An increasingly popular use for blogs is in displaying artwork, specifically web comics, a burgeoning art form that has seen a huge rise in recognition over the past few years.
However, frustratingly, WordPress isn’t equipped to deal with such images natively. There are various reasons for this. To start with a web comic might be drawn to specific dimensions, with the resulting image too large for the chosen WordPress theme.
Similarly, a comic book might be in PDF format, which usually means that the story can only be read by downloading rather than embedded as a file within the pages of your blog.
Over the past few years more and more dedicated comic-related plugins have been developed for WordPress, however, helping many users overcome these (and other) issues.
Comic Book Themes
Before proceeding, you should be aware that there are certain themes that are designed specifically for displaying comics on your blog. Most popular among these is ComicPress, but you should understand that installing this theme will turn your blog completely into a comics-publishing platform.
This might be what you’re looking for; alternatively you might be more interested in a more flexible and integrated solution that allows you to continue your usual blogging alongside occasional comics strips on your website.
If this approach is the one you’re looking for, then your solution should be to take advantage of one of the dedicated plugins that have been designed to display comics on WordPress.
To add an image to your blog and display this as a comic strip is simple, but WordPress can be somewhat limited when it comes to managing your comic strip files.
A plugin such as stripShow, however, might be just what you’re looking for. Available from the WordPress Plugins site, stripShow offers a range of useful settings and features. You can specify the comics upload folder, for instance, organize categories, determine how your WordPress index.php will react to the comics and even show comics in your RSS feed.
This free plugin is probably the first one you should consider when looking at ways of incorporating comics strips into your blog on a regular basis.
Manga+Press Comic Manager
Once installed, Manga+Press Comic Manager adds a useful new section to your WordPress blog, enabling you to easily add and manage pages of a comic as easily as you would new blog posts.
Comics have titles, series names and come with an overarching framework that enables three tiers of options to be configured.
The Manga+Press Comic Manager is a little easier to use than stripShow, but doesn’t offer quite the same depth of options. Ideal for running alongside a standard blog, this is a useful plugin that is easy to learn and use.
Designed to let you turn any theme into a web comic, the Webcomic plugin makes setting up your web comic extremely easy, offering management of posts and files, storylines and characters and even selling options for print copies!
In addition you can customize your theme or build a whole new WordPress theme using a selection of new template tags that are added to WordPress as part of the Webcomic plugin.
If your blog has a heavy focus on web comics then this is the ideal plugin for you!
Conclusion: Plugins vs Theme
If displaying comics on your blog is the path you want to go down, these three plugins could be just what you need if you’re not prepared to restyle your blog theme with ComicPress.
Note, however, that there are native tools in WordPress that can save you from even installing these plugins. The options for adding galleries, for instance, can prove a useful alternative, one that can bring web comics into your blog without additional software and the trouble of configuring additional options.
Ultimately, make sure that the comics solution you choose is appropriate for your blog and readership.