Social Media for Young Cartoonists: Week 4: Building with Tumblr

This is part four of an ongoing project by the DW-WP interns Hilary Allison and JP Kim.  This summer, we’re pulling out all the “social media” stops to get our work seen and our names out.  It’s an experiment, and we’re documenting every step… so YOU can learn from our successes and failures.  Read Week 1 here.

Hilary writing.

Week 2, JP and I compared every web hosting option we could find.  I tore some hair out.

Week 3, I chose Tumblr to host – and build –  Easy.  Fast.  Totally customizable.  Unlimited space.  Freeeee.

This week, I built it.  Here is how.

Choosing a Theme

As JP has already attested, Tumblr offers an impressive variety of pre-made customizable themes… all of which allow HTML fiddling.  See, look – browse all 748 of ’em.  Not all are free, but many are.  I skimmed the menu for something simple, a background that would drop BACK to push my art forward, and and a one-column layout for the widest possible canvas.

“Inkhorn” is my choice for now.

Other Free Art-Conducive Favorites:


Simple 400

minimal 3


Green Brownie


Boston Polaroid


Frontier Mustard


The Minimalist



Quite Big

absent colors



zebra blanket

orange peel


If This, Then Then

Liquid Typo

Q: Did you choose “Inkhorn” just because it has “ink” in the name?

A: … Maybe.

And of course, my layout preferences aren’t The Way.  JP chose a gallery layout for his Tumblr, Le Whurf.  This works better for him because Le Whurf is just one series, an offshoot of







I expect to do a lot of layout-tweaking in the future, and I’ll keep you in the loop about what I discover.   For the next week or so, all I want to add is CONTENT.  That way, I’ll be able to see how layout changes affect the content.  Good plan?


Creating Pages

Just like WordPress and Blogspot, Tumblr allows the creation of static pages as well as posts.  Here’s a diagram of how I’m using both to upload and organize my art.  (Click the image to open my page in a new window, if you want to see the system in your very own personal browser.)

3 Glorious Freedoms

of Tumblr Pages:


  • You choose the Page URL.

So, you can make it something

A) easy to remember

B) easy to type when you’re linking pages together

C) easy to organize within your list of pages.

For instance…

  • You can use either your standard layout OR whatever layout you can code (/copy&paste).


  • You can edit the HTML of the body even when using the standard layout.


2 Obnoxious Pebbles

in My Shoe:


  • Editing HTML of the body doesn’t always work. My attempts at wrapping text and aligning thumbnails with invisible tables have all been thwarted by a mysterious force… the result, I suspect, of some overriding or incompatible piece of the overall code.  I will dig deeper and report back.  In the meantime, one thing that DOES work is using <IMG SRC=”http://blablabla” ALIGN=”RIGHT”>


  • The “Edit Page” window is the size of a coaster. It doesn’t get bigger.  WHY?  Just to add insult to the fact that-


  • There’s no “Preview” for pages. It’s all trial and error.  Live.  On the air.


Doing Comics Justice

No, Tumblr is not the place to host large files.  It shrinks ’em.

My fellow cartoonists… allow me to present… the thing that will make… your… day.

Click HERE.  Click on the cover.


Yeah.  I know.

And it’s free.

Secret courtesy of Matt Madden.


Hey, JP!  What’s Your Deal?

I apologize in advance for not having much to say this week.  I am absurdly backed up on artwork and am finding it increasingly harder to balance with my day job, friends, good weather and family.

I hear you, I hear you, I hear you.  Do you know that I want to throw my computer down my airshaft?

I suppose it’s something that every real person trying to earn their big boy pants has to learn to deal with.

It’s a good thing we’re making our goals public.  Otherwise, I would NOT be this far along.  Readers, do the same?  Make a pact with friends?  Bet money on it?  Move somewhere with horrible weather?

Anyway, tumblr.


My use of Tumblr is a bit strange.  Most people use tumblr as a sort of extension of Twitter, they find fun and funky things online (images, links, videos, memes) and post them on a rather frequent basis.  I do not.  The purpose of my Tumblr is strictly to release my comics.  I use it as a website, not a social outlet.

Same here.  But—and I think you’ll agree—we need to take other people’s use of Tumblr—

Blog, re-blog and follow…

—Yes, we need to take that into account, because that’s our audience.


Remembering That It’s Tumblr

By its nature, Tumblr means more exposure.  Our updates appear in followers’ feed.

