ComicPress vs. Multiple Comics

Note: This tutorial refers to a Comicpress site that’s no longer in use. I’ve moved on to Comic Easel now. Just in case you’re wondering why ths doesn’t seem to aplly to what I did on this site. You’re right. Also, this tweakworks with Comicpress 2.9.2.29 and below. No guarantees above that. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was already outdated with 2.9.2.30.

Setting up a WordPress blog takes about five minutes, according to WordPress. Setting up a ComicPress site doesn’t take too much time, either. Designing a new site from scratch takes considerably longer, but a seasoned web designer can get a good one done within a few weeks.

What really took me a while, though, was designing the site I had in mind around WordPress and ComicPress. The hardest part was to get ComicPress to display multiple comics the way I wanted it to. ComicPress isn’t set up for ‘deeper’ category structures. But it can be scammed into acting as if it was. So, in the spirit of being helpful and networky, here’s a tutorial on how to make it work the ‘Dreadful Gate way’. (If you don’t trust my advice, here’s how ComicPress’ Frumph made it work. Without chapters, though, and there are some more differences.)

1. Set up multiple titles

This is the easy part. There’s a storyline editor in the ComicPress menu. All you have to do is set up your comics’ titles at the top level (right under ‘comic’) and each story or chapter as a ‘child’ storyline of that.

Make sure that every comic post has both the series title and the chapter title checked. Otherwise, you won’t be able to navigate between chapters.

2. Rig the navigation

Now all the comics will be archived separately. But if you navigate through the comics posts, you’ll see them sorted by date, not by storyline. Here’s how to fix that.

  1. Disable the default comic navigation.
  2. Place the “comics navigation” widget into a sidebar in the “widgets” menu.
  3. Customize the widget: uncheck the default checkboxes for “first”, “next”, “last” and “previous” and use “first in chapter”, Next in chapter” etc. Rename them into “first, “next” etc.

3. Rig the navigation even more

If you’ve set ComicPress to jump to the next page upon clicking on the comic, you’ll have to rig that, too. Open displaycomic.php in the editor section (or find it in /comicpress/functions) and look for this line:

$next_comic = comicpress_get_next_comic_permalink();

Change it to
$next_comic = comicpress_get_next_comic_permalink(true, null);

4. Set up home pages for your comics

Here’s where Frumph’s and my approach really part ways. He recommends using the latest-thumbnail widget for navigation and basically using the latest page of each comic for your starting point. If you do it right, the link to your comic (in my case, say /wordpress/olga/) takes you to your comic’s latest update. If that’s good enough for you, stop reading now. But if you want your readers to bookmark this page as the comics’ home page, it won’t work. Because it won’t be the comics’ home page they’ll return to, it’s just that specific page.

Edity note: Since I wrote this post, I’ve found a new and better way of doing this. Read all about it here. I’m leaving this old version the way it was to avoid confusion. Also, it works. It just doesn’t work quite as well.

So, here’s what I did:

First, I created a comic display template for each comic. (I’m sure there’s a way to just create one template and apply it to your comic category, but this is how I did it. It was hard enough.) Here’s the template code for Olga:


<?php
/*
Template Name: Comicindex-Olga
*/
get_header();
$wp_query->
in_the_loop = true; $comicFrontpage = new WP_Query(); $comicFrontpage->query('showposts=1&cat=7');
while ($comicFrontpage->have_posts()) : $comicFrontpage->the_post();
comicpress_display_comic_area();
endwhile;
get_footer();
?>

This is just the code for displaying the actual comic. There’s more code for the comic blog post, but I’m trying to keep it simple here. Feel free to nag about this in the comments.

To adapt the script to your comic, replace the number in “cat=7” with your comic’s category number. And customize the template name. The template name is important for the page creator thingy to recognize the code as a template.

Upload the script into your ComicPress folder as a php file.

Create a new page from the “pages” menu. The new template should be in your “templates” drop-down now; use it. Call the page the same as the comic. Because this is now your comic’s home page.

(Actually, you may have to fiddle about some more with the layout to make it look just right, depending on what your layout is.)

5. Rig the ComicPress manager for more comfy uploads (optional)

In part 1 I mentioned that both the series title and the chapter title need to be checked if you want the navigation to work between chapters. ComicPress Manager’s upload only allows for checking one category, though. So before I uploaded my 170 page epic terrain vague to the German site, I made sure I wouldn’t have to click through 170 posts in the post menu to check them individually.

There are two ways to do that:

1. Only double-check the first and last page of each chapter. At least this should work – I haven’t tried it. Too simple.

2. Rig the upload form.
Open the file /plugins/comicpress-manager/comicpress_manager_admin.php and search for:

input type="radio"

This line should appear three times. We’re interested in the first one, which should be somewhere around line 850. Change it to:

input type="checkbox"

This will replace the radio buttons in the form with checkboxes. You can check as many of those as you like. But don’t – it will only confuse the navigation.

Close the file before you’re tempted to replace the other two instances of the tag, and you’re done.

____

Okay, that’s all. You don’t have to follow all these steps – it really depends on what you want your site to do. I also realize this tutorial may well be obsolete once the new improved multi-comic-loving theme Comic Easel is out, but I’m posting this anyway. If you’re like me, it’ll take you some time to catch up with Comic Easel, especially after all this customizing.

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5 Responses to ComicPress vs. Multiple Comics

  1. sean says:

    Hi there, I tried this tutorial, but all I get is the comic. I don’t get the post title, post date, or the text that should appear like that on petite Symphony. Any ideas of how I can do that?

    • Max Vaehling says:

      Yep, that would be the extra code I omitted from the tutorial to make it easier to read. There’s a bit of code further down in layout-head.php that almost looks like the code described in #4. Copy, add to your comic page and replace cat='.comicpress_all_comic_categories_string() with cat=2' (assuming “2” is your category number).

      If you want a more solid solution, though, I recommend the new improved tutorial I’ve linked to in #4. It also allows for more layout flexibility.

  2. this line:

    $next_comic = comicpress_get_next_comic_permalink($in_same_category = true, $category = null);

    should be:


    $next_comic = comicpress_get_next_comic_permalink(true, null);

    • Max Vaehling says:

      Hi Frumph,

      Thanks for the edit. That’s the difference it makes when you know where those code snippets come from…

      Changed it.

      (So, if anybody else wonders what Frumph’s referring to, that’s why you can’t find it.)

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