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Feedback Wanted

Journal Entry: Fri Apr 22, 2016, 7:11 AM
Joining | Submitting | About Us | Featured Articles | Summer 2012 Contest | Live Sessions

Hey everyone!

Sorry for the lack of exciting news and articles lately -- there's been a lot of things going on in our lives offline!  We'd like to change that, though, and get back to providing helpful resources!

So, what sorts of things do you want to see from Manga-Apps?

Do you have questions, or trouble approaching specific topics when you draw?

What sorts of articles, materials, and tutorials do you want to see more of?


The Grawlix CMS

Journal Entry: Sun May 10, 2015, 8:02 AM
Joining | Submitting | About Us | Featured Articles | Summer 2012 Contest | Live Sessions

What is The Grawlix CMS?

Product Site:
Type: Content Management System for Comics
Price: FREE
License: MIT Open Source
Tech Level: Intermediate
For Use With: Personal Domain & Hosting
Recommended? Yes

A while back, we went over different options for hosting your own webcomic. One of the comics-central CMS (content management system) options we mentioned was the soon-to-be-launched Grawlix.

Well, good news, everyone!  The Grawlix CMS is now available.  Grawlix is brand new, but the 1.0 release works well. If you're an intermediate user with experience hosting your own website, Grawlix is a lightweight and effective content management system for your webcomic.

Who’s behind The Grawlix CMS?

The powerhouse developers behind The Grawlix CMS are Ben Gremillion and Cherie Benoit.  While testing the software, I communicated with them to share impressions and tech issues.  They were communicative, helpful, and patient, especially with technological and installation concerns.
Grawlix 1.0 is also made possible through the support and help of nice folks like Jeff Laclede (Grawlix user, designer of site mascot) and Brad Guigar (consultant).

My thoughts on The Grawlix CMS

I recommend Grawlix 1.0 to someone who has some technical experience with running their own website.

If you’re unfamiliar with manually installing software such as WordPress, getting started with The Grawlix CMS might be a little alien to you.  I recommend reading the documentation.

There’s also a support forum which you can use to communicate with the developers and other users.

Setting up The Grawlix CMS was fairly straightforward – though in the version I tested, the installer required that I edit the configuration file myself.  The code was provided after I entered my database credentials, so it’s an easy step!
Once installed, the CMS runs pretty smoothly. I found the the system to be lightweight and intuitive. I tested it in a variety of environments, and found that the following conditions worked best:

1.     A server running cPanel (Linux and Apache)
2.    PHP 5.3 or newer
3.    MySQL

Not every webhost will be able to support this set-up. If you don’t know what your webhost’s capabilities are, consult them and see what options are available to you.

Other platforms I tested were using IIS with PHP 5.3, and a Parallels-based system with Apache and nginx.  Neither of those worked particularly well and required tinkering on the server to get it working better.

All in all, I like the Grawlix CMS.  It seems like a promising alternative to some of the other Comic CMSes out there.  If you’re looking to start a new comic, consider giving it a shot!

And by the way - you can support this project on Patreon!
:iconkabocha: kabocha

Hosting Your Own Webcomic

Journal Entry: Sat Jan 10, 2015, 2:42 PM
Joining | Submitting | About Us | Featured Articles | Summer 2012 Contest | Live Sessions

What is Web Hosting

With the previously discussed closure of InkBlazers, there are many authors looking for a new home to move to.  While several are going to Tapastic, there are still some who may want to break free of reliance on communities for their primary source of income, and create their own websites.

Web Hosting is, in a nutshell, a service-based where you get space on someone else's server to display (host) your own website.
When you buy web hosting services from a company, you are essentially buying your own little piece of the Internet.

There are other ways to have a presence on the Internet, but having your own website allows you greater control over how things look and work.

Most paid web hosting offer things such as the following in their packages:
:bulletred: Space for your website*
:bulletred: Access to the website files using FTP
:bulletred: The ability to access your website using a domain name
:bulletred: The ability to utilize scripting languages such as PHP or ASP.NET
:bulletred: Access to SQL-based databases
:bulletred: Access to create email addresses with their packages

*Many webhosts will say that they offer "Unlimited" space or bandwidth, thanks to the way their servers are configured.  In the fine print, most of these hosts actually have a disclaimer stating that their Unlimited Resources Policy applies only to files meant for your website, and not for storing or sharing files that aren't a part of your site.  If you are found in violation of these policies, they may contact you.

