SpiderForest's next application season starts in June 2021.
Application and Acceptance Criteria
The comic, the creator(s) attached to it, and the comic’s web presentation are all considered in our application process. Here’s a quick overview of what we’re looking for:
Comic: Should demonstrate good storytelling both in art and scripting. Does your art match your script in tone, style, and ambition? Is your technical skill sufficient (ex: if your comic is urban, we should see that city drawn)? Is your lettering appropriate and easy to read? We’re not looking for perfection — we’re looking for clear presentation, dedication to the work, and consistent improvement over time.
Creator(s): Should be willing and able to be an active member, and someone who can strengthen our community. For example: do you have technical expertise/organizational skills/connections you could bring? Whatever you can do, tell us! Give us examples! This is your time to shine!
Web Presentation/Website: Should be intuitive and easy to navigate. Your comic in its (current) entirety should be available on whichever URL you’ve linked — through your own site or a dedicated comic host site — and we should be able to find and navigate the archive easily. Loading times should not be a major detriment, and avant-garde layouts/presentation should not present an obstacle in our review of your work.
The first thing we want is all questions answered properly and thoughtfully! We want to see that you care about being in our collective. Most of the questions in the application form are simply information, but the last questions are open-ended. Those final questions are the most important. Read the application page thoroughly and give your most thoughtful and succinct answers. Remember to talk about what you yourself would bring and how you envision participation with other members, not just the features of your comic. (Note: While a casual tone is perfectly fine, humor can sometimes read poorly in a text format.)
This can vary from season to season, so do check the current application requirements — but generally yes, as long as you’re willing to learn enough of it to maintain your own site or hire a developer to keep your site maintained. If you’re applying during a season that hosting is offered, we pair accepted members who are unable to build sites with a volunteer member to help with the heavy-lifting in getting their SpiderForest site up and running. Once that’s done, you will only need to worry about making little edits here and there, and we’re always happy to offer site-building advice through our forum and chat outlets.
We encourage you to give it another shot, however, we require that all reapplying applicants solicit constructive criticism on our forums. This must be done by the February following your first application, so you have time to work in any applicable feedback you received from us before we review your comic again. (Please note, this only affects those who wish to reapply after being declined, not new applicants, though using our forum to ask for critique may give you insight into what our members are looking for.)
If you’ve already posted to the critique forum and addressed the concerns that members had with your previous application, then go for it! Multiple SpiderForest members were accepted on their second or other subsequent application.
Our preference for most comics that apply with SpiderForest is a regular update record of at least one page or episode per week. However, we also welcome comics that aren't laid-out as traditional "pages", and/or make batch updates, or post full scenes at a time. Such applications may take a different update schedule approach, though we still expect keeping a regular online presence to be a priority.
It strongly depends on how that content is framed. When a comic has scenes with nudity, sexual situations, or extreme violence, we look to see that said content is tastefully placed to serve and reinforce the themes and plot of the story.
Comics in our membership may opt-in to a Teen or Mature rating, which will display in our banner rotation and on the listing of the comic on our website – and we have many comics in our lineup with those ratings! That said, our current lineup is not at its core focused on NSFW 18+ work, and if your entire comic is more adult-oriented, you may find a better fit with a community focused on work for mature audiences only.
We recommend that you simply pick your single strongest comic or the comic that best represents your work over submitting multiple in one season; members can chose to submit their other comics any time at a later date.
Our membership is built of creators we respect and who can bring something unique to our community. We want to spend our resources on people who are going to give something back to our collective, who will be supportive of our diverse body of members, and who will represent us in a positive manner. The bottom line is that it’s nice to have some say in who your neighbor is.
The short answer is no. Traffic and revenue are not our focus. SpiderForest is a community, not a publisher, and we do not have a business plan. However, the more you put into our community, the more you get out of it.
We aim to provide a supportive environment to lift our members up and help them become the comic creators or community leaders they want to be. To assist in this, we provide free hosting with FTP access for members who want it, as well as assist new members in building their comic sites.
