Comics Characters Downloads Crashman's 10 Commandments of Sprite Comics
Links F.A.Q. Contact How to make a donation to Crash & Bass's host:

Sprite comics! It takes just one to get hooked on them. And when you like reading them, you might also like making them. Making a sprite comic is not hard, but making a good sprite comic takes time and devotion, and if you're just making comics to please your ego by getting people to praise it, it will show. If you're thinking of starting a comic or have just started on one, you might want to read this page to get a good idea on what things you have to avoid. Or maybe you'll just find the comics entertaining. It's all the same to me. -FS

(For reference, check out Crashman's first attempt at a sprite comic here.)

  • Think before you start! Much too often I hear people say things like "starting a comic. Need a plot." or "starting a somethingsomething comic need complete spritesheets for a dozen original characters", only to give up after about six strips (and then, often, start a new comic!). Don't get me wrong, asking for help is no shame... but if you need someone else to do the fundamental things about sprite comic making for you (i.e. spriting characters or writing a plot), maybe you shouldn't be doing a comic in the first place. And if you just lack experience, practice! Whether it's spriting, writing, or using graphical programs. If you want to start a comic to entertain people and not just to get some attention, devoting time to it shouldn't be an issue.

  • If you're fairly new to the web, here's one important lesson: people are often just as protective of their creative work online as they are in everyday life. Case in point: sprites. If you use people's sprites without permission, you will piss them off. Carefully read webpages that display sprites to see if they are not from the original games. If they are not, and you want to use them, get in contact with the creator. NEVER use sprites first and ask afterwards - if you can't get in touch with them, tough. Don't use the sprites then. The exception to the rule is when sprites are marked as "Public Domain"; this means that you may use them wherever you want without asking permission, as long as you don't claim you made them yourself.

  • The reason most of us got into sprite comic making in the first place is because Bob and George made us laugh. And as much as you may want to share that with the world, nobody's going to laugh when you simply copy some jokes from Bob and George or another sprite comic. It doesn't matter whether or not you see it as a tribute; that joke is not yours. Write your own material.

  • The placement of dialogue and text in your comic is a completely separate chapter of comic making. I'll try to keep it summarized.

    * Use legible fonts.
    * Don't let the dialogue text touch the borders of the text balloons. It interferes with reading.
    * Use balloon tails that point to the talking character, or some other means of clarifying who is talking; different colored text for each character, little mugshots that go with the text, as long as it's clear.
    * Use open mouths on talking characters.
    * All too often ignored: when you place the dialogue in a panel, the text that's said first should be on the left, the following text to the right. You shouldn't let your reader have to figure out the order in which the characters talk. If, for instance, the character on the right talks first and the one of the left talks second, place the balloons above each other - the first text at the top! It can make the placement of text balloon tails harder, but it makes your comic much more pleasing to read.
    * Spellcheck. I know that the people who need it hate it, and a few errors here and there don't matter, but if your spelling or grammar is weak and you know it, just type your script first and run it through a spellchecker (for instance, MS Word) or have someone proofread it for you. It goes a long way to please your readers.

  • When you put your comic out there to be judged by strangers, you probably don't want to come off as too cocky. However, the opposite is at least as annoying: immediately saying "I know, my comic sucks" before anyone else can. What you're doing is acting submissive to appeal to people's pity. If you really thought your comic sucks so bad, why are you posting it on the web for all to see? Equally bad is when you use self-depriciating humor in your comic - when the characters constantly complain how much the comic sucks. It's old. It's annoying. Have more self-respect.

  • As a beginning spriter, you have to develop an eye for pixels. At first you might be tempted to resize a sprite at 150% or by recklessly using the rectangular selection tool in Paint, because it fits your comic better. But take a good look at it: compared to the other sprites, it looks garbly and deformed. Only resize at "whole" intervals of 200%, 300% and so on (Ctrl + W in Paint) to keep the pixels sharp. If you really need to deviate from this, for instance to make one character size up to the others, use a program that can smooth out the pixels (ie, Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro). First "pixel resize" the character to the same size as the other characters - 200%, for instance - then make the area around the character transparent, resize it another 150% or so at "smart resize" and paste it into your comic.

  • You will probably use your first background in a lot of comics. A lot of people's first pick is a "grass & sky" background, which isn't bad, unless you use bright green and bright blue to make it. Avoid bright colors, they strain your reader's eyes and distract from the comic itself. Either darken the colors you're using, or mix your own in the paint palette... or start using real game backgrounds.