:lightbulb: But what does all that mean?

Here's a brief breakdown of some terms and acronyms you might see in use by a webhost:

:bulletred: Domain name - This is the .com/.net/.org address that people use to access your website.  For example: is the domain name for deviantArt; and if you had a comic, you could have a domain name of  While a domain name is not required to have hosting, it's VERY helpful to have one for your website.  If you're going for a recognizable way to put yourself out there, it's almost vital.

:bulletred: Linux vs Windows - These are two different operating systems used for Web Hosting. Usually, you don't want to pick your hosting based on the operating system (unless you're looking at a private server), but rather on what is supported in the environment.

:bulletred: Apache vs IIS - These, like the above, are two different web server software options which are very popular.  Apache is what you'll see 99% of the time on a Linux box, and occasionally on a Windows server.  Windows servers often use IIS, which supports the ASP.NET framework.  Both server software options have the ability to run PHP.
IIS is exclusive to Windows, while Apache can run on both operating systems.

:bulletred: PHP - This is a popular scripting language which is used for software like WordPress and Joomla.

:bulletred: ASP (ASP.NET) - ASP is Microsoft's scripting language, which natively runs on Windows server installations with IIS.

:bulletred: SQL Database - This is a family of databases which use a similar architecture and syntax for executing queries.  The two most common types in webhosting are MySQL (commonly run on Linux) and MSSQL (runs on Windows).  Most software will tell you what type of SQL database you need, and usually will provide minimum version requirements.

:bulletred: FTP - File transfer protocol.  This is how you move files between your computer and your website.

Do I want my own website?

What can you do with your own site?  Pretty much anything.  You get to choose the content and appearance, and also are able to decide who can do what (to an extent).

It can be pretty convenient!

On the other hand, you actually have to maintain the website.  If you're running software like WordPress, it's important to periodically check if it's up to-date, like you would for your own computer.  Your webhost will most likely NOT maintain or update your website for you.  (They may update the server, though.)
If you write your own code, it goes almost without saying that you may need to update it periodically as the server is updated.

Google has an article over at their WebMaster Academy which also goes over the pros and cons of having your own webspace.

Once you decide if you want your own website, it's time to choose your package and your host.

What kinds of web hosting are there?

There's three main types of hosting out there:

Shared Hosting, Virtual Private Server Hosting, and Dedicated.

Most of these packages come in two flavors: Linux, or Windows.

:bulletgreen: Shared Hosting is where a company charges relatively cheap rates to put a bunch of customers on one server.  It's like the apartments of web hosting.  This is great for websites that don't get a lot of traffic.  Be aware, however, if someone's being a bad "neighbor," it can affect the performance of your site!  Most shared hosting pakcages don't require you to interact with the server, and come with a control panel interface, such as cPanel or the Parallels Panel.

:bulletgreen: Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting is like having your own townhouse.  You get more control over the environment, and a lot of space.  Most webhosts won't manage the server itself for you (unless they say they do).  In return, you get the freedom to make changes to your system to do what you want!

:bulletgreen: Dedicated Server hosting is like having your own house.  Depending on the company you go with, you may get to customize your build - though you don't own the hardware.

Other types of hosting you'll see are Cloud hosting, which allows you to pay for resources you use by the hour (or for a longer term, depending on the provider), and colocation, where you send your own server to a datacenter.

Well, that's all fine and dandy, what if I want MacOS For my server?
Work that out with your hosting company, but be aware that MacOS isn't a typical option for hosting.  You'd likely be responsible for the configuration and maintenance of such a system.
...And if you're asking for that, you probably aren't the target audience of this article.

Okay, I have hosting! How do I set up a comic?

Getting into setting up a webcomic might be a little bit out of the scope of this article - but I'll list the two main options below:

1.  Create each page for a comic using HTML & CSS - This is awesome if you want to have full control over the layout of each page.  One comic that does this to great effect is Unsounded (NSFW at times) - where some panels just burst out of the page and into the layout.