We organize group convention appearances, constructive criticism, and other projects and events that can bring participating members traffic and recognition. Members who choose to run ads on their pages, make and design their own merchandise, or use resources such as Patreon and Kickstarter to monetize their comic will find the community a valuable source of support; should a member need advice on any of their personal ventures, our members are equipped with a varied and vast array of personal experiences to offer. However, SpiderForest itself is a not-for-profit entity run on a volunteer basis. We cannot directly handle these matters for you.
There are a few reasons we require applicants to be frequently updating their comic at the time of application:
Updating frequently and regularly is important for maintaining and growing a webcomic's audience in general.
If the applicant is currently struggling to maintain their comic on a consistent basis, it's probably a bad time to also ask that they commit to being part of a collaborative community based around making comics.
Out of respect for our onboarding volunteers' time, we want to ensure that at time of acceptance, our applicants are willing and able to be an active participant in our community.
SpiderForest does not and will never make any claims of ownership over anyone’s comics, art, writing, or other related content. We are not a publisher, we are not run for profit, and no one is paid for taking part here. The only mandatory redistribution of a member’s artwork is on our home page (spiderforest.com) and member sites (in the network exchange) to advertise their work through promo material that they submit expressly for that purpose. We do not monetize our members’ content in any way without their clear prior consent.
The only activity members are required to participate in is application season voting, which simply calls for a yes/no vote with a brief explanation on the comics in your review group.
While we always hope SpiderForest members find time to chat, participate in projects, and help each other out in our community, none of that is an expectation or requirement.
Whether we are offering free hosting can vary from season to season, so do check the apply page for details on whether it is offered.
During seasons that was do offer hosting, accepted SpiderForest comics are given indefinite free hosting by our network. We also provide our own exclusive content management system (CMS), Ran Jado’s proPanda, for use on your SpiderForest site, however, members are allowed to use any CMS they choose! Keep in mind that “free hosting” does not mean that SpiderForest maintains your site for you (See the “I’m inexperienced with site coding” question under ‘Applications and Acceptance Criteria”), and that even if a member has multiple comics, the individual comic must be accepted in order for it to be hosted by us.
Our hosting is paid for via a member fundraiser when needed. All member donations to SpiderForest are voluntary, not mandatory.
Yes, we encourage it! However, you must buy and be responsible for it yourself; SpiderForest does not own, buy, or register any member domain names. New members that don’t have their own domain name will receive a SpiderForest subdomain. For example: my-comic-name.spiderforest.com.
We do ask all incoming members to agree to the rules of our Policy Charter regarding member activity and community conduct. We make no claims of ownership over our members’ work or the length of time of your membership with us, and there are no contracts to that effect.
This can be tricky to determine, as there is some leeway in the definition of a comic collective. We define it this way: “a network of like-minded, inter-dependent sites with a shared audience that have a community dedicated to members’ growth (personally and professionally) in comics.” This definition does not include places that are a tool to increase site visitors only, such as genre-based link exchanges, or hosts, like ComicFury and Webtoons, as long as those sites are a mirror and not your comic’s main site. If you’re still not sure, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to clarify.
Our members are indie creators. We own our own domains, we sell our own merchandise, we make our own comics solo or in a small team. Our strongest affiliations are with each other. In this way, SpiderForest has become a bit of a brand, and we are proud of that brand. You are either a SpiderForest comic, or you are not.
For those without their own web hosting, we require one of two hosting solutions: a site hosted on spiderforest.com, or for you to acquire hosting that is not affiliated with another brand. Hosts we consider affiliated with another brand include, but are not limited to: ComicFury, Tapas, Webtoons, or Tumblr.
Yes! Our policy requiring that your SF-affiliated site must be an update ahead is for public site/archives where your comic can be read for free. If there is a select group of people on any crowdfunding platform who view pages earlier because they pay to support you, that does not in any way conflict with the SpiderForest exclusivity rule. We want you to be able to support yourself with your comic, if that is a goal for you!
Due to the fact that SpiderForest is democratically run by the collective as a whole, it is the responsibility of all available members to vote on applications. The process of voting can be quite a time commitment, and to expect members to be able to do that year round is too much. To respect our independent creators’ prior obligations to their projects, their families, their education, and/or their careers, we ask members to carve out time only twice a year at most.
There isn't any singular reason why our members choose to join. Some of the reasons people have cited include, but are not limited to:
We provide a large and supportive community of other webcomic creators. Being a content creator on the internet can be lonely and confusing,
and many times when a member needs advice, we have other members who have experience in the area and can help.
