Today’s topic is cameos!
Used to do them all the time in And Shine Heaven Now. They have their own tag on the new Shine site.
Mostly in Leif & Thorn I’ll only do cameos from But I’m A Cat Person, and vice versa. But if there’s a big crowd scene, sometimes you want to make it interesting.
Q1: Have you ever used other comic creators’ characters as cameos in your comic? If not, would you?
Not characters from webcomics specifically (I don’t think). At least, not yet. Characters from other media, sure.
Speaking as a reader, they’re a really fun Easter egg to catch. Rereading Bruno the Bandit recently, I was all entertained to spot some cameos from Sluggy Freelance. In an intra-artist example, Sleepless Domain borrows some characters from the same author’s Kiwi Blitz to fill out magical-girl crowds.
Q2: How do you usually go about adding cameos – ask people, request cameos, or just add them as a fun surprise?
If it’s a quick background appearance, I don’t think you should ask. The goal is to show your appreciation for the other creator’s work, not get their approval for yours. (Copyright-wise, you’re fine here — look up the YoI cameos in the Steven Universe comics, or Sailor Moon characters in the background of My Little Pony issues, for examples.)
If it’s a long-term use of someone else’s character, then either it’s some kind of planned crossover/tie-in (in which case, both creators should be discussing it), or it’s a fancomic (in which case, do whatever you want! — just don’t sell it). Or it’s a mid-line case, like Phil Likes Tacos — an original comic, but with so many sci-fi and video-game cameos that the artist has consciously decided not to put it up for sale.
Q3: What are the upsides to using cameos of other people’s characters?
It gives you a break from drawing your own designs, lets you branch out a little.
It livens up boring crowd scenes.
It’s a small way of showing your appreciation for the other person’s work.
If you’re lucky, they see it and like you back and link their followers to your strip — but don’t make that your goal. There’s an episode of the Webcomics Weekly podcast where the artist of (iirc) PVP complained about how many “look, I gave your character a cameo!” emails he gets that are clearly just shilling for links. That’s just rude.
Q4: What are the downsides to using cameos of other people’s characters, if any?
Well, if you’re rude about it, the creator you admire is going to feel annoyed rather than appreciated.
And if you overuse the cameos, it limits your ability to sell the comic. (Only a downside if you were hoping to sell the comic in the first place. If you’re just here for the fun of the hobby, it’s all good.)
Some people are probably going to answer this with “it limits your creativity and gets in the way of developing your own characters,” but, listen, if making comics with 100% other people’s characters is fun and entertaining for you, go for it. Four King Hell and Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi are pure fancomic, and they’re delightful. Have fun.
Q5: Share a page where you have used cameo characters!
This L&T strip has gay skaters on the left, Magic Tavern podcasters on the right:
Read the whole storyline to pick out others! Including the Leverage crew, apparently stealing a Summerfest.