I’m sick of the ambiguity I’ve seen from most guides to comic hosting, so I decided to lay out the options I’m familiar with as thoroughly as possible.

In other words, this is long.  But you can just skim it and read the bits on the sites that interest you.

The guide’s divided into two sections, one on free community sites like ComicGenesis, the other on the two forms of WordPress hosting.

Which one should you opt for?  Your budget will largely determine that.  If you don’t have one, go for a community site.   If you do, you’re probably a professional who already has a plan, you don’t actually need advice on this, and you’ve already gone for paid hosting.  But, you should also mirror on some community sites—their users are eager to read anything that doesn’t look like it was drawn by a blind child with a crayon clenched between his teeth.

On with the guide:

Community Sites

Before we get to the actual sites, you should know what features to look for in general:

I’ve found that the most important ones are ease of customization, the extent of customization, and how flexible they’ll let you be with the display of the comic itself.

Ease of customization’s self-explanatory.  Some sites use a visual editor, some can only be edited with HTML and CSS, and some confine you to a handful of templates or the site’s default display.  Customization’s more important than onsite features, since almost any service a webcomic host doesn’t provide can be done by a third-party website, as long as they’ll let you add a link or a widget for it.  For example, it’s unimportant whether or not a webcomic host lets you create a forum.  You can always create a free—and better—one with ProBoards and link to it in your nav bar.  And honestly, unless it’s already mega-popular, there’s no reason to have a forum for a webcomic.

Extent of customization’s important because a lot of free services are also limited, coming from companies who’d prefer you dish out for the Ultra-Plus-Platinum-Preferred hosting service.  So pay close attention to any constraints the site might impose on your design.  Also, make sure to check how much the premium plans cost, in case your comic gets big enough that you decide to spring for one.

Also, a surprisingly important factor is how the comic’s displayed.  Will they stick a giant banner ad on top of your page and make you pay to remove it?  Will they force you to resize your comics to a certain width, like Tapastic?  These usually can’t be worked around.  I don’t know about you, but I’m picky about the way people interface with my comic; I designed my entire site to compliment its mood and (lack of) color scheme, and whenever I look at it on a mirror site, I feel like it’s missing something.

Plus, some sites don’t deal with animated GIFs or Flash, so if your comic has them, make sure you pick one that does.

Anyway, here are the specifics.   These are also divided into two sections, and I’ve noted whether or not I’ve actually used them.  I researched them as much as possible within the time limits, but there’s no substitute for doing, so get a second opinion on the ones I haven’t tried.

Suitable for a Main Platform


First-hand experience:  Yes

Let’s just get this out of the way now:  ComicFury is the best free webcomic host.  Almost every column I’ve seen on the subject agrees with me on that.

There are no premium plans or required donations, the ads are fully optional and can be placed wherever on the page you want, and there’s no charge for adding your own.  It offers full customization, support for animated GIFs and Flash, free RSS feeds, and a line graph of your daily views.

The only problem I have so far is that customization can be difficult.  First of all, there’s a built-in editor, which is a nice feature, but I found it too limited to make the changes I wanted.  So if you’re going to modify a template, you’ll probably have to use HTML and CSS.

CF’s layout editor is template-based, with a codesheet for the homepage, one for the comics display form, etc.  And it uses a variable-based system for its formatting, to save you from having to tinker with each individual page.  That’s convenient, but it makes it impossible to incorporate a change that would only affect one comic page.  For example, I’d like to add a zoom feature to my comic, but I can’t, since there’s apparently no way to link each page to its respective hi-res version.  I’d have to just plop the link in the Author Notes, which…  Doesn’t have the same effect.

But enough bitching, it’s free.  Not to mention it has an excellent community, and to this day, most of my views come from just posting on their forums with a link to the comic in my sig.

Finally, I have to give special kudos to Kyo, who’s one of the most absurdly hard-working and helpful admins I’ve seen anywhere online.  And no, he’s not giving me any incentive to write this.  I like the site that much.

Comic Genesis

First-hand experience:  No

This one’s the oldest and most popular, but how does it stack up?

Well, it’s fairly customizable as comic sites go, it accepts Flash and animated gifs, and domains can be connected for free.  Features include an auto-generated RSS feed, downloadable archives, and the option to create your own message board, but we’ve talked about how important that one is.  It also supports bulk uploads.  On the other hand, they’ll put ads on your page, you can’t place your own, and according to Cat Nine, the editor is “the least user-friendly of them all.”

And although CG used to have the biggest community in webcomics, the forums are all but dead these days.  It has a wiki that may be worth checking out if you’re still interested in hosting there.  And the community support is fair enough, so at least there should be someone to walk you through any problems you might have working with it.

