Komiyan wrote:Schedules are basically the only way to build an audience.
I disagree. That might've been true years ago, but the internet has changed, and along with it, people's habits have changed. Ten years ago, the strongest model to follow was to pick an update schedule, and stick with it religiously, lest you piss off the Old Gods of the Tubes, and they swallow your work right up, never to be seen. But in these days of Digital Enlightenment, there are so many social networking tools out there to broadcast fresh updates, depending upon old dogmas is far less crucial. The page at a time became obsolete as a model for all but the gag strip as soon as broadband surfaced, and thank goodness for that, because it's a miserable way to make someone read a comic. It's like saying, "Alright, I'll let you read my copy of The Sandman, but only page one for now. I'll give you page two next week." I'm very happy to see that the model is dying off and among some of the better comics out there, it's being replaced by the blog method, which promotes long-scrolling batch uploads of many pages at a time. (Full disclosure: I'm still not convinced that The Oatmeal is a comic, so much as it is an illustrated blog, but it calls itself a comic, it's wildly popular, it scrolls down forever, which illustrates the meat of my point.)
Even for batch uploaders, maintaining buffers and strict schedules is just not necessary. Maybe when the only real tools that cartoonists had on hand were RSS subscriptions and dedicated forums to serve their audience, update regularity was a way to ensure that people will keep coming back to look at your work. By all means, you should keep working, and produce fresh content on a fairly regular basis, but acting like every page you complete has to get posted right now, or people will forget is just unnecessary. Between Facebook and Twitter and Reddit and Digg (and the sea of other content-middleman networks out there) within the course of 160 characters and a link, everyone who is connected to your comic-- and then some, if you're doing it right-- is suddenly reminded that you exist. No fuss, no muss, no Saturday apology updates for lack of new content, because you decided to go out drinking Friday night, instead of chaining yourself to your drawing board. Graphic novels have come to the web, and people are far more prepared to treat webcomics in a more long-form fashion than in the old days.
So, no, maintaining a regular schedule is not the only way to gain an audience. I'm not convinced that it's even the best way. As far as I can see, gaining an audience is first and foremost about doing your best work, and then networking that work to eyes that will appreciate it. It's a far less insular community out there. You don't have to kiss the asses of other "more popular" cartoonists, you don't have to force shitty creative conditions upon yourself, and you sure as hell don't have to force shitty reading conditions upon your audience. What you do have to do is make interesting work of a high standard, post it when it's ready to be published and then promote your work to every link hub on the internet when it is posted. Serialize it if you want to, but don't believe for a minute that it's what you have to do.