  • I'm sorry, but a comic that starts without a title is just ridiculous. Apparently, you're so eager to start a comic that you don't care what it's about, or your comic is so generic that nothing distinguishes it from other comics enough for you to give it a title, and you're probably not very creative. Not much better is when you choose a generic name like "Megaman Adventures". The title is the first thing that people will see of your comic, making it one of your first priorities. The title doesn't have to be clever or hilarious or awesome, it should just stand out. Try and think of what makes your comic different from others (like, the names of the main characters), or make up a title that represents your sense of humor. Some people simply use a nonsensical phrase as their comic title. Just as long as it's original!

  • Don't get too discouraged by experienced spriters - we all have to start somewhere with our spriting and changing the colors of an existing sprite is the logical starting point. But still, try to throw some creativity into this. Everyone can think of making Protoman blue. And before you pat yourself on the back for making that cool inverted colors version of Megaman, realize that all it took you was finding the "invert colors" option. Pretty much everyone has at least some feeling for colors, so experiment to try and find something you like. 16 bit sprites, with which you'll probably start out, usually have 2-3 shades of each color they wear. Replace those with equal shades of different color and you've taken your first steps to real spriting. Don't just start replacing colors with no regard for shadings (see "Blaze"), and don't use pitch black. Megaman 7 sprites use a dark gray outline, and using black on them completely ruins the suggestion of depth.

  • Much as people try to give it their own, original spins, so-called self-insertion (the author character) is fairly overdone. The problem is that people make too much use of the character because they enjoy putting themselves in the comic. It's like roleplaying. Unfortunately all the jokes, all the quirks, all the clever angles at which you may think you're approaching the author concept, have all been done to death and beyond. Instead, just use an original character - you can even name him after your screenname and modify his appearance to look like you - just don't make him the comic's author. If you're just a regular cast member, you can be the star of your comic if you want - just don't be an author.

    Those would be the major points to watch out for in sprite comic creation. Once you've covered that ground, there's a few more things to avoid:

  • So many comics adhere to the standard traits given to the Megaman cast, people start thinking Dr. Light has to be a drunk and Megaman has to be stupid. Truth is, the way the characters behave in the games is rarely reflected in comics. For instance, in most sprite comics, Protoman is pretty much always around... but in the games, he's a loner who ocassionally helps Megaman, but generally stays out of sight. The "stereotypes" have become such clichés that a deviation from them is a breath of fresh air. Use that to your advantage.

  • The jpeg image format (.jpg) is meant for photos. Jpeg causes the graphics of your comic to blur and slightly scatter, which can be especially obvious when you use large areas of a single color - which will happen a lot in sprite comics. The graphics get dirty and grimy. It's best to stick to either .gif or .png image files, which preserve the colors better.

  • Constant referencing to Bob and George. It can happen when you want to make it clear to the world that you do love BnG, but it gets tiresome easily. This kind of cross-referencing is funny only when authors of both comics do it. Just stick to what makes your comic unique.

  • Generally, "standard plots" are either early plotlines from Bob and George, or just the kind of stuff that everyone who wants to make their characters fight something comes up with. Common examples would be a sudden, inexplicable attack of robot masters (often unchanged sprites just randomly picked from various games), or the characters rebelling against the author because they don't want to be part of the comic. When you're just starting off a comic, especially one with no new characters, it's an easy step-up to a plot of your own... but remember that people might easily dismiss your comic when there's nothing new happening.

  • As you start your comic and go off to plunder sprite sites for stuff you can use, you may come across a lot of characters you want to use... even though they visually clash completely with the regular characters. Most people use 16-bit sprites (SNES, Sega Genesis/Megadrive). If you do, it's not a good idea to incorporate 8-bit sprites (NES, Gameboy) or 32-bit sprites (Playstation). A comic's at it best when everything looks like it belongs together.

  • That's all I have to say. Remember that the one thing that matters more than whether or not you're good at making sprite comics, is whether or not you enjoy making them. Your comic isn't bad just because you break one or two of these 'rules' (hell, I sometimes break some of them myself), but once you're breaking six or seven of them, you might want to work on improving it here and there. And of course, if your main focus is humor you should feel free to break all the rules for the sake of joking. Listen to people's opinions and decide how you want to put them to use. And above all, have fun.

    [ Back to Crash & Bass ]

    This comic owes a debt of inspiration to Bob and George, the Comic Strip. Spritesheets provided by Sprites Inc. Crashman, Bass, and all characters from the Megaman videogame series are the creative property of Capcom. All original titles, names and material are copyrighted by Nothing from this site may be reproduced without express consent from the creative owners. For more information, contact the author.