As an aside, sprite comics are strictly forbidden here.  Ones that use copyrighted sprites, anyway.

Comic Dish

First-hand experience:  No

It’s free, asks nothing of you, and has a small, but nice community.  There are no catches here, either. Like ComicFury, ads supporting them are optional, and ads supporting you are free.  You don’t even have to mention them as your host, although that would be kind of a dick move.

There’s a pretty impressive features list: it automatically generates cast pages and image galleries, although I’m not totally sure how that works yet.  It pings to several websites when you update, making it easier for people to follow you.  There are no bandwidth restrictions of any kind.  They have a visual editor, but it’s offline as on the time of this writing.  Fortunately, they also allow unlimited customization via HTML and CSS and the ability to create your own themes.  There’s full support for personal blogs and authors’ notes, making it easy to keep in touch with your audience.  You’ll even be notified by email when someone comments.

The rules about sprite comics are the same as Comic Genesis, and I’m not sure whether or not Flash and animated GIFs are supported, but those are literally the only drawbacks I can find.

The Duck

First-hand experience:  No

Simple and easy-to use, with a very friendly interface.  Unfortunately, that user-friendliness comes at the expense of customization.  You can only upload comic pages – no custom buttons or extra files – and there’s limited support for HTML and none at all for CSS.  It doesn’t accept flash or animated gifs, either.  Aside from that, the main complaints I’ve seen about this one is that it’s slow, and that it puts multiple enforced banner ads on your comic page.

The community’s large, very visible, and very active.  In addition, viewers can like and favorite your comic, a la social media, instead of the mere subscriptions and ratings that most comic hosts use.  The comic features on the front page are unique in that the community actually takes the time to write full articles on each one.  Getting there will lead to a huge viewer bump, and can often start your comic on its way towards a permanent fandom.


First-hand experience:  No

More customizable than The Duck, but more user-friendly than Comic Genesis.  It also offers a view graph, forums, and built-in archives, ratings, comment systems, and social sharing buttons, as well.

Their layout customizer is apparently more robust than ComicFury’s, meaning you won’t have to know HTML or CSS to use it, and it allows for a fair amount of customization over your site

The primary drawback is that there are caps on how much space each page can take up.  For the free version, it’s 500kb.  If you upgrade to the Donator version, at $19 per year, it’s bumped up to 2mb.  At the Premium – $59 a year – version, it’s 5mb.  However, the biggest potential dealbreaker is that you also need the Premium version to connect a domain name.  Not to get a free one, but to connect one you already own.

…Oh yeah, and you have to buy a separate one for each comic you own.

Judging by the forums, the community’s fairly active, but kind of sedate lately.


First-hand experience:  Yes, but not with a comic

You know the deal.  Tumblr’s more a social network than a blogging platform, and its sharing system makes it perfect for gag-a-day comics.  So if your work’s relatable, shareable, snackable, or whatever the kids are calling it now, you’d do well to at least mirror here.  This is especially true if it’s about life situations, social issues, politics, or some other topic you think your audience will personally relate to.  It’s also good for comics about niche topics, as you can share other stuff about the subject to keep your audience engaged when new pages aren’t coming out.

I don’t see why a story comic would have much use for it, though, since there’s no reason for someone to share a single page.  …Unless, maybe, your art’s so amazing that people just have to show their friends a particularly stunning example.  But I doubt that will happen enough to guarantee you a substantial following.

However, plenty of professional artists use Tumblr as their main platform, so I’ll begrudgingly admit that unlike the next few, a Tumblr blog is just customizable enough to make this list. …If you can’t be assed making a real site, that is.

Better for Mirroring


(11/7/15 Update)

First-hand experience:  Yes

After its only real competition, the glitchy and inferior Inkblazers, shut down earlier this year, Tapastic has won the title of the official home of “Original English Language Manga” on the internet.

Tapastic sits at the intersection of comic host and social media site.  It comes with a built-in userbase; readers can like, share, and leave comments; and like Facebook, their interface trades customization for simplicity.  All you get to change is your series’s banner, profile picture, and description.  But on the other hand, everything else is taken care of for you, making it very convenient for both beginners and mirroring.  You never have to mess around with code, your files will never up and vanish, and you don’t have to worry about any size influx of traffic crashing it .

One minor annoyance, though, is how it makes you resize all your images to less than 940 pixels in width.  I do it with a Photoshop action, but if you don’t have Photoshop, you’ll have to use a separate program for that.  The vertical format is also a bit weird, mainly in how it tends to squish your pages together.  There’s a reason for it – unlike most comic hosts, Tapastic is optimized for mobile viewers—which is a great idea and might be standard practice in the near future—but the same things that serve to make it a fantastic mirror also make it a weak primary host.