2.  Use a Content Management System - This allows you to upload your comic using blogging software, and you usually don't need to worry about code at all.  Using a content management system (CMS) comes with its own pitfalls, however -- so this is something you would need to make sure is up-to-date regularly.  I've listed a few options below:
:bulletblue: WordPress with any of the following:
ComicPress OR Comic Easel

*WordPress comes with its own set of issues, so if you choose to go this route, you may want to look at this quick article:

:bulletblue: WebcomicX - This is a C#-based CMS, which requires a Windows-based environment.  By the looks of it, this is best run on an Azure-based cloud server.

:bulletblue: Graffito for Joomla - If you don't want to use WordPress, Joomla might be of use!  Grafitto seems to be best with an older version of Joomla, so tread carefully.

Not yet released but worth a watch:
:bulletblue: Grawlix CMS - Rumor has it that a beta is coming soon!

And So...

That's pretty much it!  Once you get set up, start posting comics and have fun!  Having your own site can be its own reward, so it's definitely worth a shot if you're willing to put in the time and effort!

Happy New Year, and enjoy making comics!

This article is intended for informational purposes only, and does not constitute technical support.
You should reach out to the technical support team of the service or software provider you are using with respect to any particular issue you may be experiencing.

InkBlazers Shutdown

Journal Entry: Mon Dec 22, 2014, 11:56 AM
Joining | Submitting | About Us | Featured Articles | Summer 2012 Contest | Live Sessions

The Bad News

It's been a few days since the news came out to the general public: InkBlazers is shutting down.

This is very sad news for many folks, as InkBlazers was the home of tons of comics and their fans, and offered a centralized community for many to participate in.  Several of our own members have been a large part of InkBlazers, so this has been very difficult news for everyone involved!

What does this mean for you?

:bulletred: If you were a member of the InkBlazers community, this means that the site will go dark on February 1, 2015.

I cannot stress this enough -- BACK UP YOUR DATA.  You can do this by downloading any work you want to save, or copying and reposting blogs and other information you want to maintain long-term.

:star::star:There's a fantastic Emergency Exodus handbook by omittchi, which details steps to take for this process.  You can find links to it on Google Docs.

:bulletred: If you weren't a member of InkBlazers, you might see some of your favorite artists relocate their comics, open commissions, or reach out to their readers in other ways.

Alternative Webcomic Hosting Sites

If you were an comicker on InkBlazers before, and you need a new place to host your webcomics, here's a few options for you to evaluate (taken from the Emergency Exodus Handbook).

:bulletorange: Tapastic
Taptastic is a community which allows for creators to be supported by their readers, though individual comic sites have limited customization.  It also has a mobile app which can be used to display your comics as well!
You can learn about Tapastic on their site, and find out a bit more about publishing through their platform at on their Publishing page.

SmackJeeves is a fairly established fixture in the webcomics community.  It allows for users to customize their sites through HTML and CSS templating.  The front of the community is a bit dated.

:bulletorange: The Duck Webcomics
Formerly DrunkDuck, this community has also been around for a good while.  Like Smackjeeves, you can customize your website.

:bulletyellow: ComicGenesis
Formerly Keenspace (back in the early 2000s), this hosting platform hasn't changed much.  You're able to customize your websites using HTML and CSS, and their own template tags.  While I haven't used it recently, there are parts of their system which are quite dated (such as their comic administration pages).

:bulletorange: ComicFury
While I don't personally know a lot about this site, it's another free comic hosting platform, along the lines of Smackjeeves and The Duck.

:bulletyellow: Amilova
Amilova is a community centered around comics, which also offers the ability to translate comics to other languages.

:bulletorange: Comic Dish
JadineR has some input on ComicDish, and says that the administrator on the site is highly active and works to keep the site functioning well for its users!  You apparently can't completely control the design of your site, but that's not a bad trade off for no ads on your site (unless you choose to put them there).

Hosting Your Own Site

Don't like the options posted above?  You can always build your own website for your comic!  The world of webhosting is vast, and can offer you a lot of opportunities for growth.

