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Where to Host Your Webcomic

The most important step to moving your work online is deciding where to host your comic. When a server or a website hosts a project, it means it’s providing the webspace where that project’s files are stored and accessed. There are different levels of hosting that we will be discussing today. For the creators who want to get their comic up as fast as possible, you’ll want a dedicated webcomic host like The Duck or Comicfury. For those who favour a little bit more customization and control, you’ll want to get on some kind of blogging platform like Tumblr or WordPress.com. And if you want complete and total control over your website, you’ll be looking for some kind of a webhosting service that in most cases you’ll want to pay for. It all depends on how much work you are willing to put in outside of comic creation — or how much booze you’re willing to ply into your friend to convince him to do it for you.

Dedicated Webcomic Hosting

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When a website has dedicated webcomic hosting, it means their primary purpose is to provide everything you need to start publishing your comic on the web — all it needs from you is the actual comic. On top of taking care of all heavy lifting of designing a website, building it, keeping it updated, and providing a user-friendly interface that ensures that you don’t have to touch a single line of code, they usually have an integrated community already full of readers and other creators. Putting your webcomic on one of these sites is usually free; the catch, of course, is that they need to recuperate their costs, most commonly by placing banner ads on your page. Here’s an example of some popular webcomic hosts:

Host Name Customization Options Notable Features Your Comic URL Comments
Comicfury Fully customizable pages, comic thumbnail, custom images, editable default page templates, simple layout editor UI They have a layout editor but you can also fully customize the HTML if you need to. You also have the option to use or remove Comicfury’s ads you get a subdomain and a choice domains: webcomic.ws, thecomicseries.com, the-comic.org, thecomicstrip.org, and cfw.me
The Duck Webcomics Header banner, comic thumbnail, comic navigation, custom images, simple styles editor UI, creator profile Each comic can have its own message board theduckwebcomics.com/your-comic
SmackJeeves Fully customizable pages, custom images, chapters, Fully editable HTML Templates Fully editable HTML Templates, Domain name mapping your-comic.smackjeeves.com Lots of customization options and freedom, but the editable code may intimidate beginners. Domain name mapping means you can use your .com for the site itself and not just as a redirect to your-comic.smackjeeves.com
LINE Webtoon Header banner, comic thumbnails Emphasis on mobile friendly comics
They have a challenge league, a contest where the winner becomes a featured artist that receives regular payment for their work
webtoons.com/en/your-category/your-comic/list?title_no=your-id You don’t get a site, you get a Webtoons-branded comic page.
No author or blog page.
They only allow JPGs, why?
Tapastic Header banner, comic thumbnails, creator profile Has a Facebook-like “wall” instead of an author blog. Emphasis on mobile friendly comics
Ad revenue share: You receive a percentage of the ad revenue your comic generates for Tapastic
tapastic.com/series/your-comic You don’t get a site, you get a Tapastic-branded comic page and author profile

Have any other recommendations? Let us know in the comments.

Third-party Platforms

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Putting your webcomic on a third-party platform means you’re using a site that’s not dedicated solely for webcomic creation. The host usually takes care of all the back-end & server stuff so you can focus on the site design and its content. The most commonly used ones are blogging platforms, since all you really need is some kind of software that lets you post images in some kind of chronological order. Here are some of the more popular site platforms:

Host Name Customization Options Notable Features Your Comic URL Comments
Tumblr Choice between layout editor UI and fully editable HTML. Hundreds of default themes to choose from, each with their own customizable options. @geoneo1 created a Tumblr theme specifically for webcomics Very popular and very well-integrated community, domain name mapping your-comic.tumblr.com The webcomic theme is good if you’re posting ONLY comics (tumblr image posts), because it delegates each post to its own page. If you have other post types (links, videos, etc) they will show up as their own page in your archive, which may interrupt the user experience if anyone is reading your comic archive
WordPress.com Hundreds of default themes to choose from, although only 1 dedicated webcomic theme is available, called Panel (note this theme only works on WordPress.com) Integrated community, domain name mapping your-comic.wordpress.com (with the option to buy your own) Free plan has everything you need to start. Paid plans offer more webspace, premium themes, customer support and fully editable HTML
Squarespace Drag & drop layout editor, extensive styles editor UI. beautiful default and fully mobile-friendly templates.
@ClayYount has built a Squarespace theme specifically for webcomics, although getting it installed involves some work and FTP knowledge
E-commerce tools are included if you ever want to start a shop your-comic.squarespace.com (with the option to buy your own) Not free: Their cheapest plan is $8/mon if you buy a whole year ($12/mon if you pay monthly), but you will need to do the $18/mon ($26/mon if you pay monthly) if you want unlimited pages, which you will need for your webcomic. Domain name service is expensive compared to others.

Have any recommendations? Let us know in the comments.

Self-Hosted Solutions

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A self-hosted solution means you want your own website, with your own server space, and you have a working knowledge of, or are willing to learn about, the wonderful world of front & back-end web development. If you want complete control over every aspect of your site and you’re willing to pay for it, this is the solution for you. Assuming you don’t already know how to code one yourself, you want to look into finding either a script to do the job, or a content management system, or CMS. Technically, any blogging software can achieve the functionality you need to make a webcomic, but it’s good to go with one tailored for making webcomics in the interest of saving your time and sanity.

