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Long-form Webcomics... How Can They Be Effective?

Posted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 1:25 pm
by thirdeyeh
I've been doing something about webcomics lately and how to better position things like graphic novels for presentation in that medium. I'm not a huge gag-a-day fan, but that format has really flourished in the digital domain, but it seems that doing things that would be presented in a graphic novel, don't translate as well. Maybe it's the pacing of when pages get put out, or just the format in general, but that's what's making me wonder... Are webcomics a good venue for story driven graphic novels, when you're updating pages as you go? What do you guys think is the best way to present books like this for the web?

Re: Long-form Webcomics... What's the Value?

Posted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:34 pm
by Ayo
I think that one has to tailor one's story for the medium. I like long form webcomics that are designed and written from a fundamental level to have each page stand as a clear unit of interest. Not necessarily in a punchline way, or even a cliffhanger way. What I mean is that a reader should be able to glean some sort of information or learn some aspect of the story from each page that is posted.

Becky Cloonan and Hwan Cho do this well. Theirs is sort of a strip/long-form hybrid though. I think that Spike tends to balance it well even though her pages don't exist as self-contained blocks of story. She still manages to make each page interesting enough to push the narrative forward.

I'm struggling with it as well. It's not as easy as I initially believed it would be.

Re: Long-form Webcomics... How Can They Be Effective?

Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 3:41 pm
by thirdeyeh
yeah, I've been working through whether it's better to do updates in chunks, or just try to find a way that will bring daily updates. In the end I guess its just important that the updats happen, but we want to try and find ways to drive an audience and keep them coming.

Re: Long-form Webcomics... How Can They Be Effective?

Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:12 pm
by squirpy
I think Gunnerkrigg Court has been pretty successful at keeping a story going updating one page three times a week.

Re: Long-form Webcomics... How Can They Be Effective?

Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:13 pm
by Og
I think you have to update it on your own schedule. I've played with the notion of updating in chunks, but I think I'd lose a significant portion of the audience who wants to have contact with the property as frequently as possible - daily if they can, weekly if they must. If I waited to post my updates until I had 10 pages done, they'd come out about every 2 months, maybe I'd have 6 updates a year. That's not going to do much for my traffic, my standings in search engines, what have you. I've decided that the best thing for me to do is drip feed it in as I get it done, 2 or 3 strips a week, gradually building up pages of material.

Now- if you don't care about search engine optimization, if you don't care about trying to build an audience, if you don't care that you're only updating a few times a year, then I think you should update less. It is in fact how a certain portion of my audience reads my strip anyway: they wait a few weeks and then consume it all in one sitting. That's actually great for me, that's how the strip reads best.

I do the same thing with the TV shows I like. I don't watch them on TV. I wait until they're all streamed in a row on Netflix, or available on DVD. I think lots of people are getting that way. But notice that the networks are STILL putting their shows on one week at a time. They have to have a weekly episode or the short-attention-spanned public will forget them and ad revenue will drop. So it is with your webcomic.

Now, the business and audience-building end of things aside, think about how your strip reads best. Remember that as you build your catalog, the story builds up like stalagmites building on a cave floor. Someone who can only appreciate This Moment will be looking at the steady drip drip drip coming from the ceiling and wonder what's so special. Those who take the long view see the formation for what it is, a long time in the making, and ever-changing.

You can only update as frequently as you physically CAN. Holding off until you have a chapter's worth of material makes a certain kind of sense so long as you have a way to build your audience and keep your traffic high enough that it works for whatever kind of business model you're going for.

My two cents.

Re: Long-form Webcomics... How Can They Be Effective?

Posted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:46 am
by thirdeyeh
All points well noted, my friend. Basically what I've been thinking. I wish I could update my book 5 days a week. Getting past one update a week would be awesome as well.

Re: Long-form Webcomics... How Can They Be Effective?

Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:46 pm
by marooned
I can only say I agree with Steve. There's something about the nature of the internet that lends itself to immediate satisfaction. It's about interacting with things in the moment, as it were. I think that's why longform has more challenges. With comics online it seems people are looking for the quick hit, and longform has very few quick hits.

So for those of us who do longform, we're kind of going to have to get used to the fact that we won't be the next hot flavor of the month comic. But you can, over time, build a dedicated audience. I'm a devoted reader of Gunnerkrigg (which on the surface, never seemed to be my kind of thing). A lot of his updates - actually a majority of them - don't really "stand on their own" as the "experts" will tell you they must.

Heck he even does "splash" pages and chapter covers. Supposedly "no-no's."

People argue well, he's this great artist, or he has this great story and you can't compare, blah blah blah. Baloney. Go back to his first strips, they are rougher than his style now and his story is certainly interesting at the beginning but it takes a while to get going. The fact is his readers became invested in his story and his characters. They tell other people about it, and he slowly grows.

I'm in the middle of a backstory right now with Marooned. My pacing is slow to begin with sometimes, but this has been even slower and it has very little of the main characters in it. So for two weeks, I've added an extra update to resolve it sooner. Plus, it will read better. Not something I can do all the time, but you can adjust your schedule to meet the needs of the story.

In the end good stories are worth telling and reading, no matter what the medium IMO. :)