When you host your own website, you can build it pretty much any way you please, and design it in any way you want!

A lot of people enjoy using content management systems like WordPress (with the ComicPress theme or Webcomic Plugin) for their websites.

:star:Bear in mind that if you go with independent hosting, you are in full control of what happens on your site.  This means that if you install software like WordPress, you -- not your host (in most cases) -- are responsible for keeping your website up-to-date and secure.

I can't really recommend any webhosts here (as I work in that industry) - but each comes with its own pros and cons.  If you need help choosing, check out the Web Hosting Talk community!

I can give you a quick rundown on the main types of hosting so you have an idea what to look for!

:bulletgreen: Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is usually a very cheap option.  It's great if you have a small site and are just starting out, and don't want to tinker with the server itself.
Many webhosts offer Linux-based hosting with a control panel (such as cPanel or Plesk) - so you usually won't work with the server directly.
Keep in mind that a shared environment isn't really suitable if you want to run a huge webcomic site, and expect a lot of readers -- you'll end up running out of resources to run your site!
:star: For most folks coming from Inkblazers, this may be the best option to explore!

:bulletwhite: VPS/Dedicated Hosting
VPS and Dedicated servers offer you your own environment to control.  Unlike shared hosting, you usually are in complete control (unless you pay for Managed Hosting -- where someone handles that for you), and are expected to know how to work with your own environment.  This is really good if you intend to build your own webcomic community, or get a LOT of traffic.

:bulletgreen: Cloud Hosting
Cloud Hosting often offers you something similar to VPS or Dedicated hosting -- where you have your own environment to work off of.  Unlike other hosting types, however, Cloud Hosting is often readily expansible, so you can add resources to your server as you need.  Many cloud hosts offer you the ability to pay by the hour for resources you are using.

Networking / Advertising

If most of your promotion came through InkBlazers, it's time to find a new platform.  The previously listed webcomics communities can be really great for making friends and getting recognition through that environment, but you may find that you need to reach out to your potential fans in other ways.

The Big Networks
Pretty much everyone has an account on at least one of these platforms, so you can use these areas to your advantage to gain more readers.  I'm no marketing expert, but if you haven't already, start a a place where your fans can spread the love!

:bulletblue: Tumblr

:bulletwhite: Twitter

:bulletblue: Facebook

Art Communities
Some of these communities are dedicated to one thing:  Art.  They're great for gaining fans -- and some of these, you may already be well aware of.

:bulletblue: deviantART

:bulletwhite: Pixiv

Webcomic Collectives
These types of sites often offer some linking between the comics in the collective, though you may have to apply to join.

:bulletblue: SpiderForest

:bulletwhite: HiveWorks

Comic Listings
Comic lists have been around forever, and are still a good way to get attention.  In many cases, these lists also rank your site.

:bulletblue: ComicRocket

:bulletwhite: Top Web Comics

:bulletblue: Piperka


The Emergency Exodus Guide has a great section covering this -- especially considering that InkBlazers represented a source of income for many.  Many of these links have been shared here as well, so you can check out the options available.

Crowd-Funding Sources
:bulletpurple: Patreon

:bulletwhite: Subbable

:bulletpurple: KickStarter

:bulletwhite: IndieGoGo

:bulletpurple: Storenvy

:bulletwhite: Etsy

:bulletpurple: Society6

:bulletwhite: RedBubble

:bulletpurple: PayPal


:bulletpurple: Project Wonderful

:bulletwhite: Google AdSense

:bulletpurple: Comic Rocket Ads

*Be sure to keep an eye on what ads go up on your site, if you choose to go this route!

Final Words

Even with the coming closure, the end of InkBlazers needs not to be the end of a great community and the creations that grew in within it.

Thanks for reading, and we here at Manga-Apps wish you all great success in this tough time!

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

WEBCOMICKERS: What are we afraid of?

Journal Entry: Tue Apr 15, 2014, 11:48 AM
Joining | Submitting | About Us | Featured Articles | Summer 2012 Contest | Live Sessions

Anxiety and Comics

For the Month of March, we polled webcomic users on Deviantart, Twitter, and forums, posing the question:

:bulletgreen: What are the challenges that make you most anxious when beginning a new story or project?

