create a web-comic?   Put together a good month or two of issues before you launch your site. Make sure it’s something you want to do -- plus are willing to commit to -- before you launch something that ends up just sitting there.

When you first start, you may feel like you can do 3 times a week, because you really feel like you’re excited and want to get it out there. And maybe you can do 3 times a week -- but really -- if you commit to 3 times a week -- you should have 12 before you start. You'll realize you’re really tired by the time you get to 7, 8, 10, or even the full 12. That’s what will tell you what a realistic level of output is, and allow you to set the expectations of your future fans!

Now where were you two years ago, Richard? I could sure have used that piece of advice then. Still, I've learnt my lesson I suppose. Just make sure you don't need to, dear reader! Click on today. And open your mind up to the world wide webcomic sensation of the future.