Our new BLOG SERIES for manga beginners, A COMIC LIFE, covers the best tools for conquering the wild wild west of self-publishing and webcomics. Last time out, we addressed a general overview of the COMIC LIFE app by Plasq SPECIFICALLY as it relates to the art of LETTERING.

Today, we want to continue discovering the best features to use for novice and semi-pro comic creators and we’ll look at the most accessible yet difficult to master part of the comicbook…


Since their modern incarnation began in the early 1900’s, the comic cover has served to EXCITE, TEASE and CAPTURE THE ATTENTION of the average consumer. Remember, back in the early days of North American comics — Timely (not known as Marvel), DC and others fought for consumer change since comics only cost .10 cent. So, every grocery store, drug store, and such had a spindle rack full of comics that were all fighting for the same opportunity which was only separated by who had the MOST ENGAGING COVER.

Some covers DARE YOU to peek inside while others attempt to SHOCK YOU with a potentially harrowing situation for the hero and/or main supporting cast member. And this procedure has been THE SAME since. From Action Comics #1 to Action Comics #975 (due this March 2017) – the practice has undergone every type of innovation from stark design cues to gimmicks productions from lenticular to foil stamped and beyond.

However, not everything has remained the same. Or better yet, comics have gone through transformations which have changed the nature of the cover (and everything else) in rather profound ways.

Take manga for instance. MANGA, the Japanese term for comics, are constructed not in singular issues of popular series ala an issue of Batman or Iron Man but instead, they are large, phonebook-like volumes which house an anthology of various genre material. Now that globalization has occurred and the world has “flattened” – the manga volume (both the individual series unit called a TANKOBAN as well as the large magazine anthology) are more readily available around the world and thus cause a variety of issues regarding presentation and design to appeal to a dwindling number of physical storefronts and consumers. 

Likewise, the WEBCOMIC or DIGITAL COMIC has no “cover” to speak of and comes down to design and layouts as well as the actual comic itself. One could make the argument that the CHAPTER COVER can be informative and as engaging with a digital product as much as a COVER for a physical comic. But the reality is that the digital experience IS different — most sites have LOTS of webcomics and thus the home page at best gives a small footprint to promote any individual series. There are no shelves in a store, aisles or endcaps and so having your comic cover ‘spined’ out and/or ‘facing’ the consumer for a website. Instead, a BANNER AD is as good as it gets in most cases. 

Whether it’s 728 x 90 or 853 x 340, your banner ad must still work like a cover and have art and messages that appeal to the ‘consumers’ who may glance at it.

Attracting people to your comics is a process.

The process is not hard but it IS time-consuming as it merges your talent, creative skills and technology/ tools to produce the best results. Like most athletic and/or creative endeavors, consistent effort and practice can help to make one more proficient at attracting people to their covers (or ads). For instance…in our regular and popular TEST FLIGHT SUBMISSION periods, we often include the rule that a new submission must include a banner ad.

This is often a disliked part of the submission process (from the creators) but the experience is valuable as it demonstrates that understanding how to ‘market’ yourself to your audience is equal parts talent but also equally built on EXPERIENCE. Understanding what elements of design, psychology, and concept must be on display to drive attention.

While the experience comes through effort and talent is a natural phenomenon, fortunately, there are solutions in the tools arena! Adobe Indesign, LucidPress and Manga Studio all offer robust, powerful options for the designer to produce the best possible cover and/or banner ad scenarios for the modern comics creator.

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For those who are new to creating or seeking a more affordable, streamlined and agile solution, we like Plasq award-winning suite of comic creation tools. 

COMIC LIFE is a powerful software that not only works on PC/ MAC but also your mobile devices like iPhones and iPads. 

In fact, the app is so efficient that it has templates for your cover creating needs that STILL maintain a level of control and management. Here are the steps:

  1. Click on the PLUS sign in the MY COMICS section.

  2. Select CREATE COMICS.

  3. Scroll down to CREATIVE.

  4. Select a TEMPLATE


The examples above demonstrate how you can utilize artwork and photos via Comic Life. Literally, everything that you see on those covers can be manipulated in-app and/or if you’ve created art, graphics and/or logos in another app – they can be easily imported as a jpeg or png.

While not these examples are not the same level of options we typically use for our Saturday AM magazine cover for the average manga webcomic beginner, these are incredibly powerful. Likewise, the COMIC LIFE app can be used on your mobile device for less than the cost of a Starbucks mocha and the desktop version for far less than their more powerful competitors.

Either way, your covers serve one purpose…to attract. While there countless techniques to do so, the genesis will begin with you, your concept, your talent and your tools. Try Comic Life and see if it works for you.

FULL DISCLOSURE: COMIC DRAW (the ultimate comic creation app) is currently a sponsor of our MARCH ART MADNESS tournament and is being reveiwed in video format by our own Whyt Manga

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