The community is decent, and you can amass an audience just by posting interesting stuff on the forums.  But be warned that both the comics and audience tastes skew heavily towards manga, so a western comic might have a harder time finding an audience there.

Warning: Make sure to include a link to your comic in your forum profile, because it’s separate from your main profile, with no links between the two unless you put them there.


First-hand experience:  Yes

Same situation as the last two, except without the part about making money.  No customization; one display option; although at least DA will let you upload it at full size; and the comic will be hidden in your gallery, meaning it’s really only accessible through a direct link.

Social media connectivity isn’t really a thing on this site, you can only upload one page at a time, there’s no delayed posting option, and you have to go through the same naming-categorizing-describing-and-Creative-Commonsing process for every page.  However, DA has the biggest community out of any site here except Tumblr, so it makes for a decent mirror.



First-hand experience:  Yes, but not with a comic

You can host a webcomic for free via WordPress.com, if you don’t need a domain name or too many style options, but I wouldn’t.  It’s a blogging platform, and there are so many better free options out there.   Customization is crappy, since you only get to use plugins—WordPress’s bread and butter—with the premium version.

It might be a good idea to start with the free package and upgrade as people start reading your comic, but that might also make it harder to attract a dedicated readership.

As an addendum to this entry, there’s Interrupted Reality, who use the same simplified form of WordPress, but with some additional perks.  Basically, if you want to work with the WordPress.com interface, but get a free comic-based theme, a free Webcomic plugin, and some more options you wouldn’t get with the WordPress.com package, you might be better off going with these guys.  They seem to be a better overall choice, but I can’t make any promises, as I haven’t used them.

Also, Interrupted reality will connect a domain you own for free.   Unlike WordPress.com, who charge you $13.  Like dicks.

WordPress (the .org version) + A Host

First-hand experience:  Yes, but not with a comic

In case you’re new to the web hosting game, WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two entirely different things.  The first is a hosting service with a weak-tea online version of the titular PHP platform, and the second lets you download the full version and install it to your own host or server.

If I had a budget for my webcomic, that’s what I’d do.

As I mentioned earlier, my favorite part of WordPress is the plugins; you can do anything with them.  Want to display an entire chapter of your comic as one full-page slider?  There’s a plugin for that.  Want your readers to be able to buy merch from a pop-up window?  There’s a plugin for that.  Want to connect all your social accounts at once and share your work with an army of followers in one click?  There’s a plugin for that.

The main issue is the potential for technical problems.  If you opt for cheap hosting, a sudden spike in visitors might Zerg Rush your site to death.

I haven’t used ComicPress, but it seems to be the gold standard for webcomic themes.  It gives you a choice of five page layouts and an equal number of archive page templates, an array of widgets to customize your site, and support for threaded comments.  Other features include buy-this-print buttons and the ability to add members-only content.  Also, like a WordPress.org site, it offers a plugin that lets you change your site without having to edit the theme files.  Here’s the full list of features.

Personally, I use HostGator for all my online projects, but I’ve never had to deal with anything that gets a high volume of traffic, so I don’t know how it would hold up if your comic got retweeted by a celebrity.  But their plans are very reasonably priced and I’ve got no complaints about the customer service.

From what I hear, the next best is Bluehost, and I’ve also heard a lot of good stuff about DreamHost.  Most resources I use tell me not to use GoDaddy’s hosting (although their domain purchase is fine), as it’s sluggish and hard to deal with.

If you want a website at the bare minimum possible cost, there’s WebHostingPad, which I just heard about while writing this article, who will do it for $2 a month…  However, their reviews are a laundry list of complaints about slow load times, horrid customer support, and frequent downtime.  Feel free to try them out if you absolutely need it done as cheap as possible, but remember that you get what you pay for.

If you need a walkthrough of the actual process, D.J. Coffman does a much better job explaining it than I could.  So read that.

Oh yeah, and if you’re looking for a domain, use NameCheap.  Or GoDaddy, but only if they’re having a sale.

And finally…


If you’re doing it for free, use ComicFury or Comic Dish.  Unless you don’t care too much about customizing your site, then give The Duck a go.  If your series is a story comic, mirror on Tapastic.  If it’s a gag-a-day, mirror on Tumblr.  Deviantart is optional in both cases.  If you have a budget, use WordPress installed on Hostgator, Bluehost, or Dreamhost.

This post is over 3,000 words and ate up a whole day, so this is the most I could cover.  But there are others out there, so if you’d like to recommend any of them, or if you disagree with my assessment of thse ones, let me know in the comments.

Image by Aaron Foster