One of our core tenents is being respectful toward other members, even if — and especially when — we have our differences.
To a similar effect, those who want to take an active role in uplifting other creators will find many opportunities to do so at SpiderForest.
Our volunteers often build new members websites free of charge (if needed), take part in promotional events to plug other members' comics, participate in advice discussions,
and more. Many of our members take pride in the contributions they have made to their fellow members and the webcomic community at large.
We make no claims over the IP of our members' comics.
This is a value we hold very highly at SpiderForest, especially in light of the current landscape among webcomic platforms.
SpiderForest, nor any of its administration, profits off of our members' comics. We are not a corporation, nor a publisher, nor a business,
and thus nothing we do at SpiderForest is motivated by the profiteering of our membership.
SpiderForest is kept running primarily through voluntary member donations and sales of group projects, such as our anthologies (which, again, are voluntary participation only).
Our democratic admissions policies, which can only be afforded by our not-for-profit nature.
While this does mean that the occasional debate will happen, it also, and more importantly, means that every member has a voice here.
There are very few and specific scenarios at SpiderForest where the word of an administrator or a long-standing member has any more weight than the word of any other member.
When you send in an application via our form on the apply page, this application is posted in its entirety in our private, member-only forums. All members are invited to read/review the application, and this is one of the most important responsibilities members have. We talk about the art, the scripting, the website, the creator, the lettering, the content, if anyone knows of the comic creator(s) and how they are perceived in the community, etc. After a few days of deliberating, we open it to a vote. A comic must obtain at least at 60/40 majority to join. It’s very time consuming, and usually means upwards of 20 people are reading through your archives.
Yes, applicants who would like to know what we thought can ask for constructive criticism in our forums. However, all discussions that specifically take place during the voting phase of application season is strictly confidential, regardless of the outcome of the vote. Even current members never get access to their application thread, and if you have a friend in SpiderForest who is voting, they are strictly forbidden from sharing these discussions with you. This confidentiality assures that we have a safe place to discuss applications in a polite, but professional, manner.
It varies from season to season and depends on the number of applications we receive, as well as the amount of members available to help new applicants navigate their new sites (if required). For example, if all potential applicants want us to host them and none have the experience to build their own website, we can only take as many applicants as we have members volunteering to help. If all the applicants are self-hosted and come to us with the knowledge of how to build/modify websites, we can take more.
A referral doesn’t guarantee anything, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. We have strict rules about how much the referrer (or even someone who is a friend) can participate in the discussion of your application. The rest of the collective will decide in an impartial manner.
Hanging out in SpiderForest spaces is not a requirement for application NOR does it guarantee acceptance. Every SpiderForest member has a single vote based on their own metrics, and how important prior participation is varies between all of us.
That said, we encourage potential members to interact with us beforehand because it gives both our members and applicants more information about one another. Potential members learn our styles of communication, our focuses and goals, where our priorities are as a collective, and get to decide if, yes, this is a group of people they want to join! In turn, our members learn more about the applicant, and this may factor into how they vote and the discussion around their application.
As with adult/NSFW content, it depends on how that content is framed; many comics under our banner tackle controversial topics. Nevertheless, we strive to make SpiderForest a welcoming place for comic creators from all walks of life. Our members come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and we respect the dignity and individuality of them all. Comic themes which run contrary to that spirit won’t be well received, particularly if they promote racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise intolerant views. Overt political agendas, especially ones that promote intolerance or violence, are not appropriate content at SpiderForest, so think hard about your goals before you apply.
As every application is voted on by the full membership of SpiderForest, there’s no single tip we can offer that will guarantee acceptance. Each individual voter will be using their own judgement in their decision. That said, there are a few more things you can do that may sway things in your favor:
Engage with the SpiderForest community: drop by the Discord or post on our forums. These are great ways for us to get to know you, and vice versa. We like to see active community participants who jive well with our body of members, so interacting with us in advance counts in your favor.
Ask for and participate in critique! The best place to do this is our public critique forum. We like to see applicants who can take and give critique appropriately. However, we don’t recommend you do this while applications are open, as most members will be too busy evaluating applicants.