Once the exclusive domain of geeks, comics are now very much a mainstream phenomenon. Big-name books from the likes of Marvel Comics and DC Comics have led the way, but even shorter, niche comic strips have also experienced a resurgence. There are a number of amazing webcomics from talented amateurs who are producing dazzling comics exclusively for a passionate set of fans on the Internet.
This renewed interest in the form factor has led to more people wanting to try their hand at creating comics of their own. The success of xkcd, for example, proves that great ideas and creativity can overcome a lack of any innate artistic talent.
This means that anyone, and I mean anyone, can create a great comic if they have the will to do so. And have the tools at hand, of course. Which is where we come in, providing the latter part of that equation, leaving you to figure out the actual content of your comic.
Make Beliefs Comix gives you a simple way to make compelling comic strips of between two-and four-panels. You select the panel you want to edit, and then layer in backgrounds, characters, and objects. These can be repositioned until you feel they’re exactly as you want them, at which point you can add dialog and/or thought boxes containing your original script.
The style of the artwork is intentionally childish, so the cast of characters includes pirates, clowns, and a whole slew of animals dressed in human clothing. There are enough characters and scenes to choose from to ensure little duplication, though the end result will not be to everyone’s tastes.
Once you have finished editing your Make Beliefs Comix comic creation you can print and/or email it to ensure it survives. The website itself doesn’t store the comics, so this is the only way to have it viewed by a wider audience.
Comix I/O takes a very different approach to the task of creating comics. Rather than having preset backgrounds and characters that can be layered on top of one another, it requires you to use HTML to create your comic. Thankfully everything is still kept simple, with stick figures and simple text being the order of the day. Thus you can create a comic strip which resembles xkcd, at least in terms of visual style.
You’re presented with a default comic strip and have the option to edit it as you see fit. Those with little knowledge (or interest) in learning HTML can use the visual editor to manipulate the scene by grabbing the characters at various points and moving them into new positions. However, the source editor is required for more extensive edits.
The whole Comix I/O project is open-source and there are help pages on Github designed to let those with even a modicum of HTML experience get started. If you’ve always wanted to create comics in the style of xkcd then this is a great way to do so.
Chogger gives you the basic tools needed to create an online comic in whichever style you desire. You simply choose one of the layouts, which range from single panel one-liners to 8-panel epics, and then add your artwork to it. This is achieved either by drawing from scratch using a simple Paint-style editor, or adding images; either your own or those sourced from Google.
Once you’re happy with the visual elements, you can add text in the form of thoughts, speech, or a caption to complete your masterpiece. If you save your work it’s published to the Chogger website, so be sure to add a title, a description, and tags to your webcomic before closing the pop-up window that the Chogger creation tool opens in.
This method gives you the ultimate freedom to create the online comic you would want to read, and you’re only limited by your imagination. These are the kinds of meme-style animations that do well on Reddit and the more light-hearted side of the Internet.
Witty Comics doesn’t allow the same level of freedom as some of the other comic-creation tools on this list, but what it does do it does well. Which is to allow anyone and everyone, even those who have no artistic talent of any kind, to create an online comic. Everything is kept as simple as it could be, with a default layout and very little in the way of customization options.
The comics take place over the span of three panels, though you could use just one or two instead and save them as an image. You choose a static background and then two characters, one of whom will stand on the left, one of whom will stand on the right. You then simply add the dialog you want to appear above their heads. A ‘Duplicate Frame’ button means you can keep the same look over all three panels.
There are plenty of backgrounds and characters to choose from, and dialog is left completely up to you. If you want to create comics that don’t look the same as other efforts, Witty Comics may not be for you, but it’s perfect for those who have a joke to tell and want to add a visual element to it.
Garfield’s Comic Creator is the only licensed comic creation tool on this list. There are others on the Web, but none that work quite as well as this one. It’s aided by the fact that Garfield is a deceptively simple cartoon strip, with just a few clearly defined and established characters who have minimal conversations.
You can create either a single panel comic or one that runs across three panels. The backgrounds and props are limited, but still varied enough to help you put your own stamp on your creation. Characters including Garfield himself, Jon, Odie, and Nermal can be placed in the scene, and flipped and scaled to fit. Text is then added over the top.
Once completed you can print out your own Garfield comic, though I very much doubt whether your creation will beat the simple genius that is Garfield Without Garfield; one of my many suggestions for what to do when you’re bored at work.
Now that we have provided you with the tools you need to create an online comic, we want evidence of your genius. So if you use any of the websites listed above — or the websites previously listed for creating your own webcomics or memes — include a link to your creation when you comment in the space provided below. Oh yes, not only do we want you to leave a comment, we want to see your comic creations in all their glory.
What do you think of this list of tools to help you create an online comic? Are there any others you think should have been included? What are your favorite webcomics on the Internetz and what makes them particularly appeal to you? We want to hear your thoughts on the subject, because MakeUseOf is designed for a two-way conversation.
Image Credit: Gonzalo Diaz Fornaro