In doing research for this article, I was trying to find alternatives for webcomic scripts on the web that didn’t involve using WordPress, and I was hard-pressed on finding anything that wasn’t outdated or just gone completely (RIP, Walrus). The one script I found that I remember using, that still works as intended, and still exists at all, is Autokeen Lite, http://www.keenspot.com/downloads/ a web CGI script that gives you the absolute mare minimum framework needed to start making your webcomic. Just make sure your server can execute CGI scripts.

WordPress — the standalone software from WordPress.org, which is different from the platform at WordPress.com — is currently the most common CMS in use on the web today, with self-hosted installations making up 19% of the entire internet. That’s not a statistic to scoff at. And there’s a good reason for that — WordPress is free, incredibly easy to set up, has an enormous community and is infinitely extensible (figuratively speaking). It makes sense why nearly every self-hosted webcomic I’ve come across uses it in combination with their choice of theme, and some kind of webcomic plugin. Plugins are bundles of code that add additional features to an existing WordPress installation. Themes, on the other hand, are a set of files that primarily determine the look & feel of the site. You can have many different plugins activated at once, but only one theme in use at a time. Here are some webcomic solutions for WordPress that are still being updated and maintained:

WordPress Solutions Description Comments
Comic Easel ComicEasel is a comprehensive comic management plugin that has a plethora of options that allow you to tailor your comic’s presentation, navigation, chapters, archive, and other aspects in many different ways.
ComicEasel is frequently paired with the WordPress theme ComicPress, which was designed with webcomics in mind, and you can customize it all without touching a single line of code. There is of course always the option of using your own theme, or building one yourself.
Very easy to install and get up in running. Lots and lots of options for customization. I actually haven’t used many of them, but other creators will surely find use for them. My personal recommendation.
ComicPress used to be a WordPress theme that provided the same functionality that ComicEasel does now, but with layout & style customization options included. Since ComicPress version 4, this is no longer the case, with all the comic management functions delegated to the ComicEasel plugin.
Webcomic Webcomic is a lightweight comic management plugin. It has less customization options than Comic Easel, but achieves much of the same functionality. This plugin is frequently paired with the WordPress theme Inkblot, which handles the look & feel aspect of your site, although again you always have the option of using your own theme. Webcomic was easy to install and get up and running. There are a few unintuitive aspects to it however, like the way that comic images are added to a post, and how transcripts seem to be, unnecessarily, a separate post type. Customizing this the way you like might take a little more work. Overall, though, it gets the job done and is a solid piece of software.
Manga+Press Manga+Press is a simple comic management plugin that adds comics, comic navigation, and a chapter system to your site. ideal for creators who don’t need the majority of the features the other plugins offer, or just want to keep their site light. Manga+Press doesn’t have that much to show, which is fine if that’s exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for the bare minimum functionality needed to start your webcomic, and you don’t mind too much about the layout (Manga+Press inserts the comic into the body of your posts, underneath the post title), then This plugin is definitely for you.

Have any other recommendations? Let us know in the comments.

Choosing Where to Host

Ultimately choosing where to host your webcomic is not a cut-and-dried decision. You have to assess what you and your comic needs, as well as how much time or money you’re willing to invest and how much you’re willing to learn. And there’s no harm in trying out several different solutions to find which suits you best.



18 Comments

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    ColdFusion 6 months ago

    I wouldn’t exactly reccommend it glowingly, given that its support and administration seem to have been whittled down to a skeleton crew, but ComicGenesis (formerly Keenspace) should surely belong amongst the dedicated hosts. It still works, and really simplifies updating while still letting you customize nearly everything about the site.

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    Alet 7 months ago

    cool info

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    Hanji 7 months ago

    Hi,I’m new here

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    Asherhospson 11 months ago

    This is my frist time doing comics book crossover from school comics marvel comics crossover with Disney cartoons happy birthday cartoon me Cartoon Network and nick toons with rise of the gurd ions of child hood in the Holliday issues with Julius Schwartz and stan lee as the narrators in the books.

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    Zaki 1 year ago

    I’m curious about Webtoons & Tapastic:

    How do both sites pay their creators?

    How much do creators still own their rights while being hosted on either sites?

    Do they allow mature content on their sites?

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    Miri Soji 1 year ago

    I learned a lot from this and took notes <3

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    yevon 1 year ago

    I’m sorry, but have any webcomic website where they will pay to you if more people read your comic???

    thank you.

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    LRES 2 years ago

    Nice! I knew most of those sites, as I’ve almost always read comics online. But it’s really good to have them gathered up like this and written down information about each site.
    One good thing about Tapastic and LINE is that you can read it both on the computer for each of their homepage + they both got a cellphone app which reaches out to more people, since everyone always ahve cellphones on these days.

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    LoserMangaka Bad Puns 2 years ago

    Really helpful dude 😀
    The tumblr theme was really helpful, thanks a bunch and keep it up 😀

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