We got a lot of excellent responses and more than a few webcomickers were willing to bare all their anxieties and frustrations!

:star: Any advice for conquering any of these infamous terrors? What worked for you? :star:

Tell us in the comments!

Top 5 Anxiety issues

:bulletorange: 1. Confidence/Self-doubt (22%)

:icontheblackwonderland: "i'm just afraid people might not like it and all the work would be for nothing"

:iconwhiskeyii: "To clarify, I think it's a combination of self-doubt and being overwhelmed. For whatever reason, I feel more comfortable when a setting in my head has been well fleshed-out, but it gets to the point where I start thinking about minor things and then wondering if it even matters (for example, what religion does a specific setting adhere to in a story where I might not address religion at all), but then I start thinking about how even small things shape people's lives and cultures (like that religion could tie back into a morality system, or not), and then I just...@_@"

:bulletorange: 2. Where to start (21%)

:iconhikapi: "Not knowing where to start. I'm not a good story teller and I tend to.. not have beginnings to my stories! XD"

:iconkomicfans: "definitely the story planning and making up my mind where to start. I remembered edited my story nearly 6 times and I'm still not satisfied :("

:bulletorange: 3. Time management (19%)

:iconpandasayori: 'A rather complicated mix of problems. Most of them revolving around university life and homework. Bleeh."

:iconkalafin99: "My weakness is in procrastination and time management... Also my family and school trouble me a lot, which deal with stamina, limited-time-on-computer allowance, and a naughty child."

:bulletorange: 4. Procrastination (14%)

:iconshiniro: "Guess you can almost call it chronic procrastination. I'm a student and right now I actually have quite a bit of free time due to certain circumstances, but even so I rarely get to take out my tablet and actually be productive even though I easily could be. Instead I play games or do nothing at all... guess it's also a bit because I get easily discouraged to actually find where to start."

:bulletorange: 5. Lack of stamina (13%)

:iconsachi-pon:  "it takes so long that i fear i will get exhausted and lose the will to finish. still, i want to try. i do like drawing, i do like making up stories. it exhausts me physically and mentally but that doesn't mean i dislike it. i still want to do it! but i feel like i will take forever and ever and ever..."

:iconkay-beast: "For me, it's a combination of time management, procrastination, and stamina. I'm in art school right now, and by the time I finish all my homework, I don't work on my own personal projects cause I'm all "but I already did art today!" T_T"

Other Problems

- Lack of feedback
- Health challenges
- Copyright concerns
- Need a community/support
- That tools do I need?
- Planning
- Update schedules
- Paneling

Need a Community:
:iconfanfreak200: "There is webcomic/writing community?!  O_o"


:iconluffynotomo: " i'm worried about art theft or copyrights and such -- making sure no one else steals the same idea or characters ><"

:iconiiwi: "-u- paneling man, that damned paneling and not knowing where to start."

:iconsky-morishita: "I think the main thing that makes me most nervous when I'm starting a new project is having the whole story objective clear in my mind so that I don't end up dropping the project later because I don't know where the story is going."

:iconzumoarino: "Hmm, I think the main problem I have is that... I will have the general story planned out in terms of the "major/important" scenes "

:iconogawaburukku: "I really wish I'd made a buffer when I started. I kept putting off the comic for years and when I finally decided to do it I jumped right into it because I was so nervous I needed to know if people hated it before I continued. Very dumb move DX"

:iconlibberachi: "Oh god, the health problems, make them go away so I can get some shiznit done. ;___;"

:iconequilonic: "I also have health problems that prevent me from drawing, but that would only be a problem if I'd have enough confidence in my ideas in the first place. "

Update Schedule
:iconjaybiejarrett: "what intimidates me the most is the idea of a rigid updating schedule.  I mean I know that's what people expect and I fear that I'll always be late and stuff.  I need to work on my organization.  I'll probably end up updating once a month."

:star: Did we miss any? What makes you anxious? :star:

:star: Any advice for conquering any of these infamous terrors? What worked for you?

Tell us in the comments!

NEXT POLL: This month, tell us what your favorite webcomics community is (and why)


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