By Eagleal

Guest Strips Made Easier : Recently my buddy, fellow webcartoonist, and co-worker (art educator) Axton Kahler wrote a comic strip using my character (Tank-Monkey) for his webcomic called Zombie Oaks. Anyhow… I thought… “he took a turn at drawing my character… so why don’t I try my hand at his?” I drew a quick panel which as it was written could have happened as an extra panel to the strip he had written (like a deleted scene) and I sent it off to him… When he offered to post it along with the comic, BOOM! That’s when this idea took full form… Why not do this kind of thing all the time?! Instead of doing full blown guest strips only once in awhile…. what if Webcomic creators left it open for OTHER creators to submit their ideas for that 5th panel?

How do I do this?! It’s seriously as easy as you want to make it! Take any comic!  After reading the comic ask yourself… What happened next? Who would leverage for the last word?… Who would have a snarky comeback?… Did something totally random happen?… did they have an awkward silence?… Was there a total off camera 4th wall break moment?… You name it! Think of this as a guest creator getting to write the “extended scene” Then make it and submit it! Boom! Done! Okay… some folks are more particular about their copyrighted characters than others… so you should always offer up your 5th panel as a friendly gesture of fan-art and it’s up to the creator to decide whether they like it enough to post it, but as we kick this idea off we are hoping that there will be lots of like minded creators out there who not only like this idea but want to use the idea for their own comics! And… look below for information about SEVERAL AWESOME comics already ACTIVELY interested in YOUR 5th panel ideas! When you create a 5th panel for someone please let us know by tweeting us a link with #5thpanelguest (you can even hashtag it on Facebook now)

I’m not sure I have time… Can I see an example of this in action? Boy can you ever! Since we started this we have gotten a wide variety of examples and approaches! I have a list of links running at the bottom of this post with every #5thpanelguest spot that I could find! When I first wrote this article I did one for Axton that here! Then, Axton did one for my comic HERE! jfk00115thPanelRex It only took me about 15-20 minutes to make (only one panel after all) and it only took that long  cuz I colored it and everything… if it were a black and white line drawing (which it totally can be…) it would have taken me even less time… we want to see any ideas you have in any form you have time to spare to present them in! (pencils, inks, an ms paint drawing, crayon!… you name it!)

I want to do this right now! That’s the spirit! And you can! Remember the strip Zombie Oaks I mentioned? Axton currently has an open call for 5th panel guest spots! ANY COMIC he has posted is fair game for a guest panel! He wants to know what your 5th panel idea is! Don’t believe me? Go to his 5th Panel Guest Page! All the information is right there for how you can submit a 5th panel to him. And I’ll put my money where my mouth is too! If you would like to send me a 5th panel submission for a Tank-Monkey strip or a Just For Kicks strip please do! As long as they are PG13 I’m likely to post em cuz hey, your time is worth my time. Submit comics to me at jesse.kiefer@gmail.com (put “5th panel” or “#5thpanelguest” in the subject line,  so it gets through my spam filter, along with some details about the comic it goes with…) please don’t make it more than 800 pixels wide… 500-700 pixels wide is probably better yet… really it’s just gotta be able to fit in the blog section under the comic.  Also when you send it please include some info so I can cross promote you! (url for your site, twitter name, facebook page, you tell me…)  I’ll tag you in my tweets and Facebook shout-outs just let me know.

No… SERIOUSLY, I’m too busy to do this!… Okay that’s cool… but if you are already doing your own comic and don’t have time to do a 5th panel guest shot for someone else… how about giving creators the green light? Give them a strip or an open call to try this with YOUR characters? Worst case scenario you see how your dedicated creative readers react to what you’re up to… you get a better handle on how your characters are perceived or how your readers wish your characters would act. Letting someone 5th panel your strip? That’s almost no extra work for you… and like a guest strip? It just might bring you in some new traffic.

Why is it called 5th panel? Traditional daily comic strips often hover at or around 4 panels… it’s not a rule but it’s often the case… so #5thpanelguest sounded like a reasonable name and it took less tweet characters than #extrapanelguest, what’s in a name? Don’t sweat the small stuff… it’ll be good for your OCD if you just let this go…

Why should I do this? Why do we do anything? Cuz it’s fun! Who doesn’t love getting “fan art?” What creator doesn’t wanna see what their readers think? This can add a really fun interactive element with your readership or spark an awesome collaboration… but you know how that WON’T happen? By NOT trying it… Give it a shot! It’s fun! So now… you tell me… “What happens next?” (via 5th panel) What do you think? Please e-mail me, hit me up on twitter, or leave a comment below!

Updated list of “Fair Game Archives” for #5thpanelguest!

The folks in the following list have given the explicit “go ahead” to add a 5th panel to ANY comic on their sites! Past Present or Future If you’d like your comic added or removed please let me know, you can change your mind at any time. I’m happy to oblige. An thorough archive dive is recommended, and ALWAYS appreciated,  but don’t let that keep you from submitting artwork.

















The First Wave Examples of #5thpanelguest in the Wild