If our followers like our updates, they might reblog them.  And then, maybe someone will reblog the reblog.  On one hand, that’s FANTASTIC.  As long as we post comics that are worth reposting, our audience will GROW ITSELF.

On the other hand… Could our comics get lost?  Will people reading a re-re-re-re-re-blogged comic know who made it, and how to follow us?

Beneath each image that I post, I’m adding text: “© Hilary Allison” with a link to my site, and the date of creation.  I should take a cue from JP and start signing things, too.  Good enough?  We’ll see.


Last Week’s Goals Were:


[ X ] Flesh out with actual content/art.

[ X ] Customize Twitter.


[  ] Create promotional art for

[  ] Stick to the update schedule.


Next Week:


[   ]  Create a post-a-day Tumblr queue.

[   ]  Decide if this this is a rate I can keep up with, once my extended portfolio has all been posted.

[   ]  Think about where I am, and come up with some specific traffic goals.

[   ]  Abduct JP from his day-job and force him to hop coffeeshops ’till his social media goals are met.


[  ] Create promotional art for

[  ] Stick to the update schedule.

Till next week!

HA & JP (the Interns) &

@HaHa_Hilary & @whurf


Past Installments:

Week 1  (Getting Started)

Week 2 (Setting Up Websites)

Week 3 (Twitter)


6 Comments to Social Media for Young Cartoonists: Week 4: Building with Tumblr

  • by tyler

    On May 31, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    there is no “preview” in the strictest sense, but your updates don’t go live until you choose to ‘save’ your profile. until then you can keep choosing the update button, or whatever it is, to see what you’ve done. (at least that’s how it works for me)

    also – I switched to using Tumblr as my basic website as well – for all of the features you’ve mentioned as well as the social aspect. it’s good for so much more than the lame re-blogging everyone else uses it for.

  • by Eriq Nelson

    On June 1, 2011 at 9:56 am

    If you’re looking for an image host that allows hot linking and full size hosting, look to Imgur. Issuu is preferable for book based work, but Imgur is fast and simple and is starting to overtake Flickr for my one shot hosting needs. Check it out!

  • by Gilliom

    On June 1, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I never really liked working with Tumblr and prefer Posterous. It does not have as many ready-to-use themes (but with a little fiddling around you can use Tumblr’s themes) and it’s probably somewhat less popular (and therefor less “social”), but it is so very very user-friendly. You could give it to your grandma and in ten minutes she’ll be able to post something which will actually look nice.

  • by Hilary Allison

    On June 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Gilliom – Never heard of Posterous before, but checked it out just now… Looks like it offers everything Tumblr does! Can you put your finger on what about it is more user-friendly? The slideshow feature is a definite one-up. Thanks for the tip! (And I really dig your illustrations. For Glitch, are you using scratchboard or digital-that-looks-like-scratchboard? Look forward to reading it!)

    Eriq – This Imgur is a GREAT recommendation! (I just made an account and will definitely be using it to upload big not-a-book art.) Thank you!!

    Tyler – I am so glad to hear that there’s a way to preview (not per-say). Hmm… but I must be staring past the right button. How do I view my page without hitting either “Save and Close” or “Cancel?” My customization view is always the Lorem Ipsum version (only layout changes can be seen).

    I visited your website for the first time and said “dude” repeatedly. “How have I not looked at this before.” Really fun style. I could not stop reading Nothing Better… until I reached the end of the chapter and realized that I had started with the last one. How’s that for storytelling – since I could still follow everything!

  • by tyler

    On June 1, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    thanks for the nice words – glad you enjoy my work.
    I missed your point RE: the preview thing – as far as Pages go. you’re right – you only get the preview with the dummy site/text in place. that was one small frustration when I set mine up, constantly saving and closing to check out my edits. otherwise I love it!

    I think another good aspect to look at with all this social media stuff is ‘how well does it play with others?’ I looked at Posterous for that reason but wasn’t totally sold. I also liked that Tumblr seemed to play better with Twitter and Facebook than Blogger did.

  • by Gilliom

    On June 2, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Perhaps it’s just personal preference, I don’t know… I like the Posterous interface, the editor (post-by-web, I hardly ever use the post-by-mail option) is easy to use, does everything I want him to and is pretty self-explanatory. Everything just comes out looking nice. With the Tumblr-interface I was cursing the whole time…

    Glitch is all scratch-wacom. Most of my stuff is digital, but always pretty primitive. I’m in it for the undo-button :)
    (The way I work is described in the “cowboy with the big moustache”-post)
    Glad you like my pictures. Thx.

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