In the days of cold, hard newsprint, only people who could draw were successful comic strip authors. In some cases, this resulted in comic strips that had very nice pictures, but weren’t all that funny (cough, Blondie). Thankfully, the Internet has taught us not to accept an inferior form of comic artistry, but a more flexible one.
Comic strip enthusiasts who want funny but don’t care about pretty drawing can have their strips, those who want artistry have theirs, and even those with very specific tastes can find something just right.
The best part about these developments is that they allow you, regardless of any talent as an artist or comedian, to create your very own comic strip. Depending on what you’re going for, you can use one of these six sites to help you do it.
MakeBeliefsComix.com is easy enough for children to use, but there are enough options for adults to get a message across, too. Users can choose from 25 characters to fill a two-, three-, or four-paneled comic strip. Currently, the site supports typing in seven different languages. There are plans to add Chinese, Japanese, and Korean characters in the future.
One limiting factor is color. Though you can choose a background color, the characters remain black and white. If you’re planning on printing your comic strip, this could be a good opportunity to pull out the old-fashioned box of crayons. But if you’re planning on sharing it online, it’s a bit restricting.
The pre-set options that make the site so easy to use can also be slightly limiting. Your comic strips will look pretty generic. There are only about four different expressions for each character. The upside of this is that you can finish a perfectly respectable online comic in about 10 minutes.
The creator, Bill Zimmerman, is the author of 18 books — including Make Beliefs: A Gift For Your Imagination. “My hope is that by giving you a choice of characters with different moods and the chance to write words and thoughts for them,” he writes on the site, “you will tap into your creativity and explore new possibilities.”
If there’s any company that knows what it takes to build great comics, Marvel Characters does. So it’s no surprise that its DIY comic site is pretty awesome, considering its simplicity.
Features that make it awesome include choices for different styles of panels (not into boxes? try zig zags), the set-up for creating up to a 22-page comic book, and the Photoshop-esque tool dock that moves around the page. Your character choices include the stars of the Super Hero Squad Show, including The Hulk, Falcon, and Wolverine.
The site does have some rough patches. If you’re hoping to create an original-looking comic strip, you’re out of luck, because you are limited to Marvel characters. There are a measly five options for objects, and you can’t change the background. With no option to save your work on the site, it’s also unlikely you’ll be completing a full 22-page comic book in one sitting.
This is the comic strip creation website for artists. The site allows for as much customization as possible without the need to build from scratch. Instead of just choosing the color of a character’s shirt, for instance, there are options to adjust the collar, shape, sleeves and size of the shirt. Instead of relying on preset poses and emotions for each character, users are able to click and drag character limbs into new postures and can customize eyes, ears, noses and hairstyles. It’s also convenient to add images from Flickr or Google images.
Successful comics vie every day for a spot in the prestigious Pixton top 10.
ToonDoo hits the fine balance between creative versatility and user friendliness, ensuring that the final results look sharp. While there’s still an extensive library of characters and objects to use in your comic strip, there are also tools to create your own touches. The TraitR tool allows you to create custom characters and DoodlR lets you paint freely. If you want to use your own photos or another image in your comic strip, you can manipulate it through the ImagineR photo tool.
Unlike other sites, there’s an option to save your project mid-creation so that you can come back to it later. When you finish a handful of ToonDoos, you can compile a book. It’s easy to embed individual cartoons in a website or share them over networks, and you can buy print-quality images of your favorites.
The stoic characters of Strip Generators lend themselves to sarcastic commentary. There’s not a whole lot of opportunity to create a personal style — you need to work with what the site gives you — but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. The community topic-themed galleries are testimony to this (check out the current theme, “Autumn”).
One unique capability is adjustable frames. If you need a specific cell to be a bit wider or longer, you can just drag the wall. Another stand-out trait is the personal library. When you tweak an image to get it just right, you can save it to use again later.
Pikistrips takes your photos (er…”Pikis?”) and turns them into comic strips. Once you upload your favorites into a customizable comic cell format, you’re free to add text bubbles, speech bubbles and objects. The object gallery is pretty extensive, and its contents aren’t random. Many of the categories — like hairstyles, hats, mustaches, scars, and tattoos — wouldn’t be much fun without using your own photos as a canvas. If you miss the cartoon look, you can apply the “comic” effect to your photo or choose from seven others.
All in all, this site is fun for tweaking your photos (also see the related Pikipimp.com), but is intended to boost the company’s custom printing business (you guessed it, “pikiprint”). On the other hand, if you want a custom mouse pad, bag or cup with your photocomic on it, this aspect works nicely.