Making of a Webcomic: ComicPress

We’re about three months into our little adventure with the crew and I’ve learned a few things. Some of these were obvious. For instance I’m terrible at artwork and the writing for a comic. Writing full blown scripts seems like a piece of cake compared to restricting myself to under 20 words per page. Other tid-bits I knew would be hard and turned out easy to start but a near nightmare to advance, and that is where ComicPress comes in.

Starting out was SOOOO much easier than what I thought. My first criteria, for the comic, was it needed to be hosted on DreamHost along with everything else we run. That pretty much ruled out most of the hosting communities but that’s when Midnight threw in ComicPress. Of course I’ve heard of it and even discussed the idea with tons of people. The problem is I never personally used it so I couldn’t vouch for the product itself as the answer to hosting.

The Good: It’s WordPress. That’s immediately enticing because I’ve been using the open source software for years now and it has only been getting better. On top of it being fantastic blogging software it has tremendous flexibility in tailoring the front and back end. If I need support there are multiple forums for me to read. Next there are several different templates developed requiring zero customization to get your comic going. Perhaps the best selling point, and what sold me, was how many of my favorite comics are using it. Nothing sells better than your friend giving you something you wanted all along.

The Bad: I don’t know a darn thing about PHP. Well I know how to edit existing code but there’s no way I would pursue a job coding, unless they paid me a lot of money. Also don’t know the innards of WordPress if they were spilled in front of me. This means if I want to edit anything I HAVE to read all those forums until I find something remotely similar. Then we have the problem of two artists (well let’s say an artist and a writer) but only one blog path. How in the world do you get us to have separate columns for our posts?

The worst happened recently. There was an upgrade to WordPress that nuked the comic viewing. None of the posted comics would display unless it was on the homepage. Brought up the forums a couple of weeks later and found a defect database where there was a bug that matched my problem. The solution required me to have detailed knowledge, which I don’t have. Tried contacting Tyler with no luck. Eventually I spent 2 weeks learning PHP and debugged it myself. I’m not complaining that I had to learn something new, but that there was ZERO communication. It was almost as if those guys could care less about me good or bad.

Do I recommend this product? Yes, it is a brilliant piece of work that deserves respect. Just understand that unless you are a current paying customer you’re going to be ignored. Shoot, I offered to pay for their time